Chapter 27: I Can't Look Out for You
Chapter 27: I Can't Look Out for You
Chapter 27: I Can't Look Out for You

5th May 2013, 7:27 PM

by inhonoredglory

The dragons were still humming with discontent around him, he could feel it even now. But it was war now, and the dragons felt that in their riders, and they were calm, focused, as their warriors were. But a moment's doubt could set them off, Stoick felt, and he wished his son was here to guide him with these creatures. Hiccup still had this way with the beasts, something special that no one else had. Stoick inhaled deeply, let the salty ocean air into his lungs. It was too late for wishing now, for war was upon him, war and all its ugliness, its anger, and its bonds of brotherhood. He'd lashed his ships together, one to the other, prepared them for the coming attack. The island wasn't that close yet, there was still too much distance between him and land, but ships were already coming, and flying creatures -- dragons with riders upon them -- coming to sweep down on them, blowing fire into their ships. There was shouting from the flanking vessels, rapid messages between the line of drakkars, coming to Stoick. He could taste the livid sense of panic in his men, especially from the outer ships. The mounted enemy had surprised him, and the last thing in war one wants is to be surprised.

Gobber voiced the words that were running through the chief's mind. "And we taught them how to train dragons . . ."

But was it enough, that one day back at home? Training dragons wasn't a charmed thing, it took skill, and luck in some ways. It wasn't easy, and he had a hard time just believing that these people could learn the trick without practice. But still . . . what other explanation was there? The fact is they were using dragons as weapons, and he had to face them.

He turned from Gobber, stepped to the other end of his ship, the far end where war rituals were already under way. Stoick dipped his hands into the communal bowl of water and spit, splashed his face and breathed heavily, looked at his men. The dragons were a surprise, one he hadn't counted on when he rushed out here, perhaps as unprepared as his son, to face the enemy. "Mount your dragons, meet them with an equal fire," he commanded. "Get those dragons out of the air, don't let them get to the ships."

The men nodded. Spitelout came up to him slowly, and in his face Stoick could read a drawn-out sense of weariness. Stoick clasped a palm to his younger brother's shoulder, shook it gently. "Snotlout's going to be okay," he said, confidently. "He's a strong boy."

The man gazed up at him, pursed his lips. "Do you think they made it to the island?"

Stoick turned away from him, focused on his weapon hanging from his side. He grasped it and unsheathed it from its scabbard. That thought had passed through each parent's mind at some point in that day and the ones leading up to this battle. Stoick himself had spent nights up worrying, letting out all the worry and concern that a chief could not show to his men. He'd spent the nights praying, desperately, that his son was still alive, that the sea had not taken him, that his brother had not taken his small life by now. Ever since the sacrifice to the gods, he'd felt like it was useless, the gnawing sense that he'd come out this way to merely win a war but bury a son. He could see the thin face, the ruffled red hair, the skinny arms and freckles . . . a son he was being punished to have kept. Were the gods that angry for him sparing the boy's life so long ago? Or was this war a work of man?

"Mount your dragon, brother," he commanded, patting him one more time and whistling for Thornado. He threw himself upon the dragon, took to the skies, saw the extent of his damage. Ships, burning, men flailing in the waters, some swimming for cover, others dead already, more being attacked mercilessly by the dragons, and their charred, flaming bodies sinking down into the sea. Dragons fighting dragons in the air, claws clasped, men shoving weapons at one another from across the scaly backs, destined to drop into the sea and fall they did, man and beast. And the hand-to-hand combat on the decks of his left flank, the enemy boarding his ships, their blows focused and determined. He shoved his arm, motioned for men to move to the left, to support his flank. "Arrows and catapults, don't let up!" he shouted and flew towards the battle. He looked out, tried to locate the leader of this force. Show yourself, brother, he hissed in his mind. Show yourself a man and fight me.

:: ::

Rune was calm. He was about to exact his revenge, why shouldn't he be? But even with this conviction he felt the exhaustion that lived in his core. The war had done wonders to push him to action, to make him forget how weak he actually was. He knew for a long time that his days were coming to a close, that the pain of Valla's loss had eaten away at him, his mind and his body. Heather had wanted to bring him life with this plan of revenge, and maybe she was right. Maybe the death of one slave could save the lives of many -- his own peace and his daughter's, the goal that he had driven into his tribe, into his people. Maybe the death of one could bring her back, in some way avenge her loss.

