A Week After HTTYD2
It was once said that friends stick together; that everything that happens will strengthen the bond if allowed. Maybe so for some friends, but from where I sit on the top of my father's roof, I can tell that this does not seem possible. I can see to the far parts of Berk, all the way to ocean on the far side of the island. It gives me peace; the wind grazing my delicate skin, and the smell of the salt entering my nostrils. There is no other place like this; this is home.
My hands are numb from grasping a hammer, now against my knee to keep it from falling off the roof. Nails are in a small wooden box balanced on siding at the very top of the house, just half an arms reach away. I hears voices, and glance towards the main square of Berk. Fishlegs, and Snotlout are there, talking to someone with braids. Ruffnut. Her arms are crossed over her chest, her elbows stick out from either side of her. I cannot see her face, her back is to me. But I don't care. My eyes head towards one person.
His face is shining. A smile plastered on his lips. I didn't know what he saw in her; or if the promises he was making, if any, would be kept.
"Keep a strong face," I tell myself, grasping the hammer and slamming it into the roof, "he broke up with you a year ago. You're over it..." Deep down I'm not. I was the only one who could deal with his inappropriate tactics. The only person who could deal with those comments he made that sent spasms of frustration down a person's spine. Those days when he would make fun of everyone...just because he felt like it.
With a short temper Astrid would send an ax hurling at his head; Hiccup would make some sarcastic comment geared towards Snotlouts hurtful words. Fishlegs would, sometimes, in retribution send Meatlug to sit on top of him. The twins use to glance up at their dragons, and with a small signal made with their hands, send a explosion in his direction.
In the two short years I spent with the crowd before Drago's attack, my reaction varied. Some days I would just ignore him until he would whine, others the ax would be thrown at his head from my direction,, but then there were days when I would laugh. "What?" He would say, "are you stupid or something?"
"Stupid," I would say, laughing even louder, "do you realize how silly you sound?"
At first, Snotlout would shake his head and make some silly comment about how censored I sounded. But months pass, and one day I caught Astrid staring at him with her arms crossed across her chest. Curiously, I looked at him too and something was different. No sarcastic comment. No wave of the hand. Just a REALLY red face.
The sight of the flirting, his voice echoing through the vast space above and entering into my ears; I do not know if I can take it.
I then look at Fishlegs. I see his chubby form. He is standing beside Snotlout, making some sort of expression with his face. I can only guess that he is trying to flirt with Ruffnut. Competition. I always note the times when they compete. Hiccup once told me that it started back when the Dragon Training Academy started; something about Changewings and eggs. I never pay attention.
Often the past was something I never wanted to dive into; at least anything past two years ago. As child I would sit by my mother and father at the table in the Mead hall, glancing once in a while over at Hiccup. He would sit by himself at an empty table in a corner. No one would sit with him. Not even Stoick.
"Now Penny," My mother would say softly, taking my chin in her hands and forcing me to face forward, "don't look at Hiccup. He's a loser."
Every time I knew I should have said something, scream from the top of my table that no viking was a loser. That it was wrong to ignore him. But I couldn't. That look mother would give me before a lecture, or when I made a mistake. I didn't want to see it.
Then as a teenager, I would hide out in secret spots all over the island. My hand grazing paper with a piece of charcoal, creating words and sentences. Stories. In my mind, I was a hero. Like Astrid. Tough, a good reputation; an ability to kill dozens of dragons a week. Popular. That's all I wanted. To have friends.
My mind traces back to the emotions, the feelings I had those days I spent in the caves. Or those hours I would spend trying to gather the courage to speak to someone my age. Many days I would spend alone, and today, it was something I would rarely reflect on. How I put myself into this situation, helpless to do anything. I couldn't tell if anyone else could see; how each member of the academy was busy off doing something else. Or how time spent together was becoming less and less.
"Penny!" Something snaps me out of my deep thoughts. Astrid is sitting beside me on the roof. In her hand is the box of nails. Stormfly is perched on a tall wooden statue on the other side of the roof, "are you okay?"
"I've called you a couple of times," Astrid notes, "you didn't answer."
I shake my head, "I'm okay. Just thinking."
Curiosity; I hated it. At times I didn't want to speak my mind, and now I couldn't say that I was thinking about Snotlout. Convincing people I was over it took enough work, more would be a pain, so I have to lie "Oleander."
Astrid smiles, "You must miss her."
