HOW TO LOVE YOUR DRAGON: GIFT FOR THE NIGHT FURY
Three days had passed since Toothless left with those brief 'I'll be right back' last words. During those days, Hiccup almost couldn't sleep at night and he would always wake before sunrise, hoping to hear Toothless back on his usual spot, thumping away at the roof to wake him up for their flight exercise for their baby. He had been feeling a little restless these days as his belly had stopped growing and been having slightly more backaches than he usually did, and all the while he worried if Toothless would ever bother to come back when the time comes or if he were ever want to come back after finally earning his freedom. He knew he couldn't think so lowly of Toothless, but he couldn't help it either.
Suddenly he heard the familiar thumping on the roof. Excited, but unable to move as quickly as he did before, he waddled as fast as he could outside, eager to reunite with his mate.
"Toothless! I knew you'd come ba…"
Hiccup's elated face dropped as he saw that it was not Toothless, but Stoick who was helping out with fixing the roof tiles and decorating his home.
"Oh, hey, Dad."
"Glad you're up," Stoick beamed as he came down the ladder off the roof. "I was looking for your helmet."
"M…M-M-My…My helmet?" Hiccup stammered, remembering that he had lost it during their flight exercise.
"Would need a place to put your goodies."
"Yeah, well, I'll, uh, I'll get on with it…Great…" Hiccup muttered as he turned away, knowing that he would never find that helmet anyway, what with it probably sitting in the bottom of the ocean. Even if he knew where it fell, he would need Toothless to get him there—or at least a dragon—but neither was available. Stoick noticed his unenthusiastic tone and stopped him short.
"Hold on," Stoick waited till Hiccup faced him before continuing. "Hold on. What's in your mind? Come on, out with it."
"Well…" Hiccup sighed. "It's been three days, Dad. I just thought Toothless would be back by now like he said he would."
"I'm sure he's with the other dragons."
"Maybe, but he's the last one left. I'm the only one he bred with, and I'm right here. He didn't need to leave. I wish I could be that sure."
"Listen," Stoick sighed as well, feeling his son's sadness. "I know what it's like to miss someone this time of year. But what can we do when they can't be here for the holidays? We celebrate them, and that's what I imagine that's exactly what Toothless would want you to do. And I know he wouldn't miss the birth of his child for the world. He will be back, and you will be one big happy family again. Right?"
"You're right," Hiccup replied, knowing that his father spoke the truth.
"Good, now get that helmet," Stoick patted a little too hard on Hiccup's shoulder as he walked back to the village. "We have enough disappointment around here."
You and me both, Hiccup thought as he rubbed his shoulder painfully.
Hiccup, seeing that his dad was pretty much pre-occupied with other things, decided to let the helmet issue slide until he could work out an excuse. Due to his condition, he was not able to lift or carry heavy things around, so he was put in charge of supervising the kitchen of the Great Hall instead. Since he was pregnant and living his own life in his own house with Toothless, he had to learn to how to cook for himself, and it turned out that he adapted and mastered cooking in the kitchen as well as he did with mechanics. Like finding the right tools for an equipment, he could find the right ingredients for a dish, though he did need a little help from pointers, cookbooks and old-school housewives.
He was going to the docks to get someone to bring more fish for the stew when he bumped into Fishlegs who just so happen to be carrying a whole basketful of fish with him.
"Oh, are those for the kitchen or are you that hungry?" Hiccup noted at the amount of fish he was carrying. "There's enough fish there to feed a dragon."
"Huh…Oh…Huh, a dragon…That's…" Fishlegs laughed nervously as he trailed away, turning around and walking away quickly. Curious, Hiccup quietly followed him to which Fishlegs led him to the storage barn at the far end of the village. He secretly watched as Fishlegs went into the barn for almost 10 minutes, then came out empty-handed but happy and content as he left, making sure no one saw him. As soon as he was gone, Hiccup's curiosity got the better of him as he went in to investigate. The moment he stepped in, he felt something with glowing yellow eyes came towards him in the dark, sniffing at his belly and licking at his face. When Hiccup tried to gain composure and held onto whatever was slobbering him, a loud clank, like the sound of chains breaking, was heard and Hiccup found himself entangled onto the chain, indirectly tying himself onto the creature before it zoomed out of the barn and flew into the air.
