Author's Note: Here's another little one-shot. I'm trying to go through my list of ideas a little bit since I just keep adding to it without taking any away, haha. Read, review, and enjoy!
Hiccup stumbled as he was physically thrown into the empty great hall. He barely managed to land on his feet before he was already trying to turn around and face his dad. He didn't want to. His dad's face was set in a mighty scowl and fury was radiating from him like an impenetrable armor. Hiccup swallowed roughly and opened his mouth to say something but Stoick beat him to it, "I should have known. I should have seen the signs!"
"Dad!" Hiccup interrupted, trying to pull the attention back to him. His dad stalked past him, his silhouette looking like some sort of monster in the thin strip of light from outside.
Stoick turned roughly on Hiccup, "We had a deal!"
"I know! We did," Hiccup soothed, rushing after his dad, "But that – that was before I – ugh, it's all so messed up."
Stoick stalked slightly forward, pressing a finger into Hiccup's sternum, "And everything in the ring? What was that? A trick?" His voice softened as he turned away, "A lie?"
Hiccup felt his heart stutter at the disappointment on his father's face. It wasn't new by any means but, well, Stoick hadn't been looking at him like that recently. Recently, Stoick had been looking at Hiccup like he might actually be worth something. Couldn't he see that Hiccup had been trying to help? He'd been trying to help his father, to help the village, to help the dragon, to help himself. Hiccup, trying to curb the anger (the disappointment) as much as he could, admitted, "I screwed up. I – I – I should have told you before now. I – just – you…" He trailed off, breathing hard into the silence. Taking in a breath of fortitude, he begged, "Take this out on me. Be mad at me. But please! Just don't hurt Toothless."
He knew it was a mistake to say Toothless's name as soon as the word came out of his mouth but it was too late to take it back. Stoick rounded on him again, the light casting strange shadows on his face, "The dragon? That's what you're worried about?" As if Hiccup could be worried about anything else. When Toothless had flown into that ring… it felt like Hiccup's heart had stopped. When the villagers captured him, his heart had broken. This was his fault. All his fault. Stoick continued angrily, "Not the people you almost killed?"
"He was just protecting me!" Hiccup defended, "He's not dangerous!" Why wouldn't Stoick just listen? Just for once?
"They've killed hundreds of us!" Stoick shouted.
Hiccup set his jaw, shouting back, "And we've killed thousands of them!" Stoick reared back in shock so Hiccup pushed his advantage, "They defend themselves! That's all." Stoick shook his head and started to pace but Hiccup kept pushing, "They raid us because they have to! If they don't bring enough food back, they'll be eaten themselves. There's – something else on their island. It's a dragon like -,"
"Their island?" Stoick asked incredulously, cutting Hiccup off. Hiccup could feel himself paling as he realized what he'd done. No, no, no. He couldn't do anything right, could he? Stoick leaned in closer, the shadows on his face making it menacing and unrecognizable. Why was this happening? Why wouldn't his dad just give him a chance to explain? Why did it have to turn to violence? Why was Hiccup so scared? Stoick whispered, "So, you've been to the nest."
Stuttering, Hiccup tried to salvage the situation, "Did I say nest?"
"How did you find it?" Stoick demanded, stalking forward and leading Hiccup backwards until his back was pressed up against the wall.
His breath was coming in short, breathy pants but he still tried to defend himself, "No, I – I didn't. Toothless did. Only a dragon can find the island."
When realization lit up his father's eyes, Hiccup felt his heart drop. No. This couldn't be happening. His heart fluttered in his chest as he begged, "Oh. No. No, no. No. Dad, no! Please! It's not what you think! You don't know what you're up against! It's like nothing you've ever seen!" Stoick pushed on Hiccup's chest, shoving him out of the way. Hiccup continued begging, "Dad, please! I promise that you can't win this one! Dad, no." Hiccup ran after his father, grabbing ahold of his bicep, "For once in your life would you please just listen to me!"