"I do," I nod slowly, "she lives in the water. I live on land."
"Sounds hard," The open sea is calming, I stare into it as Astrid speaks, "everyone else has dragon in Berk. They can spend time together."
"Yeah," I want her to go away, talking wasn't something I wanted to do now. With the flirting to my left, Hiccup nowhere in sight and that longing for my dragon, my heart was heavy with grief. But it was rude to shoo her away, Astrid was not always in the village, not after things had gone south between her and Hiccup. It was rare to see her in fact, so I didn't say anything, "Whats up?"
"There's a meeting today. Hiccup is pretty busy. He wants to discuss the academy," Astrid sighs, "I think he wants to shut it down."
"Shut it down!?" The hammer slips from my hand and falls off the roof, "What!? Why!?" I cover my mouth, my words are echoing. Now, almost everyone is looking at me. Even Snotlout, Ruffnut and Fishlegs. I can feel the weight of their stares pressing against my chest.
She doesn't answer, her eyes look up towards the sky. A group of dragons are playing; firing at each other and chasing. Most are Nadders.
I continue, "How? Why?"
"My thoughts exactly," She looks back at me, "he doesn't confide in me anymore. So I don't know."
"Oh yeah," I look away, scared that I hurt her and brought up some bad memories. Though I felt like it wasn't my fault, no one has even told me what happened between the two of them. From where I stood after Drago and his dragon retreated, everything looked fine. Yet again, I was wrong a lot.
The color in the sky begins to change, and my hopeless mind set changes. It was that time of day, and I can feel the energy burst through my skin. It engulfs my blood and makes my heart race.
"Where are you going?" Astrid asks as I stand and gently take the box of nails from her hand.
Astrid nods, "Is it that time of day?"
Almost everyone at the academy knew what this time of day meant to me, how much I needed this, "Yeah."
"Want a ride?"
I expected her to offer, a part of me wanted to enjoy the walk, but the other part knew that a ride to the beach would give me more time. I nod.
When we arrive, the boats have deserted this particular port. It's on the other side of the island, near an abandoned beach I found while following Ruffnut and Tuffnut when I was small. Astrid doesn't follow me on to the port, she stays on the beach with Stormfly. They watch my every move.
My hands dive into a small bag hanging off the belt around my waist. Out comes a couple of blue flowers, and I drop them. They slowly fall down and land delicately on top of the water.
For a moment there is silence. The water stays still, I can only see the flowers moving along the surface I lower myself on to my knee's, and extend my hand so it is parallel to the water.
Stormfly tenses up, making a noise. Astrid pats her dragon to soothe her, and something slimy meets my hand.
"Hey," I say softly. A head bobs out of the water, its long neck extending out so the head stays close to my stomach as I back up a few steps, "you miss me?"
The dragon snorts water into my face and I laugh softly, "I missed you too. It's so lonely without you. I wish you could come on to land for longer." A deep sadness is in my heart, something sinks in my stomach as I gaze at the amazing creature, and I look down. She nudges my head, then glances at my small bag, "I brought you a treat."
I reach down into the bag and pull out some more of the flowers. The dragon opens its mouth and I throw the flowers on to its tongue.
"Silly Oleander," I laugh as she closes her mouth and chews, "you always ask about flowers first."
She snorts again after swallowing the flowers, and nudges my stomach again. I could read her mind, she wanted to go for a swim. We did this several times a day, and often she was a good dragon to talk to. I turn towards Astrid, "Want to come?"
Astrid smiles, and hops on to Stormyfly. It's go time.
Oleander lowers her head and I climb on to her neck. I am thankful that Astrid and Stormfly are flying high enough to not hear what I want to talk to my dragon about. Oleander starts to swim, keeping her head above water so I don't have to hold my breath. Astrid and Stormfly are above us; secretly I am happy. I wouldn't want to miss the important meeting, even if it meant a broken heart. But this cloud of doom and awkwardness had been hanging over everyones head for too long.
As we get farther out to sea, I decide that I want to talk to Oleander, "I miss you so much," I murmur, wrapping my arms around the beast's neck, "it's lonely during the day. Hiccups got chief lessons. Snotlout and Fishlegs are fighting for Ruffnut. Tuffnut is never around; no one knows where he goes. And Astrid..." I look up at Astrid, she is ahead of us, "...she flies around with Stormfly more than anything else." I tighten my arms around her neck, "I'm almost always alone." It was something I hated, something I thought was gone from my life.
