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 25

They went up to the Great Hall. The village was deserted now, everyone had hurried to the Hall packing it to capacity. The noise from within seemed to make the doors buzz as the three of them approached. There were a number of dragons lounging around the entrance, looking curiously at it. Dragons were normally allowed everywhere, including the Hall, but had been displaced due to the press of humans inside.

Hiccup paused at the door, cracking it open a bit. All of the people within were facing the center, where most of the voices were coming from. There was room for Astrid and him to sneak in, but there was no way the Night Fury would be able to go unnoticed in the crowded room. Hiccup told Toothless to stay, which would hopefully last at least a few moments. Maybe a minute given the way the dragon had flattened his earflaps and all of the ridges ringing his face in displeasure at being left outside. Toothless huffed, then butted Hiccup gently in the chest with his head in understanding. Hiccup gave him a quick scratch before slipping in the doors, followed quickly by Astrid. The doors were huge, but with the crowds no one noticed their movement. Hiccup kept to the back as he moved around the room, trying to get nearer to where the various Chiefs were gathered.

"And where is this dragon boy o' yours, Stoick?" He heard bellowed. "How d'ye know he's not simply a traitor?"

"My son is no traitor!" Stoick roared back, and the crowd parted slightly so Hiccup could see his father practically nose to nose with another man, both of them red faced and furious. The man he was yelling at was older, his once dark beard streaked with gray and most of the hair on top of his head gone, though that was hard to tell with the man's helmet on. He was only an inch or two shorter than Stoick, though he was actually wider at the shoulders. The man continued in an equally loud voice.

"Ye claim that, yet ye keep him hidden away from th' rest o' us. He caused a war between two tribes, killed a Chief and ye keep him locked away as though you know he's guilty o' something!" He finished at a yell.

There was a roar of protest from the assembled Berk villagers. Hiccup saw Spitelout with his son Snotlout, both angrily arguing with another Chief and his followers. Ruffnut and Tuffnut's parents were holding the two back as they were screaming threats and shaking their fists at other assembled tribes. Hiccup sighed as he leaned back against the wall, placing a hand over his eyes. This wasn't going to accomplish anything other than never ending war he thought with exasperation. He looked up and saw his father blustering, saw that all of the other teens were with their families, Astrid had reached her own parents having arrived late only because she was with him and Fishlegs was in the room as well. Suddenly anger pushed to the fore of his emotions. His father had hidden him away. Not because he was guilty, oh no. It was because after all he'd done, after all he'd fought, after all he had sacrificed, his father still saw him as the small child who needed protecting. Needed someone stronger looking after him, shielding him from the nastiness adults dealt with. He was suddenly so furious he swore he saw red. Yes he had made mistakes, yes he had accidentally caused a war. But if he was as strong as Snotlout would his father have tried to keep him away from this? He didn't think so. If his father had actually shared the plans to have him teach the others he probably wouldn't have leaped so eagerly to try and teach his kidnappers to show his father he could. He clenched his fists by his side, glad Toothless wasn't beside him. As angry as he was, the Night Fury would've been looking to maul someone.

"Hiccup is no traitor! He hates war, hates the killing!" He heard the higher pitches of Astrid and ended up sighing. The other tribes would hardly see his hatred of killing as anything worthy of respect.

There was loud laughter at her outburst, and now the word coward was being bandied about as well as traitor. His father was in a shouting match with three people as well, and it looked as though it would turn physical pretty soon. Astrid had found some other girl who had accompanied one of the leaders from another tribe and had her in a headlock. Snotlout was busy punching the crap out of another teen and absolute chaos was about two seconds from breaking out.

"ENOUGH!" Hiccup screamed. He would've preferred a bellow that rang out over the rabble, but his voice was still too high to be anything other than a shriek. It echoed off of the walls and ceiling, bringing a quiet in the following. In that quiet Hiccup heard the doors bang open and the replying screech of an angry dragon. The rows of people parted to reveal him to the Chiefs assembled at the table in the center of the Hall as Toothless leaped from pillar to pillar to reach him. The black dragon landed beside him, snarling at everybody surrounding the two of them. Hiccup placed an arm over the Night Fury, relieved for the support. He was starving and starting to feel weak from all of his running around. He hoped the sight they made was more of him holding back a snarling dragon with his hand, rather than him staggering and clinging to the dragon for stability. Going by the way even the Berk residents were backing away nervously, they must've looked impressive as they walked towards the gathered Chiefs.

As the two of them made their way through the now quieted brawlers, more of the visitors were pushing to the front to see him. Most were giving him incredulous looks, obviously not believing that such a short, scrawny boy could be the one called Dragon Master. And Hiccup could admit he was pretty scrawny at the moment. He'd lost weight he really hadn't had to lose during his long sickness, leaving him even more of a fishbone than usual.

