Ch. 6: Safe

Arms encircled him, held him tightly, but gently. Whispered voices found their way inside his head, such familiar and friendly voices. They almost seemed to chase the pain away, he had felt nothing but pain for so long, he didn't know what to do with this new feeling. What game were the nightmares playing this time? Cruel games that prayed on his fears, and now he was hearing voices he never thought he would hear again. Still the arms encircled him, warm and comforting, making him never want to leave.

He wouldn't get trapped into it, but it was so real, he could feel and hear everything so clearly that he almost felt that if it wasn't real, he really would break. A cool hand rested on his forehead and a voice he knew sang out in a song he had heard countless times before.

"Flower gleam and glow,"

Then he felt a pair of lips on his hand, and rough, but small hands that encircled it. He knew those hands very well, how often had he held them, kissed them, studied them for the simple fact that they were connected to someone he loved so much.

"Let your power shine,"

"Astrid." He tried to say, but it came out as little more than a croaked breath. His vocal chords still too raw and his throat too parched.

"He's waking!" He heard Astrid's voice so clearly. He felt a hand on his chest and heard the song more Clearly.

"Make the clock reverse,"

Rapunzel was singing for him, he could feel it now, the pain was receding, although he still could not find the strength to open his eyes.

"Bring back what once was mine."

Astrid's hands held him tighter now, she could feel her lift his hand and rest it against her lips, not moving it. He could sense her wide-eyed stare on him, willing him to open his eyes. He rasped again, trying to tell her he was doing his best, he wanted to see her just as badly.

"Heal what has been hurt,"

A cold snout nudged his face and his head rolled with it. A smile came to his lips, Toothless was there, as always, trying to rouse him and make sure he was alright.

"Change the face Design."

He was nudged again, this time a bit more forcefully.

"Toothless, no," he heard Merida's voice scold his dragon, "ya won' be helpin' 'im by doin' tha'!" His dragon cooed and huffed.

"Save what has been lost,"

He felt warm breath on his head, knowing Toothless had set his head down but was still keeping constant vigil on his rider.

"Bring back what once was mine."

The blinding pain was almost completely gone now, reduced to only a dull ache. He rasped again, trying so hard to communicate, but unable to, he griped Astrid's fingers where she was holding his hand as much as he could. She gripped back, and he could feel her willing him to wake the rest of the way.

"What once was mine."

"Come on, sleepy-head, you've slept long enough." Jack's jovial voice rang out. He knew he had to open his eyes, but he also knew why he hadn't yet. He was terrified of opening them and finding it had all been an elaborate dream the nightmares had given him to break him, and he thought as long as his eyes were closed, he could pretend it was real.

But he felt Astrid's hands, the many scars and callouses on them from wielding her axe. He knew them all in detail, and he could feel the one that ran along her right forefinger from when she had practiced for twelve hours without stopping, even after her hands had broke and bled. A dream could never be that detailed. And the pain had receded immensely after Rapunzel had finished her song, and he knew that no dream, no matter how real, could dull the pain he had been in.

Finally, Hiccup opened his eyes. Rapunzel was hovering over him, when she saw his eyes were open, she beamed down at him. Above her, Jack was hovering, he sent down a beaming smile of his own.

"Late as usual," he joked," why are we always waiting on you?" Hiccup could only stare at him, his mouth tugged at the corners, he wanted to smile and laugh, but he was still in shock. Merida's red curly hair came into view, she too was smiling at him, she crinkled her nose and lightly stuck her tongue out at him. That had become their usual greeting since a year earlier, when Hiccup had found he was mildly allergic to berries Merida had brought from DunBroch. His tongue had been swollen for three days and he had sounded ridiculous. She made fun of him for it all the time. This time it lacked some of the playfulness it normally held, Hiccup could tell she had been worried.

The Viking boy looked up into the face of his best friend. The dragon's large pupils were dilated, and he pressed his snout into the boy's face in happiness. A new feeling began welling up in Hiccup, and he found himself struggling not to cry. Emotions began to well up in him so strongly, he had steeled himself during his capture, but now that he was safe, they were starting to explode out of him. It was a strange experience, and he didn't like it. He went to lift his hand to pet his most loyal companion, but the most he managed was a few finger twitches, and a jerk of the elbow.

