Hello everyone =) Sorry for posting this a day late. But, rejoice! The plot is finally starting to move away from the original!

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Chapter 4- A New Friend

The following day started as usual for Hiccup; he woke up, grabbed a bite, went help gobbler in the smithy and then sneaked out to the cove to meet up with Toothless after having an early lunch.

Never would have he imagined finding Astrid sitting in the cove and petting Toothless with a goofy smile on her face.

As he entered the cove, Toothless went rigid and perked up, also alarming Astrid of a new presence.

It only took a second for Toothless to be on top of him, lapsing around his body, nudging him in the stomach and then lowering his back and shoulders as if telling him he can't wait to go on a flight.

"Settle down buddy. I'll get ready and then we'll get going. For now…" Hiccup dropped the basket he brought with him and fish spilled out. "You can have your lunch." Toothless didn't seem to mind waiting on that flight as he started gobbling down the fish.

"Hey" Astrid said, reminding Hiccup of her presence.

"Hey Astrid. What are you doing here?" Hiccup asked with slight wonder, he didn't really expect her to be waiting for him in the cove.

"Well I was training in the woods not far off here and thought I'll come say hi." Her tone held a slight question to it. As if she was uncertain of her answer and asking for permission to stay.

Hiccup raised his brow, not completely convinced that that was the only reason for her to come. Not only because her axe was nowhere to be seen, which was unusual, but also because she was not flustered in the least. Which either meant she was waiting around for a while or that she had not trained at all.

"Really?" he asked "Is that the only reason?"

"Fine." So there was more to it. "I needed to talk to you. About yesterday…"

"I said I've got it."

"Well, and do you? Because I cannot see what you can possibly do about this situation. That is, if you're not willing to let anyone else know what's going on!" Astrid replied. And Hiccup noticed that she sounded… worried?

He sighed "look, Astrid, I thought about it too and I understood some things."

"Enlighten me then" she said, clearly agitated.

"Okay. But you have to listen through." Hiccup noticed her scowl deepening but went on nevertheless "I'm sure you'll have a lot to say, but if you want to know what I have in mind you'll have to first sit and listen."

Astrid calmed herself down slightly and set down on the boulder. She hunched forward and leaned her head on her hands. Taking a deep breath, she turned her gaze to Hiccup "Alright, I'm listening."

Hiccup swallowed and opened his mouth to speak. "Even if I didn't have Toothless I wouldn't tell the others." He finally said. Seeing that Astrid was going to retaliate he raised his hand to quite her down.

"I do have a reason, you know." She was listening now. "I mean… Did you actually think of what would actually happen if we told everyone…? They'll go after it. And if they do they will die. There's no question about it. A thing that big… it doesn't matter how many swords and hammers and men and catapults you've got it won't even scratch that thing. Telling them about the nest, about this dragon…" Hiccup shook his head "it wouldn't be saving them. It would be giving them all a death sentence. So no… we're not telling."

Astrid closed her eyes and put her head down in defeat, all her anger vanished. "You're right." She said in what was barely a whisper.

There was a long silence between them and the only sound was Toothless' soft coos as he rubbed his head against Hiccup's back, looking a bit worried.

"I was just…" Astrid spoke again and stopped to weight her words carefully "I can't take it… keeping this a secret, it's hard. We know what causes the dragons to raid us, to kill us, and," she gave out a sigh "and I just can't take that there's nothing we can do about it… it's just so frustrating. I feel so… useless."

"Welcome aboard." Hiccup said with a dark grin on his lips.

Astrid sent a small, sad smile back.

"Sooo" Hiccup said trying to take on another, more cheerful, subject. "You do know that I came here to go on a flight."

Hearing the word 'flight' Toothless perked his head. Astrid was smiling fully now.

"Care to come with me?"

xxx

"It's really simple."

"No way Hiccup! Just no!"

"Oh come on… just hear me out." Hiccup's devious smile was stretched to its fullest.

"I'm not listening to anything you have to say!"