He looked so small, when the guard brought him out. It was dark, so dark of a night. There was a wind, cold and biting, rushing through the air. The moon shone a bright pale blue down on the boy, his shadow sharp against the stone path that led between the slave house down to the Chief's. The grass was black in this light, and somehow it wasn't soft, but hard and uneven in bunches of spines on the ground. The clouds above shifted wildly, as the wind raced, blotted out at times the light of the moon. It was cold, frigid against Rune's skin, but he doubted it was the weather so much as his own illness. He was still a sick man, distracted maybe by the war and the prospect of victory.

The boy's hands were behind his back, and he was tripping, stumbling pitifully on the metal leg Rune remembered had come from that great battle which brought fame to this cursed child. He hated that redemption, he hated that black dragon which changed this boy's fate. Why had the gods picked him to make his tribe a better place, give his tribe peace? How could fate be so cruel?

The boy was on his knees before him now, and from up here Rune could see the damage the boy had gone through in his captivity. Heather had told him he somehow escaped his own execution. That he had been carried by a dragon's jaws and still came out alive, that he almost escaped with his precious dragon before that. He was a cheat of fate, and he was here before him now, small and weak and with clothing ripped and torn and stained with blood. Oh the child looked so innocent, so simple, so hurt. Vengeance hummed through Rune's heart. The guard handed him Hiccup's metal leash. Rune took it, bounced the metal in his palm for a moment. It was a beautiful moment, to have his brother's son, the heir to the Hooligan tribe, humiliated like this. This fate might have been enough for Heather, but it was not enough for him. His loss of Valla was no mere military loss, it wasn't something that could be fixed objectively, like a balance of the scales. It had to bite, and it had to sting like acid into the offenders.

He unsheathed his sword, breathed a prayer of vengeance to his dear love, Valhallarama. He prepared his weapon, and suddenly the child looked up, met his eyes. There were scars on Hiccup's face, wounds that were still black against his white skin, reflecting in the moonlight. But behind the shadows and the bruises, behind the expressions of exhaustion, the glint of anger in that harried face, there was something familiar in his eyes, the life in them--

"I'm all you have left of Valla," the boy said suddenly. "Can you really kill me?"

The words came as a shock, a horrible vivid shock to Rune's fragile mind. It was a lie, a sick awful lie from the lips of this curse. "No," Rune hissed. He heaved the sword down, and the boy hunched low, missed its blade. Rune could feel the race of his heartbeat, the whisper of screaming voices in his head. He saw the boy, scrambling on his knees away from him, the guard coming up now, looking to Rune for direction. Rune ignored him, hauled his body towards the child, knelt down into the dirt and grass and grabbed the boy's collar, pushed his raw, angry hands into the metal around this slave's neck, shoved the boy's back into the dirt. Hiccup was squirming in his grip, he could feel the boy's desperate movement, the heavy breathing, but Rune kept his hand firm, pressed his fist into the boy's throat, kept him pinned. "You're nothing, nothing," Rune hissed, disgust rising in his throat. How could this boy, this hiccup have the gall to speak his love's name?

Hiccup gasped, looked up at him, that fire in his eyes desperate and rushed, even as pain ripped through his face. "What would she think if you did this?" the boy gasped, the voice fast and reaching for air. Rune moved his hands up to the boy's throat. Valla.

Was she watching this? Did she know what he was doing for her?

"If you still love her?" Hiccup's voice grew thinner, and Rune saw fear in those eyes.

"You stop talking about her," Rune muttered, shaking, his hands shaking, his mind like a storm on the ocean, dark and heavy and wild. Clouds shielded the moon. "You have no right to talk about her." He stared into the boy's eyes, watched them flicker in the faint light, so sharp in the night air, so close to him, after all these years, to have his hands on someone he'd hated ever since his own life ended so long ago.

The boy inhaled. "I'm her son," he whispered, a sudden calm in his small voice.

Rune heaved a breath, hissed through bared teeth down at the boy. That face stared back at him, and there was something like a shield in the face of that child suddenly. Something Rune couldn't get past, that he couldn't let his hands tighten around his neck. He moved his hands up, let his fingers wander over the boy's face, picked out his features in the shifting moonlight. He could feel Hiccup shiver under his hand, breath out and gasp. But Rune was searching, for what he didn't know, and he pushed back the hair on Hiccup's forehead, looked down intently into this face, ran his fingers through the soft, dark hair. He wiped the sweat from the boy's forehead, smeared it on his hand, smelled it and rose suddenly, kept his sword loosely pointed at the child on the ground.

Didn't Valla see what he was doing for her?

A shard of weakness hit him suddenly, and he pressed his sword into the ground, leaned on it. It was a hard day, full of war and tension, and now, to fail here . . . it was a simple thing, to drive the weapon into this young body. He'd done it so often before, to men less guilty than this one.

