How to Train Your Dragon
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN BRAVE, HTTYD NOR THE CHARACTERS FROM SAID MOVIES. THEY BELONG TO THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS.
CLAIMER: ANY OCS BELONG TO ME.
Note: I haven't done much research on Norse or Celtic history/mythology. No flaming for inaccuracy please.
Nights in Scotland were much different than the nights on Berk. Instead of the low rumbling of a dragon's snore, all Hiccup could hear was the rhythmic footsteps of the guards on patrol outside. Hiccup lay awake, listening to all the sounds, every one of them reminding him of his best friend. He sat up straight when he heard an flapping noise just beyond his window, but when he opened it, there was only a small crow that managed to fly right by Hiccup's face, causing him to wave him arms and yell at the bird before it flew back out his window. Sighing, he walked back to his bed and tried once again to go to sleep.
Merida didn't get much sleep that night either. Then again, she hadn't been for the past several months. Every night she thought about her mother, her position, and her fate. Many times she would sit up, grab her bow, and from her bed she would aim out her window toward a tower across the courtyard that had a target she had put there. She closed her eyes for a moment, concentrating on only the target, everything clear from her mind, the target suddenly becoming the only thing left in the world, then she would open her eyes just once more, and-
As usual, the arrow flew straight into the center of the target, possibly slitting yet another arrow sent there a few nights before. But though she had hit her millionth bull's eye, as soon as the arrow was gone out of her room, all the pressures and worries entered her mind once again. Before lying back down to sleep, Merida placed her bow on the desk, stirred the dying embers, and curled up on her animal skin rug, her eyes only closing ever so slowly.
"What do ya mean ye've never had a Dundee cake?" Merida exclaimed.
The next morning Queen Elinor sent Merida to show Hiccup around the kingdom again, but this time she took him to the docks and shores by the ocean. They had been hiking over rocks and weeds for an hour before Hiccup declared exhaustion, and the two sat down, feeling the cool breeze refresh them.
"Well, it's not exactly your everyday cuisine where I come from." Hiccup said in an almost annoyed tone.
"Help ma boab*! Ye need ta try it. Ah always ask fer that fer mah birthday, with almonds
and apple fruit peel." she gave a long sigh, remembering the taste of her favorite dessert. Opening her eyes, she turned her thoughts back to her tourist. "So what about ye? What's yer favorite food?"
"Well, out of the many, WONDERFUL things I've eaten in my life, I'd have to say salmon."
"Salmon?" Merida cocked her head in disbelief.
"Or Icelandic cod."
"Iceland? Are ye from the North?" asked Merida, remembering her many geography lessons from her mother.
Hiccup suddenly got very nervous. "Uh, yeah. Not too far, just far enough. Of course, it's colder, but not much colder than here, here's pretty cold too, but it's warmer here than back home..."
Merida just laughed as Hiccup continued to ramble on. Eventually he ran out of steam and just mumbled his last words.
"Yer a strange boy." Merida stated after she was done laughing.
"Thanks, I really appreciate it." he said sarcastically.
"No, no. Ah meant it as a compliment. Ye see, ah was always considered ta be strange too. So everythin' normal, everythin' my mum accepts is strange to me. Does tha' make sense to ye?"
"Actually, yes." The princess looked over to him, curiosity filling her eyes as he continued, "My dad is like that. He always expected me to be something I wasn't, and when I finally became his perfect son, everything went wrong. He thought I was one thing, then I became the disappointment of his life."
Merida listened intently, at the same time connecting back to her mother, the clans, the marriage, and the bear. She shivered, remembering Mor'du's face, and the face of a mother hidden by a beast.
"What happened next?" she asked, hoping for a resolve to her own problem.
"Well, he realized I couldn't be the son he expected, but I managed to become the son he could be proud of." Hiccup smiled, remembering the time at the Dragons' Nest when his father said for the first time that he was proud of him.
"What's yer father like? Is he a great man?" Merida was becoming more and more interested about this boy's relationship with his father.
"Great is an understatement. He strength is known all through the land, and as a chief, he could inspire an army just by showing his face. Absolutely nothing like me."
