The foundation of Hiccup's house shook as Toothless pounds at the roof, roaring for him to wake up. Small dusts and dirt clouds bleed through the cracks, sprinkling around Hiccup's floor. Irritated, Hiccup pulls his quilt up over his head; as if thinking that Toothless could somehow see him, and stop. But that's never the case. Finally, Hiccup sighs in aggravation and kicks the covers off. He grabs a fleece before stepping outside, where winter has settled its blanket of snow for the season.
Several months have passed since Hiccup had defeated his dreaded Doppelganger Hadrian. Be that as it may, by force of habit, Hiccup had trouble sleeping for the first three weeks, expecting Hadrian to appear again and threaten his home and everyone he loves. But each night, Hiccup fell into a dreamless slumber. No disturbances, and no visitations. While he's glad to finally be rid of him, a small seed of sorrow sprouts, as Hadrian was somehow his connection to his deceased mother. Whenever Hiccup was in trouble by Hadrian, his mother would come and help him, or at least show him a way to fight back. But nothing has happened since Hiccup had trapped Hadrian inside a magical spell book belonging to Heather's grandmother. Then bounding him inside with a circle of salt, Hiccup has never seen Hadrian, or his mother since. Hiccup is despised at thinking that his enemy was his only solid link back to his mother.
Even with the fleece on, it does little to hold in the warmth of his bed as it immediately leaches into the air of the brittle cold. Winter in Berk lasts most of the year; it snows for nine months of the year, then hails the other three. The snow crunches under his feet as he makes his way around the side of the house, and finds his Night Fury Toothless sitting in the snow; Hiccup's saddle already pulled out, lying spread at his feet.
Hiccup straps on the saddle and hops aboard Toothless. "Ready bud?"
Toothless coos, and in a flap of Toothless' forty-foot wings, they're up in the air, surrounded by clouds. Sharp, icy snowflakes bite ay Hiccup's exposed skin as they zoom through – what would normally be considered a light falling of snow. The rising sun peeks over the horizon, bringing on the dawn of another new day. It's a whisper in the cold morning air as Hiccup leans Toothless to the right, making then tip to the side. They zip past a small mountain then level out as the view of the Academy comes into view. He can faintly make out Gobber as he pulls a wagon of weapons inside.
Heather's grandmother, or Grandmamma as she likes to be called, has long since moved into Mildew's old house on top of the hill outside of town. While Hiccup and his father have offered houses closer to Heather and her family, she insisted she stays up there. She explained how it gave her the perfect amount of room to test her spells and incantations. Heather and her family have also decided to remain in Berk, finding a permanent home within the Plaza of the village. Hiccup feels his cheeks warm as the thought of Heather comes to mind, then suddenly Astrid comes in too. Hiccup shakes his head as both pictures of Heather and Astrid didn't mix well together.
While the girls haven't been hammering Hiccup about choosing between one or the other, Hiccup still feels bad about almost making the girls wait on who he wishes to choose. Probably because there hasn't been any official clarification on who Hiccup really likes. He still hasn't kissed Heather, and even with the kisses he receives from Astrid the two still carry on their lives as friends. But when Hiccup really had the chance to think about it, his feelings for both girls seemed to have dwindles down. With everything that's happened, Hiccup really doesn't feel anything toward the girls. Perhaps his mind was just still occupied on Hadrian. Whatever the case, it bewildered Hiccup that he had suddenly lost his feelings for such beautiful girls. Toothless coos, catching Hiccup's attention. Hiccup looks ahead and sees Grandmamma's house come into view. Reminding him he had a magical session with her today.
Ever since she had helped Hiccup defeat Hadrian, Hiccup's learned to keep a more open mind about his beliefs in the magical realms. Before the first official snowfall of the season, Grandmamma had pulled Hiccup and Stoick aside, telling them about something important. She talked about how Hiccup's powers were that of something deeper than a simple given ability the realm of dreams. She said they were something more, and that Hiccup possibly possessed a great gift. She didn't say much about it, wanting to keep it under control until her theories were proven correct, whatever they may be. Hiccup was hesitant about going into magic, but after she explained about just doing a few simple tests, and learning a few spells to keep his powers leveled, Hiccup decided he had nothing to lose and agreed. Although his ability to control them left little to be desired. The last time they tried a spell, Hiccup had nearly set Grandmamma's kitchen table on fire.
