Hope and Heir edit two in short story format
§ § §
The sky was painted in crimson and gold. It was past time to eat, but Hiccup
wasn’t hungry. He lay on his stomach, angry and humiliated. His bottom was
still sore from a spanking much worse than he’d ever felt before, and Hiccup
thought it was redder the the sky outside. He was mad at himself, and couldn’t
understand how he’d been so stupid. His dad warned him away from the taller
trees, but that bird’s nest tempted him, and he disobeyed. He had to climb up
there to see what was inside. His dad, Stoick the Vast, chief of their tribe, had
rescued his son, brought him home in the middle of the day, and spanked him.
Hiccup knew it was risky. The others his age weren’t allowed to climb up
either, and he was small, the size of a four-year-old. On the ground, he was
always behind, too short, too thin, too slow. People forgot he was there. When
the adults did notice him, they talked to him like he was little. Hiccup wasn’t
little; he was six! When he was in the sky, everyone else looked tiny, and
Hiccup was the big one. Being high in a tree thrilled him, made him feel daring,
like a real Viking on an adventure. He could be away from people he didn’t like.
Snotlout wouldn’t climb this high, or Kneebend, or the twins. He was sick of
being stuck on the ground where he was safe. He never expected to slip, or to
fall that far. He almost lost hold of the branch before his dad grabbed him.
Hiccup’s feet touched the dirt, and a look at his father told him the ground
wasn’t a safe place for him anymore. The village watched as their Chief, Stoick
the Vast, placed a massive hand behind Hiccup’s back and propelled him home.
His cousin Snotlout leered at him, and he heard people mutter, saying “foolish
child” and “didn’t listen” and “disobedient.”
Hiccup’s father was huge, taller than everybody in the tribe, and wider than
most. His dad joked that he was two Hiccups tall and four Hiccups wide.
Looking at his dad’s hair and beard was like seeing flames, while Hiccup’s red
hair was mixed with brown. Their sizes meant they looked funny together, and
people smiled at the sight. Hiccup never cared that he didn’t look like his father.
His dad made him happy and kept him safe, and he could never love anyone
more; it had always been that way, until today.
For the first time he remembered, Stoick was angry with him. Hiccup had
been in trouble before; his dad’s disappointment in him would show on his face
whenever his son messed up. Now, Stoick’s face was red; he paced the floor
before turning to Hiccup, scowling. He didn’t ask Hiccup why he did it, but spoke
in a thundering voice. Hiccup winced, remembering.
“I expect you to obey me all the time, Hiccup, not run off to do what you want.”
“I told you those trees were forbidden, but you still climbed one, then tried to get into another.”
“You could have died out there today.”
Then the final, devastating statement.
“Climbing up there was reckless, and I am more than disappointed.”
Hiccup almost cried then, hearing his dad say those words. The last thing
Stoick told him when he did something wrong was, “I know you can do better
than this, and, Hiccup, I know you will.” His father never missed saying those
words, and living up to them made Hiccup try harder. When Stoick didn’t say
them, Hiccup wondered if that meant his dad didn’t believe the words anymore.
Hiccup flushed with shame. His dad was right. Nothing he did today was
good or smart or helpful. Everyone knew what happened. The tribe always
talked about people; now, every day he’d hear about it, or see people watch
him. They’d mutter and point. Other kids would harass him. Because his father
was Chief, someone would ask if Stoick could do a good job, because Hiccup
disobeyed. To see his father tonight was too hard. Hiding in his room was better.
The sky was at full dark; Hiccup should be asleep, but his thoughts chased
round in his head. Hiccup’s father loved him, but how long might it take for him
to forgive Hiccup? Hiccup used to be able to look at his dad after a spanking
and have it all behind them; this time, Hiccup ran straight to his room. Guilt felt
like a rock in his chest. Even worse, he shamed his father, the Chief.
Hiccup didn’t have a mother anymore—she died when he was
small—, but he knew Stoick fit into his heart and he fit into Stoick’s.