"Chief? Yer da's a chief?" Merida was surprised. Hiccup didn't seem like a son of a great leader, then again neither did the sons of clans Macintosh, Dingwall and MacGuffin.
Hiccup's eyes bulged. He had let another thing slip as he rambled. "Uh, yes, though our village is pretty small. You probably wouldn't know him."
"No, probably not. Ah don't know much of anything outside the kingdom. Mah mum gives lessons, but mostly of only surrounding islands and the land of the clans."
"Wait, have you ever been outside the kingdom?"
"Yes, through the forest. I stumbled upon an ancient castle of legend, but I've never been at sea. Mah mum thinks it's too dangerous."
"REALLY?" Hiccup couldn't count the amount of times he went on a ship, or even just rode out to sea on Toothless. Of course, he couldn't deny it WAS dangerous. Storms and pirates could catch you at any time, and being shipwrecked never helped either.
Merida simply nodded to his question, then looked out to the open ocean in front of her. Avoiding her temptation, she stood up, gesturing for Hiccup to follow.
"Let's go, it's gettin' late." she said.
Astrid stroked Stormfly's quills down, waiting for Gobber to come with the new tail he had finished just the night before. She looked over to Toothless, who was looking out to the ocean once again. She could have sworn he almost jumped off a cliff trying to fly just a few days before. He missed Hiccup too much, and it was starting to wear him down. The poor dragon only slept when he couldn't stay awake any longer, and the fish Astrid tried feeding to him remained sitting by him.
It was decided the night before that Astrid would follow Toothless on Stormfly to ensure the safety of Toothless and Hiccup.
"Hey! Here I am!" Gobber called, followed by Stoick, cradling a tail fin made from a long-forgotten blueprint.
Astrid turned to see him bundling down the path, eventually coming to a stop right in front of Astrid and her own blue dragon.
Handing her the fin, Gobber said, "Ye better hurry along now."
"How much food did you pack?" asked Stoick.
"Just about enough for a month." she said taking the fin. Carefully, she approached Toothless from behind, hoping he wouldn't notice as she put it on him. Unfortunately, the dragon did notice and leaped away, growling.
"Hey, hey." said Astrid, putting the tail down and lifting her hands. "We made this to find Hiccup. Do you want to find him?"
Toothless' ears perked at "Hiccup," and after a few moments, he crept back toward Astrid, positioning his tail near the slightly familiar tail fin.
"Good boy." said Astrod, and she fastened the prosthetic to Toothless' tail, securing everything as to make sure it would ork once he tried it.
Once she was done, the dragon lifted his tail, examining the fin as he did once before, realizing he could fly on his own again. As soon as this realization came, he spread his wings and shot off into the air, bolting to look for a scent of Hiccup. Nearly blown off the dock by the sudden take-off, Astrid collected herself before climbing atop Stormfly and racing as fast as the dragon could go after the Night Fury.
"We'll be back soon!" she called behind her, trying to reassure the teary-eyed father. But she was already beyond their ear-shot by the time she yelled it.
"May the Aesir** and Eir*** protect them all." prayed Stoick, tears filling his eyes once again.
A week had now passed since Hiccup's first day of consciousness, and Merida was stuck in her mother's sewing room, trying to untangle five different threads she was using for embroidery. Meanwhile her mother sat silently working on her new tapestry project that hung on the wall. It appeared to be the trinity sign with knotted designs weaving in and out of it. Frustrated and sick of sewing, Merida threw down her cloth.
"Mum, ah can't do it!" she complained, standing up.
"Sure you can, Merida. It just takes some time." her mother replied as she watched her daughter storm out of the room, bow in hand.
Elinor sighed. She knew Merida was free-spirited and wild, but sometimes she wished her daughter would listen to her for even just a little time. Maybe she just doesn't love you... she thought to herself, as a small, silent tear rolling down her cheek. For a moment, she let it fall, but she never displayed weakness, even alone by herself. Quickly she blinked it away and continued working.
Elsewhere, Merida trudged out of the castle and down the path, knowing where her new friend would be. Hiccup was working on Merida's request, though he stopped a few times to help out Ailean, who was being overworked that day. By now, Hiccup had gotten his old clothes back, which had to be washed multiple times to get the algae and everything else out of the fabric. Relieved, he had put his pants back on, even if it meant being weird in the land of the Celts, though he had to admit, the clothes they had given him were very comfortable, and he enjoyed wearing them. So a blue shirt hung on a board by the ceiling of the workshop, and the kilt was still wrapped around his waist.
