Sunrise. A peaceful time of morning, when most villagers were just waking up. Astrid, in fact, was just about to head over to the beloved's home. Mwaba was brewing tea in the older Haddock residence. It was determined that Mwaba would live with Stoick from there on out, since the newly weds would need a home and all. Hiccup suggested it, hoping the quiet giant would be welcomed company for his father, easing the ache of an empty nest.
At this serene moment, Hiccup was on the beach shore with his companion, doing anything but being serene.
"All right, foul beast, come at me again! This time, like you're trying to kill me!"
Toothless narrowed his eyes and growled, then he leapt at the boy, who ducked and rolled away. He gripped his sword and swung at the reptile, but Toothless recoiled and shot a plasma blast at his head.
Hiccup crouched behind his steel-plated shield, and crept closer. He didn't see his opponent's tail moving though.
Toothless whipped his tail around much too quick for Hiccup to notice and tripped him. In apology, he caught him before he hit the ground.
"Thanks bud," he grinned, scratching his nose. "It's the stupid mask, it blocks my vision a bit." As he said this, he jabbed his blade into the sand and then took off him helmet and rested it on it.
"I need a break." He sighed.
Toothless took this as sparring practice was over, and he curled up on the sand.
Hiccup, feeling that he was a safe enough distance from the village, stripped himself, pulled off his prosthetic, and jumped into the ocean...as best as a one legged boy could do.
The water was positively frigid. It was close to winter and still too early morning for the sun to have warmed it up. He shivered as the ice bit through his skin and scratched at his bones. Still, he was heated from his sparring and needed the refreshing bath, if only for a few seconds.
He dove under water and popped back up. Sputtering and rubbing the salty drops from his face.
"There you are!" A warm voice shouted from the shore. His favorite blonde stood there, with one hand on her hips. "An early morning swim, eh?"
"Come on in, the water's great!"
She felt cold just looking at him. "No thanks! I didn't know you took up polar bearing!"
"Refreshing my butt, get out of there before you get hypothermia."
"I can't." He stated with a shrug.
"And why not?" She crossed her arms.
He blushed. "You're standing right there!"
"Hiccup Horrendous Haddock, we're getting married in a few hours and you're afraid of me seeing you naked?!"
"Yeah, I know, but we're not married yet!" He argued.
"Okay! Okay! Have it your way. I'll turn around. Is that good enough for you?"
"Yes, thank you." She heard splashing as he struggled to get out of the water. She figured it would be difficult to get out, since his leg was on shore and all. "Do you need help?"
"I can get along just fine without that hunk of metal, thank you very much!" And then there was a loud, 'Whoop!' Followed by an even louder splash.
Astrid swiveled around to see a knee and two arms sticking out of the water. "Hold on!" She kicked off her boots and waded knee deep over to him. Grabbing his hands, she pulled him up.
He coughed and gasped when he surfaced. "Thanks."
"No problem." She assured, looking heavenward. "Still not looking." She confirmed.
He nodded and allowed her to lead him back to shore, and she may or may not have snuck a few peeks.
She allowed him privacy as he dressed, as she sat behind Toothless who acted like a changing screen.
"You don't have to be embarrassed, you know." She stated.
"Astrid, you may almost be my wife, but I am very self conscious about my body. I don't care how many times you see me, but I will always be nervous." He admitted.
She laughed. "I wasn't taking about that!"
"Oh...?" He asked sheepishly.
"I meant your leg. I used to help you all the time when you were getting used to it. It'll never be perfect, and I don't mind helping you when you need it."
"Oh, no, yeah, I'm fine with my leg. The whole world could know I lost a leg. It's a badge of pride! I only hid it so that people wouldn't recognize me."
"Is that the whole truth?" She asked, voice low.
"It bothers me sometimes." He admitted. "But I'm not the only one that has to suffer. Besides, I get to join the celebration of Stump Day! Which I missed this year." She could hear the pout in his voice.