Stoick threw Hiccup off, sending him tumbling painfully to the ground. Hiccup instinctually hid his wince at his scraped palms when Stoick turned to face him. Hiccup's heart stuttered in his chest again. That wasn't his father. That couldn't be his father. With the way the light was shining through the crack in the door, the only thing Hiccup could see was an enormous, hulking figure looming over him, two pointed horns at the top. The monster's voice was menacing and cold and held none of the faint traces of love that Stoick's voice always held, "You've thrown your lot in with them. You're not a Viking. You're not my son."
Inwardly, Hiccup shook his head. He was being ridiculous. This was his father. He didn't need to be so scared. So, he stood up and threw himself forward, voice pitched with fear, "Dad, you don't mean that. We can work this out. Please just listen! I -,"
His words were cut off when Stoick threw out an arm. It was probably just meant to warn Hiccup away, to stop him from advancing. Instead, Hiccup tripped at the last moment and the giant fist slammed into his cheek, sending him tumbling sideways and down. He crashed onto the ground once again, a bruise painfully forming at the base of his spine. Carefully, Hiccup held a hand to his aching face, heart trying to pound right out of his chest. He wished his dad was standing anywhere else. He wished that his dad was standing somewhere where the light wasn't casting shadows so deep that Hiccup couldn't see the expression he was making. If Hiccup could just see Stoick's expression, then he could rid himself of the stupid thought tumbling through his head that Stoick hit him on purpose, that Stoick wanted to hurt him, that he should be afraid.
Stoick's voice was rough when he spoke next, thick with some emotion, "You are hereby exiled, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III. I strip you of your title, of your clan, of your family, and of your surname. You are now Hiccup, Outcast. Be gone by the time the ships are ready to sale or you will not like the consequences."
And then he was gone, sweeping from the room and slamming the door behind him.
Left behind in the silence, all Hiccup could do was gasp and gasp and use every remaining part of himself to not cry. He wasn't quite successful.
Hiccup lurched up, sweat slicking his skin and fingers already shaking, the dream (the memory) playing on repeat in his mind. He'd have thought it was just a nightmare, but Hiccup could feel the tender spot on his rear and the big, blossoming bruise on his cheekbone. So, it was true. He'd been exiled. He – he'd been exiled.
But, if he'd been exiled, then where was he? Looking around him, Hiccup felt his heart flutter again. He was in his house, down on the first floor. No, no, no. How long did he have until someone came back and found him? They must have brought him back from the dragon island as a courtesy, but he needed to leave before they got back. This was probably the time they set aside to give him a head start.
Breath shaking ever so slightly, Hiccup scooted himself towards the side of the bed. He swung his feet to the ground and stood up all within the space of a heartbeat. He fell within the space of a heartbeat, too.
Or, well, he started to fall. Something slid into his side, bracing him and stopping him from falling completely over. Breathing a sigh of relief, Hiccup ran his hand along Toothless's snout, "Thanks buddy." He just breathed for a moment. Then everything set in. Toothless. It was Toothless that was holding him upright. In his house.
"No, no, no, no! Toothless, buddy, what are you doing here? We're both going to be killed if we get caught! C'mon, c'mon, c'mon! I – I gotta pack, fast. Just enough for us to get by with, yeah? We'll find somewhere else to settle down. Somewhere with a nice lake nearby and a forge I can work at in the town, okay? It's – it's going to be okay. I just need to – need. I just… what is that?" Hiccup asked softly, staring down at his uncooperative leg. At least, what was supposed to be his leg. There was a peg, there. A peg with a clever buckle and suspension system but a peg all the same.
He must have been more injured than he thought in that fight with the queen dragon. Somewhat stupidly, the first thing that came to mind was that he was going to have to change the rigging for Toothless's tail now that his foot was injured like that.
