Hey guys! I promise I'm almost done with the next chapter of Decay and As Fate Would Have It, but when I saw the HTTYD 2 trailer (which I'm still crying over actually) I really wanted to write Mericcup. And I've had this idea pending in my brain for a while. I posted this on Tumblr a while ago, but thanks to the fact that I've been on vacation for the past week and stuck in a house with no internet besides my phone, I wasn't able to post it on here as well.
So here you go (: Hope you enjoy!
Merida leaned eagerly toward her window, pressing her brow against the frosted glass pane. Her quick, sharp eyes scanned the night sky, roaming painstakingly over the clusters of glittering constellations for a distinct black shape she'd come to be so familiar with. She should've seen it by now. As the minutes ticked slowly by, a cold ball of disappointment began forming in her stomach.
Was he really not coming?
She shook her head in denial, red curls bouncing, and settled more firmly into the window seat. He always came. He'd promised. She shivered and pulled the wool wrap tighter around her shoulders. The warmth from the fire didn't reach this corner of the room, leaving it to be consumed by the chill of midwinter. Her nightgown didn't put up much of a fight against it. But faithfully she sat and waited, as she always did. She would wait all night if that's what it took.
Her eyes were growing heavy with drowsiness when a speeding silhouette cut across the deep indigo sky. She almost missed it. But thankfully her eyes had been seeking it out for so long that she noticed the disturbance in the stars, and was instantly wide awake. With a smile splitting across her face, she jumped up from her seat and rushed from the room, only pausing long enough to make sure the door didn't creak on its hinges when she threw it open. Her stocking feet padded lightly on the stone floor of the corridor as she ran, practically skipping with delight. She grabbed a torch from a sconce on the wall and held it carefully before her, the flame casting an orange light on the hallway that danced and jumped along the stones.
After rounding a few corners, she reached a short wooden door at the very end of the hall sunken back deeply into a hidden alcove. It was hardly ever used, and if Merida hadn't been so adventurous she might not have taken the rainy day explorations around the castle behind her mother's back that had led to the discovery of concealed nooks and forgotten passageways such as this. She grabbed the large iron ring that served as the doorknob and tugged at it cautiously. It swung outward on rusted hinges, a long, low groan echoing down the corridor. Merida winced at the noise, even though she knew it wouldn't reach her parents' chambers. It still sounded obscenely loud in the heavy silence that always settled in the early hours of the morning.
Holding the torch out in front of her to drive back the foreboding darkness, she stepped through the doorway and immediately began ascending a flight of old stairs. They were stone, like the rest of the castle, and covered in grime from so many years of neglect. She hitched up the skirt of her nightdress and ran up them two at a time. Several times she almost tripped over her own feet in her haste.
Excitement bubbled in her chest, bringing a smile to her lips that she couldn't hide. She did this every week on the same day and at the same time, but those seven days in between always felt like an eternity. These nights were the only things that made her life bearable anymore.
Finally the staircase ended and she arrived at the top, panting with the exertion it had taken to reach it. A small trapdoor was embedded into the ceiling of the tower. With one hand, Merida slid the heavy bolt to the left and heaved the wooden slab up and over, a sharp thunk resonating when it hit the stone outside. She was immediately greeted by a burst of cold wind as she pulled herself out of the hole, making no attempts to be graceful. At last, she emerged on the top of the turret. It stood tall in a secluded corner of the castle, which was why she chose it as a meeting place.
She rushed forward and leaned out over the balustrade, fingers gripping the rough, freezing stone, and hoisted herself up a bit in her impatience. The large black form in the sky was considerably closer, hovering by the trees that rimmed the west side of the castle. If Merida hadn't known it would be there, she never would have seen it. She thrust her torch into the air and waved it around. Not much of a signal, but it was all they needed.
The silhouette swooped down closer, materializing into the reptilian shape of a sleek, slithering dragon with scales black as midnight. Its great wings sliced through the air soundlessly with a grace she couldn't help but marvel at as she watched. Nimbly, it landed on the balustrade and hopped down to the roof of the turret as if it weighed nothing.
A breathless laugh escaped Merida's mouth as she launched herself over to it, no longer interested in the dragon but in the lithe figure swinging off of its back.
"Hiccup!" she cried, and threw her arms around his neck as soon as he'd removed his helmet.
He grunted at the sudden impact and staggered back a step or two before she felt his arms envelope her. "Hey, Mer."
His leather vest felt cold against her cheek. Three years ago, when they'd first met, her head would've hung right over his shoulder. Sometimes she still had a hard time adjusting to his height and size that were the results of a sudden growth spurt the past year had brought on, leaving him a little less than a head taller than her. But mostly she liked it, though she would never tell him that.
"I thought you might not be comin'," she admitted after they'd enjoyed each other's embrace for a few silent moments.
His hand went to the back of her head and smoothed down her mane of curls. "I told you I would, didn't I? I wouldn't lie to you."
"I know," she muttered. Then she pulled back to look at his face, half of it hidden by the shadow the moon cast. "But ye're late. What took you so long?"
"Ahh…" He backed up a little, reaching up to rub his right arm. "Nothing, nothing. Just…been a long day, you know?"