"Practice makes perfect." She always said to him.
Hiccup takes a deep breath. "Alright bud. Let's get this over with." Then Hiccup leans forward and Toothless dives down landing in the old cabbage field outside the house.
The snow has begun to stick to Hiccup's feet as he leaves a trail of footprints behind him. At the front door, Hiccup pauses to stomp the wet stuff from his show and prostatic leg. He lightly knocks on the door and waits. While he rocks back and forth on the heels of his feet, he manages to catch his reflection in the icy frost on one of the wooden posts outside the front door. Hiccup looks to himself, and sighs.
Hiccup didn't think he looked that different until one day, as he was working in the blacksmith's shop, a man had come in asking his axe altered. Gobber was just finishing the final touches on a new shield. Hiccup agreed and had taken the weapon to the hearth. He had just pressed down on the fan pump when the man suddenly spoke.
"You know, you've definitely changed since the last time I remember you Hiccup."
Hiccup didn't think much of it, as Gobber suddenly jumped in, taking over Hiccup's task of fixing the sword. Hiccup merely smiled weakly to ensure Gobber he didn't find any offense to what the man said, but much more rather curiosity.
"What do you mean changed?" Hiccup questions as he walks over to the window of the shop, boosting himself up, crossing his legs.
The man kept his gaze on Gobber as he hammers away at the bright orange sword. Giving an odd, breathy laugh before speaking. "I mean, you just looked more, how do you say, tough."
Hiccup ponders over the words as sparks flew off the metal as it scrapes against the spinning stone.
The man speaks again. "I don't really know what happened between the two of you, but judging from those wounds and that look in your eyes, I'm guessing I don't want to."
Hiccup turns to him in confusion, but before he could ask any further questions, the man had already walked to Gobber taking his sword and exchanging a few coins for his service.
"Anyway, you have a nice day." Then he turns, sheathing his sword and walking on, not looking back.
Hiccup was left pondering over his appearance for the rest of that day. And when he got home, after washing his face before bed, he looked into the shield they kept in the bathroom, and Hiccup was startled. He did look different. And as for his yes, he can see why the man was acting unusual around him. They had this look, something of a predatory look. On edge, waiting for something to happen. On guard, intimidating. And his face and body were covered in scratches, wounds and cuts from his fierce battle with Hadrian. They were spread out across his body, claiming each section of skin as their own.
Hiccup blinks, snapping himself out of his trance. He catches himself staring at himself at the frosted wooden post. "So much has happened." He whispers to himself.
He hears the latch to the door jiggle and click, and Grandmamma swings the door wide open, smiling as she always does.
"Hiccup! Sweetie!" She cups his face and kisses both his cheeks before inviting him in. "Come in, come in before you freeze that little Viking tush of yours off!" she exclaims.
"You're in an awfully good mood." Hiccup says as he leaves his shoes on the mat near her front door.
"Oh it's the weather, honey. The gods have given us a beautiful blanket of snow this season." She expresses as she wanders over to her bookshelf.
"A blanket of ice more like it. It's really getting slippery out there." Hiccup says as he steps more into the house. Toothless coos as he walks over and brightens the fire in her fireplace by blowing a small spark into the wood.
"Oh I tell you, winter is my favorite time of year. When the snow covers everything, it's like a world of fragile things. The warm glow of life the village houses give off. Lit windows and smoke from chimneys."
Hiccup smiles as she pulls out two to three books. "Not to mention Snoggletog." Hiccup reminds them both. The annual holiday that comes along with the winter season. "So, what are we learning today?" he asks after warming his hands by the fire.
"Today, I will be training your mind." She answers as she places the book on the podium.
"Today you will learn how to use your thoughts to give your spells power and energy." She explains as the book flips to a certain page all by itself after Grandmamma waves her hand over it.
"Are you sure? The last time I did this I nearly burned your kitchen down." Hiccup reminds with a smile.
"Oh don't worry about it sweetie. You're much better than the others I've taught. Oh let me tell you, this one boy, oy, couldn't tell a charm from a chakra." Grandmamma preaches.