"Meatlug?" Hiccup exclaimed as he recognized the creature once it was out in daylight. The dragon looked at him for a second, then continued flying with Hiccup tied around his side. They flew through the village and zoomed past Astrid, who was just about to look for him when the kitchen staff noticed he was being gone too long.
"Hiccup?" Astrid ran after the duo. "Where are you going?"
"I have no idea~!" Hiccup replied as he was taken further and further away from the village. As he tried to maneuver himself onto Meatlug while undoing the chains, he saw that they were heading towards the foggy area of Helheim's Gate. Barely missing a couple of rock pillars and a boat mast, Hiccup tried to ask Meatlug where it was taking him, but unfortunately, his bond only extended between him and Toothless and he couldn't understand what Meatlug was thinking even if he tried.
Meatlug soon flew higher up to avoid anymore unwanted accidents within the low visibility fog and went up above the clouds for a clearer view. Before they knew it, it was almost midday before Meatlug finally got to the end of the cloud cluster to reveal a huge reddish-brown crescent-shaped island surrounded by big rock pillars and small hills in random patterns. The sea collected in the center of the island like a huge bottomless pond, and the beach sand that connected it to the island shore gave out a rainbow-ish colour to it. Slowly Meatlug and Hiccup descended onto the island and the dragon gently let Hiccup get off before it went on its way to join the crowd.
As Hiccup stood at a high point to get a clear view, he saw dozens upon dozens of dragons of all species, all of them surrounded by newly hatched baby dragons of their own. There was a Zippleback grooming its young, a Gronckle napping at the side while its young were play-fighting with each other, and a Nadder who just got back from gathering food and was regurgitating it out for its young to feed. He finally found himself standing on top of the mysterious nesting grounds of the dragons Toothless was trying to tell him about.
"So this is where you guys come to have babies," Hiccup said in acknowledgement. He turned and saw a Gronckle pushing something into one of the small water pits around the beach area of the island. He went down to investigate and saw that the Gronckle was actually pushing its eggs in there and, as he peered into the water pit, the eggs glowed for a moment and exploded in the water before tiny little Gronckles swam their way out of the pit and made their way to their mother. Hiccup aww-ed at the cute little hatchlings, then saw an egg that the Gronckle missed.
"Hey, look, you missed one…"
Before he could reach down to pick it up, Meatlug lunged over and pulled him out of the way. Without warning, the egg exploded, almost throwing Hiccup back and blasting shards of egg shell shrapnel everywhere. The hatchling that burst out of the exploding egg fell down to earth with a plop, but it yawned as if it didn't bother him one bit before joining its siblings. Hiccup heaved a sigh of relief, grateful that Meatlug had pulled him away before he got blown off by the little dynamite, finally understanding what the water pit was for.
"Man, it's a good thing those don't hatch on Berk," Hiccup regained composure, wondering if this applied to all dragon eggs or just Gronckles, and wondered if his baby, if born an egg, might be that way too.
Hiccup continued to explore the island, calling out Toothless' name just in case he might actually be there with the dragons like his father said. Unfortunately, no such luck. Fortunately for his tired swollen feet and his backache, he found out that the bottomless pond was actually quite lukewarm to the touch, most likely because the island itself was volcanic in nature. He took off his clothes and submerged himself slowly into the pond, letting the warm water eased his aches and pains.
"Oh, Toothless, where are you?" Hiccup whispered worriedly as he soaked in there for about 10 minutes before getting out, drying himself and got dressed before continuing to explore. If he's not here…where could he be?
Soon he found himself on the other side of the island and saw all of Berk's dragons gathered there. Hookfang recognized him almost immediately and purred, letting out a chirp, catching the other dragons' attention.
"Hookfang!" Hiccup half-ran towards the Monstrous Nightmare, then went to Stormfly, who in turn nuzzled and purred at Hiccup's belly. "Stormfly! Oh, you have no idea how happy I am to see you guys. And you have…babies?" he knelt down to caress and stroke her three new hatchlings, "Aww, look at you guys all happy and together. Who knew you're leaving to celebrate your own…holiday…" he looked down a little sadly, the thought of Toothless crossed his mind again, but he tried to cheer up as he got up slowly, "I should be getting back to my holiday. So whaddaya say, Hookfang? Think you can get me a ride back home?"