Merida raised an eyebrow. "You just said you wouldn't lie to me."
"I'm not! I just got held up, that's all." Then he gave her that lopsided grin and she couldn't help but let the matter drop. She was too happy about him being here to care much, anyway.
"Fine," she said with a roll of her eyes.
Toothless brayed loudly and nudged her shoulder, asking for her attention.
"Well, hello to you too, Toothless," she greeted, scratching him under the chin. "And how are you tonight?"
Usually the dragon would smile and lean into her stroking, so she was confused when he continued to stare up at her with wide, luminescent eyes. He uttered another low, warbling noise and if Merida hadn't known better she would think he sounded…worried. He turned to nose Hiccup gently in the side and looked back at her expectantly, chirring softly again.
Merida cocked her head, puzzled. "Toothless? What's the matter with you?"
"He's probably hungry," Hiccup excused quickly. "He didn't have a big supper." Then a cold gust of wind rushed by, causing both teenagers to shiver. "Let's get inside," he suggested, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "It's freezing out here."
He led her to the trapdoor, which was still wide open, and held out a hand to help her down into the stairwell.
As he began to pull the door shut, he turned to address his dragon one last time. "Stay out of trouble, okay bud? I'll be back in a little while."
Toothless gave one last worried bray before he sniffed, looking exasperated, and promptly began to turn in a circle to make himself a bed. Hiccup laughed softly as he closed the door.
Merida led them down the stairs with the torch. He reached out a hand and she took it, pulling him closer to her side. "How long can you stay tonight?"
"Till dawn, if you like," he replied.
She grinned with happiness. "Ye're sure they won't be missin' you?"
"Everyone's asleep. And if they wake up before I get back, well, I'm sure they can do without me for a little while."
She squeezed his hand. "All right. I'm glad you can stay."
They walked without speaking for a while, with only the thud of Hiccup's boot followed by the click of his metal prosthetic meeting stone to fill the echoic silence in the corridor. After listening to it for a minute or two, Merida began to notice something sounded a bit off. His usually steady gait was uneven and irregular, and when she looked at him she noticed for the first time that he was slightly hunched over, tucking his right arm against his chest.
Her brow furrowed. "Are you all right?"
"Huh?" His large green eyes met hers and he noticeably tried to straighten up, dropping his arm awkwardly back to his side. "Me? Yeah, I'm fine."
She frowned skeptically. "Hiccup…"
"Is there something ye're not tellin' me?"
"It's nothing, Mer. Don't worry about i—" Just then the end of his prosthetic foot caught on a crack in the stone floor and he stumbled, wincing visibly when his arm came into contact with the wall in an effort to keep himself upright.
Merida didn't miss the unmistakable flash of pain that crossed his face for a brief moment before he caught himself. Hiccup quickly regained his footing and smiled, apparently trying to convince her that nothing was wrong. But of course she wasn't fooled. She took his left arm to help support him and guided him forcefully down the hall.
He sighed in frustration. "I told you, I'm fine. Nothing to worry about."
She scowled. "Did you really think I'd believe that, Hiccup? You don't need to hide anythin' from me. I don't want you to hide anythin' from me."
"I know, I know." He sighed again, this time in defeat. "I just had a little trouble with one of the dragons today. That's all."
They rounded a corner and Merida's bedroom door came into view. "Well, come into my room and let me help you." She pushed the door open and led him through it, still holding onto his arm.
"Merida, you really don't need to—"
"Shut it. You don't have a choice." She dropped him at her bed and gestured for him to sit. "Now take off your shirt."
His face flushed bright red. "Oh, come on, I said you don't need—"
"And I said to take off your shirt," she repeated firmly, sounding much too similar to her mother for comfort. But at that moment, a little strictness was what she needed. "So pipe down and do as ye're told!"
Hiccup groaned, but it was halfhearted. They both knew Merida would get her way in the end. As always. They were both stubborn, but she was by far the more assertive of the two.
He began to undo the straps around his chest and she turned away, satisfied, to grab some medical supplies from the trunk by the fireplace. She always kept some there to treat her own injuries she mainly sustained from doing stupid things in the woods that she didn't want her parents to know about. They always fussed too much, and she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself anyway.
With her arms full of gauze and salve, she returned to the bed in time to see Hiccup tentatively pulling off his tunic. She dumped the supplies next to him and helped him with it. When it was removed, she tossed it aside carelessly and moved a candle closer to improve the lighting.
But when she got a good look at his bare torso, she gasped audibly, a hand flying to her mouth.
Hiccup's skin was mottled with bruises and scrapes. Two awful, angry burns crossed his chest and upper right arm. And now that his face was in better light, she could see a third burn down his cheek.
Merida's eyes widened at the sight. "Hiccup…"
The Viking ran a hand through his hair and sighed. "It's not as bad as it looks, I swear."
"I told you," he muttered, shrugging. "I was working with a Nightmare today who was a little uncooperative."
"A little?" she scoffed. Her eyes probed him up and down, trying to decide the best way to go about wrapping him up. They landed on a nasty set of gashes that started by his shoulder and ran down his back. "Looks like he caught you with his claws a few times, eh?"
