Disclaimer: Not mine, if it were mine I'd be working on a screenplay for a sequel, rather than this bit of self-indulgent fun.

Chapter 24

Hiccup sent Astrid to see what was going on at the Great Hall as that would be where everybody would meet. She wasn't thrilled at the idea of leaving him since he'd just woken up, but the way Toothless was snarling at the boy if he tried to walk too far without putting some of his weight on the dragon or trying to move too fast made her think the dragon would stop him from doing anything too insane. Which worried her that she trusted the dragon to be more sensible than the human. She wasn't sure if Hiccup a brilliant plan or was just pulling something out of his ass. The scary thing was that with Hiccup it was usually both at once.

Hiccup meanwhile was trying without much success to get Toothless to let him out the door. Apparently he'd tried to escape too many times while hallucinating during a fever the past winter and now Toothless wanted him to stay safe inside. He tried to slink out the back door but the dragon simply leaped from rafter to rafter to set himself down in front of him. Wheedling the dragon with promises of fish simply had the dragon's ear flap twitch irritably. He finally mentioned flying to see the Night Fury's eyes narrow and his head to turn towards the door. Toothless gave a long low whine as he looked up, before turning back to Hiccup. The boy realized that although Astrid had mentioned flying back with him unconscious, she hadn't mentioned any other times of flight with the Night Fury. Odin knew the dragon probably only flew to get him back quicker then went back to his old ways of not letting Astrid on again.

"C'mon bud, I know you helped keep me safe while I was sick," Hiccup started cajolingly, "but I'm much better now. I'm fine. See?" He turned, somewhat awkwardly as he was still slightly stiff and his artificial foot wasn't very cooperative at the best of times. "No bruises, no blood, no fever. You've done your job. Now we can get in the air again. I'm sure you've missed it." He walked towards the dragon smiling at the way Toothless looked at him, head cocked as though waiting for Hiccup to try something stupid. He held a hand out to the Night Fury, who immediately ducked under his outstretched hand. Toothless looked at him, rumbling softly.

Hiccup sighed, exasperated with the over protectiveness. "I'm fine, I swear. We can go outside. It's actually a beautiful day out." He could see the sun shining around the edges of the door. Toothless gave a long, loud sigh looking up at Hiccup warily, before turning to the front door. The boy companionably slapped the dragon on the shoulder grinning at the dragon's agreement. He'd seen the harness neatly piled in the corner. He hobbled over to it, still quite a bit weak from convalescence. It took some doing to get everything on right as Hiccup had to rest at times, which generally had Toothless becoming fretful, his noises sounding worried. The dragon would look over at Hiccup's bed and whine. Finally after getting the harness ready and re-convincing Toothless that he was fine, really, no he didn't need another coat or scarf or other covering, and no he really didn't want to get back in bed, the two were ready and made their way out the door.

It was an almost pleasant spring day. The sun was shining brightly for once. The snow had melted to the point that you could see the ground in certain places that got a lot of sun, yet hadn't thawed enough to become a complete mire yet. Most of the deadly icicles had fallen off of the roofs, and there was an actual path worn down through the snow so it wasn't as hard to walk for Hiccup as it could've been.

There were more people than usual in the village, not a surprise given the upcoming meeting. Almost all of the villagers of Berk were out and about. Which made Hiccup's idea of a quick flight pretty much out of the question. The villagers seemed to see Toothless first, starting at the sight of the dragon and almost always saying, "Toothless? What are ye doin' out… Hiccup!" and then the boy would get surrounded by well-wishers. He got so many pats on the back for being back on his feet he was sure he had a bruise forming right between his shoulder blades. Others would ruffle his hair, which he hated, it made him feel like he was five years old. The dragons also seemed happy to see him. Fishlegs' Gronkle almost knocked him off of his feet when it butted him affectionately. Fishlegs immediately began to apologize as Toothless hissed at it. A whole flock of Terrible Terrors tried to rub against his legs, almost tripping him with every step.

"Hiccup!"

He recognized that voice. Dread filled him as he saw his father striding through the crowd. The man didn't even seem to notice as he knocked people and dragons out of his way to get to his son. Hiccup tried to stifle the flinch he wanted to do at the sight. He waited for the roar of "I told ye not to do that!" or "What in Odin's name were you thinking?" to come bellowing out. Instead his father came close and wrapped his arms around his son. Stoick seemed to hold him tightly but gently, which confused the still unsteady boy. It was as if the huge man wanted to cling to him, but was afraid his son would shatter if he gripped too tight.

When Stoick released him, he placed his hands on Hiccup's shoulders holding him at arms length looking him over. He seemed somewhat embarrassed by his impulsive actions. Hiccup was able to get a good look at his father at the same time. He was shocked at the sight of the worry in his dad's eyes. There were grey hairs at his temples that hadn't been there the last time he'd seen him. It suddenly struck him that it had been almost over a year since he'd seen his dad while conscious and coherent. Hiccup stammered trying to say something, as his father looked him up and down before shaking his head.

"You must've just gotten up. O'course it happens when Ah'm away." He chuckled. "And you, ye overgrown bat, tryin' ta get him into th' air right after he's left his sickbed? Eh?" Toothless growled at the man, showing his teeth, but his relaxed posture didn't show any threat. The two still generally greeted each other with a snap and a snarl. Stoick put an arm around his son, steering him back to the house. Which made Hiccup want to groan in annoyance. It had been hard enough to get Toothless to let him out the first time. Toothless immediately fell into step on Hiccup's other side, padding along easily.

"Toothless wasn't happy about letting me outside, I don't know if he'd even let me fly today." Hiccup grumbled, as he walked beside his father. He heard his father laugh, sounding relieved.