Hookfang was only too eager to please as it let Hiccup climb onto it. The duo soon took off and was up in the air, pointing towards the direction of Berk.
"I'll see you all back on Berk when you're good and ready, OK?"
Somehow his actions spurred all the other dragons to follow, even those that did not belong to Berk. All the adult dragons opened their wings and started taking off, while the hatchlings soon followed suite, chirping and growling after their parents.
"Oh! No, no, no!" Hiccup protested, realizing what he had just done. "I, uh, I think I just started the return migration."
He looked down to see the dragons were all ready and good to go, not deterred by Hiccup's protests.
"Well, if you insist."
The adult dragons soon demonstrated to their hatchlings how to take off and take flight, but while all the dragons managed to show them just how it was done, the hatchlings weren't able to follow them as they were too light to withstand the undercurrent of the wind from the cliff and were blown back onto the island, leaving them stranded.
"Ah, this is never gonna work," Hiccup muttered as he watched the hatchlings trying it over and over again in vain, then he remembered something he saw in Helheim's Gate. "Oh! Hold on, I got just the thing."
He hoped this would work as he guided Hookfang to where he wanted to go.
Berk was in total disarray as everywhere looked like it had just been hit by a dragon invasion like they used to before the co-existence. Everyone was going about trying to fix their homes and property as tiny little Gronckle hatchlings gathered and lazed about at the barrels of vegetable produce. Astrid, in her sad attempt to lift Berk's spirits, found out from the storage barn where Fishlegs kept Meatlug in order to keep it from following the migrating dragons that Meatlug was actually female and had laid her eggs in that barn. She, along with the team, decided that they should gift the eggs to everyone in the village, but unfortunately, without knowing that the eggs have the tendency of spontaneous combustion when they hatched, ended up blowing up or burning everything in sight, including the Snoggle Tree. Needless to say, there was a lot of explaining to do on Astrid's part.
"Ahh, Gobber, this is a disaster," Stoick, after days of trying to keep his optimism up, sighed in defeat.
"Oh, it's not so bad," Gobber noted, thinking that this was small fry compared to the usual dragon invasion back then.
"Not that bad? The village is destroyed, the dragons have gone and left us, and I don't even know where Hiccup has gone to right now or what's happening to him or if he and my grandchild are OK! Face it, Gobber, this holiday is a complete…What are these people looking at?"
Stoick pushed past the slack-jawed villagers to look up at what they were seeing. At a distance, there was a group of silhouettes flying towards them.
"What is that?" Stoick squinted his eyes to get a better look.
As the silhouettes closed in, it revealed that it was Berk's dragons returning with something in tow. Flocks of other dragons that didn't belong to Berk had moved on to where they came from with their own tows but the ones that were slowly descended towards the village with it. As the light illuminated them more, Stoick saw that Hiccup was on Hookfang, leading the Berk flock home.
"It's Hiccup!" Stoick exclaimed.
"And our dragons!" Astrid exclaimed as well as she came down from the roof she was fixing.
The villagers cheered as the dragons slowly put down their tow, which revealed to be the Viking boat that Hiccup and Meatlug almost hit, and once it was fully grounded, the boat revealed to be all of Berk's hatchlings, scampering out and starting to explore their new home. One of the villagers helped Hiccup down as he was heavy with child and the travel kind of wore him out. Snotlout was the first among the villagers who made the move to reunite with Hookfang. Fishlegs was glad to be reunited with Meatlug, glomping her before she had the chance to watch her hatchlings that she left behind feed from her catch. Astrid was just glad and relieved that Stormfly was back, and cooed excitedly at her three little hatchlings. All in all, everyone was glad to have their dragons back, and having some additional little bundles of joy in the process.
"Well done, son!" Stoick said proudly as he hugged Hiccup, careful not to crush him though. "Are you alright? Is the baby alright?"
"Thanks, Dad," Hiccup chuckled as he was put down. "And yeah, it's fine. Don't worry. Strong as ever."
"That's good. I was getting a little worried when you disappeared," Stoick then turned to the villagers. "Everyone, grab your dragons! To the Great Hall! We finally have something to celebrate!"
