Valka knew that what she was doing was wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. She was doing something she had sworn to never do, for fifteen years she had held up her solemn oath, for fifteen years she lived in isolation. She swore to herself that she would never return to the small island that rested on the Meridian of Misery, twelve days north of Hopeless and a few degrees south of Freezing to Death. Berk, her home.
Or rather, her former home. She had grown up there, had fallen in love, had a beautiful son, but that had all changed during a dragon raid. When Cloudjumper, her beloved dragon companion, had taken her from her family for the sole purpose of belonging with him and his flock, the dragons that peacefully dwelled under the Alpha's care. Berk had never truly felt like a home, Valka had been an outcast amongst her people.
She remembered when she spoke her mind about the dragon situation, on how they shouldn't fight and kill dragons, but try to befriend them. Her peers had mocked her, thinking her heart too soft for a Viking, they saw her as some alienish dweller that lived among them. They ridiculed her; shot her bewildered glares that told her that she and her ideals weren't welcome. She had been loathed and thought of with contempt, all because she thought differently.
Valka, the only Viking ever who wouldn't, couldn't, kill a dragon.
Even Stoick, her beloved husband, had viewed her ideals as foolish and thought her naïve in the ways of the world. He claimed that dragons and Vikings were destined to clash, to kill one another until one side was finally extinct.
She remembered that raid so vividly; if she concentrated hard enough she could still smell the smoke and blood of that fateful night when dragons attacked the small village of Berk. The night she realized that she had been right, and her husband and peers were wrong.
Dragons could be befriended. Viking and dragon could coexist with one another. She had seen it when she had raced towards her home when she caught sight of a dragon, Cloudjumper, breaking into her son's nursery.
Oh how he haunted her. Whenever she closed her eyes to sleep, she heard his giggling laughter, or his pained cries that echoed deep within her soul. Whenever she saw a dragon and their hatchlings, she thought of her own child, the child she had almost condemned to death. He had nearly died that night, when Cloudjumper had spewed fire from his mouth in self-defense when Stoick attacked him.
He and her husband could have died that night, all because she couldn't kill a dragon.
She couldn't because when she first meet the gaze of Cloudjumper, she had seen not a monstrous devil of the sky as Vikings thought him as, but a gentle, intelligent creature whose very soul reflected her own. He had been playing with Hiccup, rocking his wooden cradle with his claw in such a tender and gentle way it had made her pause in her approach. It was at that moment she realized that she had been right all along. It was proof to everything she believed.
She couldn't kill him. She could only watch in fascination as Cloudjumper turned to face her, his amber eyes so warm and gentle it made her instantly calm. She was mesmerized by him just as much as he was mesmerized by her. They were two halves of a soul, one human and the other dragon, who had finally connected to form one. She remembered how Cloudjumper had accidently cut Hiccup's chin when he had squirmed, she knew that he hadn't meant to and that he wasn't some bloodthirsty demon who feasted on the flesh of children, as some legends told.
She could only watch as the gentle Stormcutter hobbled closer to her, somehow smiling in a way that resembled a human. She could still remember holding out her hand, palm splayed, aching to touch his snout. She almost did.
But then her husband appeared with an axe in hand.
After that it was all a blur. Stoick leapt, Cloudjumper moved, Hiccup cried, fire spread, and suddenly she was in the air, held by Cloudjumper's claws as he flew away from Berk. She could still see Stoick rushing outside with Hiccup safely tucked in his massive arms, crying out to her.
She never saw Stoick or Hiccup again. She swore she never would. Vikings could never live peacefully with dragons, she had realized that when Stoick attacked Cloudjumper. But Valka had never truly been a Viking, and she changed that night when Cloudjumper brought her to his Nest on the sole reason of belonging with him and dragonkind. Stoick would be ashamed of her, if he discovered that she was alive and living with dragons, aiding them, protecting them and loving them. He would be so ashamed if he knew that his own wife sided with his mortal enemies.
And Hiccup… oh her sweet child.