He saw the gathered Dornarans, chained together, near the Chiefs as well. Most were looking a bit worse for wear after the winter. They were all thinner, a number had lost a bit of muscle as well, the Berklanders had kept them alive, not thriving. He saw Dirk, still alive the pain in the ass, as he tried to appear calm and imperious despite his thinness now and the chains. Dirk saw Hiccup as he and Toothless approached and turned and spat on the ground at the sight.

"That's the Dragon Master? That little stick?" Boomed a woman who was with the Chiefs. She was large and tall, standing straight backed and imposing with her arms crossed in front of her. Hiccup was pretty sure her forearm was wider than his chest at the moment. He assumed she was Bertha, the leader of an unusual tribe made only of women. They recruited young women from other tribes to increase their own. "I could break his back with my pinkies." She declared loudly, gesturing towards the oncoming boy. Hiccup could see the girl that Astrid had been fighting had gotten away from her and now peered at him from behind Bertha. She didn't seem impressed either.

The Night Fury under his hands tensed and snarled at the immense woman, ready to spring. Whether it was because she was the only one to speak so loudly in the quiet or because he assumed her gesture towards Hiccup was threatening didn't really matter. The dragon was about to leap when Hiccup looked down at him, tightening his grip on the harness. "Toothless, no." he admonished.

The gathered visiting tribes gave a slight gasp as the dragon went from a snarling, threatening beast to an affectionate creature rubbing gently against the boy while giving a slightly piteous whine, though he quickly switched back if anyone approached. The two were now near the table where everyone had gathered. Hiccup stood there as proudly as he could, hoping he wouldn't start shaking or have his stomach growl.

"I am no traitor." He said calmly, but loudly. "I simply wished to end a useless and wasteful war between humans and dragons. Yes, I was kidnapped by the Dornarans. I was innocent and foolish enough to think that I could teach them to coexist with the dragons and show my father that others could live in peace with them, without us then fearing those people." He smiled, wry but slightly dark. "I guess we can see how well that worked out. Now, as much as I want to end that war, I can't see myself wanting to teach anyone my methods given the last tribe I taught immediately tried to kill me and attack my tribe."

"An' who says we need to learn from you?" Boomed the older man who had been yelling at his father. "We now have another tribe we can ask, no need to negotiate with yours." He finished with a dark look at Stoick.

"Yes, and they listened so well they were defeated by less than half of my tribe." Hiccup retorted shortly. "By all means learn from them. Then we'll never have to fear you."

His curt reply set a loud muttering among the throng. He heard loud protests coming from the captive Dornarans, but refused to look at them again. If he did and saw the people he had trusted, had even liked a few of them and had been beginning to see them as friends while he taught them how to befriend dragons, he probably would've set Toothless on them as he lost the control of his tightly leashed fury.

"My tribe was trying to negotiate in good faith." He began, ignoring the muttering that was gaining in volume around him, as well as the dark looks he was getting from his own father. "Yet even when those talks were going on, another attacked us."

"And what would you, you impudent pup, have this council," the elder gave an expansive gesture to take in all of the Chiefs and trusted warriors they'd brought with them, "do with those attackers, while you are so arrogantly issuing orders to us?"

Hiccup finally looked over at the prisoners. They watched him warily. He could easily ask that they simply kill the remaining members. He pictured Dirk, laying dead on the ground and savored it for a moment. But as he looked he saw the men who had been eager to learn. The ones who had gotten the dragons to truly trust them. He heard Hilde's voice again and wondered how the women had fared through the winter. He couldn't order their deaths. He couldn't simply kill them. He sighed, no one would probably like his next words.

"Have them swear on all the gods names that they will neither attack us nor swear blood feud on us. Have them forfeit half of their treasure," he knew that with so few men they would need something for trade as there weren't enough men to risk on raids. Anything else was simply sentencing them to a slower death than an execution. "Any who refuse will be declared Outcast, not to be considered a Viking." He decided. He knew the lenience of the sentence would cause a stir, and it did. Arguments broke out among groups of people, though they at least stayed only verbal. Allowing prisoners free? The one who they had wronged the most was speaking for such things? Hiccup had to look away from his father's thunderous expression.

The elder narrowed his eyes as he looked Hiccup over. If he hadn't been feeling so weak he might've fidgeted under the stare. Toothless must've felt the way his legs were beginning to tremble as the dragon ducked under him. Hiccup grabbed at the harness, glad to have it to hold on to this time. The man then looked over at the other Chiefs who seemed rather puzzled at Hiccup's choice. Several looked rather disgusted at his decision, they would probably always consider him a weakling. Others seemed to regard him calculatingly, probably trying to figure out what he was planning.

