A/N: So...this is my Halloween fic! I'm REALLY, REALLY EXCITED FOR THIS. All my other Halloween fanfics for my other fandoms are probably going to be one-shots.
Anyway, here's the first chapter and I hope you all enjoy it very much!
Snotlout raised his fist and tentatively knocked on the chief's door. He heard uneven footsteps and ragged, pained breathing.
He winced a little upon hearing what a bad state Hiccup was in. They'd all seen it, they'd all seen his leg, twisted and mangled and maimed…
Despite being a Viking, his stomach tightened upon thinking of what his cousin's leg had looked like both before the amputation and again last night – not that he'd gotten to see much of it the first time.
The adults had told the teens to stay away from Hiccup after he woke up, because he was going to need time to recover from his prosthetic and the battle with the Red Death, which, admittedly, was enough to give the toughest hero in the archipelago nightmares, and certainly Hiccup had awoken with cold sweat on his face once or twice.
Astrid had, of course, completely ignored the "stay away from Hiccup" rule, elbowing her way through the crowd and kissing him full on the lips seconds after he'd exited his house.
Snotlout's stomach twisted into a tighter knot as he thought of everything that had happened the previous night and as his thoughts neared his cousin's moan of pain, the fallen tree, the twisted leg, mangled, broken, newly throbbing, the door opened roughly and he raised his eyes to see Hiccup standing there, face pale, leaning heavily on the door so as not to put too much weight on his aching leg.
He struggled to stand a little taller, trying not to lean on the doorframe so much when he saw who it was. "Snotlout," he whispered, and just that single word seemed to take so much strength from the smaller boy, "what do you want?"
'Vikings never apologize'. That was one of the most popular mottos on Berk. Apologizing just wasn't the done thing.
The only exception was in family matters.
But generally, it was not the done thing to say 'I'm sorry' not even to your friend.
Snotlout had never been so glad Hiccup was his cousin. "I…Hiccup…"
But he couldn't make himself speak, not when Hiccup was right in front of him. The two words he'd been burning to say since last night seemed impossible to form now.
Hiccup's face remained impassive, his expression unreadable. Snotlout found himself wishing the boy didn't keep his guard up quite so much. If only he could hazard a mere guess at what the boy was thinking…
He gave Snotlout a curt nod and began struggling to shut the door and so Snotlout said the only thing that came to him, the only way to keep Hiccup talking. "Wait!" he blurted. "Did they fix your leg?"
For a second, there was that calm, unreadable expression on Hiccup's face and then a spasm of hurt, as if Snotlout had smacked him, flashed in his eyes before he spoke. Snotlout noted with relief that his voice was quite steady, but he'd rather Hiccup have broken down in tears than say what he did.
Hiccup didn't shut the door, but he said, in a voice of cold fury with that underlying note of sarcasm, "Thank you for summing that up."
And then the door slammed shut, leaving Snotlout alone in the cold November air, nothing but the guilt twisting his stomach in those tight little knots and the memory of Hiccup's face, the hurt in his bright green eyes, for company.
Three days earlier…
A lot can change in just three days, can't it?
Three days ago, it was nearing Halloween and Snotlout was teasing Hiccup, telling him he was a weakling and that he needed to toughen up and dodging well-aimed punches from Astrid for teasing her boyfriend (but both – especially Hiccup – blushed profusely whenever anyone called them that, so naturally, the twins went out of their way to do that all the time.)
Three days ago, everything was normal. It was far from perfect, in Snotlout's opinion, but it was normal and safe and – to the Snotlout of three days past – it was perfect.
It had been so easy and now, Snotlout almost wished it had been harder.
Harder, maybe, to convince Astrid not to tell.
Harder to persuade Hiccup to come into the woods on Halloween night.
Harder to get the twins to help him.
Harder to convince Fishlegs that this was funny, not mean.
Harder to get Hookfang, who normally so rarely listened, to singe the trunk of that tree and send it tumbling to earth.
Harder to scare Hiccup into running in the first place.