"Hey, Hiccup!" called Ailean from the back of the shop, "could ye help me with somethin' lad?"
Sweaty and tired, the viking stood up, stretched his back, then walked to where Ailean was.
"What is it?"
"Ah need ye ta deliver somethin' fer me. Mr. Boag needs his halberd now, but ah hafta maintain th' heat on the furnace."
Hiccup groaned quietly. He didn't know the village all too well, and he went to the wrong home many times on delivery. But Ailean seemed like the kind of person you didn't want to say "no" to.
"Sure, where is it?" sighed Hiccup, grabbing his shirt off the roof beam.
"Over by th' clamp. He lives close to th' docks. He'll have his name on th' door."
"Right," replied Hiccup, putting his shirt on and grabbing the weapon, "what's his name again?"
"BOAG. Now get goin'."
Hiccup stumbled out the door, halberd in his arms. Half groaning, half whining, he started down the road, dodging other people going down the road and nearly getting run over by an ox. Eventually, he made it to his destination and dropped off the weapon, giving him time to get lost on his way back...again. Hiccup decided this time he would just keep walking till he found something familiar, kicking a pebble with his right foot to pass the time, and to distract his as he thought about Toothless again.
Finally, he had made it back, and he sat down in his stool to start working on his commission again. Though he was yet again interrupted when a flash of red hair flew by his face, stomping through the door and grumbling something that Hiccup couldn't make out. Merida paced the shop a bit, catching the attention of both blacksmiths before starting her rant:
"Ah don't know how she expects me ta learn how ta sew! Ah don't like sewing! And it's obvious ah don't have the patience fer it. Ah just don't understand why she keeps doin' this. Ah have been sewin' pretty much since the day ah was born! Ah'm never going ta get it! And every time all she says is, 'make yer stiches smaller, don't bunch up the thread, don't bunch up the cloth, ye skipped a stitch!' Jus' because you like sewin' don't mean ah do!"
Hiccup didn't have to ask who this was about. It seemed every time Merida was angry it was directed toward her mother. So, he just sat there, swinging his legs as she continued to rage. Only when she was done did Hiccup dare to speak.
"Have you ever SERIOUSLY took the time to TRY to enjoy sewing?" he asked, Merida now sitting down and examining a broad-sword.
"No, but ah know ah wouldn't enjoy it."
"How come? I'd imagine someone like you who has such great precision in archery would be amazing at sewing!"
"Because sewing is not archery. Archery involves strength and precision. Sewing is just...just...well, girly!"
"And you're a girl."
Merida glared at him, giving him the you-know-what-I-meant look.
"Look, I'm just saying!" said Hiccup, raising his hands, "Why don't you talk to HER about it instead? Y'know? Work something out?"
"Because I don't want the same thing ta happen again!"
"WHAT to happen?"
Merida went silent. She turned away, hanging the sword she had in her hand back on the wall. Though Hiccup was utterly confused. He looked over to Ailean for help, who was watching them from the back, but quickly looked away and began working again when he noticed Hiccup's stare. As Hiccup looked back at Merida he could see the rage had left her face, but it was replaced by something he couldn't even describe. She looked off into space, as if in turmoil within herself.
Swallowing hard, Merida looked back at Hiccup, then said, "Ah'm sorry for distracting ye from yer work. Please forgive me." and she left.
Hiccup watched her as she went out the door, her curly hair bouncing as she strode back up the steps to the castle. Curiosity filled his mind and he went to the back of the shop as soon as she was gone.
"Hey, Ailean. Did something happen between Merida and the Queen before?"
Ailean's eyes bulged, and he stopped adding coals to the fire. "Aye," he said slowly, "it happened a year ago. Though us villagers don't talk about it much. It's...difficult...ta understand." Nervously, he began adding more coals. "Ye better ask th' princess about it instead. Ah shouldn't be th' one ta tell ya."
Hiccup sighed. It was obvious Merida didn't want to talk about it, and Merida didn't seem like the kind of person whose bad side you want to get on.
