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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2239324-The-Full-True-Tale-redacted
Rated: ASR · Draft · Fanfiction · #2239324
Eliminating the gang to focus on Stoick
Even with every candle burning, the light in Mead Hall remained dim. The smell of fish stew filled the air, and its flavor lingered on Hiccup’s tongue. Toothless had long since licked the bowl and spoon clean, and lay at Hiccup’s feet snoring. For the first time in a week, no one wanted anything from him.


“Son! There’s someone here to meet you.” Stoick’s voice rang through Mead Hall, impossible to ignore, and Hiccup groaned. Berk was hosting the Meathead envoy this week, and he had fantasized about disappearing ever since the man arrived. Tonight his luck had run out, and his dad wanted him there to answer a round of questions. Again.

He was halfway to the Chief’s table when he heard “That’s my son, Snorri.” Hiccup nudged Toothless ahead of him and slowed his steps. The envoy glanced at him, then did a double take. Stoick was two feet taller than his son, and four times as wide. Gobber leaned forward to confirm his identity, and the man donned a neutral expression. Impressed by the quick recovery, Hiccup increased his pace, and offered a formal greeting.

“Good evening, envoy Haraldsson. My name is Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Let me add my words of welcome to Berk alongside my father’s.” He put on his politest smile.

“Ah, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Heir to Berk. I’m enjoying my visit here, and the courtesy all have shown me.”

Hiccup dipped his chin, then addressed the envoy’s wife.

“Good evening Mrs. Haraldsson. I’m pleased to meet you and hope to show you more of Berk during your stay.”

“Oh, thank you—what’s the title—Hope and Heir...”

“Hope and Heir to the Hairy Hooligan tribe. I never use it—the title is longer than I am.” She smiled, and the ice was broken. “’Call me Hiccup. And his name,” he said, stepping aside, “is Toothless.”

Toothless approached and the envoy tensed. The dragon touched his right front paw to the envoy’s hand, nodded, and offered a restrained murble. At Hiccup’s signal, he turned wide, innocent eyes to Mrs. Haraldsson and began a dragon charm offensive.

“Did the dragon just shake my hand?”

“Yes. We’ve been working on manners, and he learned how to give formal greetings. We’ve had lots of visitors on Berk, and most want to meet him the ferocious Night Fury. What they get is this.” Toothless had worked his way close to Mrs. Haraldsson, and was begging for attention. She scratched the top of his head and he crooned. “If you scratch under his chin, he purrs.”



“Nice of you to join us, lad. Mebbe you can make it a habit at work— you’ve been late twice this week.”

“Sorry, Gobber. The most feared dragon in the archipelago wanted to eat three times his body weight in fish, and he won’t fly me back until he’s full.”

“That was today. What about two days ago?”

“Oh, that wasn’t Toothless. I, um, overslept.” Hiccup was torn between embarrassment and relief. He didn’t want to be the Hiccup the Hero, but being chewed out by Gobber wasn’t his first choice. Still, he recognized a favor when it was given him.

“You can discuss this at the smithy.” Stoick cut him off. “Snorri is intrigued by your exploits, son. He has heard stories, and I assured him you could answer his questions.”

Hiccup addressed the envoy. “Are you interested, ‘cause if you’re asking to be polite, don’t bother. My feelings aren’t delicate, and you’ve probably heard it all before.”

“Son, Snorri and Alfdis are eager to hear your saga from your own tongue. Soon enough, the skalds will get in there and ruin it, and no one will know the truth of it.”

The envoy seemed to pick up on Hiccup’s reluctance. “I would appreciate knowing what is real, and what is rumor. The idea of living with dragons surprises many, and I know my Chief would desire the full, true tale.”

Hiccup would tell them the whole story, and they could decide if they really wanted to share. Hiccup turned back to the table. “Scratch him under the chin—he loves that.” This last remark was directed at Alfdis, who had knelt down to admire Toothless. He pulled the big eyes and gummy smile on her, and she started telling him what a wonderful dragon he was. The useless reptile was eating it up.

“Envoy Haraldsson, I can begin at your convenience.” The man, who had been watching his wife pet the dragon’s head, came out of his daze and responded.

“Beginning now would be fine, thank you.”

“Great. First, please tell me what parts of the story you know, and who I am in the tale.”

“Who you are?”

“I’ve got a lot of names lately. Hiccup the Hero is the most popular, but there’s a bunch of others. Hiccup the Saviour, the Warrior, the Merciful—If you can tell me, it helps with the start point.”

“Hiccup the Dragonlord. Also Merciful and Gifted.”

“Great. So where does the story begin?”

“You shot down a cunning, vicious Night Fury with a remarkable device you built to protect your tribe.” Toothless had his chin on Alfdis Haraldsson’s lap, crooning. “The night was as black as pitch and you could not see it...”

“Him.”

“see him, but you tracked it...him across the sky, and your aim was true. You struck the Night Fury and he crashed to the ground.”