He wished he'd never had the idea at all, or that it had been much harder to carry out. If it had been, he might have given up. He wasn't like Hiccup – he carried none of his cousin's stubborn resilience.
He could've stepped back and thought, 'how would my cousin deal with this?' instead of 'how would I deal with this?'
If he had thought of a member of his family before himself, for once, he might never have done this at all.
But he had told the others excitedly about it, announcing eagerly that he was going to prank Hiccup on Halloween, at midnight, in the woods, hoping that the darkness of the forest might induce fear in the younger boy.
Just enough, he assured himself, to make the night unforgettable.
Snotlout loved pranks. He always had, he supposed.
"Why don't you like a quieter holiday?" he recalled Fishlegs tentatively asking him once. "Like Snoggletog or Valentine's Day?"
"Those days are for wimps!" Snotlout had snorted and Hiccup, who had been listening in, called back, "Because Snotlout is as obnoxious as Gobber is eccentric, Fishlegs."
Snotlout vaguely remembered issuing an empty threat at Hiccup then, and Hiccup had merely laughed and sped up, because he had learned long ago that Snotlout was all wind and no rain, although Snotlout hated his cousin knowing this.
And a couple of weeks later, he was excitedly explaining his prank to the twins, promising destruction if they helped him.
He'd blackmailed Fishlegs and now he wished he hadn't. He'd begged Astrid not to tell Hiccup about the prank, lied to her about what they were really going to do and now he wished he hadn't.
So much hurt so much damage – it all could have been avoided if only he hadn't been so stupid, too pleased with himself and what he considered to be an absolutely brilliant idea to care that it could possibly hurt the victim.
"Hey, Hiccup!" he called to the younger boy, the day before Halloween, as the auburn-haired Viking walked out of the training arena after a dragon training class. "Do you have any plans for tomorrow night?"
"No," Hiccup shrugged. "Why?"
"The others were planning on celebrating Halloween tomorrow, in Raven's Point Forest," Snotlout explained. "The party starts at eleven forty-five, right before midnight. It'll be epic. We'll tell ghost stories and roast marshmallows and try to scare each other silly! What do you think?" he grinned widely, pleased with himself and his explanation.
Hiccup deliberated for a moment, raising an eyebrow, clearly hesitating. "Uh…"
"C'mon," Snotlout urged. "I won't make the ghost stories too scary."
"This is just an attempt to scare Fishlegs with more of your little horror tales, isn't it?" Hiccup demanded, crossing his arms.
"…Maybe," Snotlout admitted.
Hiccup smiled, shaking his head in amusement. "Okay. I'll come."
"Awesome!" Snotlout cheered and he saw surprise on Hiccup's face.
"You guys actually want me there?" The redhead asked.
Snotlout nodded eagerly. "You are my cousin, after all, and I barely know you! Time we got to know each other better!"
"While you're trying to scare me?"
"I'll be trying to scare Fishlegs," Snotlout corrected automatically. "You don't believe in ghosts."
This was, unfortunately, perfectly true.
Hiccup had never believed in anything supernatural or fantastical before, such as unicorns or the tooth fairy, Santa Claus or magical pixies.
He'd never believed in anything scary, either – magic, ghosts, zombies, vampires, and witches, to name a few, making pranking him all the harder, because Snotlout had to go out of his supernatural-comfort-zone to do so.
Hiccup sighed, then smiled a little wearily and nodded. "Okay. I'll be there at…what time did you say?"
"We'll be getting set up at about eleven-forty-five," Snotlout reminded him. "But you don't have to actually be there until eleven-fifty to around midnight, okay?"
As the two boys parted ways, Hiccup suddenly stopped and called tentatively, "Hey, Snotlout?"
"Yeah?" the bigger boy called, turning to face the red-head.
"Thanks," Hiccup smiled, and then he dashed off, back to his house, possibly to go for a flight on Toothless before the sun set, or to catch up to Astrid, or maybe to the forge.
Snotlout heard the twins cackling behind him and turned to see them, falling all over themselves in laughter.
Maybe if he hadn't joined in, this would never have happened.