Infernal Responsiblity


Astrid sat cliff side, Stormfly to her right, and Toothless to her left, his head on her lap. It had been a week since Hiccup stormed out of the hall, and the two were hurting the most. Astrid could tell that Stoick felt bad too, but he hid his insecurities behind his duties of a chief. The Gauls had only left a few days prior, Darla not caring one bit. It was soon discovered that the condescending and pitiful looks that Hiccup was receiving were because of the troll towering over him.

After Hiccup left, Astrid spent the entire night searching the island. Toothless refused to let her sleep as he flew her everywhere. They searched the cove, beaches, caves, anywhere possible on Berk. After they turned up empty handed, Astrid enlisted the help of the rest of the academy to span the distance of the surrounding islands.

Hiccup was nowhere to be found.

Astrid scratched the dragon's muzzle as they sat on the cliff face. "It'll be okay, Toothless. We'll find him."

The Nightfury cooed in sadness, his eyes shut.

"If anything, he'll realize how big of a mistake it was to leave and come back himself." That was her sincere hope, but she didn't know how probable it was.

The first week of Hiccup's capture was hectic. He was given to a crotchety old woman as a present. There was no appeasing her either. No matter how hard he worked on a order, she always found something to yell at him about. He worked long days, cleaning, cooking, mending, and any other meaningless chore she could fathom. He was soon wishing that the old man was his master instead.

Her name was Ålman, but Hiccup was required to call her 'Missus', as a sign of respect and subordination. She was heavy set and was unafraid to lay hands on him. His back was her favorite spot, too. She would either slap him bare handed, or with a strip of leather. If he made a sound, she would whip him again. The teen learned quickly to keep his mouth shut as much as possible.

Hiccup made quick friends with Mud. Well, as close as friends could be considered. The giant understood what the boy was saying, as his lips would quirk up in the smallest of smiles. Hiccup was thankful for the friendship too, since no one else was explaining how things worked, and he was just supposed to know what was going on. Mud couldn't so much explain as he could demonstrate. He also seemed to show a protective side to his little cohort, as he would steal food for him and command him to eat with the words, "Si njaa."

At night, they would traverse the long field and stay in a barn on the top of a hill. It was the housing unit to the neighboring slaves as well. To his observation, there was a older woman, two strong burly men, and two girls a few years older him, one of them seemingly pregnant. Animals stunk up the building.

His first few nights were sleepless as he curled up in a corner by himself. The others slept in a circle in the middle, surrounding a small fire, and protected by yaks and sheep. Mud was nowhere to be found on these nights.

Hiccup was homesick. His warm bed, the sound of Toothless crooning and his father snoring. He wondered what everyone was thinking. Did they care that he left? Were they thankful? To an extent, he believed that Stoick and Gobber may miss him, especially by their reactions to the incident of the Red Death. Toothless probably missed him, missed him as much as Hiccup missed him. Then there was Astrid. She had born the brunt of his anger that night. There was no telling how the girl felt. If he ever saw home, he would apologize. If he got home.

It was three weeks into his enslavement when devastating winter set in. The field was buried under a foot of snow within a night. Adorned with only a loin cloth and a old horse blanket, Hiccup started the trek across the blizzard. He had only gotten to the first couple rows before a large hand snatched him up and lifted him into the air. It was Mud, wrapped in a blanket as well and old worn boots on his feet. "Si kufungia." He said smoothly. The giant dropped him of at the house and then disappeared.

Hiccup entered the house and strayed towards the fireplace, setting wood and lighting the flint with shivering hands. Just as the flames stared to rise, the woman came down.

"Why is this house so cold? Why is the fire not started yet? Where's breakfast?"

Hiccup fanned the flames and then turned to bow to her. "I apologize. There was a blizzard over the night." He tried to explain.

"Never mind. No breakfast." She snapped at him.

He sighed, his stomach groaning since his dinner was revoked as well.

Ragnar came down as Hiccup began preparing porridge. "Ålman, please. It's not his fault it's cold. If anything it's your fault for waking up early."

"We need to be proactive, if we go easy on him, he'll walk all over us."

Ragnar rolled his eyes. "Sure, whatever you say. But let him eat. He needs to keep his weight up so he doesn't freeze during this weather."