“Right. I shot down a dragon who never stole food or killed anyone, but took out our catapults to protect the other dragons. The machine I built had malfunctioned five minutes before, and it was a miracle when the Mangler did what I wanted. I shot him down to convince Dad I could kill a dragon.”

“I canna believe you named your contraption. As for why you shot him down, that’s not what you told me in the smithy. You’re giving the whole story, remember.”

“Thanks for pointing that out, Gobber.”

“Think nothing of it, lad.”

“Okay, I also wanted to get a date with a girl named Astrid. Or get a date with anyone.”

“Son, I doubt the envoy cares about that. Go on, give your story.”

“I am. He asked for the full story, so I’m giving a detailed version.” Hiccup addressed the envoy. “What happened next?”

“You sought out the despicable creature, prepared to slice off his head.”

“I looked for Toothless for half the day without finding him. When I did, I was ecstatic, boasting about my heroic self until he moved. Then I was terrified of an immobilized dragon who had no hope of escaping. I pulled out this knife,” he yanked it from his belt, “and threatened Toothless. I couldn’t do it, almost left him to starve, then cut him free so he could leave Berk and go back to destroying our catapults.”

“He shoved me against a rock and I thought I was finished. Toothless glared at me, screeched, and flew away. I fainted.” Hiccup waited a moment for envoy Haraldsson to process the details.

“An eating knife?” Alfdis asked. “Why not your seax?”

“This was the only weapon I owned, so, yeah. No swords, no daggers, no staves—I was too puny to train. I’ve grown since then, though.” He paused to let that sink in. “What comes next?”

“You began dragon training under the great warrior Gobber.” Alfdis answered. She was enjoying the explanation, which was better than her husband, who was still coming to grips with Hiccup the Weaponless.

“When I recovered from fainting, I went home and Dad told me I was beginning dragon training. I’d begged for this for years, and Dad always said no. I didn’t want it anymore and he stuck me in there. That day sucked.” Stoick cleared his throat. “I mean, it went badly. Then Dad left on a search for the nest.”

“Get to the great and mighty warrior part, lad. You’ve hogged the story enough.”

“Fine. I walk into the ring, and no one could believe the fishbone was there. Gobber taught the class, and said I was too small for the dragons to be interested in me, and they’d prefer attacking a real Viking.” Gobber had the grace to look embarrassed. “He released the Gronckle, and I almost died from a blast to the head.”

The envoy furrowed his brow.“You didn’t defeat it?”

“None of us did. It was our first day and we were pathetic.” Hiccup shot a glance at his dad, who was glaring at Gobber. Oops. Gobber left that Hiccup-nearly-died bit out of his report to Stoick. “Then what?”

“You bravely sought out the dragon a second time.” Alfdis Haraldsson was scratching Toothless behind the ear flaps, a smile playing about her lips. “How did that go?”

“I found him trapped in a cove and unable to fish. I ripped off his tail fin and he was alone and starving. What did I do? I drew his picture.”

The entire conversation went that way. He told them everything: showing up late for dinner, ignoring an angry Nadder, seeking out Toothless with a lone fish, then following him around until the dragon climbed a tree to avoid him.

His dad wanted to intervene, but Hiccup made an “I’ve got this” gesture, and Stoick restrained himself.

He covered the inadvertent first flight, cheating his way through training, falling off of Toothless from tens of thousands of feet in the air—his dad looked like his heart would stop at that revelation—and his father’s pride in him coming from his fakery.

Hiccup continued until the events of the kill ring. “I went in, knowing I wasn’t going to kill Hookfang, and with the entire tribe watching, tried to make friends with a Monstrous Nightmare. I told everyone there that three hundred years of Hooligans fighting the dragons that raided us was wrong, that I knew better. We’d lost homes, body parts, and family members to the dragons, and I was siding with them.” His voice had grown louder, and Mead Hall quieter. Hiccup steeled himself for the next part. “I was standing right in front of Hookfang when he flamed up and attacked me. Astrid rushed in to rescue me, Dad threw open the gate, and I still couldn’t get out of there. Hookfang had me pinned, my entire body caught between two of his claws. I was about to die when Toothless blasted his way in and saved me. Then he was captured.” Hiccup shuddered. Gods, that day was horrible. Toothless gone, disowned by his dad, and Hiccup couldn’t convince him to stay on Berk.

“That was the day I committed treason.”

His words carried throughout the room. The Chief’s table was silent and all he could hear were murmurs. So many were listening to his account and remembering how they despised him for the betrayal. How Stoick focused on the trip to the nest and they knew Hiccup had turned traitor and abandoned everything they stood for. That Night Fury was the key to finding and destroying the nest, and Hiccup kept it a secret to save the black demon that ruined their village. A few remembered seeing him at the docks, watching them load the longboats and daring to look at his father. They wanted him disowned and banished and executed, to erase the blot on Berk.

