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Rated: ASR · Draft · Fanfiction · #2190179
Exchange between Hiccup & Gobber, Hiccup & Spitelout, Hiccup & Adelbert Hofferson


Hiccup’s excitement at working at the forge with the man he admires almost as much as his dad leads him to accept the work given uncomplainingly. He admires Gobber and shows a willingness to do whatever Gobber wants. The work is hard. Gobber didn’t lie to Hiccup. He was tired, hot, and sore. He did become tired and kept going anyway. He went home exhausted, ate, fell on his bed, and slept. Stoick wondered where his active, talkative son went to. Gobber said he was just tired. But, Gobber also said Hiccup worked hard, and Hiccup was encouraged by hearing that.

He did everything Gobber asked and just kept waiting. He could ask questions and talk to Gobber, until Gobber said to “Stop yakking and get to work.” He hauled water and topped off the quench tub, even when his matchstick arms ached from the effort. He carried load after load of coal, bending beneath the weight. He climbed every shelf, often hearing Gobber tell him to “be quick, laddie, I need that tool ta finish this.” Still Hiccup worked, and waited, and began the day hoping to start learning about smithing instead of doing more chores.

This bit is copied from the draft itself:

§ § §


all day After weeks with no change, disappointment became discouragement. Hiccup doubted he’d learn anything. Not that Gobber would lie to him, but...he didn’t remember to teach Hiccup, either.

Hiccup showed up to work hoping the broom had vanished in the night. Every day it stood there, waiting for him. The broom became the image of every draining, filthy chore Hiccup completed in the smithy. His work was never finished. The forge required water for washing, drinking, and topping off the quench tub, and Hiccup hauled bucketfuls each day. Coal needed to be brought, too, a job that left Hiccup’s throat dry and dusty. Gobber had him climbing shelves for the one tool Gobber needed “right up top, laddie, that’s it,” were tied up in his gnawing hatred for the broom. When Gobber wasn’t looking, Hiccup would spit on the ground before it.

The first day Hiccup appeared scowling, Gobber smiled at him and said, “Mornin’ Hiccup. Good ta see you here.”

Hiccup looked at him, took a breath, and erased the grimace. “Yeah, good morning, Gobber. Nice to see you.” Hiccup grabbed the apron, saying, “It looks like you need coal first. I’ll fetch some.” Hiccup donned the apron, glanced at the forge, and left, unaware Gobber was studying him walk away, stiff-shouldered.

Gobber greeted him at the door the next day. “I want ta talk with you, laddie. Come inside and sit there,” pointing to a disused stool. Puzzled, Hiccup sat.

“I see you’ve been workin’ hard, boy, and I’m proud of you,” Gobber stated. “Scrawny as you are, the work gets done.”

Hiccup smiled a little. “Thanks, Gobber.”

“Now tell me somethin’. What do you think an apprentice such as yourself ought ta be doin’ now?”

Hiccup tilted his head and considered the question. “I think,” he began, “an apprentice such as myself ought to learn to handle tools.”

“You want to handle tools, then?”

“Yeah, I really do.”

“When do you think you should start?”

He hesitated. Gobber told Hiccup what to do, explained things to him, and answered questions. He didn’t ask questions. This was a serious conversation and Hiccup had to be serious, too.

He asked, “What about right now, Gobber?”

Gobber looked at him, stating, “That’s a question Hiccup. I want you ta answer me.”

Hiccup’s bewilderment grew. Gobber wasn’t his usual cheerful self. But he wasn’t angry or annoyed either. He was a completely different Gobber, looking Hiccup straight in the eye like he was a grown person, certain Hiccup had an answer.

“I want to start today, Gobber. This morning.”

“Well, I can teach you as soon as I get my work done. It won’t be this mornin’, though.” Gobber continued, “I’ll get started on the work. You stay there Hiccup, and think awhile. I’ll be back.”

Hiccup sat back on the stool and replayed the conversation. There was something strange about it. Why would Gobber ask him what he wanted? His thoughts never mattered before. Why now? Yeah, Hiccup wanted to learn, but it was Gobber’s job to decide when he’d learn and what he’d study. An apprentice expected to work hard, listen, and obey orders. But Gobber ordered him to sit and think.

His began cataloging the tasks before him. He noted the coal pile, and decided extra was needed today—Gobber had a lot of repairing to do, including Hoark’s axe. There wasn’t enough water to begin with, either. Hiccup tried to fetch that before the forge grew busy; soon, Gobber would need Hiccup to be pumping the bellows. The metal slivers on the floor needed collecting later ; for now they could wait. Hiccup itched to begin, but didn’t leave the stool. Gobber said to stay there, and unsatisfying as it was, he needed to follow orders.