But that thought of Valla came back again, the fact that this boy looked so much like her, felt like her, smelled like her. Pain ripped through his heart. No, it couldn't be. It couldn't be . . .

Rune looked down at the boy, the embarrassing sight, his body splayed over the dark grass, heaving with nervous breath, his hands still behind him, under him. Rune spat on the shape, shoved his boot fiercely into the boy's side and called for the guard. Hiccup yelped, turned on his side and Rune grabbed his leash, yanked again. "Get my daughter," Rune said to the guard. "Let this boy train dragons. Now." He looked down at Hiccup, saw the weight that was on his shoulders, as if the boy really cared what he was doing. The guard left, and Rune drew the leash closer. Hiccup resisted, looked at him, met his eyes again. "I want to see my dragon," he said, conviction pushing through the breathless voice.

Rune looked to the left, to the pen his daughter had them build next to their house. He could see the dark shape of the Night Fury and other dragons there, against the dark black sky. "I don't see a need for that."

"I'm training dragons for you, to save Toothless' life. I have a right to see him."

Rune looked down at Hiccup, at the fire in the boy's eyes, even despite all this.

Valla would call it spunk.

Rune licked away the dryness in his lips. "You'll have a proper execution after you train today, so what good would it do to see your pet?"

The boy paused, and Rune could tell he'd put fear in him. Hiccup breathed, the sound audible in the night. "All the more reason to see him," he whispered.

:: ::

"Toothless--"

Hiccup was breathless, his heart had gone through one too many changes in pace in the last ten minutes. How many times would he escape death? It was enough to kill him twice over already, and if what Rune was saying was true -- and he feared it was -- then he wouldn't live to see tomorrow. Escaping one execution by dragon was pretty incredible, but a traditional execution, a proper one? He shivered to think of the death penalties carried out by his own tribe, in the few times one of their own committed murder or rape. The wet slash of that axe against the throat . . .

But they'd shoved him into the pen of dragons now, his leash dragging on the ground, held by Rune a slight distance away. He could see Toothless, restless, fighting his leash to get to Hiccup, a hissing anger in his eyes. There was a fire in Toothless' heart, a hateful anger Hiccup had never seen in the dragon. It scared him, reminded him that this was a dangerous creature, a living fire-breathing animal -- his best friend, the one he was doing all this for, the one he was suffering for. "Buddy--" he gasped, his knees still sinking into the soft, moist earth of the pen, a weariness in him that kept him from standing up. All the strength that he gained that night was wasted, and he hoped desperately that meeting Toothless would revive him again, enough to get through this day and maybe tomorrow, if it came.

The dragon pushed towards him, yelped when his own leash kept him from reaching the boy, and the pain in Toothless' eyes gave Hiccup a shove of strength, as he stumbled forward and threw his face into the dragon, curving his neck to caress the dragon's snout. His bound hands itched and fought to escape their bonds behind his back. He just wanted to comfort Toothless, embrace him and soothe him. He could smell the dragon's wounds, the crack of dried blood glimmering in the night, the rash on his scales from where the metal leash rubbed against the dragon's throat. Hiccup's breathing went fast again, and he fought the nonsense in his mind, gasped out soothing words. "It's going to be okay. Trust me, Toothless. You'll get out of here. . . . We're going to make it." The dragon hummed, was nosing him as far as his own taut leash would let him, and Hiccup felt that the dragon was thinking, was putting together something horrible in his mind. He could feel it in the tenseness of Toothless' motion, the sharp purr in his throat, the way he at long last glanced down at Hiccup as a locked horror hissed through his cold green eyes. Hiccup searched his friend's face, looking for the calm, the comfort in it. His eye slipped, caught sight of the saddle on Toothless, his own saddle, tightly bound to the dragon's body, and the stirrup, the left side . . . his customized stirrup was gone, it was only an ordinary one there, and he could pick out the place where the leather was ripped and the metal hacked off, soldered and bent back. His jaw locked on him briefly, in anger, in hurt, and he stared at the contraption, the metalworking dirty and gruff, rushed.

Hiccup could hear the voices of his captors behind him, Rune and now a female voice, Heather. He could see Toothless tense, the dragon's body stiffen in front of him, as Toothless hissed violently from the leather strap on his jaws. Hiccup's own leash tugged suddenly, and Hiccup resisted, pressed his knees into the ground.

"It's time to go." Rune's voice.

Hiccup swallowed, kept his place.

Heather's quiet voice came through the darkness, directed at Rune, and even from here, Hiccup could tell it was subtly defiant. ". . . but I'm going to ride him, to war. You don't need to kill the dragon."

