Hiccup, age six, receives an apprenticeship for Snoggletog. fluff. WIP.
|AN: This is a work of fan fiction based on How to Train Your Dragon. The rights to How to Train Your Dragon remain with Cressida Cowell and Dreamworks. Only the plot and original characters are mine.|
I’m sorry, but it’s true.
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“Dad! Really?” Hiccup looked up—way up—to see his father smile through his thick, braided beard.
“Happy Snoggletog, son.”
Hiccup crashed into Stoick and clutched him. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. You might want to thank Gobber; he agreed to it.”
“He wanted me as an apprentice?” Hiccup was gobsmacked. “He wanted me as an apprentice. Wow.”
“Wow, indeed. So, do you like your gift?” Hiccup was speechless, and his dad’s smile became a laugh. “It was a joke, Hiccup. I have no doubt you like it, not after that attack hug.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, but...wow.” His tone was awed. “I’ll be working with Gobber in the forge. He’s going to give me duties, not make me sit around and watch. It won’t matter how big I am.” He couldn't stop talking; if he tried, his head would explode. “Everyone will know Gobber picked me, and I can be somebody right now. Someone important.”
“Aye, it’s much better than being Chief a long time from now.” Stoick’s eyes crinkled in merriment. “It’s a lot of waiting to do until then, and like you say, you have a place in the tribe. There will be new things to learn, as well.”
“Oh. Yeah.” Hiccup was overwhelmed, unable to express his feelings, a problem he solved by repeating himself. “I’ll be in the forge with Gobber, working with my hands and learning a trade.” Those last glorious words felt foreign on his tongue, and he peered through his bangs at Stoick. “For real, Dad?”
“For real, son. I give my oath as Chief.”
His oath. It must be true. Hiccup plopped into a chair, allowing the idea to sink in, then his father set a mug of cider at his place.
“Son.” Hiccup came out of his daze to see his dad lifting a mug of his own. “Let us raise a toast. To Hiccup the Apprentice.” His father raised the tankard and Hiccup knocked his mug against the larger one.
“To Hiccup the Apprentice.” He accepted the honor; there was nothing else he could do. Hiccup’s dad was giving him the most adult notice of his life, and he had left childhood for good. He needed a better word than “wow.”
Stoick sat. “Come see me, then.” Hiccup climbed onto his knee and two massive arms wrapped around him. “Gotcha.” His dad’s grip was warm and comforting, his lap safe and familiar. Hiccup blew out his breath and nestled into his father’s side, letting everything in him settle.
A few minutes later, Stoick asked, “Feeling better?”
“Good.” Stoick released his hold. “Bring me the eggs, and we will ready dagmal.”
§ § §
At Mead hall, Gobber announced Hiccup would begin in three days, and he had better come ready to work because Gobber planned to run him so hard, his boots would wear out. He told the others—Astrid, Ruffnut, Tuffnut, Fishlegs, and Snotlout—and won the “best gift” competition, beating out Astrid’s first shield. Uncle Spite said he would do the family proud, Aunt Bliss knelt on the floor to give him a hug, and Gothi promised to supply Gobber with bandages and salve. That got a huge laugh from everyone. Lead Apprentice Cliffnut Thorston shook his hand, and the other apprentices said he was one of them.
It was Snoggletog. Jaunty music started and people took turns playing so everyone could feast. Someone began singing “Out on the Waves,” a song that never ended. A whole roast yak and two roast boars fillled the room with an aroma that pulled people to the meat. The mulled cider, an annual treat, burned hot on his tongue but warmed his belly. Crafted decorations of wood and iron hung on the walls and posts. People danced and shouted and Berk’s skald told stories of god-touched heroes and distant lands.
His father was in the middle of it all, picking up the tiny children and giving them rides through the room. Older children snuck decorations onto his cloak and ran away giggling. He told odd jokes that made the adults laugh, or at least snicker. Gobber, this year like every year, pestered his dad into reciting something to the crowd. Gobber threatened to sing “Always Pack Your Undies” if he didn’t, and for the good of the tribe, Stoick told a saga he’d learned as a child.