Hiccup suddenly realized why things felt so out of place. This was the spot he sat in before he was apprenticed to the smithy. It was the one place he could sit in the forge when he visited, where he’d be out of the way, unable to touch anything. Looking down at himself, he realized the apron still hung on the wall. The awful truth showed itself to Hiccup.

He wasn’t an apprentice anymore.

Gobber never let Hiccup in the smithy without the apron on. Smithies were hot and hazardous; Gobber insisted he wear it every moment. If Hiccup didn’t put it on right away, Gobber told him, “You make your apron a part of you, Hiccup. Wear it start to finish every day, no excuses.” When Hiccup removed it without thinking, Gobber said, “When you put it on, you keep it on.” If Hiccup took it off because he was hot or itchy, Gobber stated flatly, “No apprentice of mine gets to act that stupidly. Apron on, boy.”

But now, Hiccup was sitting down. No, Gobber sat him down. Gobber told him on his second day, “You need to keep going; don’t rush through things, but stay working.” After the first exhausting week on his feet, Hiccup stopped staggering. Since then, he slowed his pace, or leaned against a wall to rest. But Hiccup never sat anymore; he was Gobber’s apprentice, and he was there to work.

Hiccup’s horror grew as he thought about it. Gobber was gone and Hiccup had to stay put. He couldn’t start until the big smith gave permission. None of the work could get done until the forge was ready, and Gobber needed coal...

No. No. No.

Gobber was doing it. Hauling coal, fetching water, and all the tasks Hiccup performed since the beginning, now being done by Gobber himself. The words rang inside his head.

I’ve done it, and now that you’re my apprentice, you get to do it.”

You have to do all I tell you, understand?”

Then, today:

What do you think an apprentice such as yourself ought ta be doin’ now?”

Hiccup hated the work—it was boring and tiresome and never got finished. He wanted to make something from start to end, hold it up, and admire his work. He dreamed of hammering and shaping and quenching. Hiccup wanted his work to be new and exciting. Instead, he labored daily at tasks that were dull and frustrating and not what he wanted to do.

Hiccup ought to be doing the work Gobber assigned him. That was the right answer. Apprentices did boring and unpleasant work, but it was their work. Hiccup never understood that until now. The tasks Gobber gave Hiccup belonged to him. Hauling and lifting coal, fetching water, and pumping the bellows were the responsibility of the apprentice. Hiccup never understood that until now.

Gobber was his dad’s best friend, and Hiccup had known him all his life. He held Hiccup when he was afraid, listened to him talk, and made him giggle when he was sad. Every year, Hiccup got a Snoggletog gift from Gobber. Gobber was like a friend, a dad, and a brother in one person, and having him nearby made Hiccup feel safe.

But Gobber was more than that. Gobber took Hiccup to train as an apprentice,
so he could become a blacksmith. Gobber chose him for that, so Gobber was Hiccup’s apprenticemaster. Gobber made rules and gave orders and insisted Hiccup listen. He warned Hiccup the work was hard and expected the boy to obey him. Because Hiccup agreed to apprentice, now Gobber was a master over Hiccup, and not a man who gave him piggyback rides.


This morning, Gobber took back the chores Hiccup resented. He, Hiccup, was not needed, not if Gobber did Hiccup’s work.

Now Hiccup wondered if he was going to become like Snotlout, calling things worthless or stupid or useless. No, Hiccup could never be like him. Snotlout was taller and stronger and did things with Uncle Spitelout. The whole village thought Hiccup good for nothing, and they were right. Hiccup was a failure.

Gobber still allowed him to be an apprentice. Gobber never called Hiccup useless, just told him to work. He let Hiccup talk sometimes, and ask questions when the boy knew he ought to concentrate on the job. Gobber even praised him.

You’re a good lad, Hiccup.”

You work hard.”

I’m proud of you.”


Hiccup had nothing: no apprenticeship, no work, and nowhere to spend his days. Snotlout would harass Hiccup, no one else would let him apprentice, and the villagers would whisper that he was no good. His dad...Hiccup didn’t want to think of that. Hiccup had done well, and Stoick was pleased. His dad didn’t scold him or scowl at Hiccup as much as before. He asked Hiccup about work and let him talk about the forge. His dad smiled more now. Now Hiccup wrecked it for Stoick and himself.

Gobber would come back and tell him to go home. He’d say you don’t work here anymore. Hiccup wouldn’t be an apprentice any longer He didn’t do what Gobber expected and now he would have to leave. The only thing left was for Hiccup to stay where he couldn’t touch anything until Gobber told him to leave. Hiccup could follow orders one more time for Gobber—he wouldn’t let the last thing he did be disobedient to his apprenticemaster.