"Easy," Rapunzel spoke softly and he looked at her with questioning eyes. "I have only really managed to heal the damage in your head and some more major injuries like your broken ribs, the only reason that you don't feel the pain from your other injuries is because I gave you some herbs before beginning that would dull the pain. Your shoulders are still extremely swollen and there are some torn muscles from how you were hung by them. You won't be able to move your arms until we heal them."

Hiccup nodded to show he understood, but an over-whelming feeling was taking him. He was free. He had been saved, right at the point where he had completely given up surviving the ordeal. He looked at all their smiling, but concerned, faces, and finally his eyes met Astrid's. She was smiling, but there was such sadness in her face, traces of worry and evidence of sleepless nights, he couldn't bear it anymore. It hit him suddenly that his capture had not only affected him. That revelation was the last thing he needed on top of all the emotions overwhelming him. Without warning, the dam broke.

Tears began to fall down his face, and without hesitation, Astrid gathered him into her arms and held him tight, stoking his dirty hair and burying her face into it. Allowing a few tears of her own to be let loose as he sobbed uncontrollably into her neck, his almost useless fingers gripping her shirt as much as possible. Another warmth enveloped them as Toothless wrapped himself around them, draping his wings over them and laying his head next to his little human.

Without a word, the other three silently got up and walked a bit into the woods, giving the three a chance to be alone.

Jack ran a hand through his white hair. The beaming smile he had worn earlier now completely gone from his face. These situations were very unfamiliar territory for him. Had he honestly thought they would rescue their friend, patch up a few scrapes and bruises and be on their merry way, off to save the world yet again? Had he really not considered the possibility of Hiccup being hurt, scared and broken? He had been a fool, and that made his next decision so much harder. They couldn't stay on Cannibal Island, that was for sure, and they couldn't go to Berk. Jack sighed, he really was at a loss, sometimes he wondered why Man in the Moon had made him leader in the first place, he certainly didn't feel qualified for the job.

"It's going to be alright, Jack." Rapunzel said as her hand rested on his shoulder. "He's in shock, and he has been through a lot recently." Jack snorted, thatwas an understatement. "But he's going to be alright, just you wait and see."

"We'll jus' be gentle with 'im for a bit." Merida said and the brunette beamed at her friend.

"I just..." Jack trailed off, the girls waited for him to continue, "he looked so small, and so lost. He really looked like a child, he acts so mature, sometimes I forget how young he is." Jack paused again, "the world is just... It's so dark, and so full of hatred and evil, sometimes I feel..."

"I know," Rapunzel said, "but this is why we fight it, so that bad people don't get to continue hurting other's."

"But you saw him Rapunzel! You saw the look in his eyes, he'd completely lost hope for a while. How can we ask him to fight with us, now! After what they put him through, I wouldn't blame him if he just wanted to stay far away, somewhere safe."

"'e wouldn' want ta do tha'." Merida scoffed, "I don' think Hiccup coul' sit out o' a fight when 'is friends an' family where in danger."

"Again, Jack, he just needs time." Rapunzel said softly.

"Two weeks, how did he survive that for two weeks, looking at the state of him that shouldn't be possible."

The brunette nodded and explained, her voice still soft. "Alvin seems clever, for a Viking, I don't think it started so rough. My guess is the first week or so, he probably put Hiccup through tortures that were more mental and ones that were uncomfortable and painful, but ones that didn't cause any major damage. He probably grew impatient, though, and threw everything at him. If Alvin had been so brutal from the beginning, there's no way Hiccup would be alive right now." Merida had turned her head away and cringed a bit, it was obviously a subject she didn't want to talk about, understandably.

"We can't stay here, Rapunzel." Jack whispered.

"I know." The princess said, confused as to the sudden change. She looked at Merida, who simply shrugged back.

"We can't stay here and we can't go to Berk." Jack turned to face them, a determination in his face that rarely showed itself. "Alvin is planning to attack Berk, I almost guarantee after this little defeat he will attack soon. If Hiccup is there, it will be dangerous for him, I don't know how strong the Berk army is compared to Alvin with his new allies and Pitch with his nightmares. Whatever the case we need to get Hiccup back up to strength and try to find allies of our own, there is no way we can defeat this army alone." The girls nodded, they had suspected this might be the case. "I think we should go to Corona." Jack's team had been there twice before, the King and Queen were very welcoming of them, and it was a safe kingdom.

"Yes, of course!" Rapunzel agreed.

"Aye, tis a good idea," Merida agreed as well, "but what about Berk? Do we jus' let 'em get attacked without warning?"

Here Jack looked almost guilty. "Astrid won't be coming with us, I'm going to open a portal for her back to Berk."

