Hiccup tells Dagur he’s wrong about Snotlout
|Author's Note: This story was written for the Heroic category of the Quarantine Writing Challenge on fanfiction.net.
I do not own the rights to How to Train Your Dragon. I'm sorry, but it's true.
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The clubhouse was deserted. Astrid and Snotlout were patrolling the island, Fishlegs was visiting Berk, and Ruff and Tuff were elsewhere. The only noises were the hissing fire illuminated the maps on the wall. Several were Hiccup’s creations, including the one of their outpost, Dragon’s Edge.
“Hey, Hiccup, want another mead?”
“This is my last one. If the twins are causing chaos someplace else—I need to be able to function when their disaster lands in my lap.”
“Yeah. They’re lunatics. I don’t know how you can handle them, Hiccup.”
“They’re brave and loyal and completely fearless. Ruffnut and Tuffnut would follow me off a cliff—all the riders would.”
“Snot hat wouldn't. He’s a good fighter, but in a dangerous situation, he’s the first to run. That guy looks after himself first, and the rest of us later. I don’t think I will ever really trust him.”
“His name is Snotlout, and he’s a lot more trustworthy than you think, Dagur. He can be vain and overconfident, but Snotlout’s a lot braver than he shows.” The Night Fury warbled in his sleep, and Hiccup took another swallow of his drink.
Dagur stroked his chin, then shook his head. “Nah, I’ll only believe that if I see it. I can’t imagine him risking himself for you or anyone living on Dragon’s Edge.”
Hiccup ran his hand down his face. Dagur hadn’t spent years around Snotlout like he had done. Underneath Snotlout’s ongoing insults and cocksure attitude lived a decent man who would become a great one.
Hiccup and Dagur met each other because they were the heirs to their tribes. Dagur was Chief of the Berserker tribe now, and eventually Hiccup would take his father’s place. When that happened, Snotlout would become one of his top advisors. Dagur’s attitude toward Snotlout had to improve or having them work together would be a nightmare.
“Yes, brother?” Dagur had kicked his feet onto the table and was cleaning his fingernails with his seax.
“You know the story of how I met Toothless.” Everyone in the archipelago knew the story of how Hiccup the Daring and his mighty Night Fury killed the monstrous Red Death.
“Yeah, you shot him down, made friends, built him a new tailfin and took on a massive dragon. I still have trouble believing the size of that thing.”
“The story portrays me as this valiant warrior and Toothless is my devoted dragon companion. I bravely freed my tribe and all dragons from the tyranny of a cruel demon.” He grimaced. “It’s nauseating.”
“Why? That’s what you did, along with Toothless, and now you're a hero. Take my advice and enjoy the glory. You don’t have to be so humble all the time. I’m not.” Dagur was a berserker, and reveled in battle, especially against impossible odds. Hiccup was grateful to have him as a friend, but the man didn’t do modest.
“The day it happened, I was at the arena to kill a dragon. I’d won dragon training and had the privilege of killing a Monstrous Nightmare. I’d cheated my way through training and everyone believed I’d legitimately won. The entire tribe was thrilled I’d become a dragon killer and a real Viking. Dad was ecstatic and announced to everyone he was proud of me. Hiccup, son of the best Warrior Chief the tribe ever had, stopped being the despair of the tribe and became one of them.”
“All the riders on Dragon’s Edge trained together. Snotlout wanted to win, but when I began taking down dragons with chin scratches and sweet grass, he never resented me. He asked questions. He came to sit with me at Mead hall. I was a fraud and he admired me.”
Hiccup added logs to the blaze. He was sitting by the fire talking to Dagur the way he often talked with his dad back in Berk, and Hiccup wondered if he was destined to have flame-lit conversations with scarred, muscular redheads. He needed to tell this story. Snotlout did so much for Hiccup, and he had to try to repay him.
“I stand in the arena and Gobber releases the Nightmare. He comes out, ready to kill anyone he can reach. I drop my weapon and my shield, then throw my helmet to one side and tell the dragon I’m not one of them.”
Dagur froze and dropped his knife. He sat up, and stared at Hiccup, horrified. “You couldn’t have. In front of the entire tribe, with your father right there, you didn’t.” Hiccup nodded.
“I committed treason.”
“I sided with the dragons. I told everyone the hundreds of years our tribe spent fighting them was wrong, and I alone knew the truth. They raided us, destroyed the village, and left us living on short rations. They maimed and killed us. My own mother was taken and eaten by a Stormcutter, but they weren’t bad, because I said so.”