"Only one time," he corrected irritably. "And it'll be fine. It's not like it's the first time this has happened. I've gotten pretty used to it, you know."
Merida took a cloth and pitcher of water from her nightstand. "Well, maybe you wouldn't if you'd stop bein' so reckless and start bein' a bit careful like I've told you."
"You're one to talk to me about being careful," he teased.
She rolled her eyes. "You know what I mean." Dipping the cloth in the water, she moved to sit closer to him on the bed. Gently, she began to dab at the burn on his chest.
He hissed and flinched away from her hand.
"Does that hurt?" she asked.
"Mm…yeah. A little."
"Good. That means it's not too deep. And ye're not blisterin' much, so it can't be that bad. Now man up and stay still."
He managed not to squirm as she pressed the cloth first to his chest, then to his arm, and lastly to his face. Eventually the swelling started to go down and some of the tension in his form melted away. She proceeded to clean the long gashes that extended down his back, gently working away dried blood.
She couldn't believe he'd managed to fly on Toothless's back all the way there with these injuries. It was almost an hour's trip, and she knew it took some effort to work the dragon's rig. No wonder it had taken him so long to arrive. It must've been a miserable ride.
When the compress had done its work, she set it back in the pitcher and moved it aside.
"Well, that beast made a proper fool of you, he did," she murmured as her fingers skimmed lightly over a dark bruise by his collarbone.
Hiccup laughed uneasily. "Yeah, well…they're usually not this aggressive."
"I wouldn't know." She uncorked the jar of healing salve, her face falling. "I…I wish I could come watch you."
"Me too." His hand was suddenly on her jaw, calloused thumb stroking her cheekbone. "One day you will. I promise."
Her eyes lifted up to his, blue meeting green, and she smiled, leaning into his hand a little. "I'll hold you to that."
He returned the smile and began to bend down toward her, his eyes on her lips. But before he could get too close, she put a finger against his mouth.
"Hold on a minute there, dragon boy. I've not finished with you yet."
He huffed in good humor and leaned back, baring his chest once more. "Hurry up, then."
Smirking, she scooped up some of the white balm and smeared it over his wounds. A sudden thrill raced down her back when she felt the lean muscle under her hands as they worked over his torso. She tried to keep a straight face so he wouldn't know how much she enjoyed it, but the way the firelight played on his skin was mesmerizing. When she'd finished (a little regretfully), she took long strips of gauze and bound the burns and cuts with a tender care she rarely ever showed.
At last, she sat back and gave a satisfied nod. "All done."
Hiccup inspected his newly bandaged arm. "You know, you're surprisingly good at this."
"I'm good at a lot of things," she retorted as she gathered up the supplies to return to her chest.
"You don't have to tell me that."
Merida laughed softly and launched herself onto the mattress next to him, fiery curls sprawling out around her head. Immediately Hiccup lied down as well and rolled over so they were facing each other.
His arm snaked out to brush some unruly strands of hair from her face. "Thank you, Mer. I'm feeling a lot better now."
She reached up and caught his hand. "Just don't let it happen again and we won't have any problems." He began to laugh, but she cut him off with a stern look. "I'm serious, Hiccup. I don't want you comin' here in this condition again. You should've stayed home."
His brows drew together. "And miss the chance to see you? I wouldn't dream of it."
"I wouldn't like it either, but I would understand—"
"Merida," Hiccup interrupted, his voice suddenly low and serious. His green eyes bore straight into hers. "I promised you I would always come, and I will. No matter what."
Merida shook her head, but couldn't hide the smile on her lips. "Stupid boy. That stubbornness is goin' to get you in trouble."
"Too late for that." That crooked grin spread across his features again, melting her insides. A few years ago she would've bet money that no smile in the entire world could ever have the power to make her feel weak-kneed, and yet here she was. Since she met Hiccup, she'd discovered a lot of things about herself that she didn't know.
His hand rested on the side of her face, and her hand rested on top of his. The smile from before faded quickly from her lips as a thought entered her mind. It was a thought that, no matter how hard she tried to ignore it, always pushed its way through eventually. "Hiccup…" she started, not sure if she should finish. But she felt it was something she needed to address. "We can't keep goin' like this, you know? I only see you once a week, and while I'm thankful for that, I feel like…like I barely know you anymore."
"I know." The voice he spoke with was somber and much too sad for her taste.
"I want to be there—with you—so if this ever happens again you don't have to drag your sorry behind all the way to the Highlands to be taken care of properly." She lifted an eyebrow. "Not that you were goin' to let me help you anyway."
"I just didn't want you to worry." His thumb stroked her cheek again. "I'll find a way to fix this, I swear."
"You better make good on that promise, dragon boy."
"I will, princess. I'm good at fixing things."
She chuckled. "Right, I'll give you that one." She hooked a finger under his chin. "But don't call me princess."
Hiccup smiled. "Whatever you say, m'lady."
Then he leaned in and pressed his lips firmly against hers. A while later, they fell asleep, arms draped around each other, and stayed that way for the rest of the night.
Dawn came far too soon, forcing them into another goodbye.
Thanks so much for reading!