A minute later, in a low tone, Hiccup resumed the story. “I’d never seen my father so angry. He blamed himself for not knowing, and realized I’d deceived the Hooligan tribe, deceived him. I stood there pleading for the protection of my Night Fury best friend. I argued that we weren’t any better than the dragons were, because we killed them. Then I told him I found the dragon nest.” He ran his hand down his face. This had begun as a joke, a way to rant about being called a hero and show how much he hated telling his story to people, but now he was on a dark thread and couldn’t make light of it. “He thought I could take him there, and I told him no, it took a dragon to find the island. I couldn’t convince him of the danger. He wasn’t going to listen to me. Why should he? I lied and tricked and cheated my way to where I was, then betrayed him. He had no reason to trust me. He turned his back and left.” He forced himself to look at Stoick. Hiccup had never put any of this into words, and Stoick’s gaze was full of regret, a regret that mirrored his own. He offered his father the tiniest of nods—he would not mention the deserved disownment.

“I heard my dad call for the ships to be readied. I watched from the docks as Berk’s armada, with every siege weapon the tribe possessed, was loaded to find the island. I saw Toothless chained and put aboard the flagship with my dad. I watched the fleet sail away, and knew I’d doomed my tribe to die.”

“I stood there and Astrid found me, dragged me out of my guilt, and forced me to do something. I ran to the arena. I had about ten percent of a plan...”

“Hah. The day you have half of that is the day my limbs grow back.” Gobber put his mug out for a refill. “I’d say two percent is more like it.”

“Okay, I had almost no plan. I was going to steal a dragon, fly to the island, and hope I figured something out on the way. I’m about to open the cage with the Nightmare and hope it won’t kill me this time, when the other kids my class walk in and save me from my own stupidity. I let the dragons out, paired everyone up, gave a quick lesson on staying on the dragon, and we flew off together.” Hiccup pulled some parchment out of his vest; it was an illustration of the Red Death; all its characteristics were listed, including its dimensions, and Hiccup passed it to the envoy.

Hiccup gestured to the other table. “They wanted me to lead them. They came to me and asked to follow the traitor who doomed our parents to die. I don’t think I’ll ever be over that.” Hiccup closed his eyes, remembering.

“We found the island. It was chaos. People were running for safety, led by my uncle. My father and Gobber stood on the beach and taunted that thing, trying to protect the rest of the Hooligans. It was suicide, and if it hadn’t been for Astrid’s Nadder, they’d have died. Even that monster took notice of a magnesium blast.”

“Astrid helped me find Toothless. Fishlegs gave a breakdown of the Red Death’s weaknesses, then he and Snotlout distracted it. Ruff and Tuff flew past its nostril and antagonized that thing into firing at them, and Snotlout stood on its head and pounded three of its eyes with a hammer. Astrid was helping them distract and weaken it. I was trying to free Toothless, getting nowhere, when the ship we were in was smashed, and he sank into the water. I swim down and try to free him, fail, almost drown, and get rescued by my dad. He dives back down to free the dragon who corrupted his son and led raids on his tribe, and they both come flying out of the water. Toothless dumps him and orders me to climb on and fight. My dad,” he choked back tears, “told me he was proud I was his son.”

“Toothless and I climbed into the sky. Nothing is faster or more agile than a Night Fury, and Toothless fought that thing. I was on his back, but he did most of the work. He detonated that monster with its own gases, then dove into the fire to save me when I fell. He’s the reason I’m alive.” Toothless came to him, crooning, and Hiccup reached out to scratch his buddy.

“I wake up from my coma. Toothless is inside my house, I’m wearing a prosthetic, and when I go outside, my cousin is flying Hookfang and giving riding lessons. I slept through all of it.”

“The village is full of dragons and my dad is happy about it. Everyone comes running to greet me. A Terrible Terror is riding on Uncle Spite. That was surreal.” Spitelout gave a bark of laughter, and there were assorted chuckles.

“Everything destroyed when Toothless and I crashed had been replaced. Gobber built a new saddle and tail rig, and designed it to fit my prosthetic. He handed it all to me and said ‘Welcome home.’”

“And, um,” Hiccup flushed, “that was it, really.”

“You’re leaving out the best bit, laddie.”

“Gobber...”

“Finish the story, son. The Haraldssons need to hear it all.”

“Really, Dad?”

Toothless shoved Hiccup closer to Astrid and Hiccup shot him a look of betrayal.

“Thanks for nothing. You’re not getting salmon for a week.” Toothless laughed; the envoy, startled, laughed with him.

He rubbed the back of his neck. “Okay, Astrid hit me. Oww. Just like that,” he said, rubbing his arm and scowling at her. “I asked her if she was always like this, because...” He hesitated. Astrid grabbed him by his vest, dragged him forward, and kissed him. He heard laughter and catcalls, but his mind was on her. Another kiss from Astrid. On his lips. Was this one longer? It felt longer—not that he was in a hurry.

She released him, and he said, “I could get used to it.”

“He was useless at the forge for three days after that kiss. He’s probably going to be worse this time, you know.” Gobber pointed at Astrid. “If you don’t stop breaking my apprentice, I’ll make you do the sharpening and polishing.” He halted, then said, “Nah, I’d never get any work out of him with you there.”