Hiccup laughs as they get to work on the spells. This time it was better than he expected, as for one thing nothing caught on fire, and Hiccup could feel that spiritual connection Grandmamma was talking about when they first started. Grandmamma still refuses to reveal what about Hiccup's powers that has her so worried yet so excited. But not wanting to pry, Hiccup figures she'll tell him when she's ready, or until when she feels he's ready. Hiccup flies home feeling more accomplished than before as he heads off to the Academy to begin his lesson with Gobber. Walking into the Academy, Hiccup was the last one to arrive and from what he could gather, Gobber had just gotten done explaining a list of survival skills and combat moves.
"Ah, Hiccup!" he exclaims as he turns his head noticing Hiccup. "Glad you made it. Take your spot and we'll begin our hand-to-hand combat practice.
Hiccup smiles as the Vikings spread out and ready themselves for whom Gobber will assign to fight. Hiccup has gained many points in combat practice lately, as his durability has increased dramatically after facing off against Hadrian. Gobber first assigns Snotlout and Tuffnut to battle first, and Hiccup can't help but smirk at the relief that comes across both of the boys' faces. While Snotlout and Tuffnut prep with a weapon of their choice, the others wait along the wall. Hiccup decides to take a seat while Astrid leans her back against the wall, arms folded. Fishlegs had gone to – most likely – fetch the book of dragons.
The two Vikings ready themselves, and Gobber raises his axe hand, and swings it down, initializing the start of the match. For a moment, both boys sway back and forth on the balls of their feet before Snotlout charges Tuffnut. After a few clangs of metal against metal, Hiccup quickly grows bored and gets to his feet. Aimlessly wandering toward the weapons rack, he traces his hand over a few of them before deciding to pick them up and test its weight. A knife, a sword, another sword with a thicker blade, a bludgeon, a hammer. By the time Hiccup had picked up a spear, Tuffnut was on the ground, hugging his middle, and Snotlout was cheering that annoying chant he did during the Thawfest Games. Hiccup rolls his eyes and puts back the spear, picking up a knife in its place. There was a small hole on the hilt, made for tying a rope through it and looping it to your belt. Hiccup pokes his finger through the hole and spins the knife around his finger.
"Alright Snotlout. We get it, you won. Now, you can either shut up, or I'll face you off against Hiccup." Gobber almost threatens.
Snotlout's voice suddenly cuts off and his gaze goes to Hiccup, still spinning the knife on his finger. Hiccup smirks. "No thank you." Snotlout whimpers before dropping the shield and scurrying over to join the other Vikings.
Gobber and Hiccup laugh in unison as Hiccup puts back the knife and joins the others. "Okay, now that we've got that settled, it's time to go over some flaws and mistakes to avoid in the future."
Following the lecture of today's combat practice, the lesson was then dismissed and Hiccup flies off to join his Dad in helping to cultivate the corn fields for winter. The corn had already been picked and washed, Hiccup and Stoick just needed to help peel the corn and send it off for delivery to the villagers. Hiccup finds Thornado outside the food storage and his father walking out carrying two huge wicker baskets.
"Need a hand?" Hiccup jokes as he takes one of the baskets.
"Thank you, son." He says. "It turns out they already go the job done, they just wanted us to pick these up."
"Oh, okay. Who are they for?" Hiccup asks.
"Us." Stoick answers. "I guess they just wanted to give us a gift for the holiday."
Hiccup smiles and straps the basket to Toothless' saddle before he and Stoick mount and fly home. Once home, Hiccup gets to work in peeling the green off of the corn while Stoick preps a sack of potatoes.
"So how was your day?" Hiccup asks as he feeds another peel of greens to the fire.
"Oh, long." Stoick says as he begins to peel three potatoes with his knife. "I'm tellin ya' some of these people. I don't know how I manage to deal with their drama every day."
"The Morgansons were that mad about the floor creaking?" Hiccup chuckles.
"They suggested, or more rather demanded to have the entire house rebuilt so nothing creaks." Stoick says, and Hiccup busts out laughing.
"Are you serious?"
"What did you say?" Hiccup asks as he plops the corn into a pot and swings it over the fire. Then he takes the kettle, which started to boil, and pour himself a cup.
"I say I'd do what I can. I plan on having Gobber breaking the news to them tomorrow." Stoick says as he starts to chop the potatoes. "Sometimes Gobber's bluntness comes in handy."
Hiccup pours Stoick a mug of water before flavoring it with honey. Then he takes the waste basket and slowly scrapes the peels into the trash. After helping his Dad stir the pot of corn, and boiling the potatoes, the two sit at the table and drink their cups of warm water.