A mingled shock breathed through Hiccup's body. Toothless? He looked up into the dragon's eyes, knew they were talking about him.

Rune whispered back. "I never wanted to use dragons, I never wanted to use my brother's war tactics. It's an insult--"

"But it works. Haven't you heard their casualty reports?"

Hiccup inhaled sharply, broke his stare from Toothless. He took in a shaky breath, knew now that things had happened because of him which he could not undo, consequences that were permanent and horrible. Toothless nudged Hiccup's face, humming, concerned. He didn't answer the dragon, let the soft nose move into his cheek, breath into him.

"It's a disgrace to ride dragons," Rune whispered back.

"Don't you see the irony in this?"

"Look at them," Rune said, louder this time, and Hiccup turned around, saw the dark silhouettes above him looking down at him and Toothless. It was like he was a spectacle, a thing down here, and disgust rose in his throat. Then Rune stepped up, gathered the chain in his hands, yanked at it and made Hiccup jolt backwards, throwing him off balance. Toothless screeched, pulled at his chain, vengeance in his eyes, hatred and anger at those people abusing his boy. Rune kicked Hiccup upright again, and Hiccup flung himself into Toothless, gasping and choking, breathing deeply. He could hear Rune's voice, quiet and convicted. "Look at him, that dragon cares too much about this boy. He isn't going to ride with you."

Hiccup looked down, on the ground, as Heather didn't respond to what must have been clearly the truth. "I'm going to try at least one time," her voice was strong, and Hiccup shut his eyes, his head leaning into Toothless, his lips by the dragon's large, narrowed eyes.

"I wanted the dragon hunt before. When you're done with the boy, I want it still to happen. I should have said it before, but I can't sacrifice my traditions for your changes of whim."

"Dad--"

"I trusted you for so many years, but . . . you've changed. This boy has changed you." He spat out the words with a sadness and a vengeance, mixed with pain. Hiccup winced, but the weight in his heart went back to Toothless. It was a delicate feat enough to ensure Toothless' life by Heather's will. But now, it was what he feared most, that whatever he did wouldn't ensure Toothless' life, not completely. The feeling of helplessness pounded into his heart, that horrible sense of chains on your will . . .

But if they wanted to fly Toothless . . . it was a chance at least, whatever they planned in the future. He leaned close to his friend. "Bud, I want you to listen to me," he whispered, barely audible even to himself. Toothless growled, hummed, the thin slit of his eye widening. Hiccup put out the hum of words between Heather and Rune from his mind, focused on his friend, focused on whispering these commands to him, because he knew it would be a hard thing to ask of someone who loved him so much, and he didn't ask it lightly. "If she flies you," he whispered, softly, "I need you to take advantage of it. I need you to use that, run away from here. I-- I can't guarantee your safety anymore. I can't look out for you. And, Toothless--" He looked into the dragon's eyes, the depth of understanding in them. The dragon still didn't comprehend what he was saying, the realization would hit soon. He swallowed. "Toothless, you can't look out for me, not the way it is now. And when you get away . . ." He inhaled, saw the dragon's eyes shifting, knowledge drifting through them. "Don't come back. You did that once for me, ran into the Kill Ring and got yourself caught -- but Rune is not my father, and I won't see you die. I can't take that chance. I've . . . taken too many chances for you already." Hiccup looked earnestly into Toothless' eyes, tried with his whole being to communicate to him what he meant, the sincerity of what he was asking. The dragon only stared at him, and maybe he knew, but didn't want to believe. But this was going to be a day of do or die, a day with no second chances. He could feel that, horribly, like an awful vision. He swallowed. "Do that for me, Toothless, just this once . . . trust me."

That was the last he got to speak with his dragon, before he was dragged out of the pen, thrown into the hands of more guards that came to make him train dragons again. "Until nightfall," Rune said, gruffly grasping Hiccup's face and looking again into his eyes with an intensity, hatred, and . . . curiosity. Heather was with Toothless now, and he could read her body language, her trying to mimic the motions that he'd made the day before, with the dragons he'd trained. Guilt stabbed him suddenly, and he wanted to go back to Astrid, to sleep and just writhe in the pain of his wounds, because the mental hardship was worse than anything physical right now.