Oleander snorts, but I don't look at her. I just stare away, "Things are so different. We haven't had a class since before the attack. Everyone's' busy with stuff. Then mother's trying to marry me off to some idiot." Oleander snorts again, shaking her head and growing, "Don't worry. I don't want to get married yet." And if I were, it wouldn't be to some stranger, "I wish we could run away." Without anything to get in my way, nothing to think about, no worries. Just the sea, the air and my beautiful blue Scauldron. Life wouldn't get any better. There would be nothing about marriage. Nothing about heartbreaks and depression. I really don't understand why arranged marriages are so important, "Who cares about marriage?" I blurt out, "clans? To the dirt with clans! I want to be single! Grow up and be a creepy cat women..."
It wasn't fair. It just wasn't fair. I have to get married; but I don't want to! Who wants to get married? Live with another person, have children and get way too busy to do anything for yourself. What fun is that? Where would I have time for Oleander? The most important dragon in my life, the most important thing in my life. Oleander lifts her wings above the water's surface and slams them down, "Hey! I want this. So what if at one time I thought I would marry..." I don't finish the sentence. She makes a noise, "Yeah. Yeah. So I'm not over it. Big deal. It's not like it was my fault anyway. Jut out of the blue, 'Hey, you and I are over,' No questions or reasons. I bet it was his father...always controlling him. So what if Ruffnut and Tuffnut's clan have better status? Marriage should start with love from the heart. Ugh!" I fall back on to Oleander, "It's not fair."
Seagulls are flying above me. But I only glance at them for a minute when a loud crash catches my attention. Ahead are Narwhals; three groups of three. I watch them as they swim; they look worry-less. Maybe I should have been born a Narwhal... "What am I going to do?" I ask quietly, "Nothing. I shouldn't do anything. If things go south, I'll just spend more time with you. Life will go on. The world won't end."
But even as I speak, I know my words are lies.
It was completely dark by the time we got back to port. I was dreading saying goodbye to Oleander for the night. I grasp her neck tightly, sighing a little as I feel the water against my skin. The only feeling in the world that comforted me, that made me feel important.
"I'm going to miss you," I say softly, pushing myself away from my dragon, "even if it's for a few hours." She snorts, "If things get bad I'll come back and whistle for you," Oleander bumps my stomach, and I laugh.
She watches me as I walk away, to the beach. For one more moment I turn towards her, and as she dives down into the ocean, I feel my heart sink. It was the moment I was dreading. Separation is hard; every step and every breath; but I smile, knowing I will see her again the next day.
It's quiet on the flight back; but in only minutes we arrive at the Mead hall. My stomach is growling, but I had not noticed it. Food would have to wait until later. Stormfly lands on the ground before the steps begin. I get off and my insides are beginning to feel like jello. It will be the first day all of us will be together since before Drago attacked. Astrid and I walk up the steps, with each step my legs feel heavier and heavier.
Inside its dark and abandoned. Like a ghost town at the end of a famine; in fact, this place was worse than a ghost town. I can see nothing at first, but as my eyes adjust I catch a glimpse of the benches all around the room and the giant fire pit in the middle. Logs and fire normally engulf the pit, but there are none. On the far end of the room is a low glow coming from a small candle.. I see everyone, a part from Astrid and I, sitting together. But I hear nothing, nor do I see lips moving.
With each step we take, and the closer we get, I make mental notes. Ruffnut and Tuffnut sit on opposite corners of the bench on either side. They stare away from each other, I can't tell if its anger or maybe sadness, but its odd. I sense a growing negative aura, something that I had never felt before coming from them. Next is Fishlegs, he sits in the middle on the far side of the bench looking down at his cards, speaking no words...not even speaking about his interest for the dragon cards he holds in his hand. Hiccup sits on the opposite side, looking down at the bench. My guess is he's trying to come up with some way to cool down this awkward air. But one never knows. Last, but not least is the person I was trying not to look at. Now I have no choice, since I've analyzed everyone else. Snotlout is sitting close to Ruffnut, closerenough to get glares once in a while from Fishlegs. He smiles, as usual, deviously, but like the others doesn't speak.