Nobody was better than his dad, and he loved Hiccup so much. His dad was a
hero, big and tough, but he always held Hiccup in his arm and talked to him. He
sat Hiccup in his lap when he was afraid, and told him stories to make him feel
better. Even when he should be asleep, his father might take him outside and
tell him about the stars and show him the pictures they made. When Hiccup
misbehaved or got in trouble, Stoick looked sad, like his son let him down. Now
Stoick was furious with him and worse, he was...more than disappointed.
Hiccup had wrecked something between them and didn’t know how to fix it.
Hiccup waited for the knock. Tonight, Gobber would come over. Hiccup
always raced to the door when Gobber was outside. He was missing an arm
and a leg, and his body looked like two crates stacked on one another, but
it was part of what made him Gobber. He was Gobber’s “wee laddie,” and the
only person who could say he was small without hurting Hiccup’s feelings. He
smelled like his job at the forge: coal dust and hot metal and sweat. Gobber was
his hero. Hiccup couldn’t look at him tonight but he’d wait for Gobber, and listen.
Gobber was Stoick’s best friend, and had been since they were his age.
They played together, grew up together, and fought beside each other. Gobber
was the only person able to mention his mom to Stoick without upsetting him.
His dad wasn’t a big talker, but he’d talk to Gobber. On tough days, Gobber
would visit his dad and listen to him, and try to help Stoick. Sometimes, his dad
needed to talk to somebody, and Gobber was his somebody.
He heard voices coming from downstairs and snuck to his bedroom door,
opening it a crack. They were discussing him. Hiccup often heard them talk like
this; he’d listened in for years, learning a lot they never realized, including a
word Gobber thumped him for using. Tonight, he needed to listen and hear them
talk. If he listened hard, Hiccup might find a way to fix what he broke.
Gobber spoke first. “So, Stoick, about Hiccup...”
“What about him, Gobber?” Stoick sounded tired.
“Well, he climbed up that tree, didn’t he?”
“I know that Gobber. All of Berk knows that. I imagine the sheep know
that by now. Can you get to a point?”
“What are you thinking, Stoick?” The fire hissed and spat. Hiccup opened the
door wider and risked peeking out. The fire burned; Hiccup watched the flames
dance, then heard Gobber speak. “I know you have something to say, Stoick.
I’m one of a damn few people who know you’re more than a chief, and the only
one you can tell things to without causing problems.” Gobber sounded
“I couldn’t believe the boy would behave so, so...foolishly.”
“Stoick, you know he went above foolishness today. The lad didn’t make a
mistake. There’s no way he could have climbed that tree starting from the
ground. He needed to boost himself higher to reach those branches. He climbed
the Abramsson’s roof first, then grabbed the nearest branch.” Gobber’s voice
sounded serious and a little rough. “He planned it out, Stoick. Hiccup meant to
Hiccup cringed. He never told his father how he got that high. Every other
time, Stoick required Hiccup to tell him everything, and Hiccup was relieved his
dad forgot this time. He didn’t expect Gobber to remind him. Lying to Stoick
provided a penalty, and telling the truth today would bring a penalty, too. He
anticipated standing before his father, too scared to speak, and making
everything so much worse. Please, no, please don’t call me down, Hiccup
pleaded silently. Please, Odin, please.
“I know that, Gobber. Do you think I’ve not figured it out? The boy’s strength
is in his mind, not his size; he thought himself into that disaster. The tree he got
to wasn’t even the one he wanted; he was trying for the one beside it when he
slipped.” Stoick paused, then added, “Because there was a hawk’s nest there.”
“Hawks, Stoick? Hiccup’s lucky you rescued him when you did; those birds
would have taken chunks out of him before he fell...” Gobber’s voice trailed off.
His father finished the thought. “And landed on the rocks below.”
All Hiccup heard was the crackling of the fire. His father turned to face his
friend, the flames illuminating his face. His dad shook; Gobber stood frozen, and
Hiccup felt like something would shatter if he moved. They were frightened
together, frightened about him. Gobber and his dad believed Hiccup could have
died. Hiccup couldn’t imagine it. He’d always be there with his dad and Gobber.
