Edit of I Will Make You Proud wip
Stoick closed the door and sank into the waiting chair, relieved to be home. Today had been gripe day and the number of people who turned up to complain was bigger than usual. Devastating winter was here, confining everyone to their homes. They tribe was edgy, tired of the cold and the restricted trade, and sick of each other. The hostility infected everyone and more quarrels broke out. The Chief didn’t have the luxury of impatience, but he was ready to tie Gerda Thorston and Tola Larsson together until they settled their differences. The healers complained about the growing shortage of ingredients for their remedies. the Hooligan tribe became edgy Those were things only the Chief could decide. Chasing down lost sheep, mediating a weeklong argument between Gerda Thorston and Tola Larssen, and being told by Gothi that she couldn’t gather all the herbs she needed by herself were not part of that plan. He was Stoick the Vast, not Odin; there were limits to his time and energy.
But he was home now, home to his boy Hiccup and his never-ceasing speech. The child always rattled on, finding more to say in a few seconds than Stoick could credit. It was unnatural the way Hiccup never seemed to stop. He could chase after any animal, any bird, anyone who interested him. His mind captured all kinds of odd notions and chewed on them. Usually, he’d blurt out whatever it was he was thinking at full speed, expecting Stoick to keep up. It was a struggle, and sometimes he wished the lad would simply slow down. Stoick kept searching for an indication that Hiccup had some sort of an attention span, but so far it had been a wasted effort.
It was a quandary. Hiccup was a bright child, perhaps a brilliant one, and impossible to contain. He might stay put, but his mind raced and he talked about every thought that crossed his mind. Even when he slowed down or held back for the women minding him, he had to get it out, and Stoick heard him talk all through their time together. Hiccup was bored, and his mind needed something to do. If he had any ability to pay attention, Stoick would arrange lessons for him, but the boy’s focus seemed to be missing—well, nonexistent—about what went on around him. He needed to know his runes and figuring if he was to succeed as a chief, but wasting time with an unprepared child was pointless.
Stoick gave a deliberate sigh; he was here, and it was time to be Hiccup’s Daddy instead of a chief.
He glanced across the table to discover his son carrying an oversized mug. He set the tankard by Stoick—it held ale—and looked at Stoick.
“Do you want one block of ice or two?”
Bewildered, Stoick asked, “Why do you want to know about ice, Hiccup?”
“You know, for your head?”
Stoick blinked. “Do you think I need some?”
“Yeah, you have a look that comes before you ask me for ice.” Hiccup studied his father. “Tonight is two blocks; I’ll fetch some.”
His frustration must be obvious if Hiccup noticed it. He decided an earlier night was needed, if he could get his son to remain in bed. Hiccup couldn’t settle down until he’d talked to Stoick, as if his head was full of snow and he needed to clear a path through it to get somewhere—in Hiccup’s case, to sleep. He reached for the ale and took a swig. He normally had mead, but today had been more trying and ale was what he wanted.
Stoick watched Hiccup secure the ice in clean rags and come back to him. His son handed the blocks to him and bounced on his heels, waiting for a reaction.
“Thank you, Hiccup. You did well with the ice.” Hiccup smiled, revealing the gap in his teeth.
“Sure, Daddy. Is the ale okay? I tried not to spill any, but the mug was heavy, and I don’t know if I did.” The boy’s forehead puckered.
“I seen no spills, Hiccup. You were careful with it.” Hiccup’s eyes crinkled as he smiled, revealing the gap in his teeth. His son soaked up each drop of praise his dad offered and Stoick tried to be generous with it. “This is good work, son, and a great help to me.”
“Yeah. Today was complaining day, and everyone’s grumpy in the cold. On complaining days you always come home unhappy and tired. That’s when you want ale and need ice.” His voice was matter-of-fact.
“You meant to pour me ale, son? You weren’t guessing?”
“No, I did it on purpose. Why?”
“You surprised me, that’s all. I didn’t think you noticed things like drinking ale.”
“I have a look for ice and my four year old recognizes it. No, he can tell the difference between needing one piece or two. The boy even wrapped it in rags. Thor, my son has my mug of ale scheduled. When did he learn this?” Stoick took the first block from Hiccup, asking, “How long have I had a look for ice, son?”
“Well, I don’t know. But you had it when someone stole the eggs and hid them in a tree.”
Ah, yes. It was midsummer, and it happened three days in a row. So, seven months ago.
“Well, Hiccup, thank you. You’re a help to your Dad tonight. Your mother would be proud. Now,” Stoick continued, “I have news for you. You’ve shown you’re old enough to pay attention and learn, so I’m setting you up to start schooling. Once I find you a teacher, “ Stoick smiled, “You can begin on runes and numbers.”
Hiccup gaped, his green eyes alight with excitement. The joy on his face was startlingly fierce, and his eyes burned with intensity. Stoick had never seen such a young child look that way; the passion in the boy’s eyes existed on the faces of warriors, not youngsters. Hiccup looked prepared to fight a dragon and win.
Hiccup lifted his chin. “I will work hard at my lessons,” he stated firmly, “and learn everything. I will make you proud, Dad.”
Before Stoick, his lad was standing straight and pledging to fight and conquer this challenge. Not mere pleasure to learn, but the determination to excel, radiated from his small frame. The resolve in Hiccup was palpable and powerful, and Stoick was affected to witness it.
“My son,” Stoick responded,” I am proud already.”