"Fine!" She exasperated. "Wart, call Mud in too, I don't want him to freeze to death."

That was how Hiccup got away with eating as much as he wanted during the winter.

One month.

Still no sign of Hiccup on Berk or the surrounding islands. As painful as it had been, Astrid flew Stormfly down by the jagged rocks outside of Raven's point. They scoured the shores for any signs of cloth or body. Every day, she checked the shores, afraid to find anyone.

Hiccup found himself alone in his corner again. A draft came over and chilled him to the bone, despite his smelly blanket. He shook fervently before he heard the sound of someone from above. "Kijana."

He peeked out of his blanket to see Mud leaning over the hay loft. "Kuja hapa!"

Hiccup sat up and found the ladder to the hay loft. He climbed it, shivering. Up above, it was strangely warmer, since it was out of the draft. Mud was shifting the hay to make a hole, then he draped a blanket over it.

"What's this?" Hiccup wondered coming over.

The black man patted the spot, indicting him to sit. He did so, and Mud pushed him to lay down. The man covered him up to his chin with the blanket he had been wearing, and then piled hay on top of him. To Hiccup's delight, the straw kept him insulated and trapped his heat.

"Thank you, Mud." Hiccup smiled sheepishly at the man.

In return, the man shook his head and said, "Sio Mud," then touched his heart and looked earnestly, "Mwaba."

"Mwaba?" Hiccup repeated.

"Mwaba," then he placed a large, warm hand on Hiccup's bald head. "Waat."

"Oh!" Mwaba was his name. Hiccup touched his own head and said, "Hiccup."

The large man smirked. "Kwikwi?"

That must have been his name in whatever language Mwaba spoke. Hiccup nodded. "You can call me Kwikwi." It sounded more pleasant then Wart. "What language is that?"

Mwaba looked confused, most likely not recognizing some words.

Hiccup rephrased his question. "I speak Norse, what do you speak?"

The man sat up proudly as he replied, "Kiswahili."

"So then you can understand me, you just can't speak it?"

Then man nodded. "Ndiyo."

"If I help you learn to actually pronounce words, would you teach me Kiswahili?"

Mwaba smiled like he had just been asked a stupid question. "Bila shaka!"

"I take that as a yes?" Hiccup half smiled.

The giant put his hand over the boy's eyes. "Lala." Sleep.

Devastating winter lasted long as the blizzard set in. Every early morning, Hiccup would rise with the sun and trek across the field with Mwaba to go to work. His days were consistent as he lit the fires, suffered abuse, made breakfast, suffered abuse, mended every hole, suffered abuse, cleaned every nook and cranny in the two-room long house, suffered abuse, entertained his mistress, and then trekked back to the barn to do it all over again in the morning.

Five weeks.

Astrid spent three days in bed, heartsick. The dried bouquet of flowers Hiccup had given her dangled above her head. Stormfly stayed perched by her window, worried about her rider.

Whence returning to bed one night, Hiccup and Mwaba came to find a terror curled up in the straw, seeking shelter from the storm. Mwaba reached for it with his bare hands, a sour look on his face. "Walaani joka!" He hissed.

Hiccup stopped him, however, and approached the terror himself. "Don't, they're actually quite friendly."

The black man was intrigued as he took a seat in the hay. "Gani?"

"Watch," commanded Hiccup. He didn't have any food to pacify the lizard, but he would make it work. He placed a gentle hand on the beast's head and the terror jerked to wakefulness.

"Hey little guy!" Hiccup cooed.

The Terror hissed at the stranger, but Hiccup would not relent, as well was docile. The terror saw no threat and laid back down.

"Here, no harm done." He looked over to Mwaba. "Give me your hand."

The man did as asked, and watched as the boy placed his monstrous hand on the tiny reptile. The terror looked up at this new presence, and for a moment, the two just started at each other. After what seemed like hours, the terror sauntered over and curled up in Mwaba's lap.

It was amusing, Hiccup thought, seeing this huge gruff man coddling this tiny lizard. "Give him a name."

The Zambian smiled. "Upepo."

Two months.

