North of Hopeless, South of Freezing: Chapter 2 — Mistakes

Hiccup groaned as he plopped on a bed, “Ugh, who knew Vikings and Scots are so similar.” Toothless only gave a snort before curling up on the floor to go to sleep. He filled up half of the room, so when Hiccup heard a knock, he had to squeeze his way around the dragon to get to the door. “Oh, hello princess, can I help you  with something?”

     “Well, first of all, you can call me Merida, and secondly, considering that this is my castle, I don’t think you need to help me.”

     “That is true, Merida, but I can help you by listening to whatever it is you have to say.”

     Merida grinned, “Good, because that’s exactly why I’m here. Since you will be staying with us for another day, Mom was wondering if you would like a tour of the countryside. You will need a place to set up your dragon school.”

     “True again. Did you just come here to tell me about all this?”

     Merida placed her hands on her hips, “No, silly, I came here to see if you wouldn’t mind if I take you on a tour of the DunBroch land.”

     Hiccup laughed, “Ah, so that’s what this is all about. I would be delighted to take the tour, as long as you don’t mind taking a dragon.”

     “Now that I don’t mind at all. Meet me at the stalls after breakfast tomorrow. Have a good night . . . if you can get back to your bed.” Hiccup’s eyes followed her glance at Toothless, snoring away on the floor.

     Hiccup shrugged, “I got around him to get to the door, I can get back around him to get into bed. If there’s anything I’m great at, it’s being inventive. Well, good night, Merida, see you after breakfast at the stalls.”

     “Right, well, I’d better let you go invent another way around your dragon.” As she spoke, Toothless moved around, Hiccup’s first path now blocked.

     He groaned, “Yeah, right, see ya.” He closed the door on a chuckling Merida before turning and sighing, getting around Toothless this time was going to take some extra hard thinking. But it didn’t really matter, Hiccup ended up sleeping soundly with Toothless on the floor.

     The two got up bright and early the next day, making their way to the stalls after a hearty breakfast. Merida wasn’t hard to find, her red curls standing out like a flame against the black horse she was brushing. Just as Hiccup got close enough to lean on the stall, three little heads popped up and growled at him.

     Hiccup jumped back, “Ah! Oh, it’s your three brothers, heh heh, good one.” Merida and her brothers burst out laughing.

     “You should have seen your face!” Merida managed to say while laughing. Hiccup grinned, then frowned when he realized someone else was laughing.

     “Toothless! Quit it! Come on, you were startled too.” Toothless shook his head. “What? How come?”

     Merida snickered, “I think Toothless knows my brothers’ antics better than you do.”

     “Oh, ha ha, right, we’re taking them with us, aren’t we?”

     “Yes we are, or would you rather the sons of the three clans?” Hiccup turned his thoughts to his meeting with wee Dingwall, young McGuffin, and young MacIntosh.

     “I’d rather your brothers.”

     Merida snickered, “That’s what I thought. Well, are you  ready? Mom packed us a lunch.” She picked up a basket filled with food, the smell attracting Toothless closer.

     “Yeah, I think so, we’d better hurry it up and get going or Toothless is going to eat our lunch!” They all laughed and quickly climbed on, the triplets situated between Hiccup and Merida. Toothless took off, showing off some of his abilities to the delight of the siblings before they lowered to a decent height for Merida to point out landmarks. They toured quite a bit from Toothless’ back before descending to take a better look on foot. They stopped in the middle of a ring of stones at midday to eat lunch. Later, while Merida got her brothers to play with Toothless so she could get the remnants cleaned up, Hiccup went for a little exploration. It wasn’t long before he came across a quaint little cottage hidden in the trees. Curious, he knocked on the door, and an elderly woman opened it.

     “Yes, what can I do for you?”

     “Oh, I was just exploring and I was wondering who lived here. If you don’t mind my asking, why do you live here?”

     “I’m a woodcarver, it’s easier for me to get wood here than in the castle. Come on in, we don’t get nice Vikings here often. Actually, we’ve never had any at all!” she cackled.

     Hiccup chuckled as he entered the cottage, filled with bears, “Yeah, I’m the first, but hopefully not the last.”

     “Why do you say that?”