"Since you seem to have an idea for everything, then what's your compromise for teaching everyone?" Another man asked, leaning forward his expression one of the calculating ones.

Hiccup wanted to tell them he refused completely. That he wouldn't teach anyone anything and just wanted to stay on his island. He sighed, that would never be acceptable and he knew it. He thought quickly, trying to come up with something that would be acceptable to all of the adults around him.

"Each tribe wishing to learn how to train dragons will send one person here until I think they understand what I'm telling them." Hiccup replied, feeling a bit more confident as no one had screamed at him to get out, leave this to the adults yet, even though they weren't happy with his first proposal. Granted, that could be due to the black dragon beneath him who was still giving everyone the evil eye. "Hopefully they will return to their respective tribes by winter. Over the winter they will teach their people and the next spring I will make the rounds to check up on everybody." He glanced down at Toothless and smiled while patting the dragon's head. "We can certainly reach any island quickly if needed," he added, "that way everyone will hopefully learn at the same time. No fighting over who's first…" There were grumbles at that. Odin knew if there was any reason to fight out a pecking order Vikings wouldn't just find it, but gleefully begin to pound on each other to sort it out. "No one will have to worry about another becoming better than them, and no one should feel slighted." Hiccup finished. He was relived to see his father's furious expression had actually changed into contemplative as he rubbed his chin while regarding his errant son.

Conversations rose around him. While some still disagreed on how to deal with the whole Dornar situation, most seemed pleased at the idea he had proposed for training. Deciding who among their tribes could represent them gave a chance for fierce arguments and challenges within a tribe for their honor, and having it done all at once meant no tribe would be considered above any other. There were arguments still, but they were arguments that weren't rising to the level of screaming matches. Hiccup was surprised that they actually were considering his words.

He waited patiently for a decision, though he had to keep pinching himself to stay awake. Maybe his father and Astrid had something with the whole "taking it easy" thing. As many people as were gathered here there would be a final ruling here and now, and he didn't want to miss that. Vikings were not people to drag out a judgment, especially with a crowd of observers. His father was in deep conversation with the others. When all of them turned to look at the crowds Hiccup sat up interestedly.

"We have come to an agreement." His father stated in a loud blaring voice. "The captives will be allowed back to their island." There was a grumble of displeasure from the assembled Berklanders. "There they will be watched by members of all of the tribes, who will also act as a leading council until a Chief is selected by them. They will forfeit half of what is in their treasury to Berk for their attempted attack. If the captives do not accept this, then they will be killed and their island's property split among the tribes." Hiccup snorted, gee have watchdogs set on you or lose everything. Tough decision. Then he glanced at Dirk who seemed incensed at the idea. Well, any sane person would accept the deal, as raw as it was. "Any attempt at using their men or dragons to mount an attack will be seen as war on all of the tribes and will result in their execution."

"We also agree to follow the suggestion of Training by the Dragon Master." Hiccup could see his father wasn't happy that he had to say that. He probably wasn't happy that Hiccup had more or less browbeat the council into accepting it. If it had been his idea he probably would've been thrilled. "Each tribe will send one representative, it is up to each tribe to decide who will come, to learn from him and to then teach their people. This is the verdict of the council." Stoick thundered.

Hiccup was relieved. He was glad he wouldn't have to leave and be among other tribes to teach. Even with agreements and so forth he wouldn't be able to rest if he was among another tribe without his own around him. He was also, not really happy, but at least relieved that the Dornar people were not to be killed out of hand. Granted if they were stupid then they would die, but Hiccup had at least made it so such a thing was on their own heads instead of his.

"So, it looks like you should brush up on your lessons, I see." He turned on the harness to see Astrid next to him. "Or are you going to go with the 'Gobber Method of Training' and just see who lives?"

He grinned at her "I don't quite think that's going to give us the result we're looking for here."

"No, probably not." She agreed. "At least this time you didn't lose any limbs when you decided to go off and do your thing."

"Yeah, well, I haven't met my students yet either." He replied as the two wended their way through the crowds to the entrance. He yawned. There was still going to be problems, this wasn't going to smooth everything over. The Dornar people had been humiliated and weren't going to forget that. He would probably be dealing with what the other tribes considered their best people, which meant the most stubborn, small minded, and hulking men they had, most likely. But right now that was in the future. Now he was free from a bit of his guilt.

Now he could find something to eat before he passed out and had Astrid hit him for worrying her again.

A/N: Sorry this took so long. I knew I wanted to end it here, but the final words wouldn't come. It seriously kicked my butt around for a while.

Woot! Over 40,000 words for a final count!

Thanks to all of the people who've read and reviewed, I hope you enjoyed the whole thing. I have a one-shot rattling around in my head, but no guarantees when it'll finally get written/posted.