A/N: Hello again fellow readers and writers! I apologize to those following my other stories but time has changed my tastes but that by no means that they're dead! Just simply on a long hiatus.

Sorry if the dialogue can be a bit sparse, but he's by himself with just Toothless and has yet to learn Dragonese. We'll get to that later. That and I'm still getting back into the groove of writing.

Don't know why we still have to do this even though it's inevitable but here goes!

Disclaimer: I do NOT own any script or characters that are already made, the same could be said about any songs that may appear in the story. They belong to their respective owners.

ALSO! A tidbit for writing, it's never "towards", just "toward". The same would be said for forward and backward. It always irks me when I see that.


Onward with the story!

Chapter 1: Branching Future

A dim light perforated the room as a young auburn haired teenage boy sat at his desk, his head propped up by his left hand. Hiccup's eyes weren't focused as they had a far off look in them, unaware of his own surroundings.

From the moment his Dad gave him the special helmet, he's been drowning himself in his own thoughts, scenarios of what if, maybe, and could. But he had to stop at some point and the next morning definitely did just that.

He had barely slept that night, only his mental exhaustion giving him peace in the early morning. He dragged himself from his warm and inviting bed and trudged downstairs. His Dad had obviously left early to perform his Chiefing duties so he could spectate his son in the final class of Dragon Training. Which Hiccup was thankful for, he didn't want to face his dad right now.

The Heir merely grabbed an apple and a bread bun before heading out to the Forge to do his own morning work. But his peaceful working had to come to an end when Gobber came to get him. From that point, time seemed to move faster than it seemed.

Hiccup was now surrounded by people as he was hoisted onto Fishlegs' shoulder, everyone congratulating him on his victory and how big the honour of killing a Monstrous Nightmare was.

"I'm so leaving," he thought.

He quickly made an excuse to leave as he tore away from the boisterous crowd surrounding the Arena. He vaguely heard Gobber call out for them all to head to the Great Hall to celebrate.

All of Berk had been there to see him "take down" the Gronckle, so when he got across the bridge, he sprinted to the Forge without the worry of someone seeing him. He grabbed a nearby basket and began filling it with any needed content: paper, pencils and brushes, carving tools, hammer, nails, all his schematics (don't want people knowing what he's been up to), everything he needed if he set up his own Forge, or at least things he could pack. While he made a mess in the Forge, it may make Gobber angry later, even if he already doesn't pick up after himself often, but Hiccup had more immediate problems right now so he lifted the basket over his shoulder and ran to the Docks. He was surprised that not even Bucket or Mulch were here, but then again they were probably with the rest of Berk in the Great Hall celebrating. He grabbed a big enough basket and filled it to the brim with fish, before he left though he glanced over to a boat. It was big enough to hold three people and he didn't want to have them lose a fishing boat, so he untied the rope and set it off.

"This'll cover my tracks a bit better. Just leaving on Toothless would seem like I just disappeared," he thought.

He grabbed the heavy baskets of fish and tools and made his way back up to his home. Not wanting to linger any longer than necessary, he quickly went to the kitchen area and grabbed a bag and began to fill it with food. Once that was done he went upstairs and took out already written letters for his Dad and Mentor, from his desk and placed them on his bed.

He had cleaned his room the previous night but he was thankful he did. He grabbed a satchel and began to pack it full; extra clothes, blank sketch and note books along with some of the books he's read over the years that he acquired from Trader Johann, and a couple blankets. He went back downstairs and belted the supplies together, as he was about to leave through the backdoor he paused and looked back, taking it in. Memories of the past seemed to manifest in different areas of the house, bitter arguments, rare sweet bonding moments, and meals.

It had been his home for so long, but at the same time there were moments when it felt more like a prison. He shook his head as he turned and made his way out of his former home and toward the forest. The supplies was heavy but it'd help him in the long run as he made his way toward the Cove, his legs pushing back any foliage that got in their way. The supplies was heavy for his small frame, but the guilt and fear of having to possibly kill an innocent dragon weighed even heavier on his conscious. That and he was thankful for one other thing Dragon Training did for him: helped him get stronger. Before he had problems just lifting an axe with both arms, but now he was able to lift an axe with just one arm. While he had trouble in the Forge for years, he believed that Dragon Training was the catalyst.

"We're leaving, you and I are going on a vacation... forever," he called out as he entered the Cove. A lithe black medium sized dragon approached him sniffing the basket full of fish that he held.

"No, that's for later," Hiccup told the curious dragon but got a pleading look. He sighed, "Fine, just a few," And opened the basket, taking out three fish and handed them to the dragon, who happily ate them. Once he was finished eating though, he crooned in a concerned tone as he gently nudged the young boys cheek. It wasn't until now that Hiccup realized that the heir of the Hairy Hooligans was leaving. But then again he was never treated as such anyway. Astrid would be a better candidate.

With the adrenaline from running around the village wearing off, Hiccup just hugged the concerned Night Fury as he sunk to his knees, finally letting out all the sadness he had suppressed. Toothless curled around him in a sort of hug and they remained like that for awhile. During this time, he couldn't help but think back to the dragons in the arena. The Deadly Nadder, Gronckle, Hideous Zippleback, Terrible Terror, and Monstrous Nightmare. He can't leave them there to die at the hands of someone else who knew no better than he did before meeting Toothless.

"Let's go save those dragons, bud." He got on the dragon's back, and they took off toward the back way to the Arena.

Once he got there he took a careful look around before heading back into the place he had left earlier. He pulled down the lever to the Terrible Terrors cage, seeing it skitter out of its cage but halted when it only saw Hiccup. Remembering the boy had given him and the other dragons extra food, the Terror crawled up the boys legs and up to his shoulders. Hiccup scratched the small dragon under its chin gaining a purr of delight before he moved to the lever for the Nadder.