"She's not going to like that." Rapunzel said, "not now that she's been reunited with Hiccup, there's no way she'll want to leave him."

"She doesn't have a choice!" Jack exclaimed, "Berk needs to be warned, she knows them, they'll listen to her. I'm sure they'd like to know Hiccup has been found, but at the same time Hiccup can't go back yet, it's too dangerous. We need to go to Corona, and Astrid needs to return to Berk, that's just the way it has to be!"

"No one's arguin' with ya," Merida calmed him down, "but who's going ta tell 'er?"

"I will." Jack said as they moved back toward shore. The sooner they got moving, the better.

Astrid ran her fingers across Hiccup's cheek, memorizing every freckle that colored it. He was sleeping, worn out from everything, and she didn't blame him, he had been through a lot in his short life, but this certainly took the cake. As her fingertips ran across his skin she noted the unusual hotness of his skin, he was running a fever. She felt like crying again, but she wouldn't, she had him back, there was no reason to cry. She was a Viking! And even though she had allowed herself a few tears of relief, she could not justify any more crying to herself. Instead she turned her thoughts to more vengeful things. Alvin would pay, and she hoped she got the honor of killing the man herself. She would not do it quickly, nor provide mercy. Such was her anger and need for vengeance.

The sound of footsteps alerted her to the fact the others had returned. She watched Merida and Rapunzel walk to the small camp and begin to collect their belongings and pack them up. Jack, however, walked towards her. From the look on his face, she knew that she was not going to like what he had to say, but she was resolved to stay calm and listen.

The frost spirit sat down in front of her and his eyes glanced at the boy in her arms before looking up to meet her own. He took a breath, as if he didn't want to say what he had to, but Astrid knew what it was before he said it.

"We have to go to Corona." He started, quietly, "Hiccup will be able to rest and recover there, he will be safe, until it is time for him to join the fight again." She nodded, and she felt her stomach drop as she knew what came next. "You have to go back to Berk." He hesitated, obviously expecting a fight but receiving none. "They need to know of Alvin's plans, and also that Hiccup is safe. I will open a portal for you to get there."

The female Viking nodded. "I thought you would say something like that, and although I want to stay with him, I know that my village has to be warned. Alvin will attack soon, of that I'm sure, and I know Hiccup would not be safe there." She looked down at him again and brushed a few strands of hair out of his face. "Corona will be good for him, he told me about it after the last time you four went. He said it was peaceful and large; he described Rapunzel's home, a castle. Made of stone, he said, and bigger than the whole village, with walls around it and gardens, almost like another village itself. He sounded very impressed with it," she smiled softly, "but I just don't understand why you would need that big of a house." She chuckled, Jack looked at her with a sad smile before reaching down to take the boy in her arms. She gave him one last kiss on his forehead before Jack took him.

"Don't worry," he told her, "we'll get him all fixed up for you." He sent her a cheeky grin and she gave him a soft smile, though it didn't quite reach her eyes. She stood up and stretched out her slightly sleepy legs, then they made their way over to the camp where Rapunzel and Merida had packed everything up except for two glass orbs.

Rapunzel ran up to the girl and gave her a hug. "Stay safe and don't worry, he'll be alright." Astrid hugged her back, and smiled as she pulled away.

Merida stepped over to her and patted her on the shoulder. "Give 'em hell." Was all she said, Astrid nodded before turning to Jack and glancing down at the boy in his arms.

"Looks like it was a good idea to bring you after all," he laughed. "We'll see you again soon, hopefully when this whole thing is over."

"You have a good team here, Jack." She said looking him directly in the eye, "keep them safe." Jack knew she was no longer just talking about Hiccup. Rapunzel and Merida had become her friends as well in he short time they had known each other, as had he. Astrid truly wanted them all to stay safe.

"I will." Jack promised, he then pulled out a glass orb from Rapunzel's pouch. "Berk." He whispered into it and proceeded to throw it. A bright portal opened up and Berk's forest showed itself in distorted images. Astrid smiled at them sadly and took one more glance at Hiccup before leaping through the portal.

Jack turned to them, another portal already in his hand. "Are we ready?" He asked and the other two nodded fervently. Toothless looked at Jack as if to say, "what are you waiting for?" The winter prince whispered the kingdom's name and through the ball. Without hesitation, they jumped in.

This concludes part one, the first chapter of part two is almost done (yes in this same fic. it's not the same as a sequel)

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