"I definitely didn't. A group of rowdy, drunken amputees traipsing through the village? No thank you."
"Aww, I missed the parade?" He chuckled. Toothless' wing collapsed and Hiccup walked over to her, his hair still damp. He sat against his dragon's side, facing the sunrise.
Astrid moved closer, and finally noticed the sword and shield off to the side. "Were you sparring?"
"And you didn't tell me?" She joked.
"Eh, just keeping up with my training."
Her eyebrows narrowed. "It doesn't really seem like you." She suddenly became somber. "Are you afraid?"
"Of Dagur? Well, yeah. The kid is a psychopath, and he's relentless. If he was after those dragon eggs, then he would make his way here at some point." He stretched out his leg. "If anything, we're next. He already raided the main island."
"What? How did you know?" She drew up her legs in concern and interest.
"Last night, Pippin woke me up, needing a change. I wasn't about to go to sleep after that, so Toothless and I took a flight. The island was picked clean, except for some hidden caverns, where my sword and shield were hidden." He gestured to the weapons in the sand. "I'm glad I took the rest of my personal items with me earlier."
Astrid sighed, feeling the dread he felt. "Wait…" She stopped. "You left Pippin here alone?!"
"Of course not!" He argued back, and then looked pointedly away. "I took him with me."
She opened her mouth to rebuke him, but then snapped it shut, but not without a firm punch to the arm. "You know what I said about being an awesome dad? I take it back."
"Yeah, I know." He shrugged. "But he was fine, there was no one there and he slept the whole time."
She rolled her eyes.
"You can't shelter him forever."
"He's just a baby!"
"So? My first viking battle was when I was two."
She gave him a pointed look.
"So I hid under a table with my mother's axe. My dad still wanted me to be a part of it!"
"Hiccup, you're too much."
"Whatever you say, milady." He smirked.
She breathed a sigh and leaned against his arm. "Hiccup?"
"Are you going to be okay?"
"You're vagueness behooves me."
"Are you going to be okay? You know what I'm talking about."
He said nothing, but wrapped an arm around her waist.
"I will never know what you went through. I will never feel your pain or have your nightmares. But I wish I could have been there with you."
Gently, he took her hand and intertwined their fingers and then softly declared, "You were."
She shook her head. She was not going to get emotional over two simple words. Her lip curled and she clasped his hand tighter.
"Will you marry me?" He asked, out of the blue.
"What?" She raised an eyebrow at him. "I thought that I already was. Isn't that what we're doing today?"
He chuckled. "Yeah. I was thinking in an alternate universe, where my dad was going to let me marry on my own time, and we were still good friends. I think it would be a time like this when I would confess my undying love to you and ask you to marry me."
Now came the blubbering. What she had fought so hard to avoid just started to leak out.
"Is that a no?" He asked in horror.
She punched him hard in the chest.
"If we're talking in terms of this imaginary world of yours, my answer would be, 'What in Odin's name took you so long?!'"
He smiled widely. "Then I would say something stupid like, 'I didn't know how you felt about me, I was scared,' and a bunch of other lame excuses."
"And then I'd tackle you."
"You're not going to do that anyway?"
He spoke too soon.
Technically speaking, Astrid and Hiccup weren't supposed to see each other the day of their wedding. But she needed to drop off some of her belongs that she couldn't have just left there earlier, and she supposed she would give him a 'see you on the altar' kiss as well, but when she arrived and he wasn't there, the hunt began.
They day began normal enough for Hiccup as he was caught of in a slew of married men giving him advice, including his father. But instead of the normal advice on ruling and leading and whatnot, this was advice on pleasing a woman, something he had no clue on, and was the last thing he wanted to hear from his father. He was accompanied by the chief, Gobber, and Snotlout for a male family bonding, A.K.A breaking into grandpa's grave to steal his sword. It took about an hour, Hiccup diligently cracking away at the stone cover with a pick axe while the other three men chatted idly. Hiccup was quickly fed up with Snotlout, even if his dear cousin carried the axe for him.