The Nadder had greeted the young Viking who had given her such good scratches and had saved her from the fierce young shield maiden. She nudged him happily as Hiccup pet the joyful Nadders snout before moving to the Gronckles cage. The pudgy Gronckles tail wagged once she saw the auburn haired boy and nearly bowled him over had the Nadder not stopped her. The Zippleback had snaked its heads around Hiccup and rubbed against the boy who had not only kept his word of removing the eel but also scratching between its wings.

Last but certainly not least, he heaved the lever to the Nightmares cage door open but as it burst out it noticed the other dragons that were with the young Viking. He approached the boys outstretched hand cautiously but was surprised when the boy turned his head away. This was someone whom all dragons have been waiting to meet, someone willing to trust and listen. The red and orange dragon pressed it's snout against the open palm before it turned to the other dragons to join them.

"We all need to leave before someone comes looking," Hiccup warned the flock in front of him, who all gave some sort of acknowledgement. The Terror climbed back onto Hiccups shoulders as he hopped onto an awaiting Toothless and took off back toward the Cove, leaving through the entryway with the dragons following. The Arena dragons landed just on the rim of the Cove to wait as the young Viking and Night Fury landed by the large pond.

Hiccup walked over to his supplies and took his time to double check everything but within that time he didn't notice someone else entered his safe Haven. The distinct sound of a weapon being sharpened startled Hiccup out of his thoughts, bringing his forest green eyes to meet an icy blue.

"Aggh! What- Astrid! H-hey! Wh-what are you doing here?" He stuttered. "Odin's beard, why is it always like this?" He mentally panicked.

"I want answers Haddock," she said hotly as she leapt off the boulder she had been sitting upon and approached with her axe in hand. "Nobody gets as good as you, especially you! Are you training with someone?"

"Training? I don't-"

"It better not involve all this," she stated as she pointed to his supplies with his flight harness slipping out from under the lid.

"I know this looks really bad, but you see this is uhh-" he tried to continue only for Toothless, who had went to go lay down under a groove of roots, to rustle some of the foliage getting the Shield Maidens attention.

"You're right! You're right! You're right. I'm through with the lies. I've been making... outfits," he stalled as he got in front of her and placed her hand on the front of his shirt. "So you got me. It's time everyone knew. Drag me back. Go ahead. Here we go..."

Astrid merely twisted his hand back in an unnatural way with an audible crack causing him to crumble to the ground in pain. "OW! Why would you do that?"

"That's for the lies," she continued with a kick to his side to prevent him from getting back up, then bounced the pommel end of her axe against Hiccups abdomen, making him groan even more. "And that's for everything else." but froze when a growl resounded throughout the gale.

"Oh man…" Hiccup could only groan as he sat up to see Toothless come over boulder with a none too happy expression.

Astrid quickly reacted as she jumped on top of Hiccup, once again pushing him down onto the ground. "GET DOWN!" She quickly got back up with her axe in hand. "RUN! RUN!"

"NO!" Hiccup quickly grabbed ahold of the axe and threw it a good enough distance from them before putting his hands up in front of Toothless in a placating and calming gesture. "No. It's okay! It's okay…" Toothless seemed to calm only a small margin as Hiccup continued to soothe the protective dragon. "She's a friend, it's okay."

The young shield maiden just watched in shock as the runt of the tribe seemed to calm down the seemingly mindless beast.

"You just scared him."

"I scared him?!" Astrid all but screeched before realizing what she just said. "Who is him?" She whispered.

"Astrid, Toothless. Toothless, Astrid." He introduced, gesturing between the shield maiden and dragon, though said dark colored dragon merely hissed at the girl.

Astrid's expression changed from uncertainty to that of disgust before she turned and sprinted out of the cove and away from the misfit duo.

"Da, da-da, we're dead," Hiccup deadpanned sarcastically. Toothless, satisfied the threatening girl was gone, began to hobble off. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Where are you going?"

"Unbelievable! He allied with the enemy! No wonder he got so good! That… THING, probably helped him!" Astrid angrily thought as she swiftly went through the forests thick foliage. Just as she was about to jump from a boulder something clamped around her shoulders, dragging her into the air.

"AH! Oh, Great Odin's Ghost! Oh this is it!"

She was roughly dropped onto a sturdy branch of a tall pine that was too high to jump from. She was soon joined by the Night Fury as it landed on the top of the tree causing it to bend sharply, but it was still too high to jump from. The blonde shield maiden turned her steely gaze to the runt of the village who was sitting atop an annoyed dragon.

"Hiccup, get me down from here!"

"You have to give me a chance to explain," the auburn haired Rider tried.

"I am not listening to ANYTHING you have to say!" She yelled as she shuffled closer to the trunk of the tree in an attempt to climb down.

"Then I won't speak," he started, getting Astrid's attention slightly but still looked away from him. "Just let me show you… Please Astrid." He held his hand out to her, both as an act of peace and an act to help her on the saddle.

Astrid glanced between the outstretched hand, the dragon, and then to the far down ground, as if to weigh her options. Making a decision, she heaved herself up onto the branch and balanced her way toward Hiccup. Though she smacked the offered hand away but paused when Toothless growled but after a moment she climbed onto the saddle.

"Now, get me down," she demanded, not even trying to hide her discomfort, still not liking how high they were from the solid ground.

Hiccup leaned down and pat the dragons side. "Toothless, down. Gently." Toothless spread his wings to their width getting ready to take off, the pine tree bent even more with the concentrated weight.