Hiccup tried to picture his huge, brave father all alone and shaking all the time,
while Gobber stopped joking and his smile got small. Whatever Hiccup broke
today with his dad was little compared to what they’d felt if he died.
Gobber drew breath, and his voice broke the heavy gloom. “So, what did you
do, Stoick? I know Hiccup must’ve got a walloping for this, at least.” Gobber
knew—his dad always told him—but Hiccup’s spanking was too
fresh for him to like hearing this, and his face reddened. “You know you have to
tell me. I’m not leaving until you do,” Gobber told him. “Keeping this stuff inside
eats you up. What happened?”
“What happened, Gobber?” Hiccup’s dad was angry. “I marched him home,
asked no questions, stood over him, and told him everything he’d done wrong. I
didn’t sit down with him or let him speak. To answer your other question, I did
not wallop the boy, Gobber.”
Hiccup’s jaw dropped. He was spanked harder than ever today, and Stoick
was the one who did it. Any child on Berk would have been, and the Chief’s son
was no exception. Hiccup endured spankings; they weren’t pleasant, but a part
of life when you got in trouble. His dad, the Chief, denied it happened. The tribe
trusted Stoick, and Stoick never lied.
“Ah,” Gobber said, sympathetic.” I thought that might be part of the problem.
Today was the day, then. You gave Hiccup his first spanking.”
His first? No, he’d had others. This one was horrible, though.
“Yes, I did, and I hated it.” Hiccup heard unhappiness in his dad’s voice. “He
doesn’t know there’s a difference between a walloping and a spanking, and
today he felt the difference on his body. I didn’t hurt his pride this time, Gobber, I
hurt him. I struck him longer and harder than he’d ever felt, knowing how painful
it is. There was no other way, but I can’t feel good about it.”
Oh, thought Hiccup. They’re not the same thing. That’s why it was worse.
“Aye, it’s not a happy moment for either of you. You knew this was coming,
and put it off as long as you could, Stoick, but the lad earned the punishment.
He’s sore and guilty and embarrassed, but he’s alive. If the pain keeps him that
way, I don’t see a problem.” Gobber added reflectively, “I remember my first. I
was five and my da decided it was time. Hurts like Hel, that first one.” Gobber
looked at Stoick, and asked, “How old were you?”
“I was four. Father had high expectations for the Hope and Heir to Berk. I knew
that, but it was hard to take.” Stoick exhaled. “He ran straight to his room. Today
wore him out. He’ll be asleep now, and ought to feel better in the morning. I did
what I could, but there’s no going back; now all his spankings will feel like that.”
“So that’s why you didn’t ask him to tell you all that happened.”
“Oh, Gobber. He’s a terrible liar. Even if I didn’t know what happened, I’d
know he was lying. Telling the truth would be just as bad. I’d have to worsen the
punishment for him either way. This one time, I’ll spare him, let him think I was
too angry to remember.” Stoick poked at the fire. “But not again. He must learn
to listen and obey, before he kills himself. If I have to make him miserable to
keep him safe, I will. Hiccup’s the best part of my life and the brightest thing on
this island, and I refuse to lose him, Gobber.”
Hiccup closed the door and returned to his bed. He heard so much and
needed to think about it. His father and Gobber were afraid because of what
he’d done, though he only got scrapes. Hiccup couldn’t imagine more pain than
he already undergone, but his father had gone easy on him. He had been
spanked, but got away with not explaining. His dad was the Chief, and the Chief
always had to be fair. But for Hiccup, he would pretend not to know, and be
unfair. Hiccup had to pretend he didn’t hear the truth, and know he wasn’t really
punished yet. Hiccup curled up beneath the fur, exhausted, and closed his eyes.
He’d talk to his father in the morning, and figure it out. Not tonight: his brain was
too full, and it needed sleep too.
§ § §
Stoick woke in the morning to find Hiccup already downstairs. He walked into
the great room, where his son stood at the table, waiting for him. Hiccup, he
noticed, had combed his hair, washed his face, and put on a newer tunic. He
turned to Stoick and said, “Good morning, dad.”
