Hiccup tells Gobber he can’t find anything on Stilton Jorgenson. Draft three.
|Author’s note: Thus is a work of fanfiction. 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.
§ § §
Hiccup’s journal, open to the most recent page, smelled of fish, possibly because a half of a cod was on top of it. “Uh, yeah, the fish looks good, but I’m full. You can have it back.” Toothless sucked the fish back into his mouth. Hiccup looked at the dragon slobber on the page, and ripped the next half-dozen pages out. “You,” he pointed to Toothless, “have to stop sliming my notebook. It’s disgusting. Gobber, can you stick to feeding him dried fish? He’s doing this on purpose.”
“Ah, you’ll survive. It’s not like he hasn’t done it before. If you don’t want me feeding him, don’t come to the smithy. Come to think of it, why did you turn up? There’s no work, the same as yesterday. If you’re avoiding Stoick, leave me out of it.”
“I’m not hiding from Dad, but I don’t want to see him, either. This morning has been a mess, and I wanted a break from everything.” The humidity was making his leg ache, and he removed the prosthetic.
“Well, what’s got you in a tizzy? Mebbe I can help.” Gobber swapped prosthetics, trading his hook for his tankard. “Is it the dragon academy?”
“Do you know who Stilton Jorgenson is?”
“I can’t say the name rings any bells.”
“He’s dying, and wants me to speak for him at the funeral, like he didn’t have a hundred better choices. So, I have to write a speech about a total stranger and deliver it in front of a crowd of grieving people. I’ve never done this before, and Dad’s expecting my best effort.” Hiccup rubbed his stump. “I have to figure out who Stilton Jorgenson is, and there’s no information on him. It’s not like there’s any pressure.”
“I don’t see as you have much choice, lad. Your father can help you with what to say, but there’s no denying a dying man’s request. Just write it all down and practice it.”
“Giving the speech is uncomfortable, but I can manage it. I’ve looked for details of his life, but it’s like he’s invisible.” Hiccup hopped to the table and fished out the salve. “I can’t write a speech when there’s nothing to say.”
“Try talking to your father; he ought to remember something about this Jorgenson fella.”
“He doesn’t.” Toothless helped Hiccup back to his stool. “Dad told me everything he never did. Stilton never won a Thawfest medal, or had any position of authority, or sailed far from Berk.” Hiccup began applying the salve to his stump. “The man wasn’t great or terrible at anything, and never failed spectacularly either.”
“Is that everything?”
“He ate at Mead Hall a few times a year, and on special occasions. He stayed for a little while, then went home.” Stoick’s ignorance had surprised them both. “Dad says when something happens on Berk, he hears about it, but Stilton never did anything to capture his attention.” Hiccup rubbed his stump in circles, the repetitive motion lessening his anxiety.
“Every Hooligan from Berk’s founding is listed in the tribe archives. Try there.”
Hiccup groaned. “I did. There’s a list of names—his parents, a brother, two sisters, his late wife, and their children—and nothing else. He’s the last of his siblings, too.” Hiccup spent over an hour researching those families and came up empty. “He wasn’t the best man for anyone’s wedding. No one asked him to be a godparent, and his siblings had nine children between them. The man’s own family didn’t notice him.”
Gobber gave him an incredulous look. “You’re not exaggerating? That’s hard to believe, lad.”
“I checked three times, Gobber. I thought about asking his children but that’s out of the question.”
“I don’t see what the problem is. You’re looking for people who know him. Oh, but…”
“Yeah, there’s no way ‘let me drag you from your father’s deathbed so I can pump you for information’ won’t blow up in my face.”
Gobber poured Hiccup a mug of water, and he stopped massaging his stump to drink. Hiccup’s throat was dry from heat and all the talking, and the conversation stalled. Venting at Gobber had helped, but it didn’t put him any farther ahead. Treating his leg was going to be Hiccup’s achievement for the day.
“Hold on.” Gobber looked at Hiccup. “Did you talk to his clan? They ought to have records, and more details about him. The clanhead will have all that in their records.”
“Crablout Jorgenson has belittled me all my life. He calls me a runt and a disgrace to the tribe. It doesn’t matter if I need to know about Stilton, he’ll kick me out. Anything he does tell me, I can’t believe. The man’s an untrustworthy jackass.”
Gobber grinned at the remark. “True enough. You can talk to Spitelout. He’s the Jorgenson clanheir and your uncle. He will listen to you.”
“Yeah.” Hiccup reattached his prosthetic. “I actually can see that working. He might even be the same branch of the family as Stilton.” Hiccup put away the ointment and finished his drink. “Thanks, Gobber. Come on, Toothless.” Hiccup wasted most of a day digging through paper and questioning people, when the answer was in front of him. Uncle Spite might have no new information, but Hiccup had somewhere to try.