After Merida made sure her brothers were safe, well safer, Hiccup decided it'd be a perfect time to introduce her to the village. He looked at the sun, he had just enough time before Dragon Training to do it too. Hiccup placed a hand on her elbow and she looked at him.
"If the princess would like, I can show you around the village."
"Well, the princess is curious…" Merida gave Hiccup a mischievous smile and Hiccup smiled back down at her.
"Well, alright then. Let's get started." Hiccup guided Merida away from the training arena and toward the center of the town.
"Our first stop is the forge, which is now the dragon dentistry, run by a good friend of my fathers, Gobber." They stepped into the small shed through the back door. Merida took everything in, the equipment hanging on the walls, the metal teeth for different dragons. A small forge was in the corner, and working at that forge was a small, stout man with a long, braided, blonde mustache. Merida quickly noticed that he was missing a leg and that in place of one hand, there was a metal hammer. He turned around and grinned from ear to ear.
"Hiccup! I'm glad you're here! The saddle shop has been busy all morning! Where have yah been my boy?" Hiccup was wrapped up in two large arms and picked up off the ground, which surprised Merida, because the man looked hefty, but not really strong. Then again, he was a Viking, and they were just full of surprises. When Gobber set Hiccup down, and he regained the ability to breathe, Hiccup introduced Merida.
"Gobber, I wasn't in the saddle shop, and I'm not going to be there all day. This morning we got some, unexpected guests. May I introduce you to Merida Dun'broch."
"Dun'broch? Are you related ta Fergus, by any chance?" Merida smiled sadly.
"Yes, A'm the daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor, the, uh, late, King Fergus and Queen Elinor…" Merida cast her face to the ground, squeezing her hands behind her back.
"Merida, you don't know that." Hiccup said softly.
"I, uh, think I'm missin' somethin' here." Gobber said looking between the two of them.
"Oh, right." Hiccup explained what Merida had described to him earlier that morning and Gobber's usual chipper mood was shadowed by the deep frown on his face.
"I'm sorry ta hear that princess."
"Merida, please. Call me Merida. So, Gobber?" he nodded and she continued. "How did yah know mah dad?"
"Fergus, Stoick and I go way back. We all fought for your mom's hand actually." Merida's eyes furrowed together.
"But weren't we at war with the Vikings at that time?"
"Yep, and us fighting for your mother's hand is what ultimately brought us together." Merida nodded her head slowly as the wheels turned in her head.
"A think mah dad actually was plannin' on comin' here soon ta visit. He had said somethin' about seein' old friends." Merida smiled at the man whose eyes light up.
"Well, it's nice to know we weren't forgotten!" Gobber laughed. Hiccup smiled at the pair and cleared his throat.
"Well, I've got to show Merida around before Dragon Training." Hiccup said, leading her toward the door.
"It was nice meetin' yah princess!" Gobber waved and Merida gave a small wave back before the door slammed behind her. Gobber shook his head and sighed.
"That boy never gets a break…"
"Well, that was nice." Merida said as Hiccup pulled her through the town. He had shown her all around and she'd met many people, not nearly as many as there had been in Dun'broch, but quite a few. Now that they were walking from one side of the village to the other, a smile plastered on Hiccup's face.
"Where are we goin' Hiccup?"
"There's one more person you need to meet." Hiccup stopped in front of a small house, big enough for one or two people to live in. It was a neat little house, with an overflowing garden in the front, and probably in the back as well. There was a large stained glass window that took about half of the front of the house and, when Merida got a closer look, she could see that the wood that made the house was repurposed. It was quite beautiful.
Hiccup knocked on the door, and when he got no answer he cupped his hands around his mouth and let out a loud howl that echoed through the village.
"What was that all about?" Merida asked, one brow raised. Hiccup didn't respond, looking up at the sky. Merida looked up as well and saw a dot appear on the horizon. The dot continued to get larger as it flew faster toward the island. Soon, Merida could made out the shape of a multi winged dragon, the silhouette of a rider standing on its back. Soon they landed, and Merida was in awe of the dragon in front of her. It was large, a cool grey base with tan wings. It had horns that made it look like the dragon had a permanent scowl, and little red plates of bone lined the center of the skull from where the two horns met. Behind its horns were two large flaps of skin, resembling a bearded dragon. A vivid red hue lined the skin and horns. Small spikes were on the edge of each wing, ran along the dragon's spine. The dragon rider jumped off the dragon and removed their helmet.
