(For the prompt Mulan)
Merida waited until the castle had been dark for a while and she was sure everyone was sound asleep. She had made up her mind, and she wasn't going to let anyone stop her. She checked her pack again before pulling the hood over her head and walking towards the door. She waited a few more minutes before quietly opening the door and tiptoed out. She made her way through the castle corridors as quietly as a mouse, no one was about to stop her. She got to the stables and quickly saddled up Angus. She walked him to the gate and opened that as quietly as she could. That took longer since the gate was rather squeaky that evening, but she had managed to get it open enough for her and Angu to squeeze out. She quietly closed the gate before climbing onto Angus and riding off into the night. She had to hurry, the last boat of the year was leaving the following morning. She was going to be on that boat, she had to be on that boat. It was the only way she was getting to Dragon's Edge Island. She urged Angus to go faster. She was going to make it, she had to.
As the sun peeked over the horizon, Merida could see the docks. She let out a whoop. She was almost there! She was going to make it! She got on the boat with some time to spare, so she fed and watered Angus, petted him down, and got him to sleep before she too collapsed from exhaustion. The trip to Dragon's Edge took about four days, so Merida got a chance to reminisce. Ever since a couple of Viking tribes opened up to trade with the Scots, they had heard tales of dragon riders and the Dragon Conqueror, a man who conquered dragons through friendship and trust. But with that tale came the underlying notion that Scots could never be dragon riders.. But Merida was determined to be one, and bided her time, preparing herself a false name and Viking apparel. Thus, when they got to Dragon's Edge, she was no longer Merida Dunbroch, princess of Scotland, she was merely Sigrid, a Viking whose parents migrated to Scotland and they wanted her to become a dragon rider. So here she was, on her way to get trained.
Upon landing, Merida was greeted by a guy. He asked her why she was on Dragon's Edge, and she gave it.
"A Viking who lived in Scotland, huh? Well Sigrid, it's nice to meet you. I'm Snotlout. The ladies dorms are that way." He pointed to a building where several women were standing, chatting away. "If there's anything you need, don't hesitate to ask." He gave her an exaggerated bow and a grin.
She raised an eyebrow, was he one of those guys? "Uh, thanks. I'll keep that in mind."
"And I'll keep you in mind." He gave her a wink and a suave smile. Merida groaned and rolled her eyes as she walked away. Yup, one of those guys. Merida made a mental note to avoid him as much as possible. But one good thing did come from their meeting, her story would be accepted. She got to the dorms and got herself a bed, meeting a few of the women on the way. One woman, apparently the one in charge of the entire dorm for the women, explained the rules for the dorms and the schedule they needed to keep to. Merida spoke more with her, she had introduced herself as Astrid, and found that she liked her the more they talked. She also found out that the first day of classes was the next day, so she had a bit of time to relax from her trip.
Merida joined dozens of people in a small, grassy encirclement the next day after breakfast. Everyone was chatting with excitement about learning about dragons and eventually getting their own dragon.
Merida bit her tongue to keep from laughing as she turned to face the teacher. Her mouth dropped slightly. Astrid and Snotlout flanked a tall guy with auburn hair, green eyes, and a metallic peg leg. For a guy with such an odd name, he was pretty cute. Like, really, really cute. Cuter than her suitors back home. Did he have a girlfriend? A cute guy like that, most likely. She glanced slyly at Astrid, most likely her. Go figure, the one guy Merida might actually like and he was taken, well, most likely. She didn't know yet if he was, and the slightest hope that he wasn't was tucked away for the time being. Classes were beginning!
Every day, Hiccup would begin the class with information on dragons, each of the different types, how to approach them, and a few secrets he gleaned from working with his own dragon partner. Then he would follow up with a few practice runs, each person would try to approach a dragon and use the information Hiccup had just provided. Though, there seemed to be an overall problem with this class. Every single time, they'd run away in fear, except for Merida, and though she did try, she didn't quite succeed with the dragon. Something always happened that either riled up the dragon or distracted it, or, in a couple of cases, the dragon was too sick to even bother doing anything.
After about a couple of weeks, Hiccup and his friends sat close to where Merida was eating her lunch. "Of everything that could go wrong, why is it all happening now? We haven't had this many problems since we've started the Dragon Academy!"
Astrid placed her hand on his shoulder. 'It's just bad timing, that's all it is, Hiccup. Everything has its ups and downs."
"Well, this is one big, long down," mumbled Hiccup.
"That, or the gods know that something is going to happen and are trying to warn us," suggested Fishlegs, albeit a bit slowly like it was a silly thought that popped into his head, but one he was inclined to take somewhat seriously.
Hiccup scoffed. "I wished they would just come and tell us outright instead of all this beating around the bush."
Fishlegs shrugged. "It was just a thought."
"I know, a good one though," said Hiccup with a slight smile.