"But it would be so much fun!"

Toothless cooed in agreement.

"How is us jumping off of Toothless to our deaths fun? No way in hell!"

"Come on Astrid, I've done this before… besides, it's not jumping off Toothless to our death, it's free falling till you're close to the ground and then letting us catch you." Hiccup smiled at her as if to stress his point.

"What's the difference?!"

Hiccup turned to explain once again.

"Ugh, never mind. You're crazy…"

"Guilty." Hiccup was still smiling. "But it really is fun. Unless…" Hiccup took the risk "you're afraid of heights?"

Astrid paled.

"Ha! You are! I knew it!"

"Shut up!" she punched him in the arm "and don't you dare tell anyone!"

Hiccup grinned wildly in amusement.

"And it's not weird to like having your feet on solid ground." Astrid muttered quietly.

"Well you're in the air right now and you're fine…" Hiccup suggested, chuckling.

"Yes, but we're sitting on Toothless. This is nothing like freefalling." She did have a point…

"Fine." Hiccup finally gave up "but you'll be missing out on all the fun…"

"I'm fine with it!"

Hiccup just smiled wider and Toothless sent a teasing grin back at Astrid.

"Oh, just can it…."

xxx

Days went by and soon three weeks passed since the search party's departure. The tension in Berk was high but people were still fairly hopeful about the search party coming back. As said before, such expeditions would usually get held back by dragons, weather or problems with the boats. It was usually only after the 4th week mark that the search party not returning was considered worrisome. If it happened, usually a rescue party would be sent to look the missing ships up. But this time winter was already close and the ice in danger of setting in. if the ships did not return by next week the party will be labelled as missing.

Hiccup was not worried though; his father was with those ships. There was no better or braver fighter then him. No dragon would be able to finish him off. Maybe except for that giant one in the nest… no! His father was too stubborn to die anyway.

Hiccup turned his thoughts to the nearer impending troublesome situation; the up and coming graduation ceremony. It was costume to wait for the chief to return for the final test and so it was not likely that it'll happen before his father comes back. But if his dad will not be back within a week, the expedition will be labelled as missing and they will end they're waiting. If it came to it than he'll have to kill a dragon anyway, which meant that Hiccup's time limit was a week tops.

That left him one week to come out with a plan that will make sure he doesn't have to kill the dragon without it resulting in him being killed instead.

Astrid tried to help him think up a plan and would usually come to the cove and brainstorm the issue with him. So far, all of what they managed to come up with (which was not much to be honest) had very high chances of failing.

Today's afternoon was not much different; Astrid came to the cove and used Hiccup as a training du- a sparring partner, they would take a flight on their break with Toothless and stop to grab some lunch. At that point, a small green terror which they had finally named Sharpshot would come to cuddle with them by a fire and to steal whatever fish it could. When evening came they would sit down and talk strategy.

"Maybe we should rethink the one where you fake your death in the arena?" Astrid said with mock sarcasm as a result of being frustrated when they simply did not manage to think up a good enough plan.

"Yeah sure!" Hiccup faked enthusiasm "I'll fake my death, runaway with Toothless and never come back here again! Brilliant!"

"Oh, come on! Don't tell running away never crossed your mind?"

Hiccup chuckled uncomfortably. It did, and far more than once.

"So I take it you have no idea either, ha?" she asked defeated.

"No." he admitted "But I do have a lead…"

"Care to share?" she asked and noted darkly "it might even be practical this time around…"

'My sarcasm is rubbing off on her. I need to do something about it. Maybe…'

"Hiccup?"

"Umm yeah." Astrid brought Hiccup out of his la la land "so first I'm gonna need to enter the nightmare's cage when no one's watching and tame it."

xxx

Although Astrid was not completely fond of this new plan, she had to admit that it was probably their best chance…

Hiccup would tame the dragon while no one was there to intervene and then he will show the rest of the village that dragons can be befriended in the arena.