"Though," Ailean added, "ye could always ask th' Queen herself about it. Ah'm not sure if she'd be as avoiding as th' princess, but it's worth a shot."
This didn't help at all. Hiccup was always intimidated by the Queen. Asking her about a personal problem would be out of the question. Though, he truly wanted to know what was going on...
Later that night
Hiccup plopped back onto his bed, exhausted from the work Ailean gave him. Lazily, he kicked his one boot off, letting it fall to the floor. Slowly, he turned over on his stomach, thinking about what happened in the shop with Merida. Her face was so sullen, as if she was in pain.
Then, out of the blue, Merida walked in, though Hiccup hadn't noticed, and continued to stare off into space. Quietly, she closed the door, her face slightly lowered and hidden away by her hair.
"Ah'm sorry about today, Hiccup." she said quietly, her head still lowered.
Hearing her, the boy shot up, his green eyes wide from shock.
Though Merida just continued, "Ah'm sorry fer bein' so mad. Ah hope ye know it wasn't directed toward you, an' ah'm sorry ye had to listen to all that. Ah'm sure ye have other things ta worry about."
"No, no" said Hiccup, "It's fine. You don't have to apologize. I can tell things are difficult with your mom."
Merida's face sank even lower. "It's all my fault, really." she said, "Ah've been selfish, an' she deserves more from me."
Hiccup slapped himself on the forehead. Obviously, it was NOT the right thing to say.
"And you deserve more too." the princess continued. Hiccup looked at her, an eyebrow raised. "Yer the only one that doesn't know about the situation between mah mum an' I. To be honest, ah was embarrassed when ah found out th' entire village found out. But in a small kingdom, there's no stoppin' it. But ye have just as much right ta know as everyone else, and if ye want ta know, meet me in th' courtyard at dawn."
By now her face had emerged from her mass of curls, and Hiccup could see tear stains drawn all over her face. He just nodded, and allowed her to collect herself before she left.
In all honesty, Hiccup was stunned. He had only been in the household of DunBroch for a week, but never before had he seen Merida this way. She had always seemed so headstrong, so determined, and so uncontrollable. He never thought he'd see the day when she spilled tears. Laying back down, he closed his eyes, hoping to drift into a sleep before having to wake at dawn the next day.
In his mind, he pictured Merida's face, her tearful blue eyes closed. He wanted her to open them. He didn't want her to cry any more. Slowly, she opened her eyes again, but they weren't her eyes. They were a yellow-green, with deep black slits. Hiccup could see his reflection in them, just like the time when a Night Fury held him against a rock just after he had released it. It opened it mouth to let out a roar, but it wasn't a roar. Hiccup could see his dragon wailing and flapping it's wings as it fell into the ocean. Down, down into the depths of the sea.
"TOOTHLESS!" Hiccup cried.
Again, he had fallen off the bed in his sleep, his blanket wrapped tightly around his prosthetic, the image of Toothless' face slowly melting away as he came back to reality. Huffing, he untied the blanket from his leg, crawled back into bed and curled up, hugging his pillow tightly, trying not to think of his friend.
Elsewhere, a black dragon's ears perked up, and he lifted his head toward where he thought he heard Hiccup's voice. He whined into the wind and sniffed the air, trying to hear it again.
"There, there." said Astrid, stroking his neck. Despite his many protests, she managed to get the dragon to land on a small island to rest before they continued their journey again. At first it was just non-stop flying, but after the third day, she insisted he stopped for the health of Stormfly, who was curled up by Astrid, purring loudly. Ever since their first stop, it gradually became easier to get Toothless to stop for just one night, but if she didn't wake up fast enough, he would leave both of them behind.
Slowly, Toothless put his head back down and closed his eyes, making a low rumbling noise in his throat.
"Don't worry," Astrid tried to comfort him the best she could. "We'll find him soon...I hope..."