Stoick observed his boy. He wasn’t sure what he expected from Hiccup in
the aftermath of yesterday, but it wasn’t this. Well, he’d wait for now and see
what happened. “Good morning, Hiccup. Did you sleep well?”
“Yeah, I did. How about you?”
“Not bad, son.” The turmoil from the day before kept him awake for a time,
but he wouldn’t mention that. “You’re up early today.”
“If I came downstairs early, I could be ready when you woke up. You usually
get me out of bed, and I wanted things to be different today. For you, dad.” He
wore a shy smile. “There’s bread and milk and other things on the table. To
Stoick saw the provisions waiting for him, and spotted a plate and mug at his
place. A clean mug, not one from last night’s visit with Gobber. Those were on
the shelf; his son had washed them. Hiccup waited, expectant, as his father
took it in.
Stoick gave his boy a warm smile. “This is good work, Hiccup. Thank you.”
Looking at the youngster, Stoick said, “Come sit by me, son. We can enjoy this
together.” Hiccup moved a chair close to Stoick and settled himself on the edge.
They ate, punctuating the stillness with passing plates and pouring milk. Stoick
wasn’t one to talk much, and Hiccup was surprisingly quiet today. His boy wore
an uncertain expression, different from the helpful lad of ten minutes ago, and
Stoick held his peace until Hiccup spoke.
“Yes, Hiccup?” Stoick would let the boy be in charge of this conversation. It
was his idea, and the care he’d put into this talk deserved courtesy.
“I have a question. Well, maybe not a question. But...” Hiccup trailed off.
“Tell me what it is, Hiccup, even if you’re not sure what to call it.” Hiccup
stared at Stoick’s beard, not his face. His son didn’t want to look him in the
eyes, in case something went wrong.
“Well, yesterday. It’s about yesterday.” Hiccup hesitated, struggling to find
words. “Yesterday was confusing. A lot happened, and I’m not sure what to do.”
He lifted his head, a plea in his eyes.
“What was confusing, son?” Stoick saw Hiccup seize the question, grateful to
have somewhere to begin.
“Lots of things. Not everything; I know it was wrong to get in that tree, and I
know you had to punish me. That makes sense. But other things were different,
and I didn’t know what would happen. I feel better if I know what’s going to
happen.” He peered at Stoick, searching for a reaction. Stoick tossed his son
“Were you afraid?”
His son looked down. “Yes, Dad, I was afraid, really afraid.”
“Were you scared of me, Hiccup? Tell the truth.” Stoick leaned forward and
watched his son drop his eyes.
“You were mad, and you’re scary looking when you’re mad. But I wasn’t too
frightened of you, Dad.”
Stoick took note of the lie, and wondered if Hiccup wanted him to feel better.
Telling your father he’s terrifying—even when it’s true—would
have made Stoick lie, too.
Hiccup tried again. “You always have things you do when I get in trouble,
and you didn’t do any of them. It scared me.” He studied Stoick, then asked, “Do
you know what I mean?”
“I think so, son.” Stoick hadn’t realized how all those changes would affect
the boy. There was no slow walk home, no waiting until nighttime for his
spanking, and no questions to answer or explanations to offer. Hiccup hadn’t sat
down with Stoick, but stood there while his father scowled down at him. Too
many differences made the day hard to process. “It’s better for you when things
stay the same, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, Dad, it’s a lot better. Yesterday...” Hiccup glanced at Stoick, then
looked away. “I hated yesterday. Nothing went right. I was stupid and I got
scared, and you had to come get me. I wanted to go back and not climb that
tree, but I couldn’t. And...it’s not over yet.” His voice became tiny. “I want it to be
Stoick hunted for another question. Hiccup was agonized, and needed
something to hold on to. In a gentle voice, Stoick asked, “What would make it be
“I—I need to do my part to make it over. It won’t be done without my
part.” Hiccup had raised his head and looked Stoick steadily in the eye. “I must
do this. It’s what’s fair, and just, and right. The Chief must always do what’s fair
and just and right.”
