Chapter 1: Escape Plan
This is my rewritten version of 'To Be Loved the Way You Love Me'. I noticed I made everybody out-of-character and that the scenes between Astrid and Hiccup weren't even worthy to be used as tissue paper. I also noticed several other flaws - plot-wise and character-wise - that needed to be corrected so desperately that I decided to redo the whole idea.
With this new rewritten version, you shall find torture, romance, angst so thick you can barely breathe, Stoick/Hiccup father/son feels, defensive!Hiccup, hurt/comfort, Snotlout/Hiccup angst, lots of dragon training, surprises, romantic flights, half-insane blacksmiths, Mildew being his douche-y self, Toothless/Hiccup closeness and friendship, a few dragon attacks, a bit of fluff to measure out the angst, maybe a snowball fight and, to top it off, an OC or two.
This is Outcast Island.
It's twelve days north of hopeless and a few degrees south of freezing to death.
I've grown up on it. I've explored its forests and waded in its waters. I've done some pretty crazy things on this island, include attempt to teach myself archery and fishing. And let's not forget that charming time when I thought maybe I was a natural at the axe.
Needless to say, I've lived to regret trying to do all of those things, but there was one thing I did that I can't bring myself to regret, no matter how terrible the consequences were, how terrible they always will be…because these consequences will follow us everywhere we go, because the cause of all the trouble is with me right now.
My heart beat fast with fear, but I had to try this – it was my only chance.
"Alright, bud," I whispered, measuring his tailfin. I knew it could take me all night. But I'd much rather fly away from here than swim.
I picked up the hammer, intensely grateful that once, I'd been the blacksmith's apprentice. It actually wasn't that great of a position.
The work was interesting, but the blacksmith was impatient and a terrible teacher. He wasn't really sure how to explain everything to me, so he'd often give me impossible jobs I had no idea how to complete.
Luckily, within the past few years, I've managed to figure out how to do most of the work, so I knew exactly what to do for Toothless' tail.
I just couldn't believe that tonight might be the night…after four long years of waiting, of searching and praying and hoping and just barely surviving, tonight just might be the night when I won back my freedom.
I worked as quickly as I could, feverishly, although I tried hard to make the prosthetic tail with the same care as I had the first one.
I heard the footsteps of a Viking walking past the forge, off night patrol, handing the lit torch to somebody else, who would wander at the edge of the island and examine noises.
This was the part I had to be quietest about.
The first night patroller was an overweight man whose hearing was failing. I could practically total the forge and this guy wouldn't hear it.
But the second night patroller…his name was Halfdan and he was young, new and completely devoted to his duty.
He was one of the younger soldiers on night patrol and he'd only just recently gotten into dragon training, if I understood those snippets of conversation I heard the guards exchange outside my door every morning.
Halfdan was kind of the talk of the town and it was really too bad he was such an ass.
He wasn't the kind of guy who put Red Hot Itchyworms down inside your shirt or beat you up.
No, he was the kind of guy to tell his lackeys to do it and snigger happily at the results.
I was so caught up in thinking of him that I dropped the connecting rod and it clanged loudly off the stone floor.
So much for being quiet.
I heard the footsteps outside the forge echoing, nearly swallowed by the crashing of the waves and the hooting of owls.
"Who's that?" demanded Halfdan. "Who's there?"
I froze, one hand wrapped around the connecting rod, the other up in the air, ready to haul myself back up.
"You did hear that, didn't you?" Halfdan asked.
"It was probably nothing," Gust, the overweight one, replied. "You young people are always hearing things these days."
"I don't like it," muttered Halfdan. "Ketil never leaves the forge unlocked. It sounds like someone's creeping around inside there."
"There's no one there," Gust replied soothingly and even though I couldn't see them, only hear them, I could tell from his tone that Gust was doing his kind, grandfatherly pat-on-the-shoulder calm-down-it's-all-right thing. He'd done that to me a time or two, before he'd been forced to turn his back on me or be killed.
Anybody with half a brain cell would have done it, too, so I didn't blame him. It was turn away from me or be killed that day.
"Don't patronize me!" Halfdan snapped. "I know someone's there!" I heard his footsteps drawing closer.