Did he actually believe he would not see Toothless again? Hiccup let the thought sink in. He'd told that to Toothless as a precaution, maybe it was another one of his rash judgments, brought on by sudden fear, helplessness. Rune led him along the docks, let the growing crowd of happy warriors jeer at him, throw wet, rotten things at him. Hiccup took it in silence, didn't watch them and didn't give them pleasure by whimpering. He stared down, tried to make sense of things, tried to revive that seed of hope in his heart. He'd already tried to ride out on a dragon. It didn't work. And if he tried again, maybe he'd just be killed anyway? That was reason to say what he said to Toothless. And if he trained dragons again, was sent to be beheaded like Rune wanted, then he wouldn't exactly be around to save Toothless if the dragon came flying back to save him. Toothless couldn't fly, not without him, and apparently not with him either, if the stirrup change meant anything. He couldn't help him. But the dragon could run, and the sooner he was away from here, the better.

He could see the sea clearly from here, from the vast breadth of docks to the horizon dark with storm clouds. The chant of war was sharp, the smell of blood and injuries, the pride of wounds of war, and the crisp cry of chained dragons, with bits and thick leashes on their heads, built in such a way that they could not open their jaws without the rider's consent. He'd given them peaceful creatures, and they turned them into slaves. Acid burned in his heart and he bit his lip. From here Hiccup could see the war afar, and the severity struck him suddenly, that from this distance he could pick out fire and burning ships, could imagine the line of ships lashed together in battle array, the attack of dragons on them, the skirmishes in the sky. Rune let him sit there, until daylight began to break. He said nothing, let Hiccup muse in his thoughts. Maybe he planned it that way, to torture him more somehow. Hiccup turned away from the horizon, looked down on his knees. He couldn't change what he'd done yesterday, he could only look for what he could do now. Training dragons couldn't be part of that, no matter the consequences. He couldn't let himself be defeated, not anymore. He shivered to think about what he was contemplating, outright refusal. It was suicide and he knew these people wouldn't stand up to his shirking on his promises. He had one hope, what Heather said, that she would fly on Toothless, out over to freedom. In the air Toothless was invincible. Astrid would make it out, and the kids, they were pretty safe in that dungeon. The war would happen right over them, and-- and once Astrid discovered he was gone, well she could punch out that guard in no time, injury or no injury. He smiled inadvertently, wished he could be there when she gave him a piece of her mind.

He really didn't want it to end this way. His one goal in life had been to save Toothless, to be his dragon's hero. But there's something about wrapping your happiness in someone else. It makes you do things you wouldn't do for yourself. It makes you make choices that are rash, stupid, noble. It gives you the greatest joy when you're with them, a happiness that could never be fulfilled in one heart alone. Yet if they were gone, nothing can fill the void in your heart. You don't want to leave them, because you love them so much in your life. But when does that love go beyond yourself? When does that love keep you happy even if you can't be with them, when it's just their safety and happiness that can keep you happy, even if you can't share in that joy, even if you can't share life with them anymore. Where is the line, and how does one cross it?

:: ::

I can't look out for you and you can't look out for me.

Toothless breathed slowly into the night air, the wind increasing now and sifting over his skin.

It was the most horrible, terrifying thing Hiccup had ever said to him.

He looked up and saw the low cloud deck spanning across the sea, the moonlit fog of receding night. It was clear over the town, burning lights soft and humming down below the hillside, the hum of sleepless, restless dragons. He could hear the sound of the chains inside the pen, that unmistakable clink full of anger and discontent and helplessness. Something like a moth brushed by his nose, and he flicked, felt his face tighten. He had no thoughts now, after the raging madness that had consumed him earlier, just after they dragged his boy out of the pen, manhandled his frail form. There were only feelings that wrapped into his body, stole the foundation from under his heart. He was hissing low and painful, his throat dry with suffering, his chest aching with hot disbelief. He had been caught twice within days, was chained and caged, yet he held out hope in the one person he knew would never fail him.

What had they done to him?

He could feel it in the black scars on the boy's face, the burnt bruises and the blood he smelled when he stroked that cheek and pressed his snout into that small shivering chest. The torn fabric on the frail body, the metal collar trapping Hiccup's neck -- the chain, yanking, terrible unbearable yanking--

Toothless shut his eyes, his jaw locking, his soul breaking, stress and dread welling like a tide within him. If Hiccup didn't make it, if maybe Hiccup knew he wouldn't--

"Toothless."

Heather's voice shocked the dragon. The Night Fury suddenly found himself wheeling backwards, focusing his eyes back inside the walls of the dragon pen, snarling in panic as he realized one human had stayed behind. The last human he wanted, the two-legged vermin he loathed.

A passion of hatred flowed from the dragon's throat, his body quivering under his fragile state of mind. He whirled around himself past his leashing pole, growled and paced and shook his head without purpose, his eyes piercing fire at the girl, the other dragons humming and nodding their heads in alert. He saw the girl's hand to her face, briefly there, her fingers swiping, before she turned to him and stepped forward.