"I'm glad I don't have to do this, taking a sword from a smelly dead guy. Our ancestral sword is hanging in our house, because my mom's dad was buried on a funeral pyre."
Finally, the stone cracked open and instantly Hiccup was overwhelmed by stench. He gagged a few times.
"Viking's don't puke, son!" Stoick said.
Too late. Hiccup lost his lunch next to the mound. In fact, he vomited three times. The second was when he saw the corpse, and the third when he pulled the weapon from his descents hands and a finger snapped off.
Stupid Viking traditions.
Astrid was equally lamenting the ways of her people, as Mrs. Hofferson, Mrs. Jorgenson, and Mrs. Thorenson all fretted and squealed over the bride to be. Of course, no one knew the true identity of the groom, but it didn't matter, someone was getting married!
The bathing ritual had gone smoothly enough. A trip to the hot springs was always welcomed, even with the scuttle-butting company. Astrid was able to drown out most of the conversation.
After, she had her hair braided loosely, her fillet discarded. Her mother was fast at work weaving the bridal crown together as Mrs. Thorenson painted her face and Mrs. Jorgenson put the final touches on her gown.
The bride gave a haughty laugh. "Of course. I've been ready since the day I met him." Not true, but it made for a romantic plight to her mysterious husband.
Mrs. Hofferson sighed. "If you are so sure, then so be it."
"He loves me, mom. He really does. And I love him." She grasped her mother's arms. "Please be happy for me."
"I am…I just…"
"Wish it was Hiccup?" Astrid finished slyly.
Her mother only sighed in response. "But we can't change the past."
Hiccup was the first one to the ceremony, a sword on one shoulder, hammer on the other. He placed the hammer at the head table where he would use it later, and then rested the sword on the ceremonial furs at the front of the hall, or the altar. The great hall was decorated for the celebration of the year, maybe of the decade. Flowers were tucked into every nook and cranny as the rafters over head were lit with dozens of tiny lanterns. Everything looked neat and clean for once.
Stoick came in not that long afterwards. One look at his son, and he frowned.
"What?" The teen asked, knowing that face.
"You're wearing that blasted thing?" The chief was patient, but not nearly patient enough.
"Yes." Said Hiccup firmly securing his helmet. "I am."
"You're going to take it off to kiss her, though, right?"
"The mouth piece comes off."
"I know! Just…bare with me, dad."
The great man rolled his eyes and started away. Hiccup continued his marveling at the decorating before something in the back of the room caught his eye. A niche had been carved into the wall back by the royal family's shields. Specifically, the shield that bore his and Stoick's likeness. Upon closer examination, the niche displayed a prosthetic leg illuminated by candles.
"Oh wow..." He murmured, coming closer.
"We made that after you left." Stoick suddenly said coming up behind his son.
Hiccup didn't flinch though, he was much to moved at the gesture. "You made this for me?"
"Back when we didn't know if you were coming home or not. It was a shrine, so that we could pray for your safe return." He sighed. "We really can take it down now."
Hiccup nodded as the large man blew out the candles.
"The ceremony should be starting any moment now. People are starting to sit down."
"'Kay." The boy responded. His gaze was still on the smoking candles. To everyone else, it would look like Stoick just gave up hope of his son ever coming home. It was chilling, even though everything was fine.
Shaking himself out of his trance, Hiccup returned to his place at the altar.
People filed in, filling benches and tables. Gobber had a handkerchief on his hook, knowing that he would cry. The Hoffersons sat front and center, prepared to glare Hiccup down the entire ceremony. Aisling carried in Pippin and threw the young man a charming smile. Snotlout, Fishlegs, and the twins sat together at a table, no doubt making lewd and sexual comments. And then, Mwaba came in, followed by Toothless, and took a seat to the far left, so that Hiccup could look at them for reassurance.
"Any minute now…"
A petite figure silhouetted against the mid-afternoon sky, waiting at the entrance of the great hall. Conversation died down and everyone rose as the bride entered the hall.