Dagur gaped. “I’ve never heard this part of the story.”
“Nobody talks about it, but I betrayed the entire tribe in a few sentences.” He blew out a breath. “Everything went wrong. The Nightmare startled and attacked. Astrid got into the ring to save me, and dad ran for the gate and threw it open so we could escape. I couldn’t get out and the dragon had me pinned. Toothless blasted through the chains and saved me.”
Hiccup remembered the hours after that: defending the dragons to Stoick, telling him how to find their nest, watching Toothless get loaded on his dad’s longboat, to sail off to kill the unkillable. His dad had disowned him. Hiccup’s father, his best friend, and everyone he knew were leaving Berk to die, because he couldn’t keep his mouth closed.
“You know I told Dad how to find the nest, right? I watched them leave and stared at the ocean for hours, I think. Astrid found me, pointed out I’d lost everything, and told me to do something about it. I went to the arena, planning to grab that Nightmare and fly off to save them. Astrid had rounded up the others, and they volunteered to follow me. They saw everything that happened that morning, and chose to trust a traitor.”
He took another long swallow of the mead. It was the only thing keeping him talking, that and the need to finish what he’d begun. Dagur wasn’t from Berk and wouldn’t pretend it never happened. He knew Hiccup could have been executed, had disgraced the entire Chieftain’s line. Dagur understood the depths of Hiccup’s betrayal.
“Snotlout got in my face and told me he loved my plan. I didn’t have a plan, just a cockeyed idea, but he was behind me. We spent years disliking each other, and now he was abandoning everything to go with me.”
“Snotlout’s my cousin. After Dad, his father Spitelout is the best warrior Berk has. He’s second-in-command to my father and would follow him to his death. Snotlout was raised to fight. He was taught to be loyal to Berk, his tribe, and the Chief. He spent years trying to satisfy my uncle, the best fighter clan Jorgenson had ever seen.”
“I opened Hookfang’s cage and led him to Snotlout. I told him to touch the dragon he’d seen almost kill me, and he did. It was the bravest thing I’d ever seen anyone do to that point in my life.”
“The Nightmare was Hookfang? Snotwart’s dragon?”
“Yeah. He sacrificed everything to come with me, Dagur. They all did, but he had the most to lose. Everything that mattered to him came down to his tribe, his clan, and his parents.”
“When I came out of my coma, I was the hero who saved them. No one mentioned my betrayal, and I don’t know if anyone wants to remember it. I know I’m never gonna to talk to Dad about it.” His father carried his own guilt from that day, and Hiccup would not remind him. “My cousin flew into battle on a dragon’s back with no idea what was going to happen. He distracted that monster, stood on its head and hammered it in the eyes. Then he took a running jump off its head, expecting to die. The twins caught him, barely.”
“Folks say I’m the hero, the one who saved them all. I’m not. I’m the guy who rode on Toothless while he detonated that horror. People call me a conqueror, a victor, but I didn’t do anything but give a few orders and not fall off a dragon.” Dagur studied him and Hiccup knew Dagur saw the self-reproach and shame he carried.
“Everyone on that beach and everyone on this outpost, including the dragons, are the champions, and no one sees it. The six of us were the only ones in that arena, and only we know that Snotlout Jorgenson went first.”
“So, yeah, I trust Snotlout. I don’t believe the boasting because he doesn’t mean it. If he wanted to brag, there’s plenty of stuff to talk about. He saved me from Alvin. He saved us from you, Dagur, a few years back, when you were...untrustworthy.”
“You mean my violent lunatic phase? Okay, okay, I get it. He’s not a coward, he’s not going to desert, and I should be nicer to him.” He gave a huge, dramatic sigh. “Anything else, brother?”
“Don’t repeat this, not even to your sister. You’re the only person besides us who knows. I should have kept it to myself—I guess betrayal’s become a habit.” He poked at the fire, something to keep his hands busy, and felt some of the weight lift from his shoulders. Holding in the guilt and doubt for so long had eaten at him. “Thanks for listening.”
“Anytime. And Hiccup? I’m available if you need to talk. I have my own ghosts to live with, you know?” He left to find Sleuther and bed down in the stables with his dragon.
Hiccup thought about going to his hut, but decided against it. The room was warm and there was no point in waking Toothless. Telling the story and exposing his flaws drained him, but also eased something within him. He removed their prosthetics, and he settled next to his other brother, the one with scales. Pressing against his warm body, he closed his eyes and allowed himself some well-earned peace.