"Please, Toothless."

There was strain in her face and her movements, and a strange, quiet anxiety in her voice. She wasn't even trying to look him in the eye, like something distracted her. He narrowed his eyes, felt a flush heat wash his face, his hind legs stiffening, readying. He moved swiftly and planted his feet squarely in her path, stood there defiant and yet unwilling to face her, tonight of all nights. Hiccup needed him. The way the boy put those words together, those last words -- it was like a confidence, but one Toothless couldn't dare listen to.

Buddy, listen to me.

The words rushed back to Toothless, words so desperate and sincere that he couldn't ignore. The dragon had always trusted Hiccup, even in the face of danger, in the face of death and hopelessness. The dragon's throat knotted suddenly, his chest tightening, his heart locking in a sudden and tangible horror. Hiccup couldn't be wrong. He always had ideas. He always had a plan. Toothless snorted. He'd disobeyed Hiccup's word before, but never when it was at this level of sincerity.

Fly with her.

If this was the break they were looking for . . . why did it sound so hopeless? If this was the clever plan, the brilliant idea, why did it feel like desperation? Oh how he wanted to be free from this collar and this chain, free to fight, to save his boy.

But why did it feel like betrayal?

"You know, you saved me once." The girl's words startled him, made Toothless growl and peer up at her. She was standing still, in front of him, staring at him with that lostness foreign to her demeanor. There was a strange honesty in her voice, as her lips loosed and her eyes washed over him. Toothless held still, made no sound. It was so long ago, that now bitter memory, the cave-in on Dragon Island. If he knew then what he knew now, he wouldn't have leapt for her, wouldn't have shielded her or let the rocks fall on his body instead of hers. It was a mockery on his mercy, and it snapped shards of ice inside him. She should have died.

The snarl flew out of his jaws before he even thought, his teeth gnashing and his tail slashing swiftly across the pen floor, his intent heated and aiming, her feet close enough to reach, until suddenly he stopped himself. The spike of hatred fluttered, his growl collapsing into a pinched moan, and he closed his eyes and shook his head. His heart was tearing, fighting the knowledge of something so simple, so repugnant.

She squinted her eyes at him, knelt down and looked into his eyes. "Your boy taught me a lot about your species."

The resolve inside him quivered through his breathing, his eyes looking up, his anger pleading to escape, but he kept still suddenly. Taught me. The image of Hiccup's face came back to him, those scars, the ones that he knew went deeper than the boy's skin. Is this what they were doing to him? Is that why he looked so weak, so terribly afraid? The boy was not a dragon like he was, he did not have a strength that other humans possessed. Is what they did to him enough to drive him to speak such words to his best friend? Toothless' soul seethed, and he let out a shaky breath, widened his eyes and narrowed them again, hesitating, pulsating. He'd never been filled with a greater desire to kill before.

"You don't have to die, dragon," the girl hummed suddenly, and her voice was laced with a pleading, as if there were thoughts and caring behind her cold words. Cold to him, who vowed now to never believe her.

Do this for me, Toothless.

The memory of Hiccup's voice came loud, sharp like a knife through the mingled hatred in his heart. But everything the boy said had been forced out of him, wasn't it? It all was a lie, a lie like her, and they'd hurt him to get it out of him. Toothless' heart shoved up his throat, but he kept back from growling at her, his own hesitation confusing him. She came closer, was up besides him now, petting him, stroking him, cooing him with words that came out of Hiccup's lips and movements that came from his mannerisms, but from her and it was sick, ugly, and it was deception. His growl that lisped out now was from disgust. But he didn't lash out at her, and when he wanted to gather the fire in his heart and shirk away from her touch, that voice kept coming back, that small boy's voice . . .

Why was his boy so sincere, why did he have to have whispered it to him, in a moment so honest, so . . . true. Why couldn't he believe it was a lie? It would have been easier if Hiccup were shouting, if he were reckless or angry, or confused, or broken, if he were senseless in his words or naive in his actions. But he wasn't, as much as Toothless wished he was, the boy's calm voice came shoving back into his mind, those words desperate but somehow mature, thoughtful in the extreme action they asked for. The dragon's heart heaved, broke like storm waves on the shore. Why did Hiccup torture him like this?

He let the girl's hands rove over him. Her voice was fast and cooing, distastefully close to his ear, and he flinched, her fingers unexpectedly stroking down the line of his forehead, petting his nose. He never took his eyes off her, had to turn his head to his left as he felt the side of her cape and her shoulder rub against the edge of his wing. Her face sickened him, the tiredness in her eyes yielding to a small brightness, a smile that flickered momentarily on her lips. He had to pinch his throat shut, stop the disgust from shoving up, and suddenly he felt the weight of his metal collar, the burden of the chain hanging down from his neck and tethering him to the tree, taking captive his feelings as well as his body.