“You want me to ask the questions, don’t you?” Stoick was torn. Hiccup
would answer him honestly, and he would have to discipline him again, probably
with another spanking. He saved Hiccup from that already; now the son was
quoting the father to ask for his punishment. There existed only one right
response. The Chief knew there was no way out of this. But, he realized, there
might be a better way through.
“Yes, Dad, I want you to ask the questions.”
§ § §
Stoick lifted Hiccup, setting him on the floor. They stood facing one another,
and Stoick drew up to his full height before addressing his son.
“Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the third, of the Haddock line of chieftains, son of
Stoick the Vast, Chief of Berk, Hope and Heir to the Hairy Hooligan tribe, you
stand accused before your Chief.”
Hiccup's eyes widened; he stared at Stoick, shocked. Stoick looked at
Hiccup grimly and the boy saw no sign of his father. He stood before the highest
authority on Berk and the opening statement revealed there was no going back.
Hiccup would undergo the Chief’s Trial.
The Chief’s Trial was a legitimate but little-used method of justice on Berk.
Over 200 years ago, the tribe provided this privilege to the Haddock chief, and
the line of chieftains had used it since then. Chief’s Trial bypassed the ruling
council, allowing the chief alone to dispense justice. Any misuse by the
chief, and the tribe would eliminate it. It was reserved for particularly thorny
problems, unusual situations, and times when standard methods would not
work. The tribe might go for years without needing one.
It provided justice. The process was harsh, because nothing could be held
back, and truthfulness was mandated. Swearing to the truth for Chief’s Trial
carried an extra measure of weight, and few wanted to be scrutinized that
thoroughly. But the chief measured the testimony objectively and pronounced a
judgment that was fitting. Hiccup had studied Chief’s Trial and now would
“As Chief, it is my sworn duty to do what is fair and just and right. I dispense
justice within this tribe. In the case of the Heir to Berk, I alone decide the
consequences. You must accept them without question or complaint. Do you
understand, Hiccup Haddock?”
“I understand the terms laid down by the Chief, and shall abide by them,”
Hiccup answered formally. He had watched others stand before Stoick, and
from his studies recalled the responses.
Stoick thanked the gods for Hiccup’s vocabulary and ability to observe.
Hiccup had seen council meetings and common judgments. He knew more
words than many in the tribe. Without that background, this would have been
impossible. The format was fixed; it could not be reduced, watered down, or
rewritten. Stoick continued in the same vein. “You are accused of deliberately
disobeying a direct order given by your Chief, and in so doing, risking your life.
You have, as Heir to the Chief, threatened the line of succession in Berk with
reckless behavior damaging to your tribe. Do you, as Hope and Heir to this
tribe, swear to truthfully and completely answer all questions put before you?”
Hiccup’s back straightened. “I so swear,” he whispered.
“I ask you why, on this past Woden’s day, you chose to disobey the
command to avoid climbing trees forbidden to you.” Stoick set his features in a
stern expression, and waited for a reply.
“I saw a bird’s nest in a tree forbidden to me, and I wanted to look inside.”
Hiccup swallowed, adding, “I wished to see if the nest held eggs or baby birds.”
“Is that the entire answer, Hiccup Haddock, or is your answer incomplete?”
Hiccup hung his head. “My answer is incomplete, Chief.”
“Lift your head. You are on trial and you must face me at all times. I permit
nothing else.” Stoick caught his eyes and held them. Stoick saw Hiccup’s
reluctance, but he acknowledged the command and faced Stoick.
“Why did you choose to disobey, Heir to Berk? Complete your answer.”
“I wanted to be high up, above the ground. I wanted to be brave, to be a
hero, to explore.” He hesitated. “I don’t like the ground; I wanted to be in the air.
I want to fly, but I can’t. I can climb, so I climbed that tree.”
Revealing that desire cost him, and Stoick saw him fight the urge to lower his
eyes. This was harder than the boy expected, and he wrestled within himself,
trying for calm. “Is your answer complete, Hiccup Haddock, or incomplete?”