“My son wore that look after the first kiss, too.” Gods, the whole room was watching. Okay, all he needed to do was finish.

“So, I saddled Toothless and we went flying with Astrid, Stormfly, and the others.”

“Hiccup.” Alfdis spoke up. “Did you get the date with Astrid?”

“I’m not Hiccup the Hero. I was a fraud who got caught. Everyone on that island was a bigger hero than I was. Everyone on dragonback was greater than I was. The dragons were fighters and Toothless was fearless. Compared to them, I was barely there.”

“That is the full, true tale.”


Stoick had viewed this as a hero’s saga, and the retelling a way to show his pride in Hiccup. Hiccup’s account was the truth, told by a terrified kid who’d been alone in his tribe and trapped by his lies.




He was halfway to the Chief’s table when he heard “That’s my son, Snorri,” and saw the envoy stare at him, then look at his dad. Now comes...Yep, Gobber leaned forward to confirm his identity. Well, here goes.

“Good evening, envoy Haraldsson. My name is Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Let me add my words of welcome to Berk alongside my father’s.” He put on his politest smile and hoped the man would take the lifeline he was offering.

“Ah, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Heir to Berk. I’m enjoying my visit here, and the courtesy all have shown me.”

“Good evening Mrs. Haraldsson. I’m pleased to meet you and hope to show you more of Berk during your stay.”

“Oh, thank you—what’s the title—Hope and Heir...”

“Hope and Heir to the Hairy Hooligan tribe. I never use it—the title is longer than I am.” She smiled at him, and the ice was broken. “’Call me Hiccup. And his name,” he said, stepping aside, “is Toothless.”

Toothless offered the envoy a nod and a restrained murble. He turned wide, innocent eyes to Mrs. Haraldsson and Hiccup saw the start of another dragon charm offensive.

“Nice of you to join us, lad. Mebbe you can make it a habit at work. Ah, better not: my heart would give out if you showed up on time five days in a row.”

“Sorry, Gobber. The most feared dragon in the archipelago wanted to eat three times his body weight in fish, and he won’t fly me back until he’s full.”

“That was today. What about two days ago?”

“Oh, that wasn’t Toothless. I, um, overslept.” Hiccup was torn between embarrassment and relief. He didn’t want to be the Hero, but being chewed out by Gobber wasn’t his first choice to convince them otherwise. Still, he recognized a favor when it was given him.

“You can discuss this at the smithy.” Stoick cut him off. “Snorri is interested in your exploits, son. He has heard stories, and I assured him you could answer his questions.”

The envoy seemed to pick up on Hiccup’s reluctance. “I would appreciate knowing what is real, and what is rumor. The idea of living with dragons surprises many, and I know my Chief would desire the full, true tale.”

If he was going to be stuck here again, he’d get some say in what happened. Hiccup cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted.

“Hey, Astrid!”

“What is it, Hiccup?”

“There’s a free table right here. Come join us.”

“Sure thing.”

Gobber and Spitelout had positioned themselves to intercept Stoick. Hiccup was going to make the most this moment; if he had to answer a bunch of stupid questions, he wasn’t doing it alone. They all fought that monster, and he was fed up with the saga of Hiccup the Mighty Dragon Conqueror.

The twins arrived first. “Good evening, Madame and Monsieur. Allow me to introduce myself.” Ruff dropped a proper curtsy. “I am Ruffnut Stinkbugsdoitter, clan Thorston, and this is my brother, Tuffnut Thicknutsson, also clan Thorston. I wish to welcome you to our humble island, and offer you a tour of the island with my good friend Barf.” Mrs. Haraldsson was about to respond when Tuffnut spoke up.

‘You can’t do that, sis. I’m giving them a tour with my boon companion Belch.” Ruffnut snarled.

“You are not.”

Yeah, sis I am.” They started bickering, and Hiccup spotted the Fishlegs, Snotlout, and Astrid. He grinned and told his cousin, “It’s your turn.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Snotlout shoved the twins apart. “Guys! It’s the same dragon. You share them.”

“We do?”

“You mean I have to share with her? Ugh. You ruin everything.” They shut up and sulked—probably for the best—and Hiccup spotted irritation in his dad’s face. Stoick was about to drive off the riders and insist Hiccup tell the Tale. Gobber put a restraining hand on Stoick’s shoulder, and his dad sat back, puzzled but silent.

“I’m sorry about that. The twins can be a little different.” Hiccup shrugged. “They’re not always reliable, but if you want your tour on dragon back, I or one if the others can take you around. It’s a great view.” Toothless nudged Alfdis and turned pleading eyes on her. “Seeing Berk from the sky is something you don’t forget.”

“Guys, we’re getting off topic. Why did you drag us over here, cousin? Besides my great looks, I mean.”