Devastating winter waned into Tolerable winter. The blizzard moved on, leaving much damage to be repaired. Astrid and the rest of the academy had been taken away from their previous occupation and called to help on the buildings. As she worked, she kept her eyes peeled for the black dragon who had been elusive of late. She knew why, of course, he was out searching all day and night for his boy. Astrid was losing hope though, and had no idea how to tell Toothless that Hiccup would probably not be coming back.

On the Outcast Atolls, Hiccup was perched on the roof, shivering and hammering shingles back into place. As metal met metal, Hiccup heard the sounds of hums coming from over the fields. He halted his work and listened. The slaves, including Mwaba, were singing.

Far over helheims' mountains cold

To dungeons deep, and caverns old

We must away ere break of day

To seek the freedom, and things been told.

Our ancestors, trapped alone in cells,

While hammers fell like ringing bells

In places deep, where dark things sleep,

In hollow halls beneath the fells.

For ancient lands, and frozen fjord,

There many a gleaming golden hoard

They shaped and wrought, and light they caught

To hide in gems on hilt of sword.

On silver necklaces they strung

The flowering stars, on crowns they hung

The dragon-fire, in twisted wire

They meshed the light of moon and sun.

Far over helheim's mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away, ere break of day,

To claim the freedom, and things been told.

Goblets they carved there for themselves

And harps of gold; where no man delves

There lay they long, and many a song

Was sung unheard by men like ourselves.

The pines were roaring on the height,

The winds were moaning in the night.

The fire was red, it flaming spread;

The trees like torches blazed with light.

The bells were ringing in the dale

And men looked up with faces pale;

Then dragon's ire more fierce than fire

Laid low their towers and houses frail.

The mountain smoked beneath the moon;

The men, they heard the tramp of doom.

They fled their hall to dying fall

Loud with pain, and harsh with rune.

Far over helheims mountains grim

To dungeons deep and caverns dim

We must away, ere break of day,

To win our freedom, so sing this hymn.

"What do you think you're doing? Why aren't you working? This roof isn't going to repair itself!" The crazy old lady started ranting as she came outside.

"I apologize, missus." He offered no excuse as he continued his work.

A moment later, a Terror landed on Hiccup's shoulder. The boy called her Meriadoc, and she was the twin to Mwaba's Terror. The two dragons enjoyed the company of the workers, and were quickly loyal.

"What have you got?" Hiccup asked as the Terror dropped an apple into his lap. "Good girl." He scratched her head. Meriadoc had a unique talent for delivery and receiving. Some days, she was gone for long periods of time, but would bring back gifts for her master. The thought of sending messages by her to Berk went through his head, but fear plagued his mind and kept him from going through with his plan.

Mwaba came up to the house and climbed the ladder. "Jinsi ni kwenda?"

"Oh, it's going good." He tossed the apple to him. "This is for you, I had a nice lunch." A couple crackers and water, but he didn't eat much now, so it was filling. Mwaba was so much larger, he needed to eat more. "Can you hand me that nyundo?" He was getting better at his vocabulary.

Mwaba tossed a hammer in reply.

"What's going on out here? Why aren't you working? You lazy stupid fool!" The mistress called again from inside the house.

Hiccup rolled his eyes and muttered. "Iwapo hukutana, ifanye hukusikia." A phrase that Mwaba often said after foul things were spoken, a reminder to ignore it.

Mwaba patted the boy's back in sympathy, and then responded in a thick accent, very broken norse. "Ya. Ita aright."

Hiccup's head snapped over to look at the black man. Those had been the first norse words he had said, that weren't loan words. The teen smiled at him proudly.

Three months.

Astrid approached the main hall as she was beckoned. Inside, Stoick stood up front with Gobber at his side. Spitelout and other heads of the tribe were also gathered. Astrid looked between the men, not exactly sure what was happening.

"Astrid," The chief spoke as he approached her. "How are you doing?"

She smiled sheepishly. "I've been better, sir."

"I can see it. You miss him."

She looked down in shame, "I also feel like it was my fault." Her voice was soft.

Stoick clapped her forearms. "We all feel that way. And we all miss him. But, there's no sign of him, and just wishing him back isn't going to make any difference."

"I've looked everywhere! I've tried everything! I don't know what else to do!"

Stoick held up a hand to silence her.