No one needed to be told twice. The Great Hall was soon jam-packed with the villagers of Berk and their dragons. The decors were all colorfully illuminated by the hanging lights and the food and drinks were as good as any Viking feast would be. Hiccup walked around to inspect the food and, satisfied with them, looked around the Great Hall to see everyone young and old all happy, contented and gleeful, celebrating as if the dragons had never left, while the younger ones were having the time of their lives playing with the hatchlings who were getting to know their new surroundings. He could hear Fishlegs claiming that this was the best holiday ever while cuddling Meatlug's hatchlings, Snotlout laughing as Hookfang's hatchling blew fire at him (turns out Monstrous Nightmares have one or two hatchlings at most) and the twins fighting over guessing which ones were Poisonbreath/Firespark's hatchlings, since their Zippleback was male.
Everyone was into this joyous occasion.
Hiccup looked at everyone sadly, his heart breaking into a million pieces even though his face tried to keep that smile and tried to feel happy for everyone. This was supposed to be where he and Toothless would be sitting at a corner, sipping mead or munching on a chicken drumstick or squabbling over who gets the fish or just enjoying each other's company while watching the festivities. Instead, here he was, heavily pregnant, surrounded by family and friends, and yet no one to share it with. Had Toothless really gone for good? Had Toothless really abandoned him? What if something had happened to him? What if Toothless decided that he liked being single after all and left him to fend for himself and the baby? What if…
"Hiccup," Astrid's voice called out as he looked up to see her coming towards him with a sorry look on her face. "I know this must be really hard for to see everyone with their dragons, but you really did a wonderful thing. Thank you."
Astrid leaned in to kiss Hiccup on the cheek before hugging him to comfort him. Hiccup hugged back, glad to have a best friend who understood him and encouraged him, but it wasn't enough.
"Astrid…where did Toothless go?" Hiccup asked, trying to fight back the urge to cry. "He should be here with me…with our baby…"
"I don't know…" Astrid said, but then suddenly turned around and spoke in a lighter mood. "Wow…Man, wouldn't wanna be you right now. I mean, you brought back everyone's dragon except yours."
"Yeah, you know this is not helping…at all…"
Hiccup was about to ask her why the sudden insult when Astrid suddenly turned him around to face the entrance of the Great Hall. To his shock and surprise, there was Toothless, alive and well and happily galloping towards him.
"Toothless! Hey, bud!"
Hiccup couldn't be happier as he ran towards him, forgetting that he was carrying a heavy bundle in his belly. Almost immediately, as everyone watched that touching scene, Hiccup lunged forward to give Toothless a bear hug, hugging him as tightly as he could, as if afraid that if he were to let go, Toothless would disappear forever. He was going to kiss him too when he felt an apologetic vibe through the bond, reminding him about how long he was gone and how worried and sad he made him feel.
"Bad dragon! Very bad dragon!" Hiccup scolded him, mad at him for leaving him behind just like that without a word, while Toothless just allowed himself to be scolded. "You scared me to death! Don't ever stay away that long again and…what is in your mouth?"
Toothless grinned and spat the thing he was holding in his mouth onto Hiccup's head, covering him with slimy dragon spit. In the midst of everyone cringing in disgust, Hiccup saw an image of Toothless flying around to the area where he dropped his helmet and realized it was the same helmet he had lost.
"Y…Yeah, you found my helmet…Wha-Hey! You found my helmet! That's where you've been?" Hiccup asked, in which Toothless, as he purred and nuzzled his mate, showed a series of images where he dived, swam, hunted, foraged and looked everywhere until he found the helmet safely buried under a whole pile of snow and mud in the middle of a dense yet small uninhabited island just miles away from where Hiccup lost it. Hiccup smiled and cupped Toothless' jaw. "Buddy, thank you. You are amazing."
Hiccup finally leaned in to give Toothless his dragon kiss, causing everyone to say 'Aww' at this sight. Toothless returned his kiss, glad that he was back with his mate and being together again. Suddenly, Hiccup felt like as if he just peed himself, and when he looked down to see what happened, he realized that his water had broken. Blood drained from his face as he knew what was going on.
"Oh gods…Oh gods, I think it's…"
Hiccup doubled over before he could finish his sentence, and as Toothless caught him before he fell and roared worriedly at him, Stoick started yelling for the midwife.
