Merida walked down the castle steps slowly, scanning the large group of energetic Scotsmen. It had been five years since the battle with Mor'du and Merida was now 21. She looked at the group of suitors, all enjoying their time. They all knew that, even now, Merida was not going to be held back by any man. They had come to terms with it. At first, Merida playing for her own hand was scandalous, princesses should be seen, not heard. But, with a little persuasion for Elinor, the other competitors complied, and those who didn't like it could seek another princess. However, Merida fighting for her own hand had caused more suitors to show up, and each year they were more and more promising.
This year they were all very handsome, Merida had to at least give them that. As Merida finished her descent and walked to the small stage where the thrones were set up. She took her place and folded her hands in her lap, smiling softly at the crowd. She cast a glance at her mother, who nodded softly. Merida stood up smoothly, hands still clasped in front of her.
"Tomorrow, will be a day fer events, but tonight, we feast!" The group cheered and mugs of mead were smacked together in toasts. The hall was filled, and Merida watched as her three brothers ran through the throng of people, leaving mischief in their wake. Merida shook her head and chortled lightly behind her hand watching the very drunk, and very confused, people try and figure out how they ended up on the ground, or tied to the person next to them.
The boys had grown, they were ten now, and sprouting like weeds. They were almost at tall as the 21 year old princess, and that was something she absolutely hated. They loved it though. They were growing and soon they'd be competing for princess's hands. Merida just hoped she'd put the fear of God in those three.
In the middle of the party, Merida began to feel unsteady. A twisting, knotting feeling formed in the pit of her stomach, earned from years of training. She looked to her dad, who was too drunk to feel anything. She sighed and found her mother, sitting beside Fergus at the head of a long table full of men. Merida walked up, unnoticed, and tapped her mother on the shoulder.
"Mum, something's wrong." Merida searched Elinor's eyes and found the same fear she felt.
"Aye. Merida, find yer brothers." Merida nodded and took off to find her brothers. She knew where they'd be. She heard Maudie's screaming before she even reached the kitchens.
"Boys! Come with me, now." Merida said sternly. The boys put down the rat and untied Maudie, hanging their heads. Merida groaned and pushed Hamish in front of her and she grabbed Hubert and Hariss' hands and drug them down the hallway back to the party. Merida stopped, feeling something in the air turn.
"Run." She said, her heart beating faster. They ran into the hall and Merida spotted their mother across the large room.
"Mum!" Merida called. Elinor looked up and opened her mouth to say something, but the roof of the room was peeled off, and a spray of fire coated the floor. Merida wrapped an arm around Hamish, and her grip on the other two tightened, not that she needed to, because they were clinging to her for dear life. A lithe body fell from the ceiling, followed by a few, much larger ones. The ceiling started to fall apart, crumbling and trapping a few people. She saw her dad run up and charge one of the beasts. The thing whipped around, its tail smashing into Fergus.
"Fergus!" Elinor yelled out
"Da!" Merida called. Elinor's eyes looked up sharply and Merida could see the fear in her mother's eyes.
"Merida, go!" Elinor cried to her daughter, who was now stepping toward the beasts tearing apart guests and the room. One of the creatures turned, icy blue eyes landing on the curly haired princess. She took a step back, and she could hear her heart beat in her ears.
"Merida! Run!" Elinor called. She threw a mug at the beast in front of her and it bounced off. But it irritated the thing, and it turned on the queen.
"Mum! Merida cried, reaching out a hand.
"Merida, get yer brothers out of here. Run!" Tears were falling down the queen's face as the creature was stepping toward her. Merida felt the tears running down her own face as she turned.
"A love all of yew!" Her mother called.
"We love yew too!" Merida called back before the four of them ran out of the dining hall.
They ran down a maze of halls, and out the back doors. She saw the stables were ablaze and she looked at her brothers.
"Stay. Here." The three nodded and Merida ran into the stables and opened the doors, setting all the horses free. She looked longingly, but she knew she couldn't take Angus. She went back to the boys.
"Harris, grab Hubert's hand, Hubert grab Hamish's, and Hamish, you take mine. We stay in a line. Do. Not. Let. Go. Do. Not. Stop. Running. Do yew understand?" The three boys nodded once again, lost for words. Merida cast one last glance at the castle that was now being torn apart, dozens of shadows attacking. Many more were starting to fly in and Merida knew she had to run now.