"See? Nothing to be afraid of," Hiccup comforted, not noticing Toothless' mischievous smile. The dragon then rocketed into the sky, the sudden launch causing Astrid to slide back and nearly falling off had she not gripped the saddle.

"WHOA!" The young rider exclaimed as they shot off, not expecting his friend to do this. "TOOTHLESS! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! BAD DRAGON!" He tried to criticize but couldn't help but see the humor of the situation. "He's not usually like this. Oh, no…" he tried explaining before Toothless began to turn in the air as they got high enough into the afternoon sky.

Toothless flipped back up and took them closer to the white capping waves below, splashing them in the white froth a couple times for good measure. "Toothless, what are you doing?! We need her to like us," Hiccup all but shouted but could barely keep himself from chuckling. The Night Fury pumped his wings with power before tucking them in close as he began to spin in a corkscrew fashion. "And now the spinning," he said flatly, keeping his amusement well hidden. "Thank you for nothing, you useless reptile."

Toothless spun and jerked for barely even a couple more moments before Astrid finally reached her breaking point. "Okay! I am sorry! I'm sorry! Just get me off of this thing!" She all but hollered as she clung to Hiccup, he face against his back. She wanted enough of this craziness! She just wants off!

The moment the young shield maiden apologized, Toothless relented and spread his wings, catching the wind and slowed down to glide above the clouds. The sun had begun to set, giving the clouds around them a hue of yellow, orange, and pink. Astrid hesitantly opened her eyes and was welcomed to the beautiful sight before them. Hiccup readjusted himself in the saddle as they glided calmly through the air. The blue eyed blonde adjusted her grip and let go of one of her arms as she brought her hand up to the clouds above them, feeling the cool moisture on her hand. She smiled despite herself as she felt confident enough to release her restrictive hold on Hiccups waist she waved her arms through the ever changing puffs of moisture. Time seemed to drag pleasantly on as they glided above the clouds revealing the clear midnight blue sky, dotted with twinkling stars. The Aurora Borealis, or better known to them as, (Aurvilds) Fire, shimmered above them, like an ever present ethereal presence. Toothless flew gently down, toward their village, already the torches were lit, making Berk seem like it was filled with burning stars of its own. Astrid's face lit up in awe at the sight, she tucked her chin on the Heir's shoulder as they gazed at the sight before them. Toothless noticed this and a look of victory and happiness spread across his reptilian face.

"Alright, I admit it. This is pretty cool. It's... amazing," she finally understood what Hiccup was showing her. She bent down and patted Toothless' side, feeling how warm he was for the first time. "He's amazing."

They continued to fly, through the clear night, though atmosphere changed at the shield maidens next question.

"So what now?" She asked only to see the Heir's face churn with emotion. "Hiccup, your final exam is tomorrow. You know you're going to have to kill a…" she leaned closer to Hiccup and whispered so Toothless wouldn't hear. "Kill a dragon."

Hiccup groaned at the reminder. "Don't remind me." The dark dragon suddenly jerked, surprising his passengers, diving into a thickening bank of cloud and fog. "Toothless, what's happening? Whoa, what is it?" He quickly got his answer when he finds they're in the middle of a large flock of dragons, more becoming more clear even in the thick fog, each of them carrying some kind of food. He quickly realized their predicament and gave a low whisper warning. "Get down!"

"What's going on?" She asked hoping the Dragon Rider had the answer.

"I don't know," he replied unsure. "Toothless. You've got to get us out of here, bud."

Said dragon unfortunately only rumbled with a shake of his head as he continued their flight. Hiccup tried to make sense of their situation as he observed the flocking dragons. "It looks like they're hauling in their kills," Hiccup noted.

"Uh, what does that make us?" Astrid asked nervously when she saw a Zippleback hiss at the intruding humans.

They continued to fly through the ominous fog, Toothless flying as if in haze himself but Hiccup instinctively followed the movements with ease, not wanting to crash and gain anymore unwanted attention.

"What my Dad wouldn't give to find this," he breathed out as he looked around the crimson lit cavern.

The heat began to rise as they flew through the stone tunnel until it opened to a large cavern, choked with dragons often seen around Berk. Toothless veered away from the others that flew over what appeared to be a Kill Pit, and landed on an outcropping behind a connected stone pillar giving them some sort of cover. They watched as the dragons continued to come in to drop their kills into a crevice.

"Well, it's nice to know all our food is being dumped into a hole," Hiccup quietly said.

"They're not eating any of it…" Astrid muttered but trailed off as a derpy looking Gronckle flew in and upchucked a measly fish into the pit then scratched behind its ear before freezing when a loud roar echoed through the caverns, causing dragons to stir. The Gronckle tried to flee but a gigantic dragon head rose up from the precipice of the volcano, snapping its large maw around the poor dragon.

"Oh my gods…" Hiccup murmured as he and Astrid looked on in horror, hearing the frightened screeches of the other dragons as they coward back away from the monster. "Okay bud, we need to get out of here, NOW!" He urged, seeing the huge beast sniff the air before shifting her gaze to the two intruders. It let out a roar and lunged at the three friends, they barely made it out of reach of her giant teeth.

As they arrived back at the cove with Arena Dragons waiting, Astrid had been talking off Hiccups ears once she found her voice to speak again. "No, it totally makes sense. It's like a beehive, they're the workers and that's their Queen," she continued as she jumped off the saddle. But just as she was about to suggest they go tell the Chief, she remembered the packed baskets from earlier. She immediately put the pieces together, Hiccup, Dragon Training, Toothless, supplies… she slowly turned to Hiccup.

"Hiccup? Were you going to…"

Hiccup could only avoid her eyes as he knew what she meant but what he heard next shocked him.