Astrid was not a girly girl in any sense, but she tolerated the frills and flowers for the sake of tradition. It would be worth it, she supposed, to see the awestruck look on his face.
To her utter disappointment, his expression was blocked to her, by his stupid helmet. She hoped and prayed that he would not wear it, but it seemed that his cowardice stood strong. Oh well, she sighed. Nothing to do about it.
She reached him and held out her hand, the other firmly clasping a bouquet of reinroses.
Astrid could see his eyes, as they were wide and practically bugging from the sockets of the mask. Then a smile crinkled his lids.
"You look amazing." He whispered.
"I would say the same, but I can't see you properly." She rose an eyebrow.
He simply laughed.
"Friends! Family! Brothers and sisters," Stoick started, presiding over the ceremony. "It is with great gladness that we gather here to unite these two young warriors in matrimony…"
But that's as far as he got. At that moment, the horns outside began to sound. Whispers went up the crowd, before Hiccup's eyes widened and he broke out of Astrid's grasp.
"BERSERKERS!" He shouted.
"Every able bodied fighter, grab a weapon and meet by the docks!" Stoick shouted orders.
Astrid was livid. She pitched her flowers to the side and ran to grab her axe. It had to be today of all days that she didn't have it attached to her hip. Dress or no dress, she sprinted from the hall, her fists swinging, and her teeth clenched. "Not on my wedding day." She growled fiercely.
Hiccup took up the sword he was to drive into the beam. If it could stick in the trunk of a tree, it could cleave a man's head from his shoulder.
And Hiccup was dangerously close to doing just that.
Hiccup was first to the docks, poised and ready to strike. Soon, the rest of the village backed him up. Men with hammers and axes, teens with dragons, and women with kitchen utensils.
While the ships were still a few feet away from the docks, Hiccup could plainly see his enemy, in all of his crooked glory.
The teen Berserker bore his eyes into Hiccup, a meaty smile tearing at his cheeks and a malicious fire in his eyes. His beak-like nose crinkled as he sneered and nefarious laughter bubbled up in his throat.
Stoick lowered his weapon to begin diplomate the situation, but Hiccup beat him to it.
"You aren't welcome here!" He shouted, voice full of hate.
"Wart my friend!" Dagur replied, blowing off his comment. "You look well."
"Did you not hear me, Dagur!? You are not welcomed here!" He raised his sword and gripped it hard enough to make his knuckles bleed.
"Is this about the Atolls? Because I didn't think you'd mind. After all, you and I had that conversation over dinner one night, you were held captive by those people. Aren't you glad it's gone?"
In a way, he was right, he was kind of glad to see the buildings go up in smoke, but innocent people were slaughtered. "You had no right!" He spat.
"There you go with your righteous condemnation!" Dagur laughed. "One of your best qualities, to be sure!" He grew much more serious. "We come here in peace, really. You know I respect you, Wart, the last thing I want is this to turn ugly."
Wart lowered his sword ever so slightly. "What is your business? If you are coming for a casual chat, I can assure you, today is the most inopportune for that."
"I'm here for Savage." The chief said. "He and I made a deal. I would ransack the Atolls while you and your posse came to arrange a treaty with Berk. He owes me for holding up my end of the deal."
"And this payment, would it, by chance, be dragon eggs?"
"Nightfury eggs!" He shouted. "The most rare and beautiful of them all! I'm going to raise up an army of Nightfurys, and then the whole world will know the might of Dagur the Deranged!"
Hiccup's eyebrow twitched. "It won't work." He stated.
"Oh come on!" Dagur exasperated. "I know your policy about peace and joy and all that other crap, but I promise to leave you alone!"
"No, I mean…" Then he turned to the crowd. "Where's Fishlegs?"
"H-Here!" The chubby boy called.
"Do you have an egg on you?"
"What, just because I was utterly fascinated by them, do you think I would carry one around with me?"
He took Hiccup's silence as a yes.