Worthless. His cousin Snotlout called him that when Hiccup couldn’t do things Snotlout could. If Snotlout bested him at anything, he’d hear the taunt.

” You really can’t climb that tree? Oh, yeah, you’re too puny. You’re just worthless, Hiccup.”

”You can’t lift that hammer, you worthless brat.”

”You’re an idiot if you think you’ll be Chief someday. Everyone knows you’re worthless. My dad says you’re useless, too.”

Now Hiccup wondered if he was going to become like Snotlout, calling things worthless or stupid or useless. No, Hiccup could never be like him. Snotlout was taller and stronger and did things with Uncle Spitelout. The whole village thought Hiccup good for nothing, and they were right. Hiccup was a failure.

Gobber still allowed him to be an apprentice. Gobber never called Hiccup useless, just told him to work. He let Hiccup talk sometimes, and ask questions when the boy knew he ought to concentrate on the job. Gobber even praised him.

“You’re a good lad, Hiccup.”

“You work hard.”

“I’m proud of you.”


Hiccup had nothing: no apprenticeship, no work, and nowhere to spend his days. Snotlout would harass Hiccup, no one else would let him apprentice, and the villagers would whisper that he was no good. His dad...Hiccup didn’t want to think of that. Hiccup had done well, and Stoick was pleased. His dad didn’t scold him or scowl at Hiccup as much as before. He asked Hiccup about work and let him talk about the forge. His dad smiled more now.

Hiccup wrecked it for Stoick and himself. He didn’t do what Gobber expected and now he would have to leave. The only thing left was for Hiccup to stay where he couldn’t touch anything until Gobber told him to leave. Hiccup could follow orders one more time for Gobber—he wouldn’t let the last thing he did be disobedient to his apprenticemaster.

§ § §


A burly, dark-haired man was heading directly for the smithy and Hiccup’s heart sank. It was Spitelout, Hiccup’s uncle and the man who thought him useless. Hiccup hoped if Spitelout saw he was alone, he’d go away. If Gobber returned while his uncle was there, Hiccup would be shamed in front of the man.

Spitelout set a sword down and looked for the smith, scowling. Spotting Hiccup, he asked, “Where is Gobber, boy?”

“He went out, uncle.” Hiccup didn’t elaborate. Spitelout glowered at him.

“And just where is he, Hiccup?”

“I don’t know, sir. Gobber didn’t tell me where he was going.”

“Humph. Typical of the man, keeping folk waiting.” Spitelout folded his arms, examining Hiccup. “I plan to tell Gobber how you sat doing nothing while he was gone. You are supposed to be working, not polishing a chair with your backside. Get down and get to it, boy.”

“Gobber told me to sit here, sir.” Hiccup squirmed nervously.

Spitelout sneered at Hiccup.“Come fetch my sword. The handle needs repairing and I can’t wait here all day, watching you idle.”

Hiccup didn’t move. Until Gobber returned, Hiccup was an apprentice, and he would do as he was told. His uncle must not understand that; Hiccup would need to explain.

“I’m sorry, uncle, but I can’t come over there. Gobber told me to stay here. Until he comes back, I can’t move.”

“No backtalk, boy.” Spitelout's jaw tightened. “Fetch my sword—that’s your job, not lazing about while Gobber’s gone.”

“I have to stay here. An apprentice has to do as he’s told, when he’s told, every time. Gobber said so.” Hiccup felt strange explaining this to Spitelout; if Hiccup knew this, why didn’t his uncle? Grown people always knew more than children.

“I say you can, boy. That’s all you need to hear. Now do it.” Spitelout snarled, and Hiccup shrank back. He’d seen Snotlout quail when his uncle snarled at him; if it frightened his cousin, Hiccup knew it would be bad for him. He hunched his shoulders.

“I don’t have permission. Gobber’s the only one who can tell me what to do.” Hiccup stopped, then blurted out, “He’s my apprenticemaster, and I have to do what he tells me.”

Spitelout’s face turned scarlet. “I do not put up with defiance, boy.” He stared at Hiccup through the window and in a flat voice, stated, “Come here, child.”

Hiccup wanted to run. He remembered the one time he witnessed Spitelout this angry with Snotlout. “Come here, child,” he told Snotlout; his cousin’s bruises lasted a long time, and he’d even seen Snotlout cry. Hiccup was smaller than his cousin. Whatever happened now would be painful.

Hiccup was the son of Stoick the Vast. His father was tough and unshakeable. Stoick was brave, braver than anyone else. Hiccup was an apprentice to Gobber the Belch, a dragon-fighting hero of Berk. Hiccup would pretend to be strong like his dad and Gobber. He would not let them down. Hiccup stared past Spitelout’s shoulder and answered him.