"Then what are you waiting for?"

Hiccups eyes snapped open at her question and turned his gaze back to her. "What?"

"What are you waiting for?" She repeated. "If you do stay here you'll be putting not just yourself and Toothless at risk but the village as well."

"B-but what about that… thing-" he stuttered as he got off the saddle, honestly surprised that his crush was agreeing with his original plan to leave.

"You'll think of something," she said with a small smile. "If the saddle and rigging on your dragon is any indication."

A small smile creeped onto Hiccups face. "Thanks Astrid," but the smile turned into a thin line. "But we'll need help if we're going to take that thing down. And since you've changed your mind on dragons, you'll need someone to watch your back."

"Where are you going with this?"

"You're going to need a Dragon Partner,"

"Oh," was all she could say as she took in the statement.

Hiccup glanced around the rim of the Cove at each of the Arena dragons before his eyes landed on the Nadder. He turned to Toothless and gave him a signal to which he understood and let out a few growls. The Nadder flew down, landing 6 feet away from the two teens.

"And if I had to hazard a guess, this Nadder would be a great partner for you," he said as he stepped closer to the bright blue dragon who let out a loving croon.

Astrid took a few hesitant steps toward the the bipedal dragon and held out her hand making the Nadder growl slightly causing her to pull her hand back.

Hiccup gently grabbed her hand and opened it so her palm was open toward the dragon.

"Let her come to you," he advised. "Let yourself be vulnerable and turn your head away."

Astrid almost scoffed at that. A Hofferson, or just a proud Viking in general, letting themselves be vulnerable in front of a dragon, but she did as the Heir said and turned her face away with her eyes closed. The Nadder gazed at the young girls outstretched hand and inched a bit closer. She let out a small breath before pressing her snout against Astrid's hand. Said young Viking let out a breath of relief as she looked back to the dragon. The Nadder nudged her as she got closer allowing Astrid to gently stroke the Nadders head.

"Amazing," she said as she began to pet the bipedal dragon, earning croons of happiness. "Why can't we ask the other trainee's for help?"

Hiccup sighed as he knew she'd asked this. "Astrid, do you really think that a prideful, arrogant, mutton-headed Jorgenson, two pyromaniac and destructive Thorstons, and a nervous Ingermen, would listen to not just the runt of the village, but to Hiccup the Useless?" He asked dryly as he secured his supplies to Toothless' saddle.

(A/N: Another thing that really irks me when I read HTTYD stories, is when people make Snotlout and the Twins out to be PHYSICAL bullies. Guys, they're Teenagers, there's more than a couple different types of bullies. I'd personally know. And we've clearly seen why they do what they do. Spitelout pushes all these expectations onto his Son, expecting him to follow them to a T. But through the Riders friendship and trials, he grows to be his own person. Yeah he's not too different, but he's different enough to even gain a love interest in RTTE. As for the Twins, well, their followers but later develop to be their own persons.

If writers need physical bullies, use some of the other cousins or siblings the Clan families have, Scablout and Bearlegs being two examples. Yeah they're not exactly necessarily from the same Canon, but this is Fanfiction.

Sorry to ramble, on with the story!)

Astrid just stood there, staring at the auburn haired boy silently, finally seeing the more doubtful side of the Hooligan heir that she hadn't seen before. She now realized that his sarcastic comments and dry quips could be just a mask as well as a buffer to help protect himself emotionally.

"No, they wouldn't," she answered, seeing him flinch slightly at her blunt answer. "I think they'd follow the rightful heir to the Hooligan tribe, Hiccup the Useful... Hiccup the Dragon Master."

Hiccups eyes widened at her statement. Her tone was filled with confidence and certainty. causing a smile to grace his lips as he turned back to her. "Thanks Astrid…"

She gave him a smile in return as she continued petting the Nadder. "People will be wondering where we are, you better head out, Dragon Rider."

Gaining some much needed confidence, Hiccup smirked as he gave an extravagant gesture to her. "Well I'm not the only Dragon Rider now am I, Milady?"

Astrid managed to conceal a small snort as she covered her mouth at not just his comment but his nickname for her. It was kinda corny but too sweet for her to complain and at least it was better than Snotlout's advances.

Before he got on his dragon to leave though, he opened one of the baskets and took out one of his journals. He walked back up to Astrid and placed the brown leather book into her hands. "These are the notes I've written down so far on the dragon's I've studied. This should help you in the future."

Astrid traced her fingers across the leathery cover before glancing back up the Hiccups forest green eyes. "I promise to keep this safe." She then securely tied it to her belt.

"Appreciated Milady," he smiled as he walked back to an awaiting Toothless but just as he got in the saddle he felt a sharp jab in his arm."Ow! What was that for?"

"That's for kidnapping me," she said blankly as Hiccup glanced down to Toothless who just rumbled apathetically. The blonde Viking pushed a few stray strands of hair behind her ear in a seemingly nervous manner before pulling Hiccup down slightly and gave him a peck on the cheek. "That's for… everything else."

This left Hiccup in a small amount of shock before Toothless bucked slightly to get him out of his reverie. Hiccup looked back to see Astrid stroking the snout of the Nadder who happily crooned at the gentle touch, and smiled. If his Dad or the Dragon Queen weren't big enough reasons to come back to Berk, well he certainly had another reason now. Hiccup looked around at the other Arena Dragons as he and Toothless hovered above the lip. "Alright gang, let's move out." The others gave affirmative roars in response as they all took off after them.