"Fine." He fished the obsidian out of his pouch.
Wart turned back to the Berserkers. "Here!" He shouted and chucked it.
Dagur easily caught it and examined it. "So, what about it?"
"Break it open!"
"No way! That'll kill it! I need it alive!"
"It won't kill it, because it's already dead!"
"It's petrified! Savage lied to you!"
Mortified, Dagur whacked the egg against the hull of the ship, and swung at it with an axe. Nothing but solid glass.
"Where is the little weasel now?!" He shouted.
"He's in our prison." Stoick answered.
"Allow us to dock! No one tricks Dagur!" The deranged teen called from the boat.
Still on edge, Hiccup narrowed his eyes. "Call off your armanda, and then we'll talk!"
So Dagur waved his arms and sent his captain off. The ships went a distance off and then anchored.
The main ship pulled into port and Dagur hopped onto the dock.
"I'm angry, my brother." Dagur stated, coming up to grasp Hiccup's hand. "But my anger is not with you. What is his sentence?"
Hiccup pursed his lips. "He's to be executed in two days."
Dagur's spirits were instantly lifted as he clapped his friend's arms. "Why wait? Let's take care of him! Together!"
Wart gripped his shoulder. "You know how I feel about death. I know there's no return for this man, and that it'll be safer for everyone if he is put to death. But I don't want to be the one to do it. If you want to, so be it. Go take care of this grudge, and then please, get out of my home."
"Oh Wart, always to the point. These people look like they're ready to celebrate something! Why not the death of a traitor!?" He shook the teen. "Bring Savage to the kill ring! This will be memorable! We'll make it a fight to the death!" He called to his men.
Hiccup sighed in defeat. There was just no pleasing the man.
Dagur passed by Stoick as he made himself at home on the island. He gave the man a once over and gave him a half-hearted smile. "Sorry for your loss."
Stoick rolled his eyes. If only he knew…
The tension between Dagur and Hiccup was well-known throughout the Archipelago, as their never ending war brought in allies of all different types. They had once been friends. Well, Dagur lived in the delusion that they had been friends. Upon the retirement of Dagur's father, Osvald the Agreeable, Dagur's bloodthirsty nature wasn't warranted by the Hooligan's, and their treaty fell apart; especially since Dagur insisted them to sign in Dragon's blood. Alvin had been on both sides, too, as Dagur betrayed his trust and, using a Skrill, struck him by lightning. Everyone assumed he was dead until he showed up on Berk, seeking revenge on Dagur.
The disgruntled teen was in love with Toothless, more or less, the idea of riding him into battle, or mounting his head on a wall. Yes, ever since Dagur spotted the Nightfury, he was obsessed with owning it. The fact that little, defenseless Hiccup was able to control him made his blood boil and incited a hate towards the boy. For a while, Dagur had stayed away from Berk, as he had to rectify his alliance with the Outcasts, after the whole Skrill incident. But then, trader Johan brought the news that Hiccup had been missing for months. The young chief was elated that the boy was gone, but still, that meant for him:
So, it was very important that Dagur assumed that Wart was, well, Wart. If he came to know his true identity, things would dirty, fast.
As the news about the wedding being replaced with a brawl spread, everyone scattered to get their supplies needed for spectating the event. The last to disperse from the crowd was Astrid, still wearing her pale blue wedding dress, her bridal crown, and looking as livid as ever with the axe firmly in her grasp.
Dagur spotted her and realization came over him. He had seen Wart wielding a ceremonial sword, but didn't think much of it. But now it made sense. He turned to Hiccup and laughed. "Now I see why you said this was an inopportune day. If I had known you were reentering slavery, I would have come earlier."
"Hold me back," Astrid spat as she came towards Dagur.
"Can't, you hold me back." Hiccup returned.
Stoick grabbed them both. "We're already on edge of a war. If everything goes well, we can finish the ceremony tonight and then you'll have a funny story to tell your kids some day."