"That's it, Hiccup, that's it. Take a deep breath and push."
Hiccup whimpered as he held onto Toothless' underarms tight, pushing down as hard as he could, leaning back his head against Toothless' chest while the midwife held Hiccup's legs apart. 4 hours had passed since Hiccup had his first contraction and he was finally dilated enough to push the baby out. When the midwife was called, Toothless became defensive, as all dragons do when their mates are about to lay their eggs. It was his instincts as a male dragon to keep predators away from his mate during the egg-laying process, but since Hiccup was not a female dragon like all the others, he needed help. If it weren't for Hiccup's cries of pain and Stoick's gentle but firm words to explain the situation, Toothless would've not allowed anyone near Hiccup. Toothless refused to leave Hiccup's side though—he was very insistent about that—so the midwife had no choice but to allow the dragon to be with Hiccup.
"You're doing very good, Hiccup," the midwife encouraged as she helped to stretch Hiccup more to ease the delivery. "Looks like it's gonna be an egg. I can see the tip."
Hiccup waited for another contraction before he pushed down again. Tears streamed down his cheeks and his whole body was littered with cold sweat as he struggled to bring the little one into the world. He whined loudly as he could feel his womb stretching to expel the egg, in which Toothless purred and tried to comfort him by licking his tears and sweat away.
"Oh gods, Toothless, it hurts…It hurts…!"
Toothless purred some more, his voice rumbled near his ear, trying to send a calming, soothing vibe to Hiccup through the bond.
"Come on, Hiccup, you're halfway there. Keep it going, Hiccup."
"Oooww…" Hiccup whimpered as he held onto Toothless tighter as he pushed along with the contractions. His legs were going numb from the pain and were trembling with fatigue, and he could feel blood staining his inner thighs.
"That's it, that's it," the midwife coached as she got a hold of the egg and slowly helped him inch it out. "You're doing very good."
"I can't…I can't do it anymore…" Hiccup shook his head, gasping for breath. "It hurts…it hurts too much…and…and I'm tired…"
Toothless looked up at the midwife worriedly, wondering what was wrong with his mate.
"I know you're tired, boy," the midwife patted Hiccup's knee gently. "But if you don't do this, you're going to lose much more blood and you might risk endangering your baby's life as well as yours."
"But…But it hurts…"
"It usually does, but you've survived worse injuries than this. This is nothing. I know you're a strong boy. You're a hero to Berk, so be a hero to your child."
Toothless purred in agreement, licking his cheeks and giving him encouraging vibes through their bond, using his underarms to give Hiccup a helpful squeeze, as if telling him that he was there for him and he will be strong for the both of them. Hiccup, encouraged by both the midwife and Toothless, finally nodded and waited for another contraction before pushing down. The midwife quickly got back to work to pull the egg out.
"That's very good, Hiccup. Just a bit more."
"How…How much more…?" Hiccup grunted between pushes, feeling like he was going to black out sooner or later.
"Alright, this is it. One last push. Give me a big one, Hiccup."
Hiccup took a deep breath and pushed down his hardest, screaming out Toothless' name as the last and widest part of the egg finally slid out of him. His head was spinning as he felt the pressure and lump between his legs was finally gone, leaning back against Toothless and panting breathlessly. Toothless looked expectantly for more eggs to come but it looked like this was it. It was over.
"Sorry, Toothless. Only one egg. A human can only carry so many kids, you know."
Toothless sighed a little in disappointment, as he remembered being born in a batch of four when he was a hatchling, but one look at Hiccup who had passed out from the birth and his peaceful-looking face as he slumped against Toothless, exhausted and worn out, he knew it would be alright. Hiccup had been through a lot, and this was enough for him.
Hiccup slowly woke up to see Toothless sitting near the fire, the egg safely nestled within the burning embers. Ignoring the midwife's instructions to stay bedridden, he got out of bed and slowly walked towards Toothless before sitting down on his forepaws, watching the egg along with him.
"Is it almost time?" Hiccup asked, and Toothless nodded in reply. He sighed in relief, "Finally. These past three days felt almost like forever."