"He obviously doesn't want to be found, where ever he has gone. I've sent out messages to nearby tribes, and no one has seen him. So, next we wait."

"Wait?" she asked dismally.

"There's nothing else we can do."

She wanted to argue. She wanted to say that there was still lots of things they could do, but he was right. Their search had come to a dead end. "Are you giving up on him?"

Stoick looked put off by her comment. "Absolutely not. He's my son. He will come home, some day." Then he pursed his lips. "Astrid, as chief, I am often faced with a difficult decision. Hiccup…he doesn't have any family besides me. And, if I were to go…well, their would be no chief."

Astrid's throat constricted painfully as she realized what was being said.

"Hiccup loved you, he trusted you. And if he had married you, that would have put you in line for the chieftain if he had suddenly passed away."

"So, you're saying…"

"If something happens to me before Hiccup gets back, the tribe looks to you."

She covered her mouth. "But…what about Snotlout? They're cousins!"

Spitelout rolled his eyes. "You want him as chief?"

Astrid held back a grin as his own father spoke of his incompetence.

"I'll train you, as I've been training Hiccup, and Gobber can help you as well. But, above all, this is just a precaution, I have faith that Hiccup will return to us before that happens."

She smiled proudly. "I won't let you down, sir."

Stoick surprised her by enveloping her in a hug. "Don't be mad at yourself, Astrid. Everything will be okay."

Just hearing the reassurance from the chief raised her hope and she returned the embrace.

"Thank you."

Hiccup slept soundly. It was always difficult for him to fall asleep. His aching muscles and agonizing thoughts kept him awake. But eventually, he would listen for Mwaba's breathing as he slept a few feet away. The sound was akin to Toothless' crooning, and aided to soothe the heartache. It was late one night when Hiccup was aroused by the sound of moaning. Naturally a light sleeper, he waved it off as one of the others having a boisterous nightmare. Then the groaning became louder and soon changed to screams. Hiccup was up and leaned over the loft.

In the dim light of the embers, he saw the pregnant girl was going into labor. The other slaves feigned sleep, as no one could actually sleep through the racket she was making. No one helped her. The teen had a very important decision to make. Once upon a time, before he apprenticed for Gobber, Stoick thought of the great idea to have his son apprentice the village's midwife. The boy helped deliver three babies before being kicked out for almost dropping a child. So, he knew what to do, even if he was a bit rusty. Now, the real question was, did he want to get involved? No one was helping her. He never talked to the girl, so it wasn't as if he'd feel awkward around her later. If anything, he would lay awake all night feeling guilty. So the teen descended the ladder and went over to the girl.

"Hey, how are your contractions?"

She screamed at him in reply.

"Okay…well, I'm going to take a look, if you don't mind." He tried to be polite. He gingerly lifted her skirts and saw right away the crown of the babies head. She must have been in labour for hours, silently lying in pain. "I need you to breathe for a minute. Calm down. I can see the crown, but you just need to relax."

Hiccup sensed a presence behind him and turned to see Mwaba.

"What do?" the man asked.

"I need you to get a bucket of water, a knife, and whatever you can find as far as rags and a blanket."

The man nodded and went quickly to his duties.

The girl started panting harshly as she let out a scream.

"Relax. You're doing great." Hiccup smiled.

"I know what I'm doing!" She shouted back.

He didn't take her comment personally, as she was obviously in distress. "You need to calm down and breathe for a few contractions, you don't want to tear anything."

"What makes you an expert?!" She hissed.

"I've delivered a few." He said sternly. "I'm trying to help you."

The girl shut her eyes and breathed deep for a few moments. Hiccup grabbed her hand in a comforting way.

"Alright, now push."

The young woman beared down and in a held breath, the sound of a crying baby filled everyone's ears. By this time, Mwaba was back with the requested items. Hiccup caught the infant and cut the umbilical cord.

"Congratulations, it's a beautiful boy!" The teen smiled at the mother. The baby's cries had not lasted long, and now he just made incoherent babbling.

She sneered at him in reply.

He cleared his throat. "Mwaba, could you start to clean him?"

The man silently took the babe and gently cleaned him with one of the rags.

Hiccup then looked back to the girl. "In a few moments you will be passing the placenta-…" He started to explain.