"I won't let you die," the girl whispered. "You'll prove my father wrong. Toothless . . ." She intoned his name with a strange foreignness, awful on her tongue. He forced down the fire in his throat, growled and cut short his anger.

She looked at him suddenly, stepped in front of him and put her hands on either side of his face. He wanted to squirm, wanted to growl and shake her off of him. This was not like him, to be docile like this, to submit like this, to let such enemies get away with their trickery. To let them be rewarded for hurting the ones he loved. Toothless wanted to scream, to jump out of his leash and attack this impostor before him, lick her blood from his claws and make her small body lifeless and crushed. He was a dragon, it was in his blood to kill and to murder. But those words of Hiccup came back, like a taunt now, honest and desperate, but chaining him. Why was he tied to this Hiccup, why was he tied to this love? He lisped a curse in his dragon's tongue, felt her hands on his scales again, her legs brushing his body. This vicious species would pay, for what they did to Hiccup, what they did to him. But bitterness had filled him now, bitterness and hurt and a sudden desperate longing for Hiccup. He would listen to her, do what his boy had wanted him to do, but not with pleasure, and certainly not with submission.

The Night Fury looked to his right now, saw the figures and spines of dragons there, the Timberjacks restless under their chain nets, the lone Nadder tied some distance to his left, preening the spines in her tail and watching him. Skari was wide awake tied to his tree, several wingspans distant and facing away, his eyes uplifted to the mountains, his jaws agape as much as the muzzle allowed. He was calling, guttural and plaintive and frustrated, and Toothless knew it was for his offspring, for the orphaned dragon young on the many hillsides. The Nadder was sneering at him, and he knew it was because of the girl, and the way he didn't fight back. The Night Fury's soul spasmed with rage.

Skari tossed his head, and that sympathy of parenthood vanished from his thin face. He had a laughing snarl on his face, one of mocking, for Dagr's continued treachery to the species. The Night Fury hissed, a hiss low enough not to make the girl frightened, not sharp enough to raise suspicion, but just threatening enough to get the words out that he wanted to say. You think I'm a traitor. You think I love blindly.

Skari leered his head forward. You thought there was a question? he hissed.

The hot burst of hatred chased up Toothless' lungs, as the girl stroked him still, and the conviction of rebellion throbbed through him. These people are not mine, they are not the kind I came to love. I'm not a mindless traitor like you'd have me made out to be. Sure, let them ride me, far enough from their axes and swords and bows at home. But what would a human be, without his weapon? Defenseless. Easy prey . . . You're so afraid of the humans, so afraid you couldn't even take advantage of them.

The Night Fury lisped the last words with a vindictive growl, made the girl beside him jump before he cooed in next to her, his hum of deception thick and strong. He could feel the Timberjacks take note of his reverse logic, the Nadder look to Skari, and the Skrill still staring at him, offended, intrigued, hateful. He finally spoke, his growl low and pointed. So the trained dragon shall tell us what to do, and the traitor shall lead.

But there was no pang from the insult anymore. Toothless was filled with a rage, felt his mind take on a wildness he hadn't felt since before his kind was enslaved to the great monster in the mountain. Stay here if you want, Skari. He hissed through his chains. I'd want you to.

The Night Fury felt the girl hum to him, felt a comforting lilt in her voice. He could feel her stroke him, nudge him, and finally, lift her legs up on him, slipped her feet into the stirrups, rest her legs on his sides. The weight was strange, but it wasn't disgust or terror filling him now. It was only hate. A beautiful, angry hate. He stared at the Skrill, his locked eyes unmoving. The other dragons were shifting now, their eyes, and maybe their opinions. For rebellion is a rage hard to stop once it gains a foothold in the mind, and the conviction of hatred in its leader's mind was a strong and infectious one. In the air rose the call of dragons, far and wide across the island, the caged and the leashed, the bound and the tame. A useful hatred was easier to live with and act upon than mere chained anger. Even if it meant swallowing one's dragon pride to follow along with the humans, at least for a while. In the end, there would be human blood spilled, and that was all the captive dragons wanted.

comments


8th May 2013, 7:01 PM

Guest

School getting in the way? Don't I know it. Finals & AP finals in the next two weeks. (+ volleyball tourneys.) Ack!
>Yet again you amaze me by even updating, coming back with this continuation and BEATIFULartwork! (I left a brief spazz over it on tumblr.)
>First of all, I loved how you included Spitelout's concern and Stoick's inner turmoil in the opening section of the chapter. Rune's POV- so twisted! I imagined him doing an analysis of Hiccup, though, to see how much he was like Vallhararama (so much YES.) their conflicting viewpoints and Hiccup at Rune's complete mercy - so much tension! I did like how Hiccup's resemblance to his mom had an effect on Rune (cont.)