Hiccup shook his head sharply. No, he didn't have time to think about that. He needed to force himself upstairs and into his room and then down into the kitchen to pack as much as he could carry. Gritting his teeth, Hiccup pushed himself off of Toothless and hopped forward determinedly. It was easier once he reached the wall and could use that to anchor himself. Although he was ashamed to admit it, he crawled when he got to the stairs.
Toothless was making small crooning noises of distress that broke Hiccup's heart. This was all his fault. He shouldn't have gotten them into this situation. He should have been better. There were so many things he should have done differently than what he did do. So many things. Hiccup shook his head again. He needed to stop getting distracted. He was on a mission. When he made it to his room, he packed as much of his dragon blueprints and clothes as he could. He determinedly stuck his new helmet on his head. He slid back down the stairs, wincing at every step, before shoving himself upright again and heading towards the kitchen. He could do this. He could.
Once he made it to the kitchen, he stored fire making supplies and meats that were cured and ready for long sea journeys. He grabbed a waterskin and filled it as full as he could. There were so many things he wished to bring but couldn't. As it was, the meager belongings he was bringing filled up only a medium sized woven basket. It was going to have to do.
Hiccup turned back to Toothless who tilted his head to the side and chirped out an inquiry, "Yeah, buddy, we're leaving. I don't know where all we're going to go. First, we need to get the two of us to somewhere the Vikings won't find us. Then we'll fix up that rigging and then, well, I suppose we'll fly away. Find new lands somewhere. Some place that'll accept us, both of us."
Toothless shook his head and backed up slightly further into the house. He swung his head around to indicate the front door. Hiccup sighed, "No, Toothless. Dad – he exiled me. He said that I had to leave. That doesn't change just because we stopped the queen. So – so, we need to go. We need to find somewhere safe. I think I have a few ideas. Would you be up to carrying me? I don't think I can stand on this leg for much longer."
Toothless crooned a low sad note and slunk towards Hiccup. He tried to indicate the front door one more time, but Hiccup just choked down a sob and shook his head no. Toothless blinked sadly at him before lowering himself slightly. Heart in his throat and tears in his eyes, Hiccup got up onto Toothless's back and rode off. This was the last time he was ever going to see Berk.
Stoick knew that he should be paying attention. He knew that this series of meetings was important, probably one of the most important series of meetings he had ever presided over in his lifetime. The adjustment to not killing dragons and the changes needed to be made to coexist with the dragons would take time and a lot of energy and talking and construction. Stoick needed to be paying attention, but…
"Go check on your boy," Spitelout interrupted, giving Stoick a slightly judgmental, mostly understanding look.
Stoick flushed when he realized that the entire table was giving him the same look. Chuckling awkwardly, Stoick stood up, "I will be quick. I am just going to go in and make sure he's still sleeping and then I will be back."
"We understand," Ingrid, Astrid's mother, said softly. Stoick nodded to her in thanks before rushing out of the room.
Maybe his distraction and his retreat from the meeting were undignified. Maybe he should have stuck out the meeting. But his son had been seriously injured and lost his leg and Gothi had said that he'd awaken any day now. Stoick had wanted desperately to be there when it happened.
He was practically running by the time he got to his house. He stood there for a moment, catching his breath and taking his helmet off briefly to run a hand through his hair. He straightened his braids in his beard carefully. Huffing out a soft laugh, Stoick shook his head in recrimination. What was he doing? This was his son! The boy probably wasn't even awake yet! That determined, Stoick pushed open the door as quietly as he could so as to not wake Hiccup if the boy was still sleeping. He turned as soon as he got in, shutting the door just as gently as he opened it. Hopefully the light had not bothered Hiccup.
When Stoick turned around, though, there was no Hiccup.
Stoick raced through the house, bellowing his son's name and overturning furniture. He was heaving for breath when he made it to the backdoor. It was wide open, a view of the forest taunting him from outside the opening. No. No, no, no. There was no way. Hiccup wouldn't have run. His boy was smart – smarter than he had any right to be and smarter than Stoick could rightfully understand. He wouldn't run off like this. Not on a new leg. He would know better.