"Hiccup!" the woman smiled, wrapping her arms around Hiccup. She wore a large suit of armor that made her look masculine. The top was brown leather wrapped layers with a large fur hood. There were armor plates like the ones the dragon had on the shoulders of the armor. On her right arm there was a small blue symbol that Merida couldn't really make out. She wore brown leather pants with matching shoes, small spikes running along the outer sides. Her helmet was the same blue as the design on her arm, with what resembled tusks protruding from the front and a fan of spikes made a crown on the top. She had a long, soft face. Her nose was small and pointed up at the end. She had warm blue-green eyes and long auburn hair that was tied back in a braid. Her smile lit up her face and was very infectious.
She released Hiccup and turned to look at Merida. She blinked a few times, the wheels turning in her eyes. Merida quirked an eyebrow at the woman, whose face split into a wide grin.
"Don't tell me Elinor actually married Fergus." Valka said. Hiccup looked at his mother.
"How do you know her parents, mom?"
"Elinor and A grew up together. We were best friends. When she married Fergus A was there. She sent pictures of you Merida. Yah look just like yer mother." Then her smile faltered. "Wait, why are yah here dear?" Merida chewed her lip.
"Dun'broch was attacked. A got mah brothers out, but mah parents-" her voice broke, "A don't know what happened to them." A sadness filled Valka's eyes and she enveloped Merida into her arms and held her tight. After a few minutes she pulled away and looked into her blue eyes.
"Oh, where are my manners. A'm Valka." Merida smiled.
"Et's nice ta meet yah."
"I assume Hiccup has showed yah around?" Merida nodded her head.
"Yes he has." Val smiled at her son and took a look at the sky.
"Hiccup, yer going to be late, get a move on boy!" Hiccup shook his head and grabbed Merida's hand.
"Bye mom! I'll see you tomorrow!"
"Goodbye dear, it was nice meeting yah Merida!"
"Et was nice meetin' yah too." Merida smiled before she was dragged back to the arena where she had found her brothers.
They entered through the large door and were greeted by a group of people standing together waiting for Hiccup. All their attention, however, was on the redheaded girl in the tattered dress.
"Hiccup?" Asked a large boy with a long shirt with brown pants. Blonde hair sticking out of a small helmet. "Who's this?" He asked, gesturing to Merida. Said girl stepped forward.
"Mah name is Merida Dun'broch." A shorter boy, with slick, shaggy, black hair stepped forward. He wore a white v-neck shirt under a grey vest and black pants, the horns on his helmet too big for Merida's liking. This boy was bulky, but not overly so. His eyes roamed Merida's body and she instantly folded her arms across her chest.
"What's a cutie like you doing in a place like this?" He asked, giving her a wink.
"That's fer me ta know." Merida said coolly as she walked past him, three red heads hiding behind a group of barrels catching her eye, and the two helmets poking out didn't help either. Merida laid on her back on top of the barrels, arms flopping out to her sides, hitting the sniggering boys in the heads. She flipped over on her stomach and looked down at them.
"How would yah boys like ta practice?" Merida asked, gesturing toward the wall of weapons across the arena.
"Really? Yer gonna to train with us?" Harris asked, excitement in his voice.
"Of course A am! Who else could?" Merida winked at the boys and ruffled their hair before she hopped off the barrels, the boys already on their way to the weapons. They each took a small sword and shield while their sister chose a different rout.
Merida pulled a bow off the wall and pulled it back. She nodded in approval before she grabbed a quiver and put it on her back. She also grabbed a sword and belt, strapping it around her waist. The boys grinned at each other, they rarely got to train with their sister, but their father had been hammering it into them since they were seven. So, with just three years of experience under their belts, Merida knew she had to go easy on them, but not too easy.
"Hiccup." A girl stepped forward. Merida remembered that she'd seen her this morning on the beach. Her blonde hair was tied into a braid that was thrown over her shoulder with a smaller braid on top of it. She looked like a true Viking, beautiful and deadly. Her blue eyes looked at Hiccup with anger. She wore a red shirt with large shoulder armor, a chain crossing her chest, with a furry hood behind her. A belt of small metal skulls was around her waist, and a leather skirt with small armor spikes was worn over a pair of grey, leather pants. A pair of boots that ended just under her knees completed her outfit. Large arm warmers were folded across her chest as she looked at the green eyed boy.
"What, Astrid?" Hiccup said, not looking in her eye.
"Isn't this supposed to be dragon training?" She snapped, glaring at Merida and her brothers. Merida glared right back, hands on her hips. A large man, very muscular and tan, with black hair tied into a low ponytail stepped forward, placing a large hand on Astrid's shoulder.
"Astrid." He said softly. Astrid shook off his hand and turned back to Hiccup.
"Well, I think it'd be nice to allow our guests a chance to train themselves if they want. Berk is a welcoming place, and it'd do you good to remember that." Hiccup said, his voice louder than usual. He looked down at Astrid and in that moment, Merida knew that Hiccup had all the authority that any good chief needed, and that he wasn't afraid to assert it. Astrid huffed and stomped away, but not before she stopped in front of Hiccup.