We get to the table, and immediately I feel like giants in a city raid. Tall, out there, and in view. Astrid is first to a spot closest to us beside Fishlegs. I don't want to bring attention to myself; so I slide in beside Hiccup and look down towards the table like everyone else. The silence goes on for a long time, I can't tell exactly how long. But it felt like an eternity. I keep telling myself that nothing bad is going to happen, that Hiccup was just gathering everyone together to get us acquanted with a new schedule, or make some sarcastic comment.
But this, I felt deep down that this was different.
"Glad no one got eaten by a dragon," Hiccup tries to make a joke, but no one answers or moves, "and the awkwardness continues."
Astrid looks at me, we were thinking the exact same thing. That's why we got along so well. He questions were my questions. When I don't speak, she does, "Just speak." It sounds like Astrid, but it doesn't look like Astrid. In the past being angry meant being upset, but now with all these years behind us, it seems to have changed. Her expression is that of a young girl after hearing of the death of her mother. Something I never thought I'd see in Astrid.
Hiccup hesitates, any evidence of a possible smile has disappeared and now he looks like everyone else. Depressed. I don't look at him as he speaks, "Things have gone down hill. We're all busy, and no one has time for the academy. We can't talk for two minutes without fighting."
"Yeah," Fishlegs mutters under his breath, "...all because of Snotlout."
"Excuse me Fishlegs?" Snotlout retorts, "I'm a man pursuing love. You're my rival. Besides, I'm the better candidate. I protect and provide. What do you do? Look at your itty-bitty baby cards all day?" At the end of his question, he talks like a child.
Fishlegs glares, "Playboy..."
"I am not a playboy."
"You're causing all the problems."
"Am not!" My head feels like someone has been pounding a nail into it for at least an hour, but I do not speak. I just continue to listen to Snotlout and Fishlegs arguing. Deep down I plead for them to stop silently, but they do not hear me. Snotlout continues, "I look out for me. And me only...and..."
"Alright," Hiccup interrupts, "Thank you for that lovely discussion we all needed to hear. Back to what I was saying...things are out of hand. Considering all that's happened, and all we are trying to do. I think it's best if..." He swallows hard, "...we shut down the training academy."
There is silence. No one wants to speak. Astrid is glaring at the table, her fists clenched tightly into a ball. I place my hands over my eyes, not crying, but not wanting to see the world right now. Or let the world see me. I can feel a stare, but I don't bother to see who is doing the staring. I don't care. I just want to run to the sea, I just want to hug Oleander. Nothing would make me feel better, nothing else will take me away from this reality.
Snotlout snorts, "Oh sure. The leader is giving up. You know, you are a bad leader."
"I shouldn't be asking, but how, Snotlout, am I a bad leader?"
"That's so simple. You didn't put me in charge."
Astrid glances up at him, "And you think you're better,"
He smirks, "Yeah."
"This group would have fallen to pieces faster than it did," She points out, "I don't see you solving your problems."
"Problems? I don't have any problems!"
Tuffnut laughs, "Yeah sure."
"You are the reason no one talks..."
"Guys!" Hiccup exclaims.
Astrid turns to him, "I can't believe you're doing this."
"Well believe it because it's happening."
Then the entire groups bursts out into argument. Hiccup and Astrid are arguing about something random, I only pick out a few words like chief and neglect. The twins are in a group argument with Fishlegs and Snotlout, mostly from what I can gather, its everyone against Snotlout. The arguing goes on for several minutes and I stay silent. I don't want them to argue. Things will only get worse, but at the same time I don't want to interfere because it will just turn back to me. But with every minute that goes by, I can hear a restlessness. I look over towards the corner ahead of me and in the darkness, are the dragons sitting and watching their masters argue. I remember instances like this, where the dragons would start firing at each other. It was rare, they would never get involved in their humans fights.
With this in mind, I shake my head and bang my fist against the table. It was loud enough. Everyone stops, all eyes are focused on me until I finally decide to talk, "Stop arguing," I say, " the dragons will start too." No words are said to attack what I have thrown. There is more silence, "If this is what you want Hiccup, fine." I stand, "I don't understand. But I won't question your decision. If anyone needs me, I'll be at open sea."
I turn around before anyone can speak again, and as I poke through the door crack I hear the arguing resume. Never in my life have I heard this, with all the smiles and friendly faces. I saw this coming, yet I didn't see it coming. I blame myself, if I had seen this more clearly maybe I could have prevented the situation, prevented friends from falling a part.
Maybe someone would do something eventually, my gut was trying to emphasis this. But if no one did anything...I would probably step in.