Legend of the Bear Princess
Merida never woke up early on her own, but this time she'd have to, as she promised. Groggily, she sat up a bit before dawn, and slipped out of bed, trying to pull her nightgown off. After she had changed into her favorite blue dress, she strapped her belt and quiver to her waist, secured her bow over her shoulder, and stumbled out the door. Quietly, she slipped past her parent's room, then made her way down to the kitchen, where she snagged a couple apples lying on the table and popped one in her mouth. Casually, she walked out the back door, only to trip on the steps over something large, skinny, and half-awake. Merida braced herself as she came in contact with the hard stones on the ground, meanwhile Hiccup was groaning to a rude awakening.
"Are ye tryin' ta kill me?" Merida exclaimed, realizing who it was.
"Sorry..." Hiccup mumbled, rubbing the spot where her foot came in contact with his back.
Merida rolled her eyes, then tossed one of her apples to the viking. Then she stood and walked over to the stable where her own pet was waiting for her.
"Mornin' Angus!" she said, handing her last apple to him. The Clydesdale accepted it graciously, neighing with approval.
Hiccup picked up the apple and took a bite out of it. Then he remembered why on earth he was outside.
"So, you're gonna tell me about the...thing...with you...and your mom...right?"
"Aye," Merida replied, grabbing a saddle and positioning it on Angus' back.
"And...you're getting your horse ready. That's...nice."
"I'll tell ye part of th' tale on the way there. Of course, it'll take too long on foot, and ah haven't rode Angus in a while. He needs the exercise."
"Wait, on the way where?" Hiccup asked, starting to be even more confused than he was before.
"You'll see soon enough." Merida replied as she fastened the harness on the horse's head. After she was done, she grabbed a handful of oats and fed it to Angus just before climbing onto his back and walking her steed over to Hiccup. "Well? Are ye comin'?"
Hiccup looked at the horse, who seemed harmless enough, but he had never ridden a horse before.
"Listen, I already told you. I don't feel comfortable riding horses."
"Ye have yer pants back."
"Well, that's not the only problem. I have my own...animal I ride back home."
"Ah'm sure he'll forgive ye. C'mon, or ah'm gonna leave ye."
Hiccup hesitated for a moment, wary of Angus' every movement. Slowly, he approached the beast, and in a single moment he grabbed Merida's extended arm and swung over the horse's back. Though Merida decided it'd be fun to give the boy a little scare, so as soon as she knew he was in contact with the horse, she yelled and snapped the reigns. Angus darted forward, nearly making Hiccup fall off, but he quickly grabbed around Merida's waist, terror filling his face as well as a bunch of red hair. Lauging, Merida gradually had Angus slow down, allowing the lad to calm down before she started her story.
"That wasn't funny." said Hiccup, releasing Merida from his tight grip when they finally started walking again.
"Oh, it's just all good fun!" the girl smiled as she looked back to her passenger.
"So where are we going?" said Hiccup, looking around at the mass of trees surrounding them.
"To a place where ah tried to change mah fate." Merida said.
Hiccup leaned his body sideways to see her eyes, but it was no use. Her hair was covering her face again.
"Mah life before was similar to now. Ah had to take lessons from mah mum about bein' a princess. Ah had ta learn how to walk, talk, eat, everythin'. An' one day, she told me ah was supposed t' be married off to some suitor. T' one of the sons of the three lords. Ah got scared. Ah...ah just wasn't ready yet! But she wouldn't listen, an' ah had to take matters into mah own hands. Ye see, here we have laws, that any suitor that wishes th' hand of th' princess must first prove his worth in a game chosen by th' princess herself. So...ah chose archery, an' once th' lads had shot their arrows, ah took mah stand an' showed 'em up. Unfortunately, mah mum still didn't understand, and she became furious, an' that's where out troubles started. She an' I had a...talk...an' ah still couldn't believe she wanted me t' go through with this, so ah tore her tapestry t' show ah couldn't be like her, but ah wasn't prepared for what happened next. She took mah bow an' threw it into th' fire. Ah was so hurt. Mah dad had given it t' me fer mah birthday when ah turned six. So, when ah realized it was gone forever...ah ran. Ah kept runnin' till ah ended up...here."
Hiccup looked up to see them standing in a ring of tall boulders, all standing vertically except for one that was broken at the base and appears to have fallen.
"What is this place?" he said, his eyes scanning every inch of the area. Mysterious as it was, he had to admit, it was beautiful.