“No.”

Hiccup squeezed his eyes shut. He heard the forge door open. He felt Spitelout stop beside him, and a meaty hand closed on his shoulder. Spitelout shook him hard, then stopped. His hand yanked back and the door shut. Hiccup waited for the grip, the twist, the blow Spitelout had planned for him. Finally, the boy opened his eyes; the room was empty. Hiccup saw Silent Sven dragging Spitelout through the plaza, and a blond, blue-eyed man was there, waiting. Adelbert Hofferson, Astrid’s dad, stood by the outside window.

§ § §



Adelbert POV

Adelbert stood outside the forge, waiting for Gobber to return. The boy—Hiccup—needed someone to deter the gossipers and busybodies, and Adelbert volunteered. The lad ought to get back to work shortly, but Gobber wouldn’t begrudge Hiccup a few minutes to recover from his scare. An enraged Spitelout made grown men tread carefully; for a child, it must be terrifying.

The boy watched him, his head tucked into his shoulders, uncertain what to do. The best solution, the man decided, was to do nothing and wait. If he spoke, good. The chief’s son was born talking and if he found his voice after this, he’d be back to normal. If he said nothing, Gobber’s return made it his problem, not Adelbert’s.

“Mr. Hofferson?”

Ah, there we go. “Hiccup.”

“Do you need to see Gobber? He had things to do, and I can’t help anybody until he gets back.” Hiccup looked downcast at this admission. “ He told me to sit and think, so I have to. I’m sorry, Mr. Hofferson.”

Thor, but the boy seemed bereft. No wonder he was sitting there; enforced stillness must be a torment for an active lad like Hiccup. The beginning of callouses showed Adelbert how much Stoick’s boy worked each day. He probably wanted to get to his work. Adelbert’s wisdom about children was limited—his wife was better at that—, but a kind word should be fine.

“I don’t need anything right now, Hiccup. I might chat with Gobber when he gets back.” He studied the small figure. Was that relief on his face? Yes, it was. “ You were right to ask, lad. Getting the work done is important, but you have to do as Gobber says.”

“Yes, sir, I know.” Hiccup recited, “An apprentice has to do what he’s told, when he’s told, every time. That’s what Gobber says.” Hiccup squirmed a bit, and lifted his head higher. “So I’m not moving.”

Well, that was definite of the child. He may be scrawny, but he certainly possessed a streak of Viking stubbornness. With Stoick’s blood in him...Yes, getting yaks to dance is easier than changing the mind of a Haddock man. Even if he’s five years old.

“Hiccup...”

“Mr. Hofferson?”

“You’re not moving because Gobber told you to remain there. But you made it sound as if it was your idea and nobody would change your mind. You don’t talk to people like that, Hiccup. It’s rude and makes people angry.” Adelbert gave Hiccup a stern expression.

Hiccup shrank back. “I’m sorry, Mister Hofferson. I wasn’t trying to be rude. I won’t do it again.” Tentatively, he added, “Please don’t be angry with me.”

Hearing Hiccup’s plea, Adelbert understood. This whole conversation was about Spitelout. Hiccup didn’t move when his uncle demanded it, because he couldn’t. Gobber gave Hiccup orders, and Hiccup followed them. Spitelout forced him to choose between himself and Gobber; Hiccup chose Gobber. Without Sven to prevent the beating and haul him away, Spitelout would have badly injured Stoick’s son. However the boy resisted Spitelout’s orders, Adelbert couldn’t imagine. Most children would have followed his orders, and no blame attached to them; yet this twig of a boy refused. Astonishing, really.

Adelbert conjured up a small smile for Hiccup, and leaned on the window. “I’m not angry, Hiccup. You didn’t mean to be rude, so I decided to help you out a little and explain. Alright?”

Silence. Finally, he heard Hiccup mumble, “Thank you, Mr. Hofferson.”

Adelbert Hofferson did not take to children. He wasn’t a man to tease a boy or tell a lass she looked pretty. He never spoke to them unless necessary. He loved his family, but any children not his own were someone else’s concern. Everyone on Berk knew Adelbert Hofferson minded his own business and hoped others would do the same. He willingly stood watch over Stoick’s son as gossip repellent. He never expected to approve of the boy.

Stoick knew by now what transpired between his brother-in-law and Hiccup. Spitelout would have had much to say to the chief against Hiccup. Adelbert trusted the chief to do his job while Adelbert did his. He didn’t anticipate Stoick the Vast to seek him out or question him. It was never required before. But the Chief needed to know about this conversation. Today, Adelbert would find Stoick and tell him about his his brave, loyal, stubborn son.
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