"We'll talk tonight." She whispered to him and then left, Eret on her heels. Hiccup raked a hand through his hair and let out a long sigh.
"Alright. Now. We're going to let them train. I really don't know what we're going to do, but I'm going to think of something while we wait." The other teenagers nodded and watched as Merida moved objects around to give them more space in the middle of the arena.
She smiled at her brothers and stood in front of them.
"Alright, now we're gonna have some fun. Yah need ta get mah weapons away from me. Gain the upper hand. If A take yer weapon, yer out." Merida smiled. She took the sword out of the sheath, like her father had done a million times for her. She raised it into the air and slowly lowered it. She took a fighting stance. "And, begin!" Merida spun out of the center of the boys, who all lunged at her, swiping their swords. She smiled as she moved around, watching each one of the boys carefully.
'Hamish leads with his right foot, Harris has a twitch in his right hand, and Hubert hurt his left ankle. A could take out Hubert first, then that'd leave me with-' Harris lunged at her. Merida easily dodged it, swiping the boy's sword away with her own. She lunged at the boy, who deflected the hit with his shield. Merida spun around as she heard the shuffling of feet behind her and her sword was lodged into Hamish's shield. She yanked it out, pulling Hamish a little closer and she used his shield to deflect a hit from Harris. She shoved Hamish into Harris and stepped to Hubert. She parried, knocking his wrist around. Merida smiled as she spun around the boy, grabbing the sword and removing it from his hands. He looked sadly at Merida who shook her head.
"Yer not out yet. Yah still have a shield, and that can be a great weapon." She threw the sword, and it clattered to the ground. Hubert nodded and came at her, swinging his shield. Merida easily side stepped it and yanked it from his hands.
"Now yer out." Merida gave him a soft kick to the rump and the boy stuck out his tongue before he joined the others. Merida turned to the two boys, preparing to form an attack, when the sword was knocked out of her hands.
'Oh, he was a sacrifice.' Merida shook her head and the two remaining boys smirked at their sister. Merida smirked back, grabbing the bow and pulling out an arrow. She set her bow and pulled the arrow to her anchor point. She released, and the arrow went flying into Hamish's shield, pulling it to the wall. He looked at his sister shocked and charged her. Merida deflected it, but it wasn't as easy as she thought. She nodded her head and circled the boy before she made her move. She feigned left and went right, kicking his wrist and knocking the sword out of his hand.
"Take a seat." Merida smiled at him and he smiled back before scampering off to join his brother. Merida stared down Harris. He was the smallest of the three, but that also made him the quickest. He ran past her, over, and over. Merida knew what game he was playing. He was trying to make her dizzy so he could take her bow. Merida stopped moving and closed her eyes, listening for his footsteps. She heard him coming from behind her on the left. She waiting, standing there. When he got closer Merida whirled around and grabbed her brother, putting him in a chokehold. He smacked her thigh, dropping his sword. Merida let go and helped him to his feet.
She gestured to the other two and they ran to her.
"Alright, that was pretty good. Yah almost had me. And sacrificin' Hubert? That was a smart move. Is yer ankle even hurt?" Hubert shook his head, grinning up at Merida. She laughed and ruffled their hair. "That was good strategizin'." Merida beamed at the three. She looked to the group of teenagers.
"Alright, Et's their turn now." Merida and the boys sat cross legged on the floor of the arena, watching them train. They were working on their weapon use on dragon back. It was amazing. Each person had their strengths and weaknesses. When they did group work she watched as the different people worked together, no matter what the combination. She couldn't help but feel left out as she watched them flip through the air.
It was about ten at night, and Merida was laying in the guest room. The boys were out cold upstairs in their cots, and Merida was supposed to be asleep as well. Hiccup was up sketching and looking over paperwork and requests from the villagers. One of the water towers had been broken and it was in a high risk area. There were people who needed his blessing for marriage contracts, blessings on their newborn babies, and other trivial things. Merida sighed, and rolled over in the bed, pulling the covers over her head. She wasn't expecting the front door to slam open.
Astrid stormed into the house, slamming the door behind her.
"Hiccup!" Astrid yelled, her voice bouncing off the walls. Hiccup scurried from the dining room and clamped a hand over Astrid's mouth.
"Shh!" Astrid glared at Hiccup and pulled his hand away.
"Why? Why do I have to be quiet in my own home?"
"Because, Astrid, I have guests and they're sleeping." Hiccup looked up at where the boys were sleeping, trying to make sure the boys were still asleep. Astrid followed his gaze and turned on him.
"Is she in our bed? Really, Hiccup?" Astrid accused, poking his chest. Hiccup took a step back and grabbed her hand.
