Gobber learns to converse with Hiccup’s dragon. They put this knowledge to good use.
|Author’s Note: 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.
The wind was brutal and no sooner had Hiccup entered the forge than Gobber hollered, “Shut the door, lad!” Hiccup and his dragon threw their weight against it; Toothless approached Gobber and stared at him, anticipating a reward for his good deed.
Gobber bent over and used his hook prosthetic to scratch the Night Fury. “Nice of you to turn up, apprentice. That’s the second time this week you’ve been late.”
“Sorry, I was held up.” Hiccup tied his apron around his skinny frame. At fifteen, Hiccup remained short and stick-thin with no muscle, for all the years he spent in the smithy. He was the least viking-like Viking on Midgard, an anomaly in a tribe of burly warriors.
Toothless made up for it. The Night Fury was unlike most dragons. He had no fangs or spikes. He lacked horns and was small for a dragon. Toothless was sleek, black, deadly—and Hiccup’s best friend.
Hiccup stumbled, a clear sign his mind was elsewhere. He’d probably come up with another idea, or worse, an invention. Gobber’s apprentice was brilliant, but once he had a notion in his head, he had trouble focusing on anything else.
Gobber pointed to the buckets. “Take those to Magnus Iverson, he’s been asking for nails.” That ought to keep Hiccup occupied. Magnus and Hiccup enjoyed crafting, and Magnus willingly listened to Hiccup rave.
“Okay. Come on, Toothless, we have a delivery.” Hiccup’s dragon curled up by the oven and let out an unconvincing snore. Hiccup shook his finger at his dragon. “Oh, I see how it is. I offer you the pleasure of tromping through ice and bitter cold, and you reject my offer for a toasty forge. I’ll remember this, you useless reptile.”
Once Hiccup left, Toothless returned to Gobber and watched him work. “I have to get this mace finished, so no scratches for you until I’m done.” Toothless sat, entranced by the process of shaping metal, much like Hiccup had been as a child.
“You’re like him, you know. Though you,” Gobber remarked, “don’t talk nearly as much. Thor, all the times I’ve had to patch him up because he wasn’t paying attention, and he still can’t stop yammering and focus on his work. I don’t know how Stoick can stand it.” Stoick was Hiccup’s father and Gobber’s best friend, but his patience had limits. How he dealt with the constant chatter was hard to imagine. “I don’t suppose you understand what I’m talking about.” The dragon tilted his head as if he were thinking.
“Ahh, this won’t do.” Gobber’s hook hand wasn’t working the way he needed it to. “I’d better get the vise.” Gobber undid the prosthetic and Toothless was there, holding the vise hand in his mouth. Gobber gaped. From a group and thirteen replacement hands, the Night Fury picked the right one.
“Well, I guess you can understand me.”
Toothless nodded. “Roo.”
“So, is ‘roo’ a word in dragon?”
Toothless bobbed his head. “Roo!”
“I’m thinking it means yes. Do dragons have a word for no?”
Toothless grinned. “Nif.”
“Nif means no.”
Toothless stood and began prancing around the forge, knocking things to the floor.
“Oh, nif you don’t. You behave yourself or I won’t learn any more words from you.” Gobber stared him down, and Toothless sat. “Now, is there a way to say “do” in dragon?”
§ § §
Gobber learned enough words to hold a conversation with Toothless, and they were discussing Hiccup.
“Hiccup used to be a menace to the tribe, mostly because he either didn’t pay attention or tried too hard. Having you around him helps with the tribe’s attitude; he’s not trying to impress them every five minutes, like he did before.” Toothless flicked an ear flap at him, a ‘keep going” signal. “He’s still a danger to himself. Now that people aren’t calling his inventions crazy, he has all these ideas to change things and build contraptions. I used to be able to calm him down and get him to focus, but it’s nearly impossible now.”
Toothless sighed. “Roo.”
“Oh, you know what I mean? Well, I’m open to any notions you have, especially if it shuts him up.” A thought struck Gobber. “Hold on. You,” he pointed to Toothless, “taught me dragon words. Can you say human words?”
“Maybe, eh? Well, I have a word you can say.” After Gobber explained, Toothless laughed for a full minute.
§ § §
Hiccup blew into the smithy, his face red from the cold. “Sor-sorry I’m la-late.”
The smith looked at him. “‘Sorry, I’m late Gobber, but once I got to Magnus with the nails I was freezing, then he asked me what I was up to. I talked his ear off for a couple of hours, plus it was too cold to leave. Now I’m back, my teeth are chattering and I can’t talk.’ Does that sum it up?”
“Yeah, it do-does.”
“Thaw yourself out, then.”
Once Hiccup had warmed up, Gobber told him, “I need this axe made. Start with the handle, and concentrate on the job in front of you. No babbling on, you hear me?”
“First, I have something to ask you.”
“No babbling, lad.”
“It’s one question, Gobber.”
The smith looked at the dragon. “He’s not listening to me, Toothless. You know what to do.”
Toothless bounded to Hiccup, grabbed him by the collar, and dragged him to the floor. Hiccup lay there stunned as his dragon stood over him, their noses touching.
Toothless made a sound somewhere between a hiss and a rumble, but it was unmistakably a human word.