His eyes glistened slightly with tears as he looked upon his home Island but quickly tore his gaze away from it and urged Toothless onward. He placed his head on Toothless' neck as he took a deep calming breath. He didn't want to leave his home, but Astrid was right, he didn't want to lose his best friend even more and staying on Berk would put him at risk.

Toothless let out a worried croon to his rider as they continued to fly.

"We will come back and stop that thing." The dark dragon rumbled in agreement as they all continued on.

The waning moon began to shine brighter as it rose higher, giving way to a dark navy blue clear night sky with the stars becoming more clear.

"I think we should set down bud," he said as he tiredly pat Toothless. Said dragon let out a slightly annoyed rumble, wanting to get his rider as far away from both his and his riders former home as possible, but he had a point. Hiccup signaled the other dragons to follow as they flew over a decently sized island and landed on the sandy shore to set up camp.

As Hiccup gazed at the flames that danced in the makeshift fire pit, old memories of the few times his Dad was there for him, the time's Fishlegs and even Astrid helped him. He glanced over to the gathered dragons that had followed him then to the star filled sky as he leaned back against Toothless, who had curled up around him.

"You know Fishlegs was one of the first friends I had?" He told his dragon, said dragon opened his eyes and looked at him. "My Dad had brought me with him when he and Berggren went hunting, sure enough Berggren had brought Fishlegs along. I met Astrid not long after. It was during a big snowstorm and Gobber had taken to looking after the kids, I was put under his apprenticeship at the time." He paused for a moment. "Fishlegs stopped being my friend because he didn't want to be bullied anymore, that much was clear, and Astrid left for another reason. I think it was because her family didn't approve, but I wasn't sure."

He glanced at the sky once more and sighed. "But it's just us now. At least we convinced Astrid, so it's a start and I won't have to worry about my Dad's expectations anymore." The mention of his Dad caused his scaly friend to rumble as he laid his head back down.

"You and me both bud," he chuckled. He got himself settled against the dragon and closed his eyes.

They took off just as dawn came, setting out in the opposite direction they came from. They stopped on the few islands they came across, gathering supplies, and continued on.

But islands appeared less and less as they traveled until they came across a large landmass. Rocky cliff sides, a vast ocean of trees spreading before them, and small mountains in the distance.

"What do you think bud? We've been traveling for a good 2 days, think we made it to a mainland?" Hiccup asked as he patted the neck of his friend, receiving croon of agreement.

They eventually came across a crystal clear river, filled with flopping fish, and decided to get some food. They joked around together for a while, splashing each other, trying to catch fish without using a net or claws, they were finally free to have fun with each other without having to worry about time limits or someone finding them, even the Arena dragons joined in the fun.

Once they had enough fish for each other, they set up camp near the stream. As stars began to appear and they had settled down to sleep, Hiccup heard something. It was like soft whispers calling out.

He opened his eyes, allowing them to adjust to the dark, then spotting something… peculiar. What looked to be a small blue flame, was beckoning him with it's small spindly arms.

"What on midgard…" he murmured. His curiosity got the better of him as he got up, his shifting getting Toothless' and the Arena dragons attention, but as he approached it disappeared, only for a trail of them to reappear leading them away back into the dense forest.

"What do you think gang? Up for some investigating?" He asked, getting a curious rumbles in reply. They packed up and followed the eerie trail of small flames leading them further into the forest. Dense fog nearly stopped them but the flames continued to lead them, still visible in the misty terrain. He then noticed they had entered a clearing surrounded by tall stones.

"How did we not notice those?"

The moon had gotten higher and the misty fog became more sense around the stone circle, the dragons lite their mouths with a low flame allowing Hiccup and his reptilian friends to get a better look around them, noticing that stones had intricate foreign designs on them.

"Huh, I've seen these designs somewhere before… in one of those old books Dad got from Johann. But where did he say he got them from?"

While he racked his brain for the answer, Toothless had laid down near one of the stones with the others soon following. As he did, Hiccup checked their supplies and found that they needed some more food and he needed to fix some of his tools. Some of them had been damaged during a couple of their stops at the islands. He decided to take a walk to see if there was a village nearby in the morning and settled down next to Toothless.

The following morning, after they ate breakfast, he followed an old path.

He continued on a rarely used pathway, pushing any foliage away from him with each stride until he heard something. It wasn't a sound he heard often on Berk, but it was the sound of a weapon his father taught him to use, the sound of an arrow flying. It shocked him out of his stupor when he saw an arrow fly by, sticking into a hollowed out broken branch. He looked over to the source to see a girl around his age with a mass of orangey-red curls for hair wearing a deep blue-green dress with a small belt around her waist with a quiver attached to it, riding a large horse. They locked eyes for a second before Hiccup backed up into the brush and disappeared out of sight.

He was about back to the circle of stones only for and arrow to land in a tree right in front of him, causing him to freeze mid-step.

"Who are ye? Ah haven't seen ya around here before."

Hiccup slowly put his hands up in a placating gesture and slowly turned to find the girl he saw earlier. He took a calming breath and cleared his throat.

"I was just looking for a town to get supplies. I'm a traveler who's passing through."

The girl seemed to eye him from head to toe as if to gauge whether or not he was a threat but Hiccup couldn't help but comment with his famous sarcasm.

"And isn't it common courtesy to introduce yourself before making assumptions?" He retorted as he lowered his hands.

The girl mumbled something but lowered her bow anyway. "Ah'm Merida."

Hiccup subtly went rigid. His father had made him learn of all the enemies they had, from the Uglithugs to the Lavalouts; despite the latter being more neutral in recent years. And even to the enemies on the mainland. "Wait, wasn't that the name of DunBroch's princess? ...Oh sweet baby Thor in a thunderstorm, I'm in Scotland!"