"Ah well, at least one o' th' pair of ya has some sense. A man isn't up to leaping into battle right from th' sickbed. Can't see why flyin' would be any different, after all." Stoick replied. He ushered his son inside, the dragon following.

Hiccup turned to his father as soon as they were inside, talking quickly before the lecture he knew was coming started, "Dad, I want to apologize. I'm sorry, you were right. The other tribes just want the dragons for war. I'm so, so sorry I taught them. I didn't mean for things to get so out of control…" He knew he was breaking into babbling again, his fear of his father's reaction welling up inside of him.

Stoick held a hand up, cutting off Hiccup's verbal barrage of apologies and explanations. The man sighed and shook his head. "I have to apologize too son. If I hadn't gotten so set in my mind you wouldn't've seen th' need to teach them." He sighed again. "I knew the ways of training dragons wouldn't stay in our people for long, but the other tribes," he scowled, "the demands they were makin' were idiotic. Insisting you be sent to them until they were satisfied they knew the training, demandin' we send them already trained dragons to them for their use as a ride." Here Hiccup snorted at the thought. Dragons couldn't be forced to carry anybody. "Or to chase off the wild ones still plaguing them. And th' more they wanted, the less I wanted you to go. At best, with the demands they were making you'd be gone fer three years, maybe more. And I wasn't having with that."

Hiccup was staring at Stoick, baffled. His father had been in negotiations to have him teach the others? But every time he'd brought it up they'd ended up with arguing matches that almost made the rafters shake.

"I was tryin' to look after ye." Stoick started, then stopped. "Seems to have worked as well as keepin' ye inside durin' a dragon raid did." Hiccup's mouth quirked into a slight smile at that.

"Dad, we have a chance now. All of the tribe leaders are here, they're seeing how calm the dragons are around us," Hiccup said excitedly. "Maybe I can…"

"No! Gods help me, can't you take it a bit easy right after ye climb from yer deathbed?" Stoick said wide-eyed. "Half the men think ye have some sort of magic with the beasts and have been saying loudly how unnatural our village is, and you are. Th' others might try to pull th' same thing Dornar did and try to force you to teach them. I don't want you anywhere near 'em." He shook his head. "There will be discussions, mebbe we'll come to an agreement, but I want you stayin' out o' it. And you, ye big lizard can make sure he stays here." And Stoick nodded to Toothless and left.

Hiccup stood in the middle of the room, gaping at where the man had just been. "Oh, now that's not fair." He snapped. He looked at the dragon who was resting comfortably in front of the door. "Come on Toothless, you're not going to listen to him over me, are you?" He asked smiling at the dragon. Toothless looked at him narrowly and huffed. Hiccup frowned at him, the dragon was still lounging there watching the boy carefully.

"Toothless, I need to do this. The other Chiefs will probably end up pushing my dad into doing something stupid. Or starting something stupid themselves. I need to try. All I want is peace between humans and dragons all throughout the archipelago. Please buddy, help me. Don't stop me." Hiccup pleaded.

The dragon's tail flicked back and forth as he looked at the human, then to the door. The dragon heaved himself up, coming over to where his boy stood, looking at the dragon with sad eyes. He bumped the human gently with his nose. Hiccup grinned at the sign of acceptance and went to the door.

Now that he had a place he wanted to be, the Great hall, and a person he wanted to avoid, his father, Hiccup was being far more careful about going out and about this time. He didn't want to be stopped every five feet by another person congratulating him on being alive either. As they left the second time, as it was still daylight, Hiccup made sure they kept to the shadows between buildings as they went down so he listen in on what was going on in the village proper before trying to sneak into the Hall. The houses blocked Toothless' bulk from view. A large group passed by where they hid, including Hiccup's father. The men were talking, all of their faces dark and serious. Hiccup could hear his father's rumbling tones mixed in their conversation, sounding as serious as the others. This group was followed by another group of the villagers from Berk.

Sneaking around to follow the men he heard Gobber's voice over the rest. "Well, thas' the last of 'em. We'll see what 'tis they come up with. Should've just killed the lot o' invaders, taken everybody on then." Hiccup was so focused on trying to hear and not be seen, he didn't pay attention to what was going on behind him. A hand came down on his shoulder. Hiccup managed to stifle a scream.

"Hiccup?" He heard from behind him. Astrid. Astrid had found them. His heart could stop pounding now, anytime. "Why are you creeping around? It's pretty hard to hide a dragon at night, let alone a black one during the day when there's still snow on the ground."

"Astrid! Oh thank gods I was afraid I'd been found. Have you heard anything?" He asked as he turned to face her.

She made a face. "Nothing good. The closer tribes we've been having trouble with have been spreading rumors that the reason we haven't helped them was because we were training Dornar and the two of us were planning on taking over the rest. They've been the loudest and believe that the fighting we had was due to our two tribes having a falling out. The rest seem unnerved by the dragons. They all claim the dragons have bewitched us or we've bewitched the dragons, they can't seem to agree on which." Toothless snorted at this point from where he was laying on the ground behind them, causing the two humans to smile at each other. "Yeah, pretty dumb I agree. None of them are in agreement with any other tribe other than that only two tribes knowing how to control dragons, their words not mine." She added at Hiccup's annoyed expression. "Is dangerous to the rest of them."

Hiccup gave a sigh, leaning against the building he and Toothless had been using as a hiding place. If it was a bunch of snapping, snarling dragons he'd know exactly how to approach the situation. Humans were so much harder to predict. Not to mention far less forgiving.

"Well, I have to try." He muttered, more to himself than out loud. He shook himself. "Let's head to the Hall."


A/N: Sorry I left my posting schedule I was holding myself to. The last chapter was using me for a kickball. I knew when I wanted to end it and how, just not the words to use to do so.