Then Stoick remembered the confrontation in the Great Hall. He'd banished Hiccup. He'd taken his name and his people from his own son. But… surely Hiccup knew that Stoick had been mistaken, that he'd made an unbelievably foolish mistake. Surely Hiccup knew that Stoick had taken back the banishment as soon as the ships left port and the fear faded enough for him to realize what he'd done. Hiccup… Hiccup couldn't have believed that of him.
And yet… there was no other explanation for the situation. Hiccup was gone and it was his fault.
Stoick crashed to his knees, still staring numbly out the door. He barely noticed it when someone came barreling into the house. He only roused from his shock when Gobber clasped his shoulder and shouted, "Stoick? Stoick!"
"He's gone," Stoick said numbly, "It's all my fault. I exiled him before this all happened. And now he's gone. Who knows how long he's been out there? How much of a head start he has?"
"Stoick," Gobber repeated, "He can't get off the island without a boat which he'd need to build. He's still here."
"He has a dragon!" Stoick shouted, surging to his feet and almost clipping Gobber's chin with his head.
Gobber stumbled back slightly but still held his ground, "A dragon which he can't fly right now because Toothless's tailfin is rigged for a real foot, not a fake leg. He'll need time to fix that. But you need to get your head on straight if you want to find him before he does. We'll go back to the Great Hall and talk to the others. We'll call the kids up, too. None of us know a thing about working with dragons but the kids had a little bit of a lesson with Hiccup so they can take point and search for him by air." Gobber paused to put a heavy hand on Stoick's shoulder, "We'll find him, Stoick."
Stoick closed his eyes, letting all of his grief and fear and frustration crash over him for a moment before he dragged it all back inside of him. There would be time to let it out properly later, but not now. Now? He needed to find his son.
Determination lining his every movement, Stoick stalked back towards the Great Hall. Some people were already gathered outside his home, perhaps having heard his below. No matter. It was better than they heard him and had gathered already. It would mean that they could go search for Hiccup faster. Stoick nodded sharply to them and swept an arm out to the side of him, indicating that they should follow after him. Hesitantly, the people obeyed.
By the time Stoick made it to the Great Hall, basically the entire town had gathered. Spitelout opened the doors and peered out at the noise, "Stoick? What is going on?"
Stoick collected himself one more time before turning slightly so as to address both the people in the Great Hall and the people out in front of it, "My son has run away." There was a great gasp from the crowds, the kids tensing, hands already tangling in makeshift saddles for their dragons. Stoick swallowed harshly before continuing, "I do not believe he has left the island yet, but it is only a matter of time. We need to find him now. I will not risk his injury being infected after this hair-brained move. But…" and here he hesitated, not having told anyone other than Gobber what he'd done to his own son, "He might be confused and afraid when you reach him. Before… before we set sail for the dragon's nest, I exiled Hiccup." A gasp moved through the crowd again, expressions hardening as they faced him. Stoick bowed his head in shame, "I know. I have rescinded it, but I am afraid that I never got the chance to tell Hiccup that." He paused, letting that sink in, letting the people parse through their anger, before he made one final request, "Please, help me find my son!"
A roar rippled through the crowd as people started organizing themselves into search parties. The kids had gotten on their beasts and started for the skies almost before Stoick stopped talking. Stoick breathed out a sigh of relief as he saw the crowd disperse into the woods eagerly. Gobber put a hand on his shoulder, "We'll find him, Stoick. We're nothing if not stubborn!" Stoick snorted out a laugh, resisting the urge to just sit down and weep. Oh, if Valka could see him now. She'd be so ashamed. Gobber's voice was softer when he asked carefully, "Do you know of any places where Hiccup might go if he was scared or worried?"
Stoick swallowed painfully, "Honestly, your guess would probably be better than mine."