Hiccup masked his panic quickly only for Merida to completely throw him off by raising her bow again with the arrow still notched.

"Wait, Ah heard about her kind before and yer clothes only prove it more, yer a Viking!"

"Wait wait wait! Just, hear me out… please."

Merida paused for a moment, staring at him unflinching. Normally, she wouldn't listen, especially to an enemy to her people, but when she finally looked at his eyes and not just his face, she saw something that just resonated with her. Desperation, sadness, and anxiety were what she saw in the young Vikings eyes. So she lowered her bow, put the arrow back in her quiver, and then looked at him with an expectant gaze with her arms crossed, though still had an accusing look in her eyes.

"Thank you…" he breathed. "So where to start…"

"How 'bout what got ye here and why?"

"Right, well I should probably tell you a bit about myself just so you get a better idea why I left home. My name's Hiccup," he stopped when he heard Merida snorting in an attempt to stifle her laughter… and failing. Once she calmed down, he continued. "That being said, I was a hiccup and for clarification, where I'm from that means I was born a runt." That gained a small look of pity from the princess, but Hiccup didn't want pity, he got enough of those looks back on Berk. "I was pushed to be someone I'm not and despite succeeding in it, it wasn't me they were proud of and to top it all off, if I had stayed, I would've just disappointed my Dad even further, so I decided to leave," he let out a sigh, feeling a bit of weight off his shoulders.

Merida couldn't help but relate to him in a way. Her mum constantly pushing her to be a proper lady, only giving her one day every couple weeks to do what she wanted, and restricting everything else. The only other times she was allowed out was for Falconry, Combat practice with her father, and her outings with Angus. The thought of her Dad drifted to her Mum as she thought back to when she was young, when she and her Mum were so close. And the way Hiccup spoke sounded too sincere to not be a lie.

She shook her head and looked back to Hiccup. "Whae kind of supplies do ya need?"

Hiccup blinked a few times before a small smile appeared. "Uh, I need some of my tools fixed, fresh water, and some dried berries and nuts." He didn't want to push his luck being in enemy territory, he was lucky enough Merida was listening to him.

"Ah'll see what Ah can do," as she gave a small smile of her own. "It may take a couple days but where do ya want tae meet?"

"Well I came across a clearing not far from here in that direction," he explained, pointing to the path behind him. "We could meet there."

"Thae'll do, how 'bout we meet there tomorrow around midday?" she inquired.

"Sure," he replied and began to walk back only to look back at the princess when she whistled with strong thumps of hooves approaching soon following. A large horse came up to it's rider and Merida swung herself up with practiced ease and guided her horse back to the castle. Hiccup made his way back to the clearing where Toothless and the others were waiting. As he approached Toothless, the dragon began to sniff him curiously. Hiccup nudged the curious and protective dragon away.

"Easy bud, I just met someone," that only gained an inquisitive look from his scaly friend.

"We just need to be careful not to go into town. We're apparently in the area of one of the Vikings most hated enemies." Toothless looked at him skeptically and let out an annoyed rumble as if to say 'Dragons aren't the most hated?'.

"I did say 'one of' our enemies, but if we do this right, we'll make a good ally," he explained. "Come on bud, let's set up here but you and the others have to hide tomorrow, I don't want to frighten off our new friend."

The ride back home through the lush forest allowed Merida to think about her recent encounter with a supposed enemy.

"Dad told me that Vikings were big, bloodthirsty, and merciless… but Hiccup wasn't like that at all. He's the complete opposite! Twig-like, patient and friendly. If not slightly sarcastic."

She was so lost in thoughts she barely noticed she was back in the castle stables. She climbed off Angus and took off his saddle then bridle and got him some oats before she went inside through the kitchen.

The servants greeted her as she went through and put together a plate of food for herself, quickly grabbing an apple and biting into it as she left the kitchen and entered the Dining Hall, which doubled as the Throne Room. It was a large room made up of grey stones and sturdy oak, there was a second level that surrounded the rim of the room, a few tapestries hung from the walls, and four thrones were placed against the wall adjacent to the main entrance.

Her Father was telling an old war story, her brothers were either falling asleep or playing with their food, her younger sister waved to her as she saw her enter, and her mother was looking over some documents.

She sat down in her seat across from her younger siblings and took the apple out of her mouth.

"Merida! How was yer day lass?" Her Dad, Fergus, King of DunBroch, welcomed.

"Ah found a clearing that gave an amazing view of the lake, all mah arrows hit center during our run through the forest, nearly hit a squirrel by accident though, and… Ah made a friend," she informed. She couldn't tell them about Hiccup, at least not everything, they'd send out the guards to kill him or capture him to do who knows what to him.

"Have ya now? Good fer you lass!" He happily said as he then glanced over to his wife. "Elinor, our Spitfire made a friend today."

"Hmm? Was it one of the villagers?" She inquired, placing the documents to the side.

"Nah, he's a traveler," she carefully told them. "We're supposed tae meet again tomorrow."

Hubert, one of the quadruplet siblings, joined in. "A boy?" Only to gain a slightly annoyed glance from his older sister as she chewed on some of her food.

Halleigh, Merida's younger sister, giggled at the exchange before taking a bite of an apple slice. "Whae's his name?" she couldn't help but ask once she swallowed her food.

(A/N: I read somewhere that Hubert, Harris, and Hamish are based on Huey, Dewey, and Louie, so I was kinda miffed when they didn't have a younger sister based on Webby. Yeah Webby's not related, but she's with them so much and probably close enough to be considered family. So I thought, why not? Her original name was going to be Hilda, but I then remembered Gustav's younger sister, Hildegard and didn't want two characters that have similar names, though I may not have a choice later. Yeah, it's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it detail, but I like those details.