He was the only bright light of her life on Berk, aside from Stoick. But Stoick had never truly understood her, for he never agreed with her ideals though he loved her with all his heart. Hiccup didn't understood that bitter feud between man and dragon, he was the only one who didn't see her as some odd outcast. Granted he had been a mere babe, but he had been her son, and though years have passed she still loved him as much as she did when she first held him in her arms. She had loved him –and still loved him- with all of her heart and being. He had been one of the few happy memories she had had on Berk.
He was the sole reason why Valka was now breaking her vow of never returning to Berk. She had to see her son. She didn't return for Stoick, though she still loved him, she didn't return to her companions and comrades of her youth, she returned only to see what had become of the babe she had left in the cradle.
No one would know. She would hide in the shadows of night, either on Cloudjumper's back or hiding away on the rooftops. They would never find out that she still lived. She just wanted a single glance, a single second to see her son.
What did he look like?
She had thought that over and over throughout the years of her isolation, each time seeing a different person. She mostly imagined him as a massive hulking boy, grown out of his infant frailty and had taken after his massive Viking father. She saw him as a hulking boy, easily taking after his father in size and girth, but he would have her eyes. Why wouldn't her son take after his father in size and personality? The world was cruel to those who lived in it, and the thought of her son taking after his Viking father, an experienced dragon killer, always cut at her deeply.
But sometimes she thought of him being like his mother, a kind and caring person, she loved those thoughts. It was most likely wrong but Valka could still dream of a small lean child with her green eyes full of care for those around him, a smart boy who had more brains than brawn, and someone who didn't take after his father but instead his mother. They were wistful thoughts and dreams, but Valka still thought them though she knew that she was most likely wrong.
She knew that Hiccup was most likely what she feared, a perfect Viking. His father was chief Stoick the Vast after all, why wouldn't the son take after the father? Why would he be anything like the mother who had abandoned him? Of all the things she had done, not taking Hiccup with her had been her greatest regret.
Oh how Valka wished she had held him in her arms when Cloudjumper snatched her away from her life as an outcast on Berk, she could have raised her son to love and cherish dragons, instead of learning to kill them.
She never would have been able to though, for Stoick had grabbed him and changed all their lives. Just like when Cloudjumper had grabbed her and taken her away. That night had changed everything.
It didn't matter now, for she and her son had gone their separate ways. She to care and protect the dragons she lived with, and he to most likely slay them.
By Odin that thought hurt her more than a battle axe ever could.
She had to see him.
She had to know.
Valka had to know what had happened to the son she had abandoned while he was still in the cradle.
Cloudjumper crooned lowly to her, still unhappy with her decision to return to her former home if only for one night. He knew her too well to not know that while Berk held her family, it was also home to bitter memories that were better left forgotten.
"I know, my friend," Valka sighed as she stroked his scarred crown, slender fingers tracing the scar that was left by Stoick's own axe from the night Cloudjumper had taken her away from Berk fifteen years ago. "But I just want one look, that's all I want. And after that we can fly home." She didn't mention how the thought of leaving her son and husband for a second time left a bitter and sour taste in her mouth. She didn't tell Cloudjumper though; she was already hurting him by returning to Berk even if only for a night.
As they flew through the night, Valka began to see familiar natural and man made landmarks that she hadn't seen for years. Valka leaned forward in anticipation, soon she would see Berk, soon she would see Stoick, and soon she would see her son.
She soon caught sight of the massive stone statues of angry looking Vikings clutching massive axes and swords, their open maws roaring bonfires that spread light into the darkness of night. Cloudjumper growled lowly as he looked at the village with thin pupils, showing his displeasure and Valka could easily see why and could even relate with her beloved dragon companion.
Berk was burning.
The raids haven't stopped, Valka thought to herself as Cloudjumper glided closer towards the burning village like a silent wraith. If anything, things are worse than ever.
She could only look on towards the burning village, the fire was so bright it contrasted against the night. She saw shadows of Vikings and dragons alike, locked in eternal combat with one another.
Though she had lived there for many years, Valka barely recognized the village of her childhood. The massive pillars of fire were still there as was the Great Hall, but the buildings themselves were unfamiliar to her.