"I know." Her eyebrows furrowed as she covered herself up. "This is my third child."

"Oh…" His throat felt thick. "I just thought you needed some help…"

"Why? Because I'm so young? You don't know anything about me." With that she turned on her side and covered herself with a blanket.

Hiccup turned back to the Zambian, who had just finished bathing the baby. The teen took him back and carefully tied the umbilical cord. Finally, he wrapped him in swaddling clothes and approached the mother. "He's ready, if you want to hold him."

"Why the hell would I want to do that?" She spoke without getting up.

"Oh, I don't know, maybe because he's your son?"

The teen reluctantly sat up and looked at him like she was speaking to a dense child. "You really don't know anything. I'm a pleasure slave. I get pregnant. But my master doesn't acknowledge the child. I learned that the first time around. All they end up being is a burden. This environment is unsafe for a baby, and eventually, they will die. I've learned to never give them a chance to live."

Hiccup unconsciously gripped the child closer to him. "You can't…"

"And why not? It's my body. My child. I can do what I want."

The teen looked angrily at her. "This is a human being. An innocent child that has done nothing to deserve death. He doesn't even have the chance to refuse. You think that just because you brought him into the world, that gives you the right to throw him away? You carried this life with you for nine months, and you don't want him?" Everything that he said was tearing him up inside as he said it.

"No. I don't want him. If you think all that is true, then you can care for him, but I promise that you'll regret it." She turned back onto her side. "Now please, leave me alone."

He stood alone for a moment, the infant squirming in his grasp.

"Leat us go." Mwaba gripped his shoulder.

Up in the loft, the babe slept soundly against the teen's chest. Mwaba was reclined, but stared up at the ceiling. He had known what would happen, he had just hoped the boy wasn't going to get involved.

"This world is evil." Hiccup said quietly. "The masters are like poison, contaminating everything they touch."

"Jina lake ni nani?"

"His name?" Hiccup surveyed the child. What little hair he had was red and he had a stout face. "How about…Peregrin? Pippin for short."

The man raised his eyebrow.

"It's the name of a character in an old folk tale. The name means 'Traveller in strange places' because this place is strange, and I only hope his time here is brief, as if there was someway I could send him to a better place." He patted the child's scraggly hair. In only a few short hours, Hiccup decided that he really did care for the boy. He was unwanted, but did nothing to cause it. A trait that the teen carried as well. They had said that having a child changed one's life, but no one could prepare Hiccup for what he was to endure.

For weeks Hiccup carried the babe in a blanket, slung around his shoulder. In the mornings, he would feed the him yak milk with a spoon, since the girl still refused to have anything to do with the child. Then afterwards, he would continue his routine, only with an extra duty.

To Hiccup's relief, Pippin slept most of the day. When he roused, the teen would hobble back to the barn, feed him or clean him, and then hobble right back to work. I say hobble because Hiccup had finally reached his growth spurt. He was getting taller, but his prosthetic was too short. Anytime he stood, he would lean heavily to one side. He was also becoming stronger, he noticed. As Pippin grew, Hiccup was not burdened with the extra weight around his neck.

Three and a half months.

Things on Berk were returning back to normal. Dragon training continued, Astrid and Fishlegs leading the class. Thankfully, all of Hiccup's notes had been left behind, so they had something to reference.

The hardest part about the teen's absence is when the group went out flying and ran into Toothless.

No saddle. No rider. No emotion from the Nightfury. He would slip passed the teens and disappear. During the first month, he sought solace from Astrid and Stoick, but to him, it wasn't the same. No one was like the boy that had befriended him oh so long ago. He refused to believe that Hiccup was gone, and flew far and wide, searching everywhere imaginable for his boy.

Toothless wouldn't rest until Hiccup came home.

Pippin sat giggling, buzzing his lips, and blowing spit bubbles. Hiccup kept a neutral smile as he pulled the needle through the fabric he was fixing.

"So, you're a father now?"

The teen looked up quickly to see his mistress staring heavily at the child.

Hiccup patted the bundle against his chest and replied. "In a way. Yes, missus."

She narrowed her eyes, "You haven't even been here four months."

"This child was abandoned. I couldn't stand to see a innocent child go unloved, dying within a day. So I'm caring for him."