     “Oh, I’m visiting the Scots to get an alliance together between them and us on Berk.”

     “And how’s that coming?”

     “Well, so far I think I’ve got the DunBrochs to agree, I just need to figure out a way to convince the other clans to agree as well.”

     “That shouldn’t be too hard now that you’ve got the DunBrochs, they’re the head of the clans.”

     “Yeah, well, it is hard. Ugh, I wish my dad were still alive, he’d know what to do. I . . . I wish I could be as big as he was sometimes just because no one really takes me seriously unless Toothless is there. Ugh, I just wish I could be a better chief like he was,” he sighed.

     “Hmm . . . maybe I can help a bit with that.”

     “What do you mean?” She didn’t answer, just moved around her cottage gathering a few things and tossing each one into a large pot before taking a hair from Hiccup and adding that. She took a cup, dipped it into the pot and brought a cup of frothing liquid to him. “Uh, what is this?”

     “It will make you as big as your father, once you drink it, of course.”

     “What? How can you do that?”

     “I’m a witch! Come on, that red-haired princess figured it out immediately when we met.”

     “You’re a witch? And Merida met you?”

     “Yes to both, but the second one’s a different story. Are you going to drink that or what?”

     “Don’t I have to pay you?”

     “Nah, you’re the first nice Viking I’ve ever met, it’s for free. Though, you should know, you won’t see the effects until after sundown.” Hiccup paused, glancing at the liquid, he could hear his name being called. Did he really want this? Did he really want to almost become his father just so he could be a better chief? He sighed, the voices calling his name were getting louder, he would have to return to them soon. He took another look at the liquid, and drank it quickly. He almost gagged at how disgusting it was, but soon the feeling subsided, though it still left a nasty taste in his mouth.

     “So, I’ll change after sundown?”

     “Yup. Is that the red-haired princess calling for you?”

     “Uh, yeah, I’ve got to get going, thanks for, uh, everything.”

     “Oh no problem, and thank you for giving an old lady some company. Have fun!” Hiccup grinned before walking a little dizzily out the door. By the time he met up with the others, he was walking a little more steadily.

     “Where have you been? We’ve been looking all over for you! Toothless was starting to panic when he lost your scent!”

     “H-he lost my scent?” He glanced back at the way he had come, so she really was a witch. “Sorry, I was enjoying my exploring a bit much and lost track of time. This is a really nice spot, actually, I think this would be a good place for the dragon school.”

     “You think so? We haven’t looked at the rest of the country.”

     “We can still do that, I might find an even better place. Are you ready to continue looking?”

     Merida glanced at her brothers who grinned, “I guess so.”

     “Alright, come on Toothless!” The dragon bounded to his rider, licking him out of relief. “OK, Toothless, OK, calm down, I’m fine. Let’s go see some more of Scotland, alright?”

     Toothless nodded and stayed still long enough for them to mount him before taking off. They returned to the castle just as dinner was being served. After their long day, they ate heartily, the topic being mainly about the dragon school. All of the clans seemed to be in a good mood that evening, so Hiccup was able to talk more about the alliance, until a few minutes before the sun went down.

     The boys had been shooed off to bed while Merida and her mother went to take care of a few things, leaving the men to their alcohol. Hiccup declined to drink more than a pint, he wanted to be as clear-headed as possible when the changes took place. After taking a few sips, the gagging feeling came back, forcing Hiccup to retire to his room early under the pretense of feeling tired. He made it to his room, right as the sun finished setting. Something came over him, his whole body seemed to shake and shiver, and his stomach moaned. That’s when he noticed the changes, he was starting to get bigger and hair was sprouting all over. He heard someone come in and gasp. He turned to see who it was, Merida was standing there with her hand over her mouth.

     “Oh, no, you found the witch, didn’t you? Oh, this bad, it’s happening all over again!”

     Hiccup blinked, “What do you mean?” She glanced at him, her mouth wide open.

     “Y-you can talk?”

     “Of course I can, I am a human after all!” He tried to cross his arms, that’s when he noticed something was off. His fingers ended in claws and his arms were covered in more hair than he had ever seen on any human.

     “Not anymore, you’re a bear!”

To be continued…

By Aurora Mandeville