It was a double celebration for both Hiccup, Toothless and Stoick as the proud family welcomed the new addition to the Horrendous Haddock family, even though it was still an egg and yet to determine the gender of the hatchling within. Stoick, the proud grandfather, showed off the egg to the villagers waiting outside Hiccup's house with him (he practically wore a hole on the floor pacing around during the birth), much to Toothless' chagrin, and as all midwifery traditions go, Hiccup was to be bedridden for at least a fortnight to heal from the birth. Toothless took over babysitting the egg, his instincts kicking in as he kept the embers burning to warm the egg, letting it incubate till it was time to hatch. He wasn't sure exactly how long it would take for the egg to hatch, and Stoick came in every chance he got to see whether or not his little grandchild has hatched, but the dragon just let instincts guide him and today was the day his instincts told him might happen.
"I wonder what we would get," Hiccup thought out loud, then looked up at Toothless. "Do you think our baby will be dragon or human or hybrid? Or will it a girl or a boy?"
Toothless nuzzled Hiccup, telling him through their bond that whatever or however their hatchling would turn out, he would love them just the same. He then gave Hiccup a 'I wanna tell you something' look.
"What is it, Toothless?"
Toothless shifted a bit to drag out his old prosthetic fin and Hiccup's saddle, pedal and harness, putting it in front of Hiccup.
"Toothless, why'd you pull this out for?" Hiccup asked, surprised to see it before him, and even surprised at how the dragon managed to find it. "You don't need this anymore."
Toothless shook his head as he pushed them closer towards Hiccup, the bond urging him to put the old fin back on his tail.
"Toothless, quit fooling around. You have your new tail now…" Hiccup felt something was up as Toothless looked back at him expectantly. "…Toothless?"
That was when Toothless showed him his tail, and where the new fin was supposed to be was gone, no longer attached to him, and Hiccup saw a flash of image from Toothless that he had requested Stoick to take it off and keep it at Stoick's home for safekeeping.
"Toothless, what did you do?" Hiccup was shocked at what he just saw. "Wh…Why did you do that for? I made that just for you, I…"
Toothless brought the old gadgets even closer to Hiccup, nuzzling him, growling affectionately a little, telling him his reasons through their bond. He didn't need a new tail. He didn't need a substitute. He wanted Hiccup. He wanted Hiccup to be his tail. Hiccup was his tail, and nothing could replace that.
He chose to be grounded. He chose to stay.
Hiccup was at loss of words. All he could do was cry happy tears as he hugged Toothless, kissing him all over. Toothless cuddled him back and purred, licking his face and giving him dragon kisses too. In the midst of their making out, a small sound of crackling could be heard. They turned to see that the egg was beginning to hatch. Thankfully through Toothless' memories as a reminder, Hiccup remembered that Night Fury eggs do not explode like the Gronckle's did, so the exploding eggs were pretty much a Gronckle trait. Both of them looked longingly as the egg slowly cracked open piece by piece when Hiccup got it out of the fire embers so as not to burn the hatchling when it comes out.
The new parents were surprised to discover that there wasn't one, but two hatchlings inside the egg as they fully revealed themselves. One was a female pure dragon and a spitting image of Toothless, but with Hiccup's eyes, the other a hybrid boy, with skin the colour of his father with his father's eyes, ears, wings and tail, and his mother's mop of hair and facial features. Both of them squealed at their first breath of air, but the hybrid cried longer, like a normal baby would. While Toothless licked their daughter off all the egg goo and pieces of egg shells stuck on her, Hiccup gently picked their son up and quickly undid the top of his night robe he was instructed to wear during the bedridden period before giving him his first feeding of the day. Yes, Hiccup was also developed at that area, it seems, and his motherly instincts soon kicked in the moment their son latched onto his nipple and suckled hungrily.
"What shall we name them?" Hiccup asked as he nursed their son, while giggling at the way their daughter tried to crawl her way around Hiccup's feet, instinctively knowing that he was her mother.
Toothless purred and shrugged, allowing him to choose their names.
"Then I'll name our son…Valiant, and our daughter…Meteora, after my mother."
Toothless thought for a while and nodded, already liking it.
As they waited for Stoick's inevitable entry to their home, Hiccup and Toothless shared a tender kiss. This year's Snoggle-tog Hiccup had given Toothless a pretty great gift.
Toothless gave him a better one.