“Incomplete, Chief Stoick. My answer is incomplete. I-I have more to say.”
Hiccup took a breath, then another. “I wanted excitement. I also,” he murmured,
“wanted to get away from my cousin, Snotlout Jorgensen.” He stared over
Stoick’s shoulder, unhappy to admit he would hide from Stoick’s kinfolk and
unwilling to face his father about it.
“Face me, Heir to Berk, and do not look away again. That is required of you,
and you must obey.”
“Yes, Chief Stoick. I shall face you and not look away. You are my Chief, and
I answer to your command.”
Oh, he knew that response, too. Pledging obedience to Chief Stoick was a
serious answer. The gravity of his actions was sinking in, and the trial was
wearing on him. Chief’s Trial provided no relief, except for the chance to
moisten your throat or gather your thoughts. Stoick chose this for Hiccup, aware
he’d bear the unwelcome strain of examination. Stoick could not fail his
son—the boy needed to atone and there was no higher authority than
the Chief. This trial must be fair. His pride in Hiccup’s conduct couldn’t stop him,
and neither could the boy’s anguish.
“I ask again, Hiccup Haddock, is your answer complete?”
“My answer is now complete, Chief Stoick.”
“Give the account of your deeds during the events of this last Woden’s day.
Be thorough, and leave nothing out.” This was the part his son hated most.
Today the relentless retelling of even the smallest action would burden him.
Hiccup spoke steadily as he responded.
“On this past Woden’s day, I was near a stand of tall trees. I looked at them,
and saw a bird’s nest. I thought about how to get to it. The nest was high and
the branches were out of my reach.” Hiccup was providing every scrap of
information in his account. He was trying for detachment, but Stoick knew that
wouldn’t last, even if Hiccup didn’t. “I saw the roof of the Abramsson’s house
was near to one of the trees. I checked for watchers and saw no one. I
overturned a bucket, stood on top, and climbed to a barrel. From the barrel I
grabbed a shutter, and from the shutter I climbed to the roof of the house.” He
stopped for air; Hiccup never offered this much detail before, and struggled to
“I stood on the roof’s edge. I then leaped to the tree and caught the nearest
branch. The branch was two inches thick.” Hiccup’s face wore an expression of
comprehension; it was dawning on him just how thoroughly he imperiled
himself. “I moved toward the trunk of the tree, and pulled myself up on the
branch. I climbed until I drew close to the next tree. I was high up, and the
branches were thinner.” A pause, and another breath. “The next tree held the
bird’s nest. I leaned toward it, and my left foot slipped. I fell to—to a
lower branch, but it was weak and did not hold me. I slid down, then grabbed
another branch with my right arm and held on. I held onto a knothole with my
other hand. I yelled for help. I was stuck with no—no way to get down.”
He drew four deep breaths.” People gathered below. Someone brought my
father, and he carried me down the rest of the way.”
Stoick was shaken by the terse, detailed account and he knew, just for a
moment, that fear flashed in his eyes. Hiccup’s face registered the glimpse of
terror before Stoick regained an impassive look on his features. Hiccup now
realized how much jeopardy he’d been in. It wasn’t just the branch that broke;
every branch in that tree and the next was dangerous. He could have fallen at
any time, and wouldn’t survive a fall from that high up.
Stoick stared at his son and Hiccup looked him in the eyes. He stood erect,
his hands by his sides, and focused on the Chief. Stoick allowed this to sink in
for ten long seconds, then continued his role.
“Is this account complete, or does it remain incomplete, Hiccup Haddock?”
“This is a complete account of my actions this past Woden’s day. I did climb
trees forbidden to me, disobeying a direct order given by my chief. I foolishly
risked my life...” He stopped, unable to continue.
“You stopped at ‘foolishly risked my life.’ Continue from there, Heir to Berk.”