Old village, new buildings, she thought of the old Berkian proverb. Fighting against creatures who had the ability to breath fire in a wooden village meant that the majority of people knew how to rebuild houses faster than a dragon could burn one down.
The only house she recognized was her old one, Stoick's house. It stood against a hill-like cliff, proudly standing whilst those around it had fallen, like Stoick himself. Her heart twanged oddly when she gazed at the familiar landmark, remembering her days and nights living there with her husband and son. The small added room that Stoick and Gobber had created to be Hiccup's nursery was gone, most likely burnt to the ground by Cloudjumper's fire. But other than that, it was just the way she remembered it.
She could see firelight further up the mountain, she looked at it and recognized the shadowy outline of a small hut that was backed into the mountain. They must have finally built Mildew his own home far away from the others, I wouldn't blame them, Valka thought to herself with no small amount of rancor as she remembered the bitter aging man, he had always hated her and her ideals. He had been one of the worst of the Vikings to speak against her and her unpopular opinions.
Cloudjumper slowly hovered above a home that wasn't burning; she silently slipped off of Cloudjumper's back and landed on the roof of the house without a sound. Her beloved companion glanced back at her, worry set in his amber eyes before he quickly flew away towards the woods. She silently crawled towards the edge of the roof, thankful that she had her mask on.
She had decided to wear what she wore to scare off any dragon trappers that dared capture her dragons. She wore armor made of hardened leather, a few scuff marks marred the darkened leather from her many fights with trappers, her carmine cape was torn at the edges, and her spiked mask that resembled the King's own likeliness hid her face from the world. The mask was smeared with a bright blue paint that matched the color of the sky she flew in, yellow bands wrapped around the spikes, the spikes themselves were modeled after the Alpha's spikes.
Valka watched from her perch as she saw Vikings running around like headless chickens, waving their sharpened weapons at anything with scales,
"Do not let them escape!" She heard someone yell to a group of Vikings holding down a net that pinned several Deadly Nadders. Valka felt her heart stop as she recognized that voice, that terribly familiar voice. She leaned closer, holding her breath as she saw a massive Viking barrel through the chaos that littered Berk's narrow streets.
Stoick… Valka thought to herself as she saw her husband for the first time in fifteen years, her heart pleading to race into his arms, to never leave her beloved ever again, to be his wife once again. Valka looked away, unable to look at the massive red-haired chieftain, suddenly ashamed that he believed her dead when she was very much alive.
It's for the best,she thought to herself with no small amount of sorrow. It's better that he never knows the shame that I have brought him by siding with dragons… He and Hiccup nearly died that night, all because I couldn't kill Cloudjumper. Even now, I would never raise a blade to any dragon if I were to relive that night once again.
She followed her husband by leaping from rooftop from rooftop. The houses had always been built close to one another so it was hardly any feat to navigate throughout the burning village; she followed her husband like a silent shadow when in reality she was a ghost.
Valka crouched down low on another rooftop, pressed against the carved wooden dragon head as she saw a Monstrous Nightmare in a small clearing, burning away at one of the pillars with it's powerful flames.
She saw Stoick leap at the Monstrous Nightmare, literally beating it back with his massive fists. She winced at every hit, watching the dragon rear back it's head and fly away in both defeat and terror at the massive Viking who still held Valka's heart. Oh Stoick… nothing has changed, she thought to herself heavily. You haven't changed…
She watched like a silent sentinel as the villagers of Berk swarmed the area where their chief was, but their attention wasn't on him but on the burning wooden pillar. She watched as the pillar finally fell as its foundation was burned away by the Nightmare's fire, and in its place stood a boy, who must have been hiding behind it.
She and the other villagers watched as the metal bowl that held the fire break off from the pillar and roll down the hill, crashing into carts and houses until it reached a group of Vikings struggling to hold a net against a small group of Nadders from flying away. To her joy they leapt out of the way and the dragons fled into the darkened sky.
She turned her attention back to the boy.