"Ah don't know." Merida replied, shrugging her shoulders. "But once ah got here, I was guided by th' Will' O' the Wisps to another place."
"Will' O' the Wisps? What are those?"
"Spirits of old who lead people t' their fate. Good or bad."
"Where did they lead you?"
"To a witch. A witch of whom I used mah mum's necklace, th' same necklace ah asked ye to make a replica of, t' pay fer a spell. A spell of which ah had hoped would change mah fate."
Merida's head lowered again, and she tapped Angus with her leg to make him go forward again. "Aye...but not th' way ah had hoped." She took in a deep breath, then continued. "It had turned her into a bear. A large, black bear. Thankfully, she was still her on th' inside, but not for long. After we had escaped th' castle, we found the home of th' witch again t' try t' change her back, but all we found out was after the second sunrise, she would be a wild bear...forever..."
Hiccup remained silent, listening to her, but he couldn't help but pop the question, "Did she?"
"O' course not! She's still here!" Merida exclaimed, and Hiccup slapped himself again, embarrassed for forgetting the Queen was back at the castle.
"But it wasn't easy." she said, "Th' witch gave me a hint for how t' change her back, though it was hard to figure out. She said, 'Fate be changed, look inside, mend the bond, torn by pride.' We had no idea what to do. After the first sunrise, the Will' O' the Wisps led us to an old abandoned castle where we discovered the last one to use the same spell was none other than the beast of terror himself, Mor'du."
Hiccup's eyes widened. From the way King Fergus described the beast, he'd never imagine it used to be a human.
"Mor'du used to be a prince from an ancient kingdom who had three other brothers. When their father died, he split the kingdom into four instead of giving him his birthright, so he asked the witch to change his fate, and he transformed into Mor'du. And after only barely escaping his claws at his old castle, we thought the answer to th' spell was the tapestry ah tore before changin' mah mum. Ah thought that all ah had to do was stitch it up and she would be fine. Unfortunately mah dad found us before ah could even start, an' once he saw mum, he attacked her. Thankfully she escaped, and went back to that clearing ah took ye to, an' thanks to th' help of me brothers, ah finished th' tapestry an' got back to protect mum from mah dad. But just before ah could explain t' mah dad, Mor'du appeared, an' nearly killed us all if not fer me mum. She fought him and crushed him under that fallen rock ye saw. Though, the second sunrise was coming, an' we were runnin' out of time. So ah grabbed th' tapestry an' threw it over mah mum, though it didn't work...ah didn't know what to do. Mah mum was becomin' wild before mah eyes, an all ah could do was say ah was sorry. Sorry for everythin'. An' ah gave her mah last words sayin' ah loved her...ah...just couldn't believe she was gone, an' she wasn't. She changed back, an th' marriage conflict was resolved. Ah couldn't have been happier." she smiled, looking ahead of her.
"An' we gave promises t' each other after that day. She'd give me mah freedom, an' ah'd continue t' prepare fer bein' a proper princess. But as time went on, ah realized ah couldn't meet her expectations with everythin', and again, ah got scared. Ah don't hate mah mum, Hiccup, but ah do hate myself. Ah avoid mah mum now because ah can't bear to disappoint her even more. Ah pretend to be annoyed with th' lessons an' occasionally, ah truly am annoyed with them, but ah try t' show her ah can't do it. But ah can't talk to her about it. Ah'm afraid ah'll make another mistake and turn her into..." she trailed off.
Merida hid her face again, and Hiccup could hear a few soft sniffs.
"Hey, sometimes it's okay to be scared. But that doesn't mean you have to hate yourself." Hiccup reassured, "You're strong, you're brave, and you're a princess. Based on what you told me, I think your mom will listen to you. Just talk to her. You said so yourself you only pretend to be annoyed with some of the lessons, so why not talk about which ones you prefer with her, try to work something out?"
"Sure you can! Merida..." she looked back at him. "Just try..."
She nodded, but her eyes told him she wasn't going to. Hiccup sighed, and the two of them remained silent for the rest of their journey.
*A Scottish exclamation of astonishment or exasperation
**A group of warrior gods led by Odin who inhabit Asgard (Norse Mythology)
***Goddess of healing (Norse Mythology)