“Envoy Haraldsson and his wife want the entire story to take back to Meathead, Snotlout. You were all there, so you ought to be here to fill in the blanks.” Hiccup would tell them the whole story, and they could decide if they really wanted to know. Hiccup turned back to the table. “Oh, and that’s Snotlout Jorgenson, Fishlegs Ingerman, and Astrid Hofferson. Guys, this is envoy Snorri Haraldsson of Meathead Isle and his wife, Alfdis. Scratch him under the chin—he loves that.” This last remark was directed at Alfdis, who had knelt down to admire Toothless. He pulled the big eyes and gummy smile on her, and she started telling him what a wonderful dragon he was. The useless reptile was eating it up.

“Envoy Haraldsson, I can begin at your convenience.” The man, who had been watching his wife pet the dragon’s head, came out of his daze and responded.

“Beginning now would be fine, thank you.”

“Great. First, please tell me what parts of the story you know, and who I am in the tale.”

“Who you are?”

“I’ve got a lot of names lately. Hiccup the Hero is the most popular, but there’s a bunch of others. Hiccup the Bold, the Warrior, the Merciful, the Dragon Conqueror—how many are we up to, Fishlegs?”

“Um, my last count had you at seventeen, but the titles only make the list if they’ve been used at least three times. I’m keeping a tally of the others, and adding them when they get enough mentions.”

“Thanks.” He turned back to the envoy. “If you can tell me, it helps with the start point.”

“Hiccup the Dragonlord. Also Merciful and Gifted.”

“Ooh, gifted.” Fishlegs wrote it down. “That one’s new.”

“Great. So where does the story begin?”

“You shot down a cunning, vicious Night Fury with a remarkable device you built to protect your tribe.” Toothless had his chin on Alfdis Haraldsson’s lap, crooning. “It was too dark to see it...”

“Him.”

“to see him, but you tracked it...him across the sky, and your aim was true. You struck the Night Fury and he crashed to the ground.”

“Right. I shot down a dragon who never stole food or killed anyone, but took out our catapults to protect the other dragons. The machine I built had malfunctioned five minutes before, and it was a miracle when the Mangler did what I wanted. I shot him down to convince Dad I could kill a dragon.”

“I still can’t believe you named your machine.” Astrid interrupted. “Don’t forget the rest of the reason.”

“I also wanted to get a date. Preferably with Astrid.”

“Son, I doubt the envoy cares about that. Go on, give your story.”

“I am. He asked for the full story, so I’m giving a detailed version.” Hiccup addressed the envoy. “What happened next?”

“You sought out the despicable creature, prepared to slice off his head.”

“I looked for Toothless for half the day without finding him. When I did, I was ecstatic, boasting about my heroic self until he moved. Then I was terrified of an immobilized dragon who had no hope of escaping. I pulled out this knife,” he yanked it from his belt, “and threatened Toothless. I couldn’t do it, almost left him to starve, then cut him free so he could leave Berk and go back to destroying our catapults.”

“He shoved me against a rock and I thought I was finished. Toothless glared at me, screeched, and flew away. I fainted.” Hiccup waited a moment for envoy Haraldsson to process the details.

“An eating knife? You tried to kill a Night Fury with that?”

“It was the only weapon I owned, so, yeah. No swords, no daggers, no staves—I was too puny to train. I’ve grown since then, though.” He paused to let that sink in. “What comes next?”

“You began dragon training under the great warrior Gobber.” Alfdis answered. She was enjoying the explanation, which was better than her husband, who was still coming to grips with Hiccup the Weaponless.

“When I recovered from fainting, I went home and Dad told me I was beginning dragon training. I’d begged for this for years, and Dad always said no. I didn’t want it anymore and he stuck me in there. That day sucked.” Stoick cleared his throat. “I mean, it went badly. Then Dad left on a search for the nest.”

“Get to the great and mighty warrior part, lad. You’ve hogged the story enough.”

“Fine, Gobber. I go to training, these guys,” he gestured to the neighboring table, “couldn’t believe the fishbone was there. Gobber told me I was too small for the dragons to be interested in me, and they’d prefer attacking a real Viking.” Gobber had the grace to look embarrassed. “He released the Gronckle, and I almost died from a blast to the head.”

The envoy furrowed his brow.“You didn’t defeat it?”

“None of us did. It was our first day and we were pathetic. Astrid was the last one standing.” Astrid waved and the envoy provided a hesitant wave in return. Hiccup shot a glance at his dad, who was glaring at Gobber. Oops. Gobber left that Hiccup-nearly-died bit out of his report to Stoick. “Then what?”

“You bravely sought out the dragon a second time.” Alfdis Haraldsson was scratching Toothless behind the ear flaps, a smile playing about her lips. “How did that go?”

“I found him trapped in a cove and unable to fish. I ripped off his tail fin and he was alone and starving. What did I do? I drew his picture.”

The entire conversation went that way. He told them everything: showing up late for dinner, getting in Astrid’s way, voluntarily seeking out Toothless with a lone fish, then following him around unti” the dragon climbed a tree. His friends added to the story.

“Yeah, then my princess fell on top of him.”

“I thought he was acting weirder than usual.”

“I tried warning him about the Zippleback, and he told me to shut up.”