“Foolishly risked my life, endangering myself and acting recklessly more than
one time to pursue a selfish goal. I threatened the line of succession on Berk,
and gave no thought to the good of my tribe.” Hiccup drew strength from the
formal language, Stoick saw. The words provided a small comfort, as if they
separated the reality of Hiccup’s actions from the actual trial. “I am guilty on all
charges leveled. I, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, of the Haddock line
of chieftains, son of Stoick the Vast, Chief of Berk, the Hope and Heir to the
Hairy Hooligan tribe, do swear to this testimony.”
“I accept your testimony, Hiccup Haddock, and shall render judgment based
upon it. Do you have anything to add to this account?” This question was part
of the trial for admitted guilt, and Hiccup was permitted a personal statement.
“I want to say I’m...” He halted, then continued, “I want to say I regret my
actions. I regret shaming my Chief and ignoring my responsibility to the tribe. I
feel remorse over my actions this past Woden’s day. I regret blackening the
Haddock name. I...am sorry.”
“Is your statement complete, Hiccup Haddock, or is it incomplete?”
“My statement is complete, Chief Stoick.” Hiccup remained still, resisting
tears. Recounting his actions had brought him the needed catharsis. Hiccup
would be judged and his sentence delivered. Stoick sought the right judgment.
His son and Heir would require a full chastising, equal to the actions committed.
The severity must be weighted to punish the boy without damaging him.
“Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, Hope and Heir to the Hairy Hooligan
tribe, your statement reveals repeated and deliberate disobedience. You have
been insubordinate to your Chief and besmirched your family name. The Heir is
held to a high standard, and you failed to meet that standard last Woden’s day.”
“Be aware that the tribe will watch you more closely now. You chose
disobedience to me, your Chief.” Now Hiccup needs to know his duty, as Stoick
had at the same age. “The people expect better from their Heir and will
scrutinize your words and actions thoroughly. You will receive more criticism.
They may forgive, but they never forget. This is true of all tribal heirs, and not a
part of this judgment.”
“No single act of discipline can fulfill this judgment. Your punishment will
come in multiple parts. As the Hope and Heir of Berk, you are required to give a
full account of your actions to the ruling council. You must face them at all times,
speaking clearly, and recount every detail. Any further explanation they ask for
must be provided. They deserve to know all that happened, because you are
Heir to the tribe. Their trust must be earned, and that is your responsibility.”
Hiccup nodded, accepting the sentence.
“Tomorrow you will meet with them. They will hear you speak privately. The
meeting will be closed to outsiders, and the questions confined to your actions.
No member of the council will mention what was discussed during the meeting.
Be aware that the tribe does not need to know your account, and any council
member who reveals that information behaves wrongly.” Stoick hoped Hiccup
understood the subtext of his remarks. The members of the council were not
above discipline for their own behavior. Acknowledging their own failings was
also justice. “You are not permitted to speak of any personal or restricted
information. No events or conversations in this matter between you, your Chief,
or in the council meeting may be relayed to any member of this tribe. These
matters are kept private, and any questions presented to you shall remain
“You shall not climb. No tree, bucket, barrel, shutter, rock, or other scalable
thing will be allowed to you. This will continue for six weeks.” He’d have to
remember to stay on the ground all the time. Hiccup knew this was just, and he
had earned this punishment. Stoick, unrelenting, said, “You may climb steps
one at a time. You may sit on steps. Any chair or stool with a seat lower than
your waist is permitted. Outside of any changes made by your Chief, at all other
times, you must sit on the ground or floor or stand. After ten days, you may
climb on a chair to eat during mealtimes. At the end of three weeks, I will review
your behavior and decide whether you may sit at other times.” Yes, his son
knew this was going to be horrible. He could sit on the hated ground if he
needed relief from standing. Again, Hiccup nodded.
“Any task within your ability may be asked of you from the citizens of Berk. If
expected to climb, you must explain your prohibition and ask for a different task.
If there is no different chore to complete, you are required to return and help
that person another time. Remembering to return and ask is your responsibility,
and you will carry it out. This shall last four weeks.” The brief look of
unhappiness on his face stirred sympathy in Stoick. His boy would have little
free time, but he’d sleep well at night.