Hiccup sighed, but amended. Astrid was much more inclined to tighten the grip on her axe. "One false move…" She growled.
They met at the academy, once dubbed the kill ring, as that was the place that dragon battles were held. Enough blood was split here to last generations.
Why not add a few more pints?
Stoick presided over the event, sitting in his usual chair. Hiccup to his right, then Astrid to his right. She pivoted her axe on the point of the blade.
Snotlout took up a seat nearby. "Oh man, this is going to be so brutal! I love watching Dagur fight! He holds nothing back."
Astrid replied, "Knowing the opponents, this will be over quickly."
Then Hiccup added, "Knowing Dagur, this won't be simple." He then stood. "I'll be back before it starts."
Resigned, Hiccup went down to the ring entrance where Savage was awaiting his downfall. His good arm was fitted with a shield, obviously, not able or allowed to handle a weapon.
"Leave us." Wart commanded the guards.
They gave each other a look before departing. Wart crossed his arms as he looked at his previous commander.
"What?" Asked Savage, disdainfully.
"Why did you have him burn the Atolls? And why, of all the bloodthirsty vikings on the Archipelago, did you have to enlist Dagur the Deranged?"
Savage, for once in his pitiful existence, actually looked remorseful. "We came to that decision before you told me what plans you had for me. It was supposed to stir up dissension, and turn the survivors on you. You would be seen as incapable of protecting your people, and they would want me instead. But…"
"Kinda backfired, didn't it?"
Savage lowered his gaze. "Yeah."
"You're the most idiotic individual I have ever encountered."
"I'm well aware of that, sire."
"Any last words, then?"
Savage managed a smile and said, "Long live the Outcasts."
Hiccup shook his head, scornfully.
"Oh, and congratulations on your wedding. Sorry to see it interrupted."
"Well, at least someone's paying for it." He stated haphazardly, turning around. "Try to make it at least a little entertaining, will you?" With that, he left the man to his fate.
Hiccup settled back into his seat with a sigh. Across the arena, he saw his large black friend and Toothless settle next to each other to watch the battle. He could of sworn he saw Dagur looking at his Nightfury. "Oh Odin…" He muttered.
Savage was shoved into the ring, and the gate closed with a clang. Stoick stood up, "The battle between Dagur and Savage begins. This fight will end in a death. Hopefully, for our prisoner." Then he sat back down. "Just make it quick."
Savage raised his shield ready to fight for his life.
If only he had a chance.
Dagur charged at him, shrieking like lunatic. Savage braced his leg back, but Dagur's sword embedded itself into the shield. With only one arm for support, his shield pressed against him, the point going all the way through.
The deranged fighter yanked his weapon down harshly, dislodging the shield, and then pulled up, pulling the buckler off his arm, and into the dirt.
Savage only had seconds, but it was not enough. As his mind raced for an escape, Dagur took the opening and plunged.
Hiccup turned his face away.
It was all over. Savage slumped to the ground, blood beginning to pool around him. Dagur raised his blade and jovially laughed. He then brought it down again, cutting into the dead man over and over.
"Enough!" Stoick called, disgusted. "You've had your fun. It's over."
"Just a moment, Stoick!" Dagur called, excited. "You have something I want, something that you no longer need, and something I've wanted for a long time."
"Oh no…" Hiccup whispered, knowing exactly what he was going to ask for.
"I want the Nightfury!"
Stoick stood and shouted back. "Toothless is Hiccup's. He is a part of our tribe, and I will not give him away."
Hiccup could at least be grateful that his father would try to protect Toothless.
Dagur dragged his thumb over his blade, wiping the blood off. "I see. Let's compromise." He smirked. "You hand over the Nightfury, or I will take it by force and turn Berk into the Atolls." He tossed his sword to his other hand. "Seems pretty fair, right?"
Astrid felt an awful sinking feeling in her chest as Wart stood and gestured for Stoick to stand down. He looked to Dagur with determination in his eyes.
"I will fight you for him."