Fishlegs patted his Gronkle as it settled into sleep next to his house. He sighed. He'd always been one of the worst Vikings in the village, second only to Hiccup. He had the size and muscles, yet his personality was lacking in the authoritative and arrogant way of living someone like Snotlout could do effortlessly. He'd always tried to compensate for it, in weapons training he'd memorized every list of moves, every weapon's strengths. However when he'd tried to put it into practical use, he'd ended up making a fool of himself. His parents had been disapproving, yet they'd at least had a fall back "At least he's not Hiccup."
The sad part was that the two had been good friends when they were little. Fishlegs had loved being around the other boy for his imaginative stories and ideas. One day it might be that they were warriors defending Berk from ravaging hordes of dragons, the two of them swinging sticks at the seagull flocks on the beach. The next they were brave explorers out to find new lands, as they tried to get a raft Hiccup had designed out of sticks and twine to float in a stream. The two of them had been inseparable, two children who didn't fit in with the others.
That had all changed when they were deemed ready to start weapons training. Fishlegs had tried his hardest to learn what was taught. He read every manual that talked about fighting. He memorized lists of stances, of how to defend and attack, everything. He was horrible at it, but kept up not wanting his parents to look at him with the same resigned look that always glanced over at Hiccup and sighed. Hiccup on the other hand was even less capable at weapons than anything else. Handing him a sword it was an even bet whether Hiccup would accidentally hurt himself or another trainee within a minute. Less if it was an axe. And his one attempt with a bola had been the talk of the village for a week as everyone had laughed.
As Hiccup showed his complete incompetence at weapons, Fishlegs parents had started warning the boy to avoid the Chief's son. They seemed to fear that Hiccup's inability was contagious and as Fishlegs wasn't that much better, it was better for him to be around the other children in hopes that their ability would rub off on him. Shortly after his parents had begun telling him to avoid Hiccup, Stoick pulled Hiccup from the training and sent him off to learn from Gobber. Now the two really began to grow apart, both working on separate areas of learning. Without Hiccup as a buffer, Fishlegs began trying to make friends with the others and eventually received if not close friendship, then tolerance.
Fishlegs knew Hiccup was learning in the smithy, though it hadn't seemed to stop his inventive tendencies. Everybody still remembered the time Hiccup had insisted that they could make better weapons with hotter fires, and had then proceeded to experiment to see how he could make the fires hotter. The whole village had helped rebuild the smithy after one of the experiments had reacted badly.
The last time the two had talked, Hiccup had run up to him showing Fishlegs the first knife he'd ever made. Fishlegs could see they way the other boy's eyes were lit up, here was something he'd made that anybody in the village could recognize as a success. He'd been so happy wanting to show off the proof of his learning. Fishlegs had seen the other kids in the village behind Hiccup, rolling their eyes and snickering behind his back. Not wanting to lose the small amount of acceptance he'd earned from the others he'd turned a dismissive eye on the knife and replied "Kind of small isn't it?"
Hiccup's shoulders had drooped. "Well, yeah, but it's the first one Gobber said was good enough to keep, rather than melting down again." He'd mumbled.
At Fishleg's rebuff the other boy had kept away from him. Fishlegs noticed that he kept the knife he made, rather than giving it away or trading it. Or at least he did until shortly after they started Dragon Training. He must've lost it sometime.
Fishlegs made improvements in his fighting, and like the rest of the group he was considered old enough to go to work on the firefighting detail when the dragons attacked. He hadn't really been looking forward to the Dragon Training like the others, though. While he had memorized the stats of every dragon in the book, he knew he'd probably come in last, again. When Hiccup joined the rest of the teens for Dragon Training, Fishlegs was relieved, now he was sure he wouldn't come in last place. His parents might not be thrilled but they would be satisfied with him coming in above another, even if it was Hiccup.
Then Hiccup, little, odd, strange Hiccup, had quickly, almost overnight, become number one in class. Nobody knew what to make of it. He knew Astrid was furious with the boy for showing her up, when he'd managed to bungle almost everything else he'd done. The others were simply amazed that he had such skill. Hiccup didn't change, he still was awkward, and still liked to disappear into the woods away from the others. Fishlegs had no idea what had happened.