This will also be a constant in any other story I write that involves Brave and I hope it catches on for other authors. Continuing on!)

Merida decided to humor her sister and replied. "His name's Hiccup."

The name alone caused her younger siblings to giggle. "It's probably a family name," she defended.

Her mom gave a stern gaze as she straightened her posture. "Merida, you can't make plans knowing you have your lessons tomorrow. Today was your Free Day."

Merida let out a small groan as she swallowed what food she had in her mouth and looked back to her mom. "Ah'm gonna meet him around midday, after lunch and during Angus' riding time," she told them. "And Ah'm going whether ya let me or not," she added.

Elinor was about object only for Fergus to rejoin the conversation. "Smart lass. Just don't be out too long."

Merida had finished her food, got up from her seat and walked over to her father. "Thanks Dad!" Giving him a peck on the cheek and headed out of the Great Hall. Hubert, Harris, Hamish, and Halleigh finished their meals as well and skittered out as well, leaving their parents.

"Fergus-," Elinor began but was cut off by her husband.

"Go easy on her dear," he told her. "She just met a new friend. When was the last time she had one?"

Elinor was once again at a loss for words. The closest to a friend Merida had was her horse, Angus, and her falcon, Agnes. She had only met another Kingdoms children, a couple from Arendelle, but she wasn't old enough to remember them.

The queen let out a small sigh and relented, "Alright, if Merida is going tae meet with him, it will only be during midday, no exceptions."

Unknown to them, Merida had been listening to their conversation in one of the hidden passages and silently cheered when her mother agreed. But to make sure Hiccup was who he appeared to be, even if he had proved it, she made her way to the castles library.

Greeting the Librarian as she entered, she looked through the search cards and found where the books she needed were and collected them. She quickly made her way back to her room and opened the one titled "Scandinavian Territories".

Well into the night, she learned more than what she expected. There were as many different types of Tribes as there were Vikings. There were the Lavalouts, the tribe is described to reside on a volcanic island and were said to be very territorial; there were the Shivering-Shores tribe, they're said to reside even further north than any of the other Vikings; then there were the three most well known tribes, the Meatheads, the Bog Burglars, and the Hairy Hooligans.

"Hiccup must belong tae one of these… maybe Ah'll ask him about it tomorrow," she thought as she glanced out her window. It was the night of a waning moon, the moon bathing everything in pale moonlight. "That late already?" She thought as she placed the books off to the side on a nightstand and got up to begin her nightly routine, but before she went to bed, she snuck down to the kitchen and gathered up some food and filled up a couple water bladders and went to hide everything outside near Angus' stall then swiftly made her way back to her room. Her parents came by and bid her a good night as they all went to bed.

Next Day...

Hiccup had just caught some breakfast for himself and the dragons working together to get their own, with a makeshift net he had made, from the river they found the day before. After that, they returned to the stonehenge and waited; they couldn't really do much besides wait for their ally. Hiccup brought out his sketchbook, sat down outside the circle of stones against one, and began drawing Merida. He already had drawings of Toothless, some of his father, a couple of the other teens (mostly Astrid), and a couple of some Berkians. He honestly never seen anyone with that kind of hair so it was a good challenge for him. The hours went by and he had just finished the drawing when he heard the resounding thudding of hooves. He marked the page and closed it as Merida on her horse came into view.

"I honestly thought you wouldn't come," he said with a small smile.

"Yeah, well, yer one of the few people mah age around here that Ah don't mind being with," she retorted with a smile of her own as Angus came to a stop only for him to panic, bucking Merida off. "WHOA!" She quickly stood up and grabbed the reins as she tried calming her horse down. "Angus settle down! Whae's gotten intae ya?"

It only took Hiccup a second to figure it out and turned to see Toothless curiously approaching, luckily the others seemed to stay where they were.

"I told you hide!" He thought as his anxiety began to rise.

It didn't help that Merida, who was trying to calm her horse down, noticed the dragon and pulled out her bow with a notched arrow. Hiccup immediately acted and got in the way of her aim.

"Whoa! Whoa! Wait! It's okay!" He exclaimed as he raised his arms in an attempt to stop her. It didn't help that the dragon began to growl as he took up a defensive stance at the notched and ready bow.

"Just whae is that?!" Merida panicked. Dragons had been said to have been sighted and to have only been a minor problem here in Scotland but she didn't know what to expect having not seen one before.

"Uh, Merida, Toothless. Toothless, Merida." He introduced with a small gesture for Merida to lower her bow, as Toothless curled his tail around Hiccup protectively making a low hiss, sounding like he did when he first met Astrid.

"Ya named it?" She harshly whispered.

"He's my friend, he's only trying to protect me. Dragons will attack if threatened," he explained as he slowly eased forward and held out his hand. "Please, do you trust me?"

"Whae?" She looked at him astounded, but at the same time couldn't help but admire his willingness to try.

"Do you trust me?" He repeated, his hand still out to her. Angus had calmed down slightly, still a bit antsy, but it was progress.

Merida glanced to his outstretched hand then to his eyes which only held sincerity and lowered her bow, placing the arrow back in her quiver, causing Toothless to stop his growls, and she hesitantly took his hand. "Aye."

Hiccup gently took her hand in his and led her closer to Toothless. He thanked the Gods that this was going better than it did when Astrid first met Toothless as he opened her hand so it was open with her palm out toward the dark dragon. Toothless' eyes widened a bit, looking more curious but was still cautious. "Just let him come to you," the young dragon rider told her.