Gobber winced at Stoick's frankness. They both startled when Astrid landed her Deadly Nadder. There was a glare on Astrid's face and a coldness in her voice that Stoick had never heard addressed to him before, but she offered him her hand and said, "I'm pretty sure I know where he'll be. I can take you there. I think you're the only one who can really fix this mess."
Stoick swallowed, glancing warily at the creature. He'd accepted that the dragons weren't what they thought they were. He'd accepted that they should be allowed a home here on Berk. He'd accepted that Toothless was going to all but move into the house. He hadn't quite accepted the concept of riding one, yet.
But this was for his son. There was the chance that, if he didn't do this, then he could lose his son forever. And that was a chance he'd never take. Stoick took Astrid's hand and allowed her to pull him onto the Deadly Nadder's back.
The creature turned its massive head to look curiously at Stoick. He was hard pressed to not bear his teeth at it in response. Astrid petted the side of the creature's head soothingly, "There, there, Stormfly. It's alright. He's going to help us get Hiccup back, okay?"
The dragon made a soft trilling noise but apparently accepted Astrid's words since it immediately took off into the air again, powerful wings flapping. Stoick had to resist the urge to screech as he wrapped the rope around his arms multiple times. Hiccup made this look so easy. Of course, Stoick was under the impression that Hiccup had been doing this for much longer than anyone else, but… it was incredible to think of. How talented must his son be to ride these creatures so well? Most days, Stoick felt like he didn't know his son at all. Some days, Stoick was certain that Hiccup was simply Valka's second coming. On days like that one? Stoick knew without a shadow of a doubt who Hiccup was. He was the bravest, strongest, smartest Viking that Stoick had ever known.
Bolstered by Hiccup's clear enthusiasm and bravery around the beasts, Stoick settled himself more carefully over the dragon's back and stared determinedly onwards. Astrid would take him to his son, and they'd fix all of this mess. Then, Stoick could finally take the time to appreciate his son. Properly, this time.
In no time at all, they were circling just above some large glade. Below him, Stoick could see Hiccup tinkering with some metal and wires, his peg leg settled on top of a pack, likely due to pain.
"Set me down and then start circling again," Stoick commanded, "If I wave my hand at you, come back down. I may need help getting them out of there."
Astrid stayed silent for a long moment before she mulishly answered, "Yes, Chief."
They settled in the clearing with a big thump that shook the bag under Hiccup's leg. His head whipped up in fright, eyes widening over deep purple bags. Stoick's son was still looking too pale, gaunt and greasy after over a week unconscious in bed. It broke Stoick's heart the same way it had broken his heart every day he'd gone home that past week. Seeing his son like that was physically painful.
Seeing him now, though? When he was so clearly terrified? When he'd started scrambling away, not quite able to pull himself up onto his peg leg? Stoick wasn't sure there would be any part of his heart left after that sight. Hiccup seemed so frantic to get away that he didn't even register the dragon that Astrid was clearly riding. Surely that would have indicated to Hiccup that something had changed, that Stoick had changed.
Raising his hands to show that he meant no harm, Stoick very carefully settled himself into a cross-legged position on the ground. Very slowly and deliberately, Stoick took off his armor and his weapons, tossing them into a pile as far away from him as he could manage. Toothless had come up behind Hiccup at that point, blocking his escape and also giving him a body to rest against.
When it seemed like Hiccup's frantic breathing had calmed somewhat, Stoick started speaking, "Son, I think there's been a misunderstanding."
There was a hysterical note in Hiccup's voice when he responded, "No, no I don't think there was, dad. You were pretty clear."
"Son," Stoick began firmly, ready to nip this confusion in the bud right then and there.
Hiccup's chest had started heaving again, "I – I – I was trying to get away, Dad. I was out of the town proper. I would have been gone in a couple hours. Why did Astrid bring you here? If – if she's convinced you to talk to me or something like that, then you know you don't have to. It's not just my honor at stake if I don't – don't go."