It all sounded nice and well on paper, but in reality… let's just say they didn't really think through this whole 'passing the guards and training the dragon without being noticed' part.

So now, after sending away the guards by saying she saw a flock of terrors nearby, Astrid was standing guard outside the arena, watching that nobody came while Hiccup was trying to work his magic on that monstrous nightmare.

XXX

Hiccup opened up the cage and could only hope for the dragon to be sleeping. Luckily it was.

If it wasn't, there would be a roar notifying the entire village. If that wouldn't do it than the flames would.

Making sure, again, that he had no weapon on his person and that the fish and dragonnip he had brought with him were still there, Hiccup took a deep breath and stepped into the nightmare's cage.

He checked that the dragon was really sleeping, and advanced deeper into the dark cell. He tried to keep as far away from the dragon as possible and finally managed to position himself in his desired, strategic spot- closer than the nightmare to the exit, yet backed up against a wall so that the dragon will feel that it has the upper hand. Or paw. 'So far so good.'

Letting a quiet "pssst" escape his lips, Hiccup watched as the dragon opened its eye-lids in a sudden movement and looked straight at him.

Knowing better than to upset the dragon, Hiccup set down on the floor and made himself as small and unthreatening as possible. He tightened his grip on the slippery salmon in his left hand, and slowly raised it, offering the raw fish to the suspecting dragon. The Monstrous nightmare sniffed the air, and only smelling fish, dragonnip and no metal, got up and started moving towards the human.

The nightmare moved slowly while letting a soft growl out its throat. Clawed wing after Clawed wing it inched closer, every so often pausing to sniff the air. When it reached close enough for Hiccup to feel its hot breath on his face, it stopped its soft rumble and stared.

Yellow eyes met green and Hiccup could see the already dilated pupils dilate even further, turning the slits so thin that the pupil was barely a sharp line. The dragon gave a final sniff and then, as fast as a shooting arrow, it snatched the fish right out of Hiccup's hand.

After that the dragonnip did the job. The nightmare simply walked straight to Hiccup, smelt dragonnip on his hand, and decided to nuzzle it. Soon Hiccup was scratching the red dragon and causing it to purr like a giant kitten.

Knowing that the guards outside might be back soon, Hiccup prepared himself to leave.

"That's a good boy" Hiccup whispered to the nightmare who seemed upset at not being scratched any longer. Hiccup just smiled at him and gave him a final scratch beneath the chin "I'll see you again" he promised and left the cell, closing it up.

Xxx

Hiccup found Astrid watching the bridge leading to the arena intently while trying not to be seen. Having a mischievous thought, he snuck behind her and breathed at her neck, saying with a thick Nordic accent "what do you think yer' doin' here lassy?"

Astrid screamed and nearly doubled over and then, realizing it was just Hiccup, looked back furious.

"Do you think that this it funny?!" she asked while trying to punch the life out of his arm, but in contradiction to her words and tone, she was wearing a broad smile. Hiccup was laughing too hard to protect himself or notice the pain in his arm.

After a few more punches Astrid shook her head and calmed down. "So how did it go?" she asked Hiccup who was still trying to suppress his laughter.

Finally managing himself, he answered with a grin "it went well. Seems like I have a new friend."

Astrid smiled back at him "all good then, it seems like we have nothing to worry about. No one's been around here but the guards can return any minute… so better if we go back to get some sleep then."

Starting to walk over the bridge Astrid suddenly stopped. "You know…" she said.

"Hmm?" Hiccup, who had also started to follow, hummed questionably.

"I think that today was the first time in a long while that I heard you really laugh. I…l like your laugh."

Hiccup just stood frozen as he watched her back getting smaller and smaller until she reached the town.

It was the first time he let himself laugh like that around people since he was a child. Other than when he was with Toothless that is. Hiccup smiled and felt his chest tighten with happiness. Tonight he hadn't made one new friend. He made two.


Thanks for reading and I hope you liked the chapter =) I'd love to hear all opinions and suggestions. Till next week!

N.S Wand