She was still tense but followed her new friends directions and glanced away. At first she felt the hot breath of the beast but after a moment, she felt something like if leather and fish scales had a baby, pressed against her palm causing her to look back. The fierce dragon she saw earlier was now looking at her with curious and friendly eyes, she couldn't help but let out a small chuckle as she placed her other hand on Toothless' snout and began the pet him, causing him to let out purrs of delight. "Wow…" It was only then she finally noticed a well made saddle on the back of the dragon, along with some sort of rigging. "Ya ride him?" She asked as she glanced over to Hiccup.

"Yeah and maybe, if your up for it, we could give you a ride," Hiccup said as he rubbed the back of his neck, gaining a small look of interest from the princess. "But maybe later, I'm honestly curious about this area. Think you could show me around? Without us getting caught, of course."

"Well, Ah can show ya around for a bit, but Ah have tae get back before mah mum sends out a search party," she replied in a half-joking manner. "But first," she trailed off as she went to the bags that hung from Angus' saddle, taking out some medium bags and handed them to Hiccup, who nodded his thanks. Once he placed everything in his own bags, they made their way to the outskirts of the village.

The village had many homes and a good sized market as well, Merida had pointed out the Blacksmith stall, to Hiccups relief. Time passed and Merida needed to head back but promised to meet Hiccup at sundown, the young dragon rider gave Merida the tools that needed fixing and they headed off in opposite directions.

To her Mum's surprise, Merida had paid more attention during her lessons than she did in the past, which pleased her. She was more focused, especially during her geography lessons. Perhaps meeting this traveler was helping her. After her weapon practice with her father, she left saying she needed to drop some things off at the Smithy. She returned shortly after and they continued with their Falconry lessons, though Agnes once again assaulted Fergus' face, much to Merida's amusement and Elinor's annoyance.

"A princess does not chortle," Elinor chastised only gaining a look of annoyance from her daughter.

The afternoon passed into the night, guards swapped shifts, servants went home for the night, and the royal family got ready for bed, all except Merida.

Said princess waited for everyone to get settled for bed before sneaking out through the hidden passages, she made it to the stables and lead Angus out until they were by the Smithy where she picked up a parcel with her name on it and left town to a point far enough away for her to ride through the forest. With a lantern as a source of light, she made her way through the ever darkening forest. She saw a light in the distance as she approached the stonehenge, and sure enough, just outside the rock circle was Hiccup leaning against his dragon with the others close by and a small one on his shoulders.

"Hey, so how did your day go?" He asked jokingly. Merida got off Angus and passed the parcel to the young rider. He opened it to find his tools fixed and even a few extras. "Thanks, with these I should be good for some time."

With that, Merida guided Angus to lay down, following suit as she leaned against him and told Hiccup about her day. One topic led to another as they eventually learned more about each other, with Hiccup leaving out the fact his Dad was the Chief of his tribe, that was a story for another time when he fully trusted her. Yeah they'd probably relate a bit better if she knew but he didn't want to take the chance.

"I honestly didn't know we were even heading into Highlander territory before we met you," he chuckled a bit. "We just left in a random direction that wasn't North. It's like I'm Loki's favorite toy."

"Loki?" The rebellious princess wondered as she glanced up from carving a design into her bow.

"Loki is the God of Mischief where I'm from," he explained then smiled as he thought of the Thorston Twins. "Some of the other teens from my village will no doubt dedicate themselves to him when they're older."

"My mum has been trying tae dedicate me tae be a perfect princess," she couldn't help but mutter. "I just want to find my own Fate! Not be someone Ah'm not and become, well my Mum. Maybe you finding me is part of my Fate."

"I guess Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld had a contrasting idea when it came to our parents ideas of Fate and Destiny, huh?" Hiccup chuckled. Merida gave him a weird look so he explained. "Where I'm from they're the three goddesses of Fate. Urd is What Was, Verdandi is What is Coming into Being, and Skuld is What Shall Be. But in all honesty, I don't believe in future prophecies, I believe the future isn't written because it's ours to decide."

"Huh," she let out a small chuckle. "Ah wish mah Mum had that mindset. Mah whole life is planned out. From the moment Ah wake up to the moment Ah leave the castle for mah own time. You at least have a means of actually leaving." She added as she gestured to Toothless before looking back to her bow in her lap. "Ah wish Ah could leave," she muttered as she carved into her bow.

While he wasn't sure if he meant to hear that last part, he felt a bit conflicted. On one hand, Merida was the Princess of her land, she was needed here. But on the other, she was also someone who was going through something similar to what he went through and just needs to experience to grow.

They continued to talk about past experiences even some stories that they were told countless times by their parents or guardians.

Eventually, Hiccup decided to stay a bit longer. Finally having a real friend was something he missed.

Their friendship strengthened over the 6 months Hiccup stayed in Scotland, they even celebrated each other's birthdays together when they were able to. But it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened.

A/N: CLIFFHANGER! Sorry guys, had to end it somewhere. Hope you enjoyed it so far, sorry for all the author notes. If the Arena Dragons bit or Astrid seemed slightly out of place, it was because I added them later due to the fact that if they were left behind, they'd probably be either kept in those unhealthy conditions or killed later on, the latter being a definite for the future Hookfang. As for Astrid, I was originally going to have the story start out during his Rite of Passage but then changed it to when he leaves earlier in the day, missing Astrid's confrontation completely but changed it again to make it a bit more sense… slightly, a lot of scenarios have been put out in this kind of AU. It's difficult to do. That and I really like how the movie handled the confrontation and the quips and banter was just too good to pass up.

Again, this story will continue based on the amount of Constructive Criticism, Positive feedback, or the amount of attention this gets. BTW, see if you find the easter eggs I put in.

Kinda petty, but necessary.