"But now what?" asked Ruffnut. "At the rate we're going, no one's going to graduate! Though I suggest at least Sigrid does, she's at least trying to learn." Ruffnut pointed at Merida. Merida kept on eating, pretending like she wasn't paying any attention to the conversation.
Hiccup sighed. "I'll think about it. We can still question them about what they've learned so far."
"And hope for the best," said Astrid. Hiccup nodded. They got up and left the table. Later that afternoon, they tried getting the students to interact with a dragon, again. And as before, Merida was the only one willing to approach the dragon. Finally, it worked. Hiccup cheered when Merida was able to put all of the lessons to good use, and even encouraged several of the others students to give it a try as well. From then on out, things got better, and by the end of the month everyone had a dragon. Everyone, that is, except for Merida.
Hiccup took her aside one day, noticing her downcast look when the last of her classmates got a dragon. "Hey, Sigrid, right?"
Merida nodded slowly. "Yes?"
"Hey, um, listen, you've been the best student in this class so far."
She smiled softly. "Thank you."
"Now, uh, if, if you haven't found a dragon by the time you leave to go home, well," he shrugged, "maybe we don't have your dragon here. Maybe he, or she, is waiting back in Scotland for you."
Merida pondered it. "That's an idea, though we haven't seen many dragons as of late."
"Maybe that's about to change." He shrugged again, and smiled. Merida just about melted, but she managed to pull herself together to smile back at him.
"Yeah, maybe, I certainly hope so."
"I do too, but there's only one way to find out, and that's to get back home. Only one day left."
Merida's eyes widened. "Really? It's . . . all gone by so fast." She glanced down. "I-I almost don't want to go."
Hiccup chuckled. "I'm glad we were able to make this place a home away from home, but we have another class coming in, and it's time you all went out and started saving dragons yourselves."
Merida smiled. "Yes, I guess you're right."
Hiccup ran his fingers through his hair. "Right, um, see you tomorrow."
"Yeah, see ya." Merida watched him walk away, not really ready to reveal the real reason she wanted to stay. She thought she was falling in love with Hiccup Haddock the Third. Even though, if anything, that should have been the reason she wanted to leave, so as not to see the romance blossoming between Hiccup and Astrid.
The next day seemed to fly. Everyone passed with flying colors, literally, as they all carried flags around as they flew their dragons. Merida was allowed to ride on an extra dragon, just so she could participate. But it was over far too soon, and Merida was on her way back to Scotland. Her parents welcomed her back with relief, and she managed to spread the information she had received from Dragon's Edge. But her mother noticed the faraway look that she correctly deduced was from love, and Merida spilled the whole thing about Hiccup. Elinor comforted her daughter, reminding her that it might not have worked. Hiccup was a Viking after all, and Merida a Scot. The two cultures had never intermarried before, and might not ever. Merida agred, and life in Scotland seemed to go back to normal, minus the learning about dragons and preparations for making dragon friends.
Two months after returning from Dragon's Edge, Merida found a group of dragons. They were clearly frightened, but Merida won their trust and led them back to Dunbroch castle. The Scots were thrilled that they now had their own dragons and many bonded with the dragons. Merida found herself bonding with a white version of Hiccup's dragon, Toothless. But the dragon, whom Merida named Morrigan, seemed agitated. Merida decided to find out why, becoming worried that maybe Hiccup and his tribe were in trouble. Her parents suggested that they all go, just in case Merida was right. They could turn the trip into a diplomatic one if nothing was wrong. As such, the Scots were off.
Hiccup and Grimmel faced each other, Hiccup keeping himself between Grimmel and Toothless. Berkians were fighting Grimmel's men and the Warlords and their men all around the island and on their ships. The Berkians had been trying to find the Hidden World, the mythical home of dragons, and found this island nearby that they decided to turn into their new home. But Grimmel and his allies found them and attacked that morning. The two parties had been fighting nearly all day and were exhausted.
"So, you've managed to free the female," said Grimmel, raising his crossbow. Toothless growled while Hiccup raised his sword. "But once I've killed your dragon, I'll find her again and kill her too. Then the world will really be truly free from Nightfuries!" He looked at Toothless, and back at Hiccup. "After that, then all dragons."
"As long as there are Berkians, we won't let that happen," said Hiccup.
"Well then, I suppose we had better kill off all Berkians as well. After all, it's not like anyone's going to miss you."
Grimmel rolled his eyes at his minion. "What now?"
Hiccup's eyes widened. He could tell from Eret's tone of voice that it wasn't good. "What?"
"Scots!" they shouted at the same time. Grimmel and Hiccup turned towards each other, eyes wide.
"Oh great!" blurted Hiccup, throwing up his hands. "This isn't the best time!"
"You're telling me," muttered Grimmel.
Hiccup glared at him. "What are you talking about? This isn't the best time to try and build an alliance."
"O-oh," said Grimmel, realizing exactly what Hiccup wanted. "So it's just like the dragons with you, huh? Form an alliance with everything, regardless of whether it makes sense or not."