They took off, dodging fire, and falling debris. They weaved their way through the square just outside the castle, through the gates, and were heading to the forest when they were cut off by a giant beast landing in front of them. It stood taller than Mor'du, large horns protruding from its head. Beady eyes looked at them down a long snout and Merida took a few steps back. The beast stood higher and opened its wings before its entire body caught flame. Merida screamed and turned the other way and ran as fast as she could. She looked back at her brothers to make sure they were keeping up with her. She heard the waves rolling against the shore and Merida set her jaw.
She pulled the boys to the docks, her heart pounding in her ears. She reached the end of the dock, and pushed the boys onto a small emergency boat. She untied the boat from the dock and pushed it off before she jumped inside. They sat on the floor of the boat and pulled one of the blankets over themselves, hiding their vivid hair from anything that might see them. To any animal, or person, they would just look like a stray boat, nothing for them to worry about. Hamish, Hubert, and Harris sat in the boat, tears streaming down their faces. Merida pulled them into her body, holding them close as the four cried, mourning the loss of the only home they'd ever known.
Now they were stranded in the ocean, praying to whatever higher power was out there that they would land. It had been three days. Rations were tight, water was piddling away, and it was getting colder and colder every hour that passed. Merida's teeth chattered as she wrapped the blankets around her brothers, making sure that their ears were covered.
"Merida, ya need a blanket." Hamish said, looking up into her blue eyes.
"What A need, is for the three of yew ta stay safe."
"How are we gonna stay safe if yer frozen?" Harris said skeptically. Merida sighed and slowly crawled to where the boys were huddled together in the small boat. They opened their arms, enveloping Merida into the warmth they'd created under the blankets. Her body stopped shaking and she relaxed into their embrace. Soon, the four of them drifted into a dreamless sleep as their boat floated into colder and colder waters.
Hiccup walked through the village of Berk, trying to keep the tears from falling down his face. He quickly made his way to the beach, where the large statue of his father stood. Hiccup fell to his knees at the feet of his father, pounding his fist into the ground. He'd seen it coming for a while now. It'd been two months since he'd defeated Drago, and for a short time after that, his life with Astrid couldn't have been better. But, after about a week, she'd started drifting from him. She'd stay out late at night and sneak back into their house in the wee hours of the morning. She'd sneak around the village, disappear for hours on end, and she failed to be seen with Hiccup at delegations, or any public event. He played it off, refusing to believe that it could be true. But today, he found all the proof he needed.
'It was early morning, the sun barely peeking over the horizon. Hiccup was running through the woods, looking behind him, his heart slamming against his chest. He weaved through trees, and leapt over fallen logs covered in moss. He groaned to himself as a thick fog began to set in. He knew he wasn't going to win. He looked behind him one more time, and was hit from the front.
A large, black dragon was sitting on his chest in a very proud manner, the blue glow under his scales coming out with his victory.
"Okay, okay bud! I get it! You win!" Hiccup said laughing as he tried to push the dragon off his stomach. Toothless' ears perked up, clearly hearing something that Hiccup didn't.
"What is it bud? Toothless?" Hiccup asked as the dragon jumped off his chest and ran in a quick circle in front of Hiccup, telling him he wanted to go somewhere. Hiccup jumped to his feet and followed his best friend. About two minutes of walking later Hiccup heard a familiar laugh. One that he hadn't heard in a long time. He crouched low and placed a hand on Toothless, who looked at his quizzically, but sat down none the less. Hiccup watched through the thickets at the scene in front of him.
In a clearing by a flowing river, Astrid lay sprawled out on her back, a smile on her face, as she watched Eret try and catch a fish with his sword.
"Come on, babe!" Astrid laughed out. Eret turned and scowled at her, but then laughed and got out of the river.
"Why don't you come show me how it's done, if it's so easy?" Eret said, crawling up to her. Hiccup saw something in Astrid's eyes that he'd never seen before. He saw excitement.
Hiccup watched as Eret crawled up Astrid's body. Leaning on his elbows for support Eret lowered himself inches from Astrid's face.
"And what if I don't?" Astrid asked, glancing from Eret's eyes to his lips.