"Oh, before I forget," Stoick starts. "Ms. Robin wants to know if you're available to help melt off some of the frost from her roof."
"Yeah sure." Hiccup agrees. "What time?"
"She said about noon tomorrow. She usually leaves around that time to do for a dip in the ocean."
"Good to know." Hiccup jokes and the two cheers as supper is ready.
Hiccup didn't really enjoy much of the volunteer work around the village, but Ms. Robin was an amazing baker, and she usually gave Hiccup a delicious reward of cookies in the end. The next day, Hiccup decides to head to Ms. Robin's house early to get the job done. Ms. Robin was fine with it and promised Hiccup a plate of cookies afterwards. Defrosting was trickier than Hiccup intended since Toothless' fire was hot enough to set the entire house ablaze, but Hiccup managed fine with giving Toothless the harder and thicker sections of ice. Once the roof was finished, Ms. Robin thanks Hiccup and hands him a small sack of warm cookies, wrapped in a plaid patterned blanket.
Stuffing the baked delicacies into his fur vest, Hiccup flies with Toothless back to the house. Walking through the front door, the house was empty. Hiccup decides to set the treats onto the counter for later when his dad gets home. Knowing how much his Dad loves Ms. Robins' baking, he wouldn't want to miss out on a bite. Hiccup had just put away yesterday's dishes when the front door bursts open.
"Hiccup!" Gobber calls.
"Gobber, what's up?" Hiccup asks as he saves a bowl from falling.
"Sorry to startle you, but your father wants you to come down to the docks immediately." Gobber informs.
"Is everything okay? He didn't tell me there'd be any tribal ships coming in today." Hiccup says.
"No, nothing like that, just some stray sailor who lost her way." Gobber says.
"Her?" Hiccup repeats, then slapping away Gobber's hand spider-crawling its way to the sack of cookies.
"Yeah," Gobber affirms smirking. "Apparently she got lost sailing home from a family vacation."
Hiccup laughs at Gobber's secret signal. He simply shakes his head and flies to the docks. Thornado was standing next to Stormfly as Hiccup lands. As Hiccup weaves his way through the small crowd gathering, Hiccup manages to spot Heather next to Fishlegs. Hiccup waves them hello and meets up with his Dad as he sees him speaking with someone whose face was concealed by the hood of a cloak.
From what Hiccup could see, she was about his age, but appeared older –more like a woman than a young girl. She had rose-red lips, ebony hair, and skin as white as snow, but her rounded face and figure helps to show her youth and innocence. As Hiccup steps closer, the woman's head turns and notices him. Hiccup stops and he can see her shyly smile. Stoick turns and smiles broadly.
"Ah, there you are son." He says as he wraps an arm around Hiccup's shoulder, tugging him over. "This is my heir and sire, Hiccup."
Hiccup smiles as the woman extends her hand out. "Nice to meet you."
Hiccup was in awe as he takes and shakes her hand. Her voice was so soft and feminine.
"Oh come now dearie, don't be shy." Stoick encourages as she withdraws her hand back into her cloak.
The woman smiles and the soft, feminine hand reaches up, pulling the hood back, revealing her face. Hiccup felt a gasp hitch in his throat. He thought he failed at containing it, but he realizes it wasn't him. It was every other man in the village. He shoots a glance back and sees every man's mouth agape; hypnotized.
She was breathtakingly beautiful. If there was any other word that could describe her beauty more powerfully, Hiccup couldn't think of it.
The button of the cloak comes undone and it puddle around her. The woman's hair, like that of a sorceress, lay curtaining around her head. It draped over the sides of her shoulders in long, coiling tendrils. It's possible she might have bangs, but Hiccup can't tell as they're held back with a headband. Her navy blue dress, heavy and flowing, like the inaugural gown of a princess or queen, spilled from either sides of her covered feet while the embellished train fell in gentle folds along the docks. The pleats and endless ripples in the lavish garment gave the illusion of softness, her face the illusion of life. The soft, sweeping lines in her dress and gentle arm movements emphasize her cheerful, sweet disposition and her joy for life. Her large, brown almond-shaped eyes capture the sense of wonder.
"A-and you are?" Hiccup stutters, nervously clearing his throat.
The woman gives him a warm smile.
"My name is Jolene."