“He started beating us in the ring, and nobody could figure it out. It’s not like he knew how to fight.”

His dad wanted to intervene, but Hiccup made an “I’ve got this” gesture, and Stoick restrained himself.

He covered the inadvertent first flight, cheating his way through training, falling off of Toothless from tens of thousands of feet in the air—his dad looked like his heart would stop at that revelation—and his father’s pride in him coming from his fakery.

Hiccup continued until the events of the kill ring. “I went in, knowing I wasn’t going to kill Hookfang, and with the entire tribe watching, tried to make friends with a Monstrous Nightmare. I told everyone watching that three hundred years of Hooligans fighting the dragons that raided us was wrong, that I knew better. We’d lost homes, body parts, and family members to the dragons, and I was siding with them.” His voice had grown louder, and Mead Hall quieter. Hiccup steeled himself for the next part. “I was standing right in front of Hookfang when he flamed up and attacked me. Astrid rushed in to rescue me, Dad threw open the gate, and I still couldn’t get out of there. Hookfang had me pinned, my entire body caught between two of his claws. I was about to die when Toothless blasted his way in and saved me. Then he was captured.” Hiccup shuddered. Gods, that day was horrible. Toothless gone, disowned by his dad, and Hiccup couldn’t convince him to stay on Berk.

“That was the day I committed treason.”

His words carried throughout the room. The Chief’s table was silent and all he could hear were murmurs. So many were listening to his account and remembering how they despised him for the betrayal. How Stoick focused on the trip to the nest and they knew Hiccup had turned traitor and abandoned everything they stood for. That Night Fury was the key to finding and destroying the nest, and Hiccup kept it a secret to save the black demon that ruined their village. A few remembered seeing him at the docks, watching them load the longboats and daring to look at his father. They wanted him disowned and banished, if not executed, to erase the stain on Berk.

A minute later, in a low tone, Hiccup resumed the story. “I’d never seen my father so angry. He blamed himself for not knowing, and realized I’d deceived the Hooligan tribe, deceived him. I stood there pleading for the protection of my Night Fury best friend. I argued that we weren’t any better than the dragons were, because we killed them. Then I told him I found the dragon nest.” He ran his hand down his face. This had begun as a joke, a way to rant about being called a hero and show how much he hated telling his story to people, but now he was on a dark thread and couldn’t make light of it. “He thought I could take him there, and I told him no, it took a dragon to find the island. I couldn’t convince him of the danger. He wasn’t going to listen to me. Why should he? I lied and tricked and cheated my way to where I was, then betrayed him. He had no reason to trust me. He turned his back and left.” He forced himself to look at Stoick. Hiccup had never put any of this into words, and Stoick’s gaze was full of regret, a regret that mirrored his own. He offered his father the tiniest of nods—he would not mention the deserved disownment.

“I heard my dad call for the ships to be readied. I watched from the docks as Berk’s armada and every siege weapon the tribe possessed was loaded to find the island. I saw Toothless chained and put aboard the flagship with my dad. I watched the fleet sail away, and knew I’d doomed all aboard those ships to die.”

“I stood there and Astrid found me, dragged me out of my guilt, and forced me to do something. I ran to the arena. I had about ten percent of a plan...”

“Nay, you didn’t. My son told me all of it, so no adding in glory, nephew.” Spitelout was accusing him of seeking glory?

Snotlout snorted. “In your dreams. You had maybe five percent of a plan.”

“Way to be supportive, Snotlout.” Hiccup’s tone was wry, and Gobber chuckled.

“Aye, well, he’s not wrong, Hiccup.” Hiccup rolled his eyes, and Snorri Haraldsson allowed himself a smile.

“Okay, I had almost no plan. I was going to steal a dragon, fly to the island, and hope I figured something out on the way. I’m about to open the cage with the Nightmare and hope it won’t kill me this time, when the five of them,” he gestured to his friends, “walk in and save me from my own stupidity. I let the dragons out, paired everyone up, gave a quick lesson on staying on the dragon, and we flew off together.” Fishlegs handed a sheet of paper forward; it contained every characteristic belonging to the Red Death, including its dimensions, and Hiccup passed it to the envoy.

Hiccup gestured to the other table. “They wanted me to lead them. They came to me and asked to follow the traitor who doomed our parents to die. I don’t think I’ll ever be over that.” Hiccup closed his eyes, remembering.

“We found the island. It was chaos. People were running for safety, led by my uncle. My father and Gobber stood on the beach and taunted that thing, trying to protect the rest of the Hooligans. It was suicide, and if it hadn’t been for Stormfly, they’d have died. Even that monster took notice of a magnesium blast.” He saw a hint of satisfaction on Astrid’s face—her dragon was a fighter, even for a Nadder.