"I'll have to do something drastic." Eret lowered his face to Astrid's, gently brushing his lips against hers. Astrid closed her eyes, and when Eret went to pull away, she arched her back, wrapped her arms around his neck, and pulled him back down to lose herself in him. And in that second, Hiccup finally realized where she was sneaking off to.'
It didn't really hurt, he saw it coming. But sitting here at the feet of his dad, feeling very alone, he'd give anything to Odin to have that statue talk to him, to place a large hand on his shoulder and gruffly give him advice in the form of a riddle. Even though his advice would usually confuse him to no end, he missed it. Yeah, he had his mom to confide in, but with something like this, he didn't think it'd be a good idea to tell the ever impulsive Valka.
Hiccup stood up and sighed, raking a hand through his hair. He needed to find Toothless. At the sound of beating wings, he knew it wasn't his dragon that was landing in front of him. He glanced up and saw Astrid and Eret, and felt sudden anger that the large man was landing Skullcrusher, his father's dragon.
"Hey Hic!" Astrid said, climbing off Stormfly and making her way to him. Hiccup looked at her with a blank face.
"What's wrong buddy?" Eret said, going to slap him on the back. Hiccup sidestepped, causing Eret to stumble forward a little bit.
"Hiccup, what's wrong?"
"Astrid, we need to talk."
"Okay? Let's go back home and-"
"No. Listen. Tonight I'm going to my house."
"Your house? Hiccup what's going on?"
"I think you'd be more comfortable at Erets." Hiccup said softly. Astrid narrowed her eyes, getting angry.
"What are you talking about Hiccup?" She folded her arms across her chest.
"Astrid, I know why you've been so distant. I know why we're drifting apart. I saw you and Eret today."
"So? We hang out. That's what friends do." Astrid replied cooly.
"Astrid, friends don't kiss each other." Hiccup sighed. "I know you don't want this relationship to fall apart. I know you're trying. But, Astrid, I'm not making you happy anymore. I can't give you what you want, and that's not fair to me, or you. Pretending like this relationship is going anywhere is wrong, and you know it."
"Hiccup…" Astrid said, squeezing her eyes closed. "This is not how I wanted you to find out. I- we, were going to tell you, but…"
"Astrid, look, I really…" something in the distance caught Hiccups eye. It looked like a little boat was floating to shore. As it got closer, something inside the boat caught Hiccup's eye. He saw a tuft of red sticking just over the edge of the boat, and it moved a little bit. Hiccups breath caught in his throat. There was a person in that boat, and who knew how long they'd been there.
"Astrid, we'll talk about this later. I'm happy for you, I really am." Hiccup said quickly before he took off toward the beach. Hiccup ran into the water and dove in. He swam to the boat and pulled it the rest of the way to shore. He looked in the boat and was met with fierce blue eyes glaring up at him. It was a woman, about his age, and thee younger boys behind her, huddled together in a blanket. The girl's lips were blue and her cheeks were flushed. Her red hair was sticking out at odd angles and the skin was peeling off her lips.
"I'm not here to hurt you, I'm here to help you." He looked over to Astrid and Eret, who were walking toward them. The girl narrowed her eyes more and then glanced at her brothers who were looking at Hiccup curiously. Nothing was twisting in her stomach, she had no alarms going off in her head.
Hiccup saw her visibly relax.
"A swear, if yew try ta hurt them, A'll kill yew myself." Merida said threateningly. Hiccup held out a soggy hand to Merida who slapped it away and climbed out of the small boat. She pulled her brothers from the boat, checking them over for any bumps and bruises. She turned around, and let out a blood curdling scream.
"Get back in the boat!" She turned around and tried to shove her brothers into the boat. Hiccup grabbed her arm.
"Woah, just calm down. Just, relax. They're not going to hurt you. I promise." Merida searched his eyes frantically. Hiccup placed a soft hand on her shoulder.
"Trust me." He saw something in her eyes melt and she nodded.
"Okay, but if et hurts them…"
"They won't." Hiccup assured her. She bit her lip and nodded.
"Alright boys, get away from the boat." The boys shuffled to Merida and they looked at the large reptiles in front of them, their eyes full of excitement.
"Alright, let's go back to my place and talk." Hiccup said, leading Merida and her brothers to his house, leaving Astrid and Eret to watch helplessly as he walked away.