"How very…considerate of you." She replied. "Don't let it be a distraction. You are my slave first and foremost."

"Yes, missus." He nodded.

Four months.

Hiccup considered himself to be very mature and grown up for his age. He was expressive, but also very sarcastic. This all changed when Pippin came into his life. He would have never seen himself as one of those overly gushy, sentimental types. But never the less, he found himself cooing and babbling right back with the babe. He tickled and played with Pippin, almost as if he was his own child. Hiccup glanced over to see the calm, almost stoic giant grinning at him. "What?"

"I see upendo."

"I am unfamiliar with that phrase."

"How yoo say…love?"

Hiccup smiled. A month with this kid attached to his hip, anyone else would have been driven up the wall. But Pippin was not a burden as the girl had so vulgarly suggested. He had been a gift. The sweet bubbling innocence of the child had been a light in the dark and dreary world. Hiccup only wished he could shelter him forever.

"Do you want to hold him?"

The Zambian held out his large hands to receive the child. The bundle was big enough to fit in just one of his hands. He mimicked the way he had seen Hiccup holding him and observed the child.

"Wewe ni mzuri kidogo mtoto." The man grinned.

Suddenly, Pippin started to kick and choke out cries. Mwaba swiftly handed him back to the teen.

Hiccup took him with a laugh. "Don't have much experience with babies, do you?" He poked his finger into the babe's mouth as a pacifier. "There, it's okay. Daddy's here." As the words left his mouth, his cheeks reddened. Him, a father.

"Mo like moda…" Mwaba smirked, teasing the boy.

Six months.

The house on the hill that was to be Hiccup's and Astrid's had finally been completed. After his disappearance, the construction had been stopped. But after a while, Astrid took up the project herself, needing a distraction. Hiccup had made a rough blueprint of the house, but it was apparent that he didn't care that much about it. Astrid wanted the house to be his, so she studied the space in his back room and his bedroom, and tried to mimic the feeling of both. Of course, she put her own spin on things, hoping that maybe she would share the home. Still, his presence was not there, and the house would never feel like home until it he was.

Pippin was unhappy, and that made Hiccup unhappy. The baby had been nonstop crying for hours. No matter what he tried, nothing pacified him. The sound of the child's unhappy tears hurt the teen, as he felt helpless. He continued to try to work as Pippin cried on.

"If that baby cries one more time, I'll ring it's neck!" The mistress screamed at the boy.

"Oh please," Hiccup was desperate. "I can't help his crying. I've tried everything! You must understand!"

"I understand, alright. But then again, what's the worth of this child?"

"Oh don't!" Hiccup clutched the bundle in his arms as the woman moved to strike it. "If you have to punish him, punish me instead. He's just a baby…" Pippin continued his squealing as the shouting around him mounted.

"Then you can decide which is more important, your life or his!" She shoved him so he fell backwards. Hiccup braced himself to protect the infant in his grasp. Her foot collided with his side and back as the babe cried on. He pulled Pippin close, hushing him as the blows kept crashing upon him. Screaming inundated him as his mind whirled with pain. He shut his eyes to block it out, but no matter how hard he willed it, the sounds would not stop.

"It's a burden! Let him die! Let it go!"

Hiccup's tense fingers poked uncomfortably into the baby, as his wailing persisted. Hiccup merely buried his face into his chest and held his breath.

His cries finally ceased as Hiccup's side was bloody and bruised. The child had cried himself to sleep. Hiccup was shaking as he knelt.

"I can't take it anymore!" His Mistress cried.

It was then that Ragnar choose to walk in. There was a sad sigh on his lips as he saw Hiccup, bloody on the floor, and his wife looking incredibly flustered.

"What is it, dear?"

"I hate him!" She shouted. "Take him back! Get someone else! He's worthless! All he cares about is that child!"

"Really? It's just for a little while longer. Wart's been a good servant for you…"

"No! He messes everything up! He's lazy and incompetent, and all over a pathetic excuse for a man!"

Hiccup silently exasperated, Again? Really?!

"We'll take care of him at the end of the week." The man sighed. He just hoped they would allow him to be traded for a new slave. "Wart, do you understand?"

Hiccup bowed low, the motion sending aches and pains all over. "Yes sir." His voice was thick with sorrow.