Then had come the final exam. Suddenly Astrid was hovering over Hiccup. Fishlegs had assumed she'd decided to try flattering him to learn his techniques or something. The Monstrous Nightmare had been released into the arena, flaming and furious. Fishlegs had seen Hiccup not attack, only moving to keep the dragon in view. He'd been baffled and began calculating how long Hiccup had until the dragon got him. But the creature had calmed, had allowed Hiccup near it. Hiccup almost had his hand on it speaking of how they didn't need to fear the dragons, even as he stood so close the dragon could've snapped him in two before anyone could react, when Stoick had set the thing off again. Then the Night Fury had appeared keeping Hiccup from being killed only to be captured itself.
Things had moved quickly then, the warriors were suddenly getting on the ships, sailing off to the nest, which Stoick claimed to know how to find. Almost all of the adults on the island had left with him. Fishlegs had seen Hiccup, standing on the overlook, watching the ships sail away looking heartbroken. Had they not grown so far apart he would've gone to see what was wrong. He saw Astrid approach the boy and turned away to deal with chores his parents had set him before leaving with the rest. When Astrid came to him telling him Hiccup had a plan to save the warriors who had left from making a huge mistake, he'd looked at her confused, why would Hiccup need his help? What could he do to help the warriors who'd already left? They were trainees, not ready to take on the Dragon Nest. When she told him to come to the Training grounds he grew even more confused, was it more practice?
Finding out Hiccup could tame dragons, knew how to read them, had been a shock. Realizing he wanted the other teens to ride the dragons he'd tamed over to the nest to take on an incredibly huge dragon was and even bigger shock. Fishlegs still remembered that crazy flight, clinging desperately to a rope wrapped around the Gronkle, certain that the dragon was going to dump him off as they sped over the ocean.
The fight had been the stuff nightmares are made out of. Hiccup's descriptions hadn't managed to convey the terrible dragon they had faced. It was insane. And yet, there was Hiccup, fighting against something that should've killed him in an instant. Then, to everyone's surprise, he won. He even survived.
Now Berk was still in the process of changing itself to accommodate the dragons. Now Hiccup was the Hero of the village, with every Viking who had once ignored him now pestering him to explain about their dragon, or make a harness for them. Stoick apparently felt his son needed yet more responsibility on top of this, making him attend meetings with the tribe to learn what an heir needed to know about his people.
Fishlegs saw Hiccup heading towards him, his gait still off a bit. Toothless kept pace with him, ready to lend a shoulder if the boy lost his balance.
"Fishlegs! I've been looking for you." Hiccup said, grinning at him. The respect of the village had made him more confident, more likely to smile. "There's something I think you'd be best to deal with."
Fishlegs looked at him, what could he do? Now that Hiccup had managed to succeed beyond anyone's wildest imagination Fishlegs was now solidly in the bottom of the rankings. "I'd like to help, but I don't see how you could need my help."
"Well, the thing is," Hiccup began. "I've been thinking about the Dragon Book." He grimaced. "Really it's useless now. The whole thing is nothing more that descriptions of how a dragon kills their victim, followed by 'Extremely Dangerous, kill on sight.'" He looked at Fishlegs. "I know you've always been good at remembering all kinds of things, down to the tiniest detail, so I thought you'd be perfect for rewriting it. Or even a whole new book." He finished, beaming at Fishlegs.
"Me? I mean there's got to be somebody…." Fishlegs trailed off.
"Well Astrid is good at acting on things, not so much observing them. Snotlout would rather have his teeth pulled out than touch a book, and the twins?" Here Hiccup paused, and sighed. "I'm pretty sure they'd have an argument over some minor choice of phrasing and all we'd end up with would be shreds of paper."
Fishlegs found himself laughing at the images Hiccup had created. He had to admit it he was the best choice.
"And," Hiccup said looking seriously at him. "How many generations of our tribe were trained from the last Book? How many more would learn from yours?"
Fishlegs realized, that despite the way he had ignored Hiccup, the distance that had grown between them, he was offering him a chance. Yes, Hiccup would have the songs sung about him, he would likely become a legend in time. Yet here was a chance for Fishlegs to make his mark. A way for him to have a chance at being remembered by future generations, better than Snotlout ever could. He smiled at Hiccup and held his hand out.
Hiccup gripped his hand as they shook on it.
A/N: was working on a chapter of Downed Dragon when this popped up in my head and refused to leave, making it hard to focus on the other. Hopefully now it will leave me alone.