"Son," Stoick started again, inserting a hint of his chiefly status into his voice, "There has been a misunderstanding. Or, rather, a miscommunication. Or – well, son – Hiccup. I have pardoned you."
"What?" Hiccup blinked. His hand flailed out behind him to press against Toothless's neck. The great dragon nuzzled its face into Hiccup's hair, huffing out a breath and a strange noise that seemed to calm Hiccup. Stoick hated that it was a dragon comforting his son and not him. He hated that his son had turned to the dragon before he turned to his own father.
Pushing all of that aside for the moment, Stoick repeated as gently as he could, "I have pardoned you, Hiccup. If you need me to make it formal once more in front of you, then I, Stoick the Vast, Chief of Berk, hereby denounce your exile and reinstate you among your people and your clan and return to you your name, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III."
"What?" Hiccup gaped.
Stoick's lips pulled into a frowned, slightly irritated at the way that they still couldn't seem to speak without going in circle around each other, "You don't need to leave, Hiccup. I want you here. You are allowed to be here. In fact, your presence would be celebrated! The other villagers found out that you went missing and they all rushed out to find you! Hiccup, you saved Berk in more ways than I can express. Between your battle with the queen and the friendship you have provided with us and the dragons? You are a hero, son. My hero."
Hiccup's eyes started watering and he dug his hand further into the dragon's hide. He used his other hand to cover his face, breath hitching as he leaned into the dragon, "You don't mean that."
"I do," Stoick affirmed softly.
"You don't," Hiccup insisted, dragging his tear-stained face away from Toothless to stare imploringly at his father.
Giving his son the softest, most loving smile he could muster (which was quite the smile – he might not express it well but he loved his son with every single part of him), Stoick repeated, "I do."
For a moment, the two of them simply stared at each other. Stoick was trying to show how serious he was, how much he loved his son, how sorry he was. He knew that Hiccup was trying to figure out how honest Stoick was being, how sincere. Stoick couldn't understand what Hiccup was thinking. Did he think that Stoick was herding him into a trap? Where did the hesitation come from?
In the end, Stoick never got the chance. Instead, Hiccup threw himself at his father, arms barely reaching around Stoick's shoulders but tightening around them just the same. Stoick threw his own arms around Hiccup, burying his face in his son's hair. All he could do was sit there and rock the two of them, whispering, "I'm sorry, so sorry Hiccup. You're so brave. I'm so proud of you. I love you. I'm sorry," into his hair.
Hiccup was crying into his neck, thin arms shaking, whispering back, "I'm sorry. I messed everything up. I lied to you. I'm sorry. I love you too, dad. Please forgive me."
Things weren't over. There would be a lot to discuss between the two of them. They needed to build a better form of communication and they needed to take the time to understand each other better, to work with each other instead of around each other. Hiccup would need some time to trust the people around him again. The others would need to learn to stop underestimating Hiccup. People would need to rebuild trust in Stoick himself after he disowned his own son in a peak of fear and fury.
But, for the moment, things were right. This was the start to a new chapter of their lives. It was a start to something stronger, something that would see them through many new battles. It wasn't what Stoick had envisioned. He was certain that Valka would be disappointed that it even had to come to this point. But from now on, it was life. And Stoick would be grateful for it. His own insecurities had almost cost him the most precious thing in his life. If he wasn't careful, they would still cost him the most precious thing in his life. This was a chance to grow and to heal.
He would learn to see his son as he truly was rather than what Stoick wanted him to be. And Hiccup would learn to understand that Stoick did love him even if he expressed it a little differently.
That growth would take a lot of courage and a lot of time. They would need to be brave. But, as Stoick was starting to learn, brave men didn't kill dragons; brave men rode them. And his family was the bravest of them all.
Author's Note: This story is yikes so sorry about that. I lost the plot very early on and never quite found it again? I don't even know where I thought this was going but a very short reunion was not it. Read at your own risk, I guess :P Thanks for reading anyways!