“When asked about any restriction, you will explain it is part of your
discipline. When anyone brings up your wrongdoing or your punishment, you
shall accept it without complaint or excuse or escape. Even younger children
may remark and remind you. This lasts for three weeks.” Ouch. Stoick knew this
would hurt, and was tempted to take it back. But no, he couldn’t falter, though
that last bit was a mistake. “The Heir must show humility to his tribe, so they
know he will accept a judgment against himself. One day, Hiccup Haddock, you
will have to provide justice. To be right and just and fair, you must receive it first,
even when it seems unfair. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Chief Stoick. I understand.”
Stoick acknowledged his response with a nod, and continued. “You risked
falling from the roof. That’s one infraction. You risked falling from a tree. That’s a
second infraction. You risked falling when you attempted to grab hold of a
nearby tree. That is your third infraction. For each infraction, you shall receive a
spanking, spanning three consecutive nights. It will be painful, but you shall
bear it until three nights are over. “Stoick never would beat a child, and had no
love for the strap, but this was necessary. Hiccup needed this to remember how
close he came to dying. Without the spanking, it wouldn’t be over for his
son.“Your father will administer these spankings in your home, with no one
present. Your first will happen tonight. Each one will erase an infraction and put
it behind you. I, Stoick the Vast, Chief of the Hairy Hooligan tribe, do order this
judgment upon Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, Heir to Berk. This trial is
Stoick studied his son. The trial was over, and his sentence had been
rendered. Hiccup bowed his head, no longer required to look at his Chief,
submitting to the decision. He had stood before the highest authority on Berk
and answered every question. Stoick judged on the basis of the facts presented
to him. Hiccup stood trial by the Chief of Berk, not questioning from his father.
He would not doubt the verdict’s validity, but surrender to his chastisement with
what dignity he possessed. Today he accepted the mantle of Hope and Heir to
Berk. The sweetest part of his childhood was over.
§ § §
Hiccup felt the big man sit beside him. He remained in place, unwilling to move.
He asked for justice. Justice was delivered. The Chief had judged the Heir. The
trial had ended, and Hiccup wasn’t sure who he was; he wanted to be himself
again. The man sitting at the table might not be his father. Right now, he wanted
his dad back. He would not ask, but he needed his father, and wished he was
A large, calloused hand took his, and Hiccup lifted his head, hoping the Chief
was gone. The face gently smiling at Hiccup was his father’s. He smiled back,
relieved. Things were better now that he’d answered the questions. Not
finished, but better. Hiccup didn’t have to wait for his dad to ask them, and he
didn’t have to dread answering them. Things were almost done.
His dad spoke. “Hiccup.”
A large hand rested on his shoulder. “We can put it behind us now.
Yesterday’s over. It’s today now.” His father brushed a hand through his hair and
“Today, you stay inside all day by yourself. Beginning now, you are restricted
from climbing. Tonight is your first spanking, and tomorrow after the council
meeting, the rest of your public punishment begins. The tribe will know they can
call on you to work.” His dad pulled Hiccup close and patted his knee.
“Come sit in my lap, Hiccup.”
“I am not permitted to climb to a seat...” Hiccup began. His father interrupted
“The judgment states that the Chief may make changes. The Chief will allow
this change.” His dad smiled and Hiccup knew nothing was broken now; the
terrible trial repaired the damage Hiccup caused. “Also,” his dad said, “Your
father would enjoy having you sit up here.”
Hiccup clambered up, spotting the crinkle in his dad’s eyes. There was no
holding it in. He grinned at his father and said, “At least while I can.”
Stoick burst out laughing, and said, “Boy, you have...” he looked at Hiccup,
“A lot of cheek, Dad?”
His father laughed so hard he cried. Wiping away tears, Stoick gasped, “Oh,
son, more than you can imagine.” Then his dad tickled Hiccup; Hiccup squirmed
wildly, and began giggling.
The last bit of hurt hiding in Hiccup dissolved. He did his part and it was
complete. He felt light and free, like he could fly, more than he’d ever imagined
up in the tallest trees. A large arm embraced him. Hiccup sat in his father’s lap
again, and it was all worth it.