“Astrid helped me find Toothless. Fishlegs gave a breakdown of the Red Death’s weaknesses, then he and Snotlout distracted it. Ruff and Tuff flew past its nostril and antagonized that thing into firing at them, and Snotlout stood on its head and pounded three of its eyes with a hammer. Astrid was helping them distract and weaken it. I was trying to free Toothless, getting nowhere, when the ship we were in was smashed, and he sank into the water. I swim down and try to free him, fail, almost drown, and get rescued by my dad. He dives back down to free the dragon who corrupted his son and led raids on his tribe, and they both come flying out of the water. Toothless dumps him and orders me to climb on and fight. My dad,” he choked back tears, “told me he was proud I was his son.”

“Toothless and I climbed into the sky. Nothing is faster or more agile than a Night Fury, and Toothless fought that thing. I was on his back, but he did most of the work. He detonated that monster with its own gases, then dove into the fire to save me when I fell. He’s the reason I’m alive.” Toothless came to him, crooning, and Hiccup reached out to scratch his buddy.

“I wake up from my coma. Toothless is inside my house, I’m wearing a prosthetic, and when I go outside, my cousin is flying Hookfang and giving riding lessons. I slept through all of it.”

“The village is full of dragons and my dad is happy about it. Everyone comes running to greet me. A Terrible Terror is riding on Uncle Spite. That was surreal.” Spitelout gave a bark of laughter, and there were assorted chuckles.

“Everything destroyed from the crash had been replaced. Gobber built a new saddle and tail rig, and designed it to fit my prosthetic. He handed it all to me and said ‘Welcome home.’”

“And, um,” Hiccup flushed, “that was it, really.”

“You’re leaving out the best bit, laddie.”

“Gobber...”

“Finish the story, son. The Haraldssons need to hear it all.”

“Really, Dad?”

Toothless shoved Hiccup closer to Astrid and Hiccup shot him a look of betrayal.

“Thanks for nothing. You’re not getting salmon for a week.” Toothless laughed and the envoy, startled, laughed with him.

He rubbed the back of his neck. “Okay, Astrid hit me. Oww. Just like that,” he said, rubbing his arm and scowling at her. “I asked her if she was always like this, because...” He hesitated. Astrid grabbed him by his vest, dragged him forward, and kissed him. He heard laughter and catcalls, but his mind was on her. Another kiss from Astrid. On his lips. Was this one longer? It felt longer—not that he was in a hurry.

She released him, and he said, “I could get used to it.”

“He was useless at the forge for three days after that kiss. He’s probably going to be worse this time, you know.” Gobber pointed at Astrid. “If you don’t stop breaking my apprentice, I’ll make you do the sharpening and polishing.” He halted, then said, “Nah, I’d never get any work out of him with you there.”

“My son wore that look after the first kiss, too.” Gods, the whole room was watching his table. Okay, all he needed to do was finish.

“So, I saddled Toothless and we went flying with Astrid, Stormfly, and the others.” He gestured to the other table.

“Hiccup.” Alfdis spoke up. “Did you get the date with Astrid?”

“I’m not Hiccup the Hero. I was a fraud who got caught. Everyone on that island was a bigger hero than I was. Everyone on dragonback was greater than I was. The dragons were fighters and Toothless was fearless. Compared to them, I was barely there.”

“That is the full, true tale.”


Stoick had viewed this as a hero’s saga, and the retelling a way to show his pride in Hiccup. Hiccup’s account was the truth, told by a terrified kid who’d been alone in his tribe and trapped by his lies.

“Right.
“Way to be supportive, Snotlout.” Hiccup’s tone was wry, and Gobber chuckled.

“Aye, well, he’s not wrong, Hiccup.” Hiccup rolled his eyes, and Snorri Haraldsson allowed himself a smile.

“Okay, I had almost no plan. I was going to steal a dragon, fly to the island, and hope I figured something out on the way. I’m about to open the cage with the Nightmare and hope it won’t kill me this time, when the five of them,” he gestured to his friends, “walk in and save me from my own stupidity. I let the dragons out, paired everyone up, gave a quick lesson on staying on the dragon, and we flew off together.” Fishlegs handed a sheet of paper forward; it contained every characteristic belonging to the Red Death, including its dimensions, and Hiccup passed it to the envoy.

Hiccup gestured to the other table. “They wanted me to lead them. They came to me and asked to follow the traitor who doomed our parents to die. I don’t think I’ll ever be over that.” Hiccup closed his eyes, remembering.

“We found the island. It was chaos. People were running for safety, led by my uncle. My father and Gobber stood on the beach and taunted that thing, trying to protect the rest of the Hooligans. It was suicide, and if it hadn’t been for Stormfly, they’d have died. Even that monster took notice of a magnesium blast.” He saw a hint of satisfaction on Astrid’s face—her dragon was a fighter, even for a Nadder.

“Astrid helped me find Toothless. Fishlegs gave a breakdown of the Red Death’s weaknesses, then he and Snotlout distracted it. Ruff and Tuff flew past its nostril and antagonized that thing into firing at them, and Snotlout stood on its head and pounded three of its eyes with a hammer. Astrid was helping them distract and weaken it. I was trying to free Toothless, getting nowhere, when the ship we were in was smashed, and he sank into the water. I swim down and try to free him, fail, almost drown, and get rescued by my dad. He dives back down to free the dragon who corrupted his son and led raids on his tribe, and they both come flying out of the water. Toothless dumps him and orders me to climb on and fight. My dad,” he choked back tears, “told me he was proud I was his son.”