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8th May 2013, 7:26 PM

inhonoredglory

Aah!!! S@H1 thanks for the comment. Yeah, school is tough, and THANK YOU SO MUCH for the Tumblr comment on the art!! It's inspiring, you're an awesome help in getting us excited today with all your comments!! :D
Gosh, yeah, I figure Rune would see Valla in Hiccup. He's got more on his hands than he bargained for.

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16th May 2013, 5:10 PM

Servantatheart1

I'm glad I could help get you excited! And your welcome for the tumblr comment too, my friend. :)
Haha, yes. Rune certainly has a challenge on his hands XD. I can't wait to see how the conflict between those two will play out. And Heather too. I get the sense that poor Heather just wants to be loved...

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8th May 2013, 7:16 PM

Servantatheart1

Whoops! Forgot to let you know who I am in the last post. Sorry dear.
(p 2) "Oh the child looked so innocent, so simple, so hurt." -> one of my favorite lines :)
I need my floaties - it just got deep! Sacrifice - wanting the safety of the one you care about more than your own, even when your own survival is in question. Being happy because the one you love is safe, even if you can't share that joy. That's some good stuff to think about. I'm loving the deep thoughts. I know you do :) *thumbs up* Ooooh, Toothless becoming the dragon leader...can't wait to see it! He's definitelly living up to his name - a Night FURY >:).
My heart was broken for Hiccup two chapters ago... Now it is pulverized. (Keep it up xD) Seriously, this is turning out to be so intense. I've seen so much improvement in your writing and art skill througout you and your sisters novel :) You both have a talent, and thanks for keeping us updated! :)

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8th May 2013, 7:29 PM

inhonoredglory

Improvement, gosh I have to agree. You should have seen me looking back on our first Act. Man I was such an amateur! XD But yeah I'm proud of these last couple chapters and artworks. Thank you so much for seeing the change!
And, gosh yes, poor Hiccup. But like Cressida Cowell said, "For a Hero cannot triumph all the time. Sometimes he will be defeated, and how he faces that defeat is a test of his character."
"I need my floaties - it just got deep" Oh servantatheart1!! I'm LOLing all over the place XD Thank you!

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16th May 2013, 5:15 PM

Servantatheart1

"I need my floaties..." Pfft, xD that isn't "my" line, but thank you anyway! It's invisibly trademarked by this hilarious friend of mine...(he looks kind of like book!Hiccup actually).
Anyway! Wow, that Cressida quote. That's why I love her books. I think it's great that you carried this theme into your fanfic. It really says a lot about how you respect the book series as well as the movie. I can see Hiccup's character coming through even in defeat, and it's not quite the climax yet! Gah! *rubs hands in anticipation*

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16th May 2013, 7:55 PM

inhonoredglory

Aw thanks for the credit! All the more exciting that a book!Hiccup look-a-like coined it XD
Oh you don't know HOW MUCH I love Cressida's books, and the themes like that in it. I've not read book 10 yet but I already know some SUPER quotes from it that make my heart do spin wheels.
So yeah I have huge respect for the books, and I do like the bookishness coming out here, although thematically I might have gone this route whether I read the books or not. Cressida and me (and my sis) just happen to LOVE the same themes, which is why I love her stuff XD
And the climax, gah. It's terrifying. :|

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1st Jun 2013, 5:10 PM

Servantatheart1

I love her books to for the very same reason! I haven't read as many, but I've stumbled across most of the spoilers in the fandom XD. I still want to read them though! Oooh, the climax is terrifying you say? I believe it! (Can't wait! :D)

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8th May 2013, 7:23 PM

Sercantatheart1

Seriously, words cannot express how much I love this. It makes my day whenever I see an update. Such talent exhibited in this novel, tons of thought and heart, and an absolutely gripping story :) (If you go into novel writing for publication, I will definitelly read it! If the Lord is gracious to give us both that long on this earth. Praise be to out gracious God!)

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8th May 2013, 7:31 PM

inhonoredglory

Gosh you are so kind. I'm so moved that this means so much for you! That means a ton to me. :) Yes, I do think I should make novels in the future. There's so much beautiful truth and virtue we can say through stories.
Praise the Lord indeed!

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16th May 2013, 5:16 PM

Servantatheart1

Amen indeed ^^

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