The boy was scrawny, skinny as a reed. When Stoick came up to him with a disappointed frown, the boy barely even reached the Chief's elbows. But his stature and height mattered little to Valka, for she instantly noticed his light auburn hair and his green eyes. Her hair and eyes. She peered closer, as close as she could without showering herself, and saw the faint white scar on the boy's chin, right below his bottom lip.
Valka felt her heart stop as she took the boy in, the visage of a squalling babe overtaking the now almost grown boy. Hiccup… Valka thought in awe and wonder, my son.
She watched as Hiccup glanced around at the crowd of Vikings that surrounded him with unease, looking like a rabbit surrounded by wolves. The Vikings glared at him, their burning distrusting eyes so familiar to Valka, for they were the same eyes that had looked at her with such rancor, the baleful glares directed towards an outcast.
Is he… just as I was? Valka thought to herself with dawning horror. The thought of her Hiccup going through what she herself had gone through made her heart clench in agony. Oh how she wished she could leap from her vantage point and knock every single one of those Vikings, Stoick included, with her staff and hug her son and tell him that everything was going to be alright.
But she couldn't do that. Not even she could take down twenty armed Vikings and husband and expect Hiccup to come rushing into her arms. She could only watch from afar with an aching heart full of burning frustration that she couldn't do anything without revealing herself.
She saw Hiccup mumble something, she saw anger burning in the eyes of the Vikings, she could hear the faint rumbling grumbles of resentment and anger, all directed towards her boy.
Stoick grabbed his son by the scruff of his neck, easily dragging him as though he weighed nothing, though in reality Hiccup's weight was perhaps as heavy as a newborn lamb. Valka could see the anger and disappointment in Stoick's brown eyes, hidden underneath the visage of chief.
"It's not like the last few times, dad!" Hiccup was trying, and failing, to tell his father as he dragged him through the crowd of angry Vikings. "I mean I actually hit it. You guys were busy and I had a very clear shot. It went down just by Raven's Point, let's get a search party out there before-"
Stoick roared at his son, releasing his grip as Hiccup stared up at him with wide eyes. Valka watched on from the rooftop, struggling with herself to stay where she was.
"Just. Stop." Stoick's voice lowered from that of a shout of anger to a weary, frustrated sigh. "Every time you step outside, disaster follows!" He gestured wildly towards the ruined carts and burning houses that had been destroyed by the bowl of fire. "Do you not see that I have bigger problems? Winter is almost here and I have an entire village to feed!"
Hiccup glanced around at the massive Vikings that had followed them, their baleful glares burning into his back. "Well between you and me, the village could do with a little less feeding, don't you think?" Hiccup asked as he glanced around at the surrounding Vikings, who grumbled at his words while some placed their hands on their bulging guts self-consciously.
"This isn't a joke, Hiccup!" Stoick said to him angrily, before sighing wearily yet again before he rounded on his only child, "Why can't you follow the simplest of orders?"
"I-I can't stop myself," Valka's son stuttered out, "I see a dragon and I have to just-" Hiccup made a strangling gesture with his small child-like hands, "Kill it, ya know? It's who I am, dad."
Stoick placed a hand against his temple, as though trying to stave off the oncoming headache. "Oh you are many things, Hiccup… But a dragon killer is not one of them. Get back to the house. Make sure he gets there," he told a hulking blonde Viking missing a leg and arm who lightly smack the boy upside the head before herding him towards the house Valka herself had once lived in. Gobber, Valka realized.
Valka watched the interaction between father and son silently, her heart felt lighter than it had in years, as though some unearthly burden had been lifted from her shoulders. Her son wasn't a dragon killer, her husband said so himself,
She should leave; she had already been on this island long enough. Dawn had slowly crept to them, the sun starting to rise. She had seen her son; she knew that he wasn't a killer of dragons. She should leave.
But yet she couldn't move.
She could only stare, as though mesmerized, as she watched her son slowly walk towards home, his shoulders hunched and his posture defeated. The crowd of Vikings parted away from him as though he carried the plague. Their eyes filled with rancor, those hauntingly familiar eyes.
She noticed that a group of Viking children around her son's age were laughing at him, mocking him for messing up. Anger bubbled within her, the emotion was so strong she saw only a field of crimson, her fingers clenched around her staff.