“Toothless and I climbed into the sky. Nothing is faster or more agile than a Night Fury, and Toothless fought that thing. I was on his back, but he did most of the work. He detonated that monster with its own gases, then dove into the fire to save me when I fell. He’s the reason I’m alive.” Toothless came to him, crooning, and Hiccup reached out to scratch his buddy.

“I wake up from my coma. Toothless is inside my house, I’m wearing a prosthetic, and when I go outside, my cousin is flying Hookfang and giving riding lessons. I slept through all of it.”

“The village is full of dragons and my dad is happy about it. Everyone comes running to greet me. A Terrible Terror is riding on Uncle Spite. That was surreal.” Spitelout gave a bark of laughter, and there were assorted chuckles.

“Everything destroyed from the crash had been replaced. Gobber built a new saddle and tail rig, and designed it to fit my prosthetic. He handed it all to me and said ‘Welcome home.’”

“And, um,” Hiccup flushed, “that was it, really.”

“You’re leaving out the best bit, laddie.”

“Gobber...”

“Finish the story, son. The Haraldssons need to hear it all.”

“Really, Dad?”

Toothless shoved Hiccup closer to Astrid and Hiccup shot him a look of betrayal.

“Thanks for nothing. You’re not getting salmon for a week.” Toothless laughed and the envoy, startled, laughed with him.

He rubbed the back of his neck. “Okay, Astrid hit me. Oww. Just like that,” he said, rubbing his arm and scowling at her. “I asked her if she was always like this, because...” He hesitated. Astrid grabbed him by his vest, dragged him forward, and kissed him. He heard laughter and catcalls, but his mind was on her. Another kiss from Astrid. On his lips. Was this one longer? It felt longer—not that he was in a hurry.

She released him, and he said, “I could get used to it.”

“He was useless at the forge for three days after that kiss. He’s probably going to be worse this time, you know.” Gobber pointed at Astrid. “If you don’t stop breaking my apprentice, I’ll make you do the sharpening and polishing.” He halted, then said, “Nah, I’d never get any work out of him with you there.”

“My son wore that look after the first kiss, too.” Gods, the whole room was watching his table. Okay, all he needed to do was finish.

“So, I saddled Toothless and we went flying with Astrid, Stormfly, and the others.” He gestured to the other table.

“Hiccup.” Alfdis spoke up. “Did you get the date with Astrid?”

“I’m not Hiccup the Hero. I was a fraud who got caught. Everyone on that island was a bigger hero than I was. Everyone on dragonback was greater than I was. The dragons were fighters and Toothless was fearless. Compared to them, I was barely there.”

“That is the full, true tale.”


Stoick had viewed this as a hero’s saga, and the retelling a way to show his pride in Hiccup. Hiccup’s


“I wasn’t noble or daring, like the stories tell people. I was an impulsive idiot who thought I could avoid killing dragons, because I’d befriended one. Winter was coming, and with the Hooligan tribe needing to eat over the winter, I stole fish. I took things from the forge, skipped work, and never thought more than five minutes into the future. There’s nothing heroic about a terrified kid defrauding his village. There’s nothing noble,” he continued, his voice laden with sorrow, “about trapping yourself in lies, trying to run away, then screwing up so badly your entire tribe sails off to die.”

“You still saved Berk.” Alfdis spoke softly. It was better, somehow, to tell her these things, and he briefly wondered if that was what having a mother was like. “This tribe owes you a debt. Fighting off an Outcast invasion is impossible with the few who would remain, and the Hairy Hooligans would be a doomed tribe. You risked everything for them, even Toothless, to rescue people who must have hated you.”

“I couldn’t let them die—they’re my tribe, and the Chief protects his own. If dad was gone,” he couldn’t say dead, not about Stoick, “I’d be Chief; I was responsible for this tribe, including my father, and I refused to abandon them. Besides making friends with Toothless, it was the one thing I succeeded at.”

“An important thing, Hiccup. The raids are over. The dragons are free. People here and on other islands can breathe again. Everyone survived.” She leaned forward, and said, “Your father said you’ve added to your list of titles, and you don’t like it. You don’t agree with them, and that’s fair. Your original title, Hope and Heir, might be longer than you, but it’s not too much for the man who took on the mantle of Chief and flew into chaos to free hundreds of people. Accept that one—it fits you best.”

“I can do that. That bit about me being a man, though. Nah. Don’t know if I’ll ever get there.”

“Well, this tribe is made up of impulsive idiots. Hasn’t stopped any of them from growing up.” Gobber said. “Even if you’re forever running late, you showed up on time that once. It counts for a lot, lad. On top of that,” he continued, in a cheery voice, “I’m not forever mending weapons, and have more time to chat with folk.”

“Think nothing of it. I live to promote your gossiping.”








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