When the last families with children departed and the serious drinkers remained, Hiccup left with his father, exhausted but too wound up to sleep. It happened every year, and his dad made Hiccup a warm drink before bedtime.
“Did you have a good time tonight Hiccup? I can’t leave early, and you are having trouble holding your head up.”
“You ask me every year. I don’t want to leave early, even if I get sleepy. It’s Snoggletog, Dad.”
“Aye. So, what did you like about today?”
“Odin left good stuff this year. I didn’t know you could get that much parchment in a helmet. I can carry the knife with me wherever I go. Maybe you can teach me to whittle.” It wasn’t exactly a question, but Hiccup wanted to learn. He wanted to share things with his dad, and enjoyed crafting things.
“Was there anything else?”
“The Council came and congratulated me. Hoark said I could do this and Knotlegs told me I was smart. I know Hoark thinks I’m annoying and Knotlegs believes I’m stupid, because of all the trouble I caused, but they meant it.”
“They saw you listen to direction and keep out of trouble. You have demonstrated you can work and be capable. Now you are taking on more work and happy about it. Those things changed how they thought about you, son. They respect you more.”
“Oh. I thought that was gonna take f’rever.” Hiccup yawned. He was tired, but they hadn’t finished the with the questions; they stayed the same every year, and only the answers changed. For the pair of them, it was as much a part of Snoggletog as checking his helmet for gifts and going to Mead hall. “Next question.”
“Do I need to say it this time, Hiccup?” His father’s brow rose.
“Yes. You have to ask all the questions, or it’s not Snoggletog. Come on, Dad.”
“Very well. What was the best part of the day? It’s no secret, but tell me.”
“Me.” He’d surprised his dad. “Not becoming an apprentice? If you had been any more thrilled, you could have flown through the village.”
“Yes. You picked it for me. You gave me real work. You swore an oath as Chief to me, and you poured cider to toast to my apprenticeship. I’m happier than anyone in Midgard, and you did all of it. I’m, I don’t know, not me anymore. It’s different.” He struggled to explain, and found a fitting word. “I’m bigger inside. I’m more grown up.” He leaned an elbow on the table for support. “Why did you do it?”
“You labored more this year than was ever expected of you before. You refused to whine, you helped everyone who asked, and you were pleasant while you worked. We noticed you happy to have something to do of your own. I want my son to be happy, be productive, and have something of his own. You help the tribe, too, and that’s important.” His dad leaned forward and said, “You showed me you could do this, and I believe you will succeed in the forge. All right?”
“You trust me?”
That floored him. So many times he’d messed up, lied, and broken the rules, especially before harvest. He had been punished, but when it finished, it hadn’t been over for Hiccup. He wounded his dad and couldn’t forget that. Tonight, the last bit of heartache vanished. Hiccup had earned back his dad’s trust, and his heart was full. Hiccup scaled his father and sat on the table in front of him.
“Dad.” He wanted to get this right. “The best part of today is my father. You are the greatest of everyone, and I’m so lucky to be your son.” He raised his hand in salute. “My oath as heir to Berk.”
His dad’s eyes opened wide, then became wet. Hiccup stretched out his arms and gave the biggest hug he could offer. When he felt his hair ruffle, he knew his father was better. Before Hiccup reminded his father about the last question—are you ready to sleep—Hiccup heard something unexpected.
“Stay here. When you fall asleep, I’ll put you to bed.”
“Okay.” His eyelids sagged.
“Are you ready to sleep, Hiccup?” It was the final question of Snoggletog.
“I think so.”
“Happy Snoggletog, son. Good night.” The final words were a murmur.
Hiccup’s final coherent thought was he spent the entire day, up to the late hours of the night, with his dad. It was the best Snoggletog ever.
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