"Get out." The woman spat.

"May I make a request?" He remained low.

"If you want to push your luck." She sneered.

"May I have a piece of parchment?"

"What for?"

"Please." He offered nothing else.

She took out a blank book from a shelf and roughly ripped out a sheet. "Take care of it, it is all you will get."

"Thank you ma'am."

That evening, he was silent as Mwaba watched him, judging him. Every scrap of rag and blanket that he could find was collected into a bundle. An old, unused fishing net was found in the depths of the barn. He gathered his supplies and wrapped Pippin protectively in rags, so that only his tiny face could be seen. Finally, he wrote out a note with piece of charcoal.

This is Peregrin. Pippin for short. His birth parents do not want him, so I cared for him. But, it is no longer safe for him here with me. Please take care of him.


He then attached the net and note to Meriadoc. Before he placed Pippin inside, he held him one last time. "Be good for them, okay? I love you."

Pippin's tiny hand reached out and grabbed his nose. The teen saw the necessity of his departure, but it was like looking at the necessity of death. In tears, he placed the bundle into the net and took the Terror outside. Hiccup raised the dragon up and pointed it in the direction of Berk. "Go, and be safe, please."

He watched as the child, his child, was carried away into the night. When they disappeared, the teen crumpled to the ground in horrendous sobs.

Many days and nights passed in silence and anxiety. Hiccup was distracted by his thoughts and was often yelled at, and occasionally slapped, by the woman. Did Meriadoc make it? Was Berk in a different direction? What if the net didn't hold up? What if, what if, what if? So many unanswered questions, but he could only pray that Pippin would be alright.

Finally, right before the week was up, Meriadoc returned to the barn, no net and no babe. A note was attached to her leg and Hiccup gingerly read it.


We received him. He'll be fine with us. Please, come home.

Love, Astrid

For the second time that week, Hiccup collapsed into a heap of sobs.

Rain. A torrent of darkness inside and outside. The only thing to quell the scorn was a large warm hand on a shoulder. Although, it was of little comfort, as this would be the last contact Hiccup and Mwaba would have. The teen watched as other slaves gathered in the square with the traders, assorted ages and skin tones.

Hiccup turned to the man, it was time to go. In his best Kiswahili, he said, "Umekuwa hivyo kusaidia kwangu. Ninathamini rafiki wetu, na mimi miss wewe. Kama milele kuwa huru, nenda kwa Berk. Nina marafiki huko."

Teary eyed and proud, Mwaba gripped his arms hard and returned in Norse. "Yoo have been de greatest friend I have had. I auso value yoo, even ef no one ese does. I wee miss yoo great."

Hiccup flung his arms around the giant in a sorrowful embrace. Just when he wasn't feeling so lonely, he was ripped apart again. Mwaba had come to know all about his past, as he had felt safe to confide in the man. He told of the Red Death and taming a Nightfury. He told of the academy and Astrid, and then of his runaway because of Darla. Mwaba had understood, but felt pity on the boy as he was thrust into the life of the thrall just because he had to marry someone dislikable.

Hiccup felt guilty. After all, he was here for, in the grand scheme of things, petty reasons. Mwaba had been sold from his family, and lived his entire life as a slave. And yet, he was still a joyful man. All this added up to Hiccup's respect for the giant.

But now, everything was changing again. Without another word, Hiccup limped over to the others followed by his Master.

Lars greeted them. "Ah, Ragnar! Good to see you! It's been sixth months, so your wife is enjoying her slave?"

"Actually…no. We want to trade him for another home type, if you have one."

Lars physically deflated. "You know, six months isn't all that long to have a slave…what made her decide this?"

"Well, there were quite a few contributing factors…she said he was lazy, disrespectful, distracted, and messed things up."

"Oh Odin…" Lars sighed. "Okay, we don't have any home types at the moment, but we can see about getting you a refund, or you can check back later?"

The two men continued business talk as a firm hand seized Hiccup's wrist. His head snapped over to meet the eyes of the head trader, looking very very angry. The threat from many months ago flashed in his mind.

"What are you going to do?" Hiccup tried to say with authority, but it came out as a squeamish question.

The man just grit his teeth in anger. He would regret asking soon enough.

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