Hi. New one-shot. Inspired by Cressida Cowell's line, 'Vikings don't get sick'. I'm sorry. It just happened.
If anybody spent enough time around Gobber the Belch, they would quickly discover several things about the man: he never kept his opinions to himself and he rarely did noises quieter than yelling. He was fiercely loyal to friends, family and tribe, he was an excellent blacksmith and, like any great Viking, he didn't have a softer side. At least, that's what everybody thought.
Hiccup came into work that morning, rubbing his hands up and down his arms, shivering a little from the bitter cold. When he entered the slightly warmer but still frigid forge, his shivering ceased abruptly. He had been leaning slightly on his dragon the whole way to the forge, but the moment he stepped inside, he stood up straight, patted Toothless' head and thanked him for helping him.
Toothless waited to see if Hiccup could manage the walk to his desk without him. He watched Hiccup carefully as the boy slowly stumbled over to his desk, mumbling a greeting to the man standing beside it.
"Nice to see you've stopped slacking off," Gobber said cheerfully, picking up his hammer and screwing it on the prosthetic's base tightly. "You were out for about three days."
Hiccup threw the man an offended, slightly annoyed look, turning back to his own work.
Gobber felt his grin fade as he caught Hiccup's eye and began to get an inkling of why the boy had avoided looking at him for the first few seconds. Hiccup had dark bags under his eyes and he looked exhausted. Although he smiled playfully at Gobber and he was far too used to the Viking man's antics to care what he said about him, there was something sad and slightly hollow in Hiccup's eyes.
He continually shifted his weight from his ordinary foot to his prosthetic one, but every time he did this, he winced slightly and reached down to massage the stump. If he caught Gobber looking at him while he did this, he quickly released his hold on his leg and went back to his work.
Hiccup wasn't paying attention to his work much, Gobber noted and he felt a slight twinge of guilt. He didn't often get these attacks of conscience, but when he did, they normally involved Hiccup. The man had never felt guilty making the boy work before, but then, the boy hadn't been limping painfully everywhere before, either.
He was probably working the boy too hard. He had made continual jokes about Hiccup's failure to be in the forge and Hiccup had smiled at all of them, but his smile did not quite reach his eyes.
The forge work normally continued for a lot longer in the day, but at around four or five in the afternoon, Gobber said, "Why don't you just go home for the rest of the day? Take a break."
"No, thanks," Hiccup replied. He offered Gobber a hopeful smile, but again, it didn't reach his eyes; and even if it had, Gobber was too busy studying the dark circles under his eyes to notice.
Gobber's mouth turned down at the corners in clear dissatisfaction. He picked up the sword he had been repairing.
Hiccup took a deep, labored breath and went back to work, but after a few more minutes it became clear that he was not in a fit state. He turned to go sit down in the backroom for a second, just to rest, but before he could go more than a couple of steps, he stumbled. Toothless caught him before he hit the ground.
Gobber heard Hiccup quietly thank his dragon as he was led to a chair by the desk he'd just been standing at. Hiccup massaged his leg for a second, only drawing attention to it by the way he was blatantly not trying to draw attention to it.
Toothless gave Hiccup a stern, 'I can't believe you tried to work on that leg' look and Hiccup rolled his eyes and yawned a little.
Gobber stared at the two for a second and then he slowly set his work down and came over to them. "You should go home, Hiccup."
Hiccup shook his head. "I'm fine. I'll be up in a second."
Gobber nodded. "Alright." he rested a hand on Hiccup's bad leg, and Hiccup winced.
Gobber withdrew his hand. "Sorry." He was, he thought to himself, dreadful at comforting people.
Hiccup shrugged. "I'm fine." he smiled weakly. "Vikings don't feel pain, right?"
Gobber scowled. "Who told you that?"
"You." Hiccup replied simply. "Remember?"
And come to think of it, Gobber kind of did. He glanced at the boy sitting in front of him for a second longer, but Hiccup merely stood and dusted himself off. Gobber couldn't miss the slight gasp of pain Hiccup let loose when his prosthetic landed on the floor, but he determinedly stumbled his way over to his desk and picked up the hammer to get back to work.
"Hiccup…" Gobber began and then he realized he had no idea what he wanted to say. The boy was stubborn and he wouldn't listen if this was what he truly wanted to do. His voice rang in Gobber's head: "Vikings don't feel pain."
He still remembered teaching Hiccup these things himself when the boy was only ten years old.
"Vikings don't get sick," Gobber said firmly. "Vikings don't get cold. Vikings don't feel pain. Vikings don't get scared. Those kinds of weaknesses are for the lesser humans."
Hiccup nodded solemnly, staring up at Gobber with a sparkle in his eye.
And then, when Gobber thought back on it, he'd failed to reinforce these teachings at other times – when Hiccup had broken his arm and had tears of pain in his eyes, Gobber had put it carefully in a cast.
Hiccup had groaned about hating the snow last winter and when Gobber had asked him why he hated it, Hiccup had said how cold it was and how he always got sick in winter. Sure enough, he'd caught a nasty cold later in the year and taken a couple days off from work until he was better.
And whenever Hiccup looked scared or lonely or lost, Gobber never reinforced the fact that Vikings weren't supposed to get scared. He only ever tried to help the boy.
And now, as he watched Hiccup bent over his work desk, he realized that there were certain people that he regarded as allowed to get scared. To him, Hiccup was allowed to be scared. He was allowed to be in pain. He was allowed to be cold. He was allowed to get sick. To Gobber, Hiccup was allowed to be weak.