"It makes perfect sense!" shouted Hiccup. "The Scots are humans, not dragons! And I'm sure we could reach an agreement!" He growled. "Unlike you."
"Because I understand that dragons, and Scots, can't be trusted. Something you clearly don't get."
"He's right, though." The two turned around, looking for the owner of the voice. Hiccup glanced at Toothless, who was acting pretty happy. Then a figure in a cloak and dress stepped out from behind a tree. Hiccup looked at her quizzically, she seemed familiar. But who was she? "The Scots might be like the dragons, and are interested in an alliance." Hiccup's mouth fell a little, he knew that voice! Why couldn't he put a name and a face to it?
Grimmel scoffed. "And how would you know?" The girl pulled back her hood, revealing a mane of red curls. Hiccup gasped. It was Sigrid!
"Because I am Merida Dunbroch, princess of Scotland!"
Hiccup's mouth really fell. "You're-you're the princess?! I taught you about dragons!"
Merida smiled. "And I thank you for that. We now have our own little army of dragons." She whistled, and Toothless really got excited as the Lightfury landed next to Merida.
"You bonded with the Lightfury!" cheered Hiccup. Merida and the Lightfury glanced at each other and smiled.
"I see," said Grimmel slowly. Merida quickly strung her bow. Hiccup turned and saw that Grimmel had raised his crossbow. He had paused and was looking intently at Merida.
"Another move and I will shoot you," said Merida firmly. The Lightfury growled at Grimmel. Grimmel glanced at Toothless and slowly aimed his crossbow at him.
"No!" cried out Hiccup as he made a lunge for the crossbow, and missed. Grimmel fired, as did Merida. Merida's arrow caught the needle midair and snagged it to a tree. Grimmel gasped and looked at her in shock.
"You've seen what I can do with a bow and arrow. Do you really want to take us all on?" The Lightfury roared.
"Give it up, Grimmel, apparently there are more people willing to make peace with each other and dragons than you originally thought. And now you're outnumbered."
Grimmel growled. "I don't like unforeseeable changes to my plans." He glared at Hiccup. "And I aim to finish my job of killing all Nightfuries!"
"And as long as you keep that goal, I will make it my goal to stop you," said Hiccup firmly.
"And we'll help," said Merida.
"So, you're not going to kill me?"
"No, I still hold on to the hope that you'll change your mind," said Hiccup as he sheathed his sword.
"I see, well, that's too bad, because I won't." Grimmel raised the crossbow.
"Hiccup!" Toothless pushed Hiccup to the ground and covered him with his body while Grimmel shot the dart and Merida rapidly shot two arrows. Grimmel let out a yell and fell off the cliff.
"Toothless!" The Lightfury helped Merida roll the Nightfury off Hiccup so he could check on his friend. Toothless licked him. Merida laughed as she plucked the dart off the saddle. Hiccup glanced around. "Where's Grimmel?"
Merida pointed. The four went to the edge of the cliff and looked down. There was no sign of him, but it had been a long drop and the waves were crashing on the shore below. "He won't bother you and the dragons anymore." Hiccup glanced around as the Warlords and their army began pulling away from the island.
"No, but there will be others." He sighed. "Maybe, maybe it's best that the dragons stay in the Hidden World, their home, safe from humans like this."
"And keep them from people like us who would be more than happy to have them as friends?" asked Merida incredulously. She put her bow on her back and took Hiccup's hands. "Hiccup, you have fought to keep the dragons safe, don't stop now because of one man. He's among the few." She turned and pointed to the Scottish ships. "We came to help, let us help. There might even be others who are willing to help. You haven't even met everyone in the world. You can't say for certain if everyone will be cruel to dragons. Taking care of dragons is a big responsibility, it shouldn't be on your shoulders alone, or the shoulders of your people." She smiled at him.
Hiccup smiled back. "You have a good point, and you're very persuasive. I'll consider it." He bowed. "And it's nice to meet the real you, your Highness."
Merida chuckled as she curtsied. "It's nice to formally meet you, but you've known the real me the whole time. I just didn't tell you that I was a princess, that's all."
Hiccup chuckled. "Well, I'm glad I know now. And thank you for saving us, for having our backs, even though we didn't ask for it."
"I'm in training to be a queen, I know a good ally when I see one." She grinned. Hiccup's heart fluttered, and did a complete flip. "Shall we head back down? The Scots won't kill your people, but in their celebrations, well . . ."
Hiccup chuckled. "They like to get a little rowdy?"
Merida scoffed. "More like downright rambunctious. And my brothers like to start things."
Hiccup laughed. "Then yeah, we'd better get down there. But first . . ." He grabbed her and pulled her in for a kiss. "I-I'm sorry, but I've been wanting to do that ever since you left," he said softly.
"So have I," said Merida before she kissed him. The two Furies cooed at the sight before they snuggled together.