Hiccup wasn't like his father in the slightest, in both stature and mentality. He was small and thin instead of massive and muscular. He claimed he wished to kill dragons, but Valka saw through that desperate façade, for she recognized what he was trying to do. He pretended to be something that he wasn't, just so that he wouldn't be alone anymore.
Stoick said he wasn't a dragon killer, and she knew that to be true, she just had to look in his eyes. Hiccup tried so hard to fit in with those who weren't like him, trying so hard to blend into the crowd instead of sticking out like a Monstrous Nightmare amongst a herd of grazing sheep. He wanted to be accepted, to be respected, to be loved.
Valka had wished for that once, a long time ago.
She had sworn that she would never return to Berk, but yet here she was, hidden but still there like a silent shadow. She had sworn to return to the Sanctuary after she had seen her son one last time. But she couldn't return, not yet anyway.
She would never let Berk know that she still lived, that she did not feast in the Halls of Valhalla, but still lived in the world of man and dragon. She would never live in this village again. But her son… the son she had abandoned in the cradle, the son who took his mother's title as Village Outcast, the son who was not like his Viking father in the slightest regard, the son who might take after his mother.
I can't leave, Valka realized suddenly, not yet at least.
She would try and help her son, whether or not she showed himself to him, either as a random woman or the mother he thought dead, she did not know.
All she knew was that for fifteen years when she lived in isolation, her son had needed her and she hadn't been there for him.
She was there for him now.
Hiccup felt completely and utterly humiliated as he slowly trudged back towards his empty house with Gobber at his heels, the taunts of Snoutlout still ringing in his head. Nobody believed him that he had shot down a Night Fury, when he really did! Sure nobody saw him do it, but Hiccup had heard the screech and watched as the dark body shot towards the ground like a falling star, he had shot down the Night Fury and he would prove it… after he ditched Gobber, of course.
Unfortunately, the one handed smith didn't seem to be going anywhere. Gobber was probably one of the few people who actually tolerated him, Hiccup counted the Viking as his friend, though that was mostly because Hiccup didn't have friends and thus would count anyone who talked to him without insulting him as his friend.
"Now its not so much what you look like, it's what's inside that he can't stand," Gobber explained as he poked the boy in the chest to emphasis his point, his small nudge nearly sent the boy sprawling to his feet.
"Thank you, for summing that up," Hiccup said dryly as he turned around to enter his empty home.
"The thing is," Gobber spoke again and the son of Stoick listened. "Stop trying so hard to be something you're not."
Hiccup wouldn't deny that Gobber's statement hurt him even more than his statement that Hiccup's father couldn't stand him and who he was. Didn't Gobber see that Hiccup was trying to be one of them? He could never stop at it, not until he was finally accepted and, well, appreciated for once in his life. For one day, even if only for that day, he would have loved to be known as just Hiccup, an everyday buff Viking warrior, son of Stoick the Vast, instead of Hiccup the Useless, Stoick the Vast's talking fishbone of a son. "I just want to be one of you guys," he whispered out, hurt evident as he quickly retreated to the safety of his home, quietly closing the door in Gobber's sad face.
Hiccup waited for several moments, leaning against the aged wooden door with a heart as heavy as lead. The house was empty and dark, his father wouldn't be back for several hours, and it wasn't as though there was anyone else living here with them, as Hiccup's mother had died when he was little.
Shaking those thoughts from his head, Hiccup peeked out the window to see that Gobber was gone. He suddenly saw something move. Peering up at the rooftops, he saw what appeared to be a figure crouched on the roof, he blinked and rubbed his eyes for several moments before looking back, nobody was there.
Thinking that he was seeing things, Hiccup quickly crossed through the threshold towards the back door, grabbing one of his father's knives from the table as he did so.
Hiccup threw open the door and raced towards the woods, with only one thought in mind. In his haste the son of Stoick the Vast never noticed an armored figure watching him from atop of a branch on a pine tree, watching him like a silent sentinel.
Hiccup had taken down a Night Fury and he was going to prove it.