Oh, gods…I was easy to hide, I was small and quiet and lithe and if I had to, I could squish myself beneath the work table I was using and go unnoticed, provided Halfdan was stupid enough to neglect checking under every table and knowing him, he probably was.
But Toothless…Toothless was stealthy and silent, yes, but he was huge and bulky and he breathed fire. Oh, yeah, and add that to the fact that he hated Halfdan so much I had to hold Toothless back every time he saw him, and you could tell stealth wasn't going to fly.
If only it was Halfdan who was hard of hearing and Gust who wasn't…Gust wouldn't think to check under the tables, either, and Toothless had heard me talk about him before. He knew how kind and gentle the older Viking could be and so he wouldn't attack him.
I knew what I had to do. I took a deep breath and prayed to every deity I knew, hoping one of them was listening…please let someone be listening…I really need help right now, Thor…I never asked you for much…please…
I reached over and blew out the candle, plunging us into darkness. My heart beat fast with fear as I crawled over to Toothless, taking comfort from his scaly nose against my neck, nuzzling my hair, letting me know he was there for me if I needed him to be.
And oh, did I need him to be.
I scratched him under the chin, carefully enough to avoid his pressure point, and I talked as quickly as I could. "Listen, Toothless. Th-there's a back door just off to the side. I'm going to go push it open for you, okay? And you have to run. You have to get out of the forge and hide as well as you can. There's a big cluster of trees just outside the forge…you know, that big cluster of Loki trees? I'll come for you, I promise. You just focus on getting to the trees, okay?"
Toothless nodded and licked my dirty cheek, looking sad, as though he knew this might end badly.
And yet, I couldn't help it. He had a better chance outside and I knew we both wouldn't have time to blend seamlessly into the background. So I did what I could. I waited until I heard Toothless curling up in the cluster of the trees, hidden perfectly in the shrubbery and then I heard loud footsteps.
"Gust, can I borrow your key?" asked Halfdan, sounding annoyed. "I lost mine the other day."
I smiled to myself.
More like that little fishbone you thought was a weakling pilfered it off you.
I rolled underneath the worktable as I heard Gust's weary voice. "Must we go through this every night, Halfdan? Every time you hear so much as a breeze swinging branches back and forth, you feel the need to investigate. There's nobody there."
But I heard the clinking of keys and I knew he was handing over his.
I heard the lock click as Halfdan ripped up the metal barred door and slipped inside, boots pounding on the wooden floor. "Where are you?" he breathed. "I'll find you. I know I will…"
I heard him subside to mumbling to himself as he overturned weapons, broken and repaired, newly made and newly sharpened and checked as thoroughly as he could for any intruders.
I heard his footsteps coming closer, saw his boots walk by my table…and then, all at once, they stopped.
They stopped right in front of the table and I watched, gasping for breath but trying not to breathe too loudly, as he stopped. His knees began to bend.
My heart was about to pump out of my chest with how hard it was beating…I couldn't breathe, I couldn't move…I wished so badly I'd decided to wing it and try to sneak away with Toothless…but I was easier to spot in the darkness and he wasn't…
A large part of me didn't regret the decision.
Toothless will be safe. That's all that matters.
"Halfdan!" Gust called. "There's nobody in there!"
His knees stopped bending. He slowly rose again, an annoyed mutter making its way up from the back of his throat. "Mmph," he muttered, irritated. "I know I heard something." I watched his boots stop near my table again, then walk away.
I let out a breath I'd been holding since he'd entered the forge and I waited for them to walk away, to lock the forge back and go and patrol.
When I heard the door being locked back, I crawled out from my hiding place and pushed open the back door and quietly called for my dragon.
Toothless crawled out of the cluster of Loki trees and back inside the forge, pinning me to the ground and licking me, overjoyed that I was okay.
Well, that makes one person in the world.
I pushed those thoughts back. I couldn't afford to think like that right now. What mattered now was survival.
I had gotten good at thinking like a cornered and desperate animal these past few years and now it all came in handy. I listened closely and walked silently, I kept my tired eyes wide open, still searching the forge madly for any sign of movement. I didn't trust Halfdan to have left yet. He had a knack for appearing in places that I least wanted to see him in.
Then I began making the tail again, one thought resurfacing clearly above all the others: we are getting off Outcast Island.