"No, Astrid, she's not in my bed."
"What do you mean your bed?" Astrid crossed her arms.
"Astrid, listen to me." Hiccup ran a hand through his hair. "I know you and Eret have been hiding your relationship with each other."
"Hiccup, we haven't-"
"Do you think I'm stupid, Astrid? I saw you with my own eyes today at the river. I know." The fire in Astrid's eyes was put out and she sunk down into one of the chairs in the living room, head in her hands. Hiccup walked up next to her.
"Honestly, Astrid. Did you think I didn't notice we were drifting apart?" Hiccup placed a tentative hand on her shoulder and she looked up, tears brimming her sapphire eyes.
"Hiccup, I'm so sorry. This relationship that I have with Eret was never planned. We were friends, just friends. But the more time I spent with him I couldn't help but develop these feelings that I thought I only had for you. No matter how hard I tried to forget them, or push them aside, I just couldn't. Please, don't be angry at Eret, it was me who started it. Be angry at me all you want."
"Astrid, listen to me. What I saw today was something that I haven't seen in you in a long time. I saw excitement. Astrid, I've never expected you to be the one to stay with something, or someone, who bores her."
"But you don't bore me Hiccup."
"But I don't excite you like Eret does. He's been a Viking through and through since he was a child. He's got never ending stories, and adventures he can talk to you about. Me, you were with me thorough just about all of the excitement that I've ever had in my life. I can't give you that Astrid. I'm not angry. I'm hurt, yeah, but that was going to happen whether I found out the way I did or not. I'm sorry Astrid, but we don't work." She sniffed and looked at Hiccup, searching his eyes for some form of anger, or doubt. When she found none she stood and went to the door.
"For what it's worth, I really did love you Hiccup."
"I know, Astrid."
"I'll get my things tomorrow. Let Merida have some of my clothes." She opened the door and stopped. "Oh, and I'm sorry for earlier. It was uncalled for. I was angry."
"It's okay." Hiccup gave her that small, lopsided smile, and her heart clenched. She nodded and left, leaving Hiccup alone.
Merida sat by the door, having just pulled her ear from the door.
"Wow…" She whispered to herself. She wanted to go out there, but she needed a reason to do so. She looked down at the ragged, torn, and dirty dress that she refused to let Hiccup take from her. She stood up and walked out to the living room and saw Hiccup curled in on himself in one of the chairs.
"Rough night?" Merida asked, trying to avoid directly mentioning that she heard every word said. Hiccups head snapped up, but he relaxed when he realized it was just Merida.
"Yeah… What are you doing up? I thought you went to bed hours ago?" His eyes darted back and forth, obviously nervous.
"A couldn't sleep. Mah dress is uncomfortable." Merida lied smoothly.
"Oh! I should have grabbed you something to sleep in." Hiccup quickly stood and darted to the ladder. He opened a drawer with Astrid's night clothes in it. He pulled out a pair of shorts and a tank top for her, when a breeze blew through the window and made Hiccup shiver. He looked to the boys to make sure they were still okay and decided to grab Merida a pair of his pajama pants as well.
Hiccup climbed back down the ladder and handed them to Merida who smiled.
"Thank yew." Merida said softly and went back into the room to change. The shirt was a bit tight. She had filled out a bit since she was sixteen, a larger bust, fuller, hour glass, curves and thicker thighs. The shorts barely covered her butt, she was about two inches taller than Astrid so it was expected. Merida smiled at the pants and pulled them up. They were huge on her and hung off her wide hips. She walked out into the living room and plopped down on the chair across from Hiccup.
When Merida walked out of the bedroom, Hiccup couldn't help but look at Merida. Her small frame was swimming in those pants, but she still looked very beautiful. Her hair was fuller, and curlier, not full of sweat and salt water after she took her shower before bed, and Hiccup admired every curl. People around here didn't really have hair like that.
"Wha'?" Merida asked, looking at Hiccup, one brow raised. "Do A have somethin' on mah face?"
"No! No, I was just looking at your hair. It's different from the people around here." Merida smiled, and leaned back in her seat. Hiccup copied her movement, eyes still on her.
"So, how much did you hear?" Merida bit her lip.
"Everythin'?" Hiccup sighed.
"Yeah… that was pretty ugly, wasn't it?"
"No, A've seen worse. A've done worse." Merida admitted. Hiccup looked at her with wide eyes.
"Yes. And A've learned that when one door closes, a window opens. Take et and run. Merida stood up, stretching out her back.
"Goodnight Hiccup." Merida said as she disappeared through the guest room door.
Hiccup sat in the living room for a little longer, thinking about what Merida had said. There was something about her, something he had never witnessed before, and it sparked a dangerous curiosity inside the Viking.