“Woah! Toothless, what’s wrong?” The nightfury had suddenly lost balance in the sky and dropped several yards before righting himself. Now, Hiccup noticed, he still shook as he flew. “What’s wrong, Toothless?”
In response, the aged dragon began to manically cough up phlegm. Hiccup patted Toothless’s head. “Aim for that cliff, Toothless. You need a break.” Still coughing and becoming more shaky by the second, Toothless landed on the high cliff not too far away from Berk, where they’d started. Hiccup dismounted and walked around to Toothless’s head.
He didn’t look good. Even though they’d landed, Toothless’s body still shook and the coughing fit hadn’t subsided. Hiccup knelt and rubbed him behind the ear. He smiled at Toothless, but inside he was biting his lips and worrying. For months now Toothless had been shedding scales. He’d been getting more sickly all the time. And he was the only nightfury the Vikings had ever found. Who knew… Who knew how long a nightfury’s lifespan was?
“You’re going to be ok Toothless,” Hiccup said. Even as he said it, he knew it was a lie. Toothless just stared at him with sad, knowing eyes. He knew what was happening. At this point the great Viking chief was fighting tears. “You’ll be ok. Toothless, you’ll be fine.” He was denying the obvious now, and they both knew it.
Toothless’s eyes were were large, but tired. They were knowing, but also trusting. Hiccup gave a small, cynical chuckle as he remembered how exactly like these Toothless’s eyes had been that day they became friends. The best day of his life. Of their lives.
His time had come, and they both knew it. Toothless would not be returning to Berk. Hiccup bent his head to stare at the grass and closed his eyes. He turned away and stretched out his palm, just like he had on that first day. A moment later Toothless’s nose lay nuzzled in it.
They stayed silent and motionless for a few seconds, and then Hiccup whispered one word. Out of all he wanted to say before his best friend left forever, all he could manage was one word. “Goodbye.” Not a moment after he said it, Toothless’s nose slipped from his palm and landed with a gentle thud on the grass. Gone.
Hiccup squeezed his eyes closed to keep the tears from coming. He dropped his arm and forced himself to look back. Toothless had died with his eyes closed, and even in death he looked content. Hiccup gave Toothless one final scratch behind the ear before walking alone back to Berk.
The villagers saw him walk all through the town and to his house at the top of the hill. No one approached him, but he heard them whispering softly to each other. They saw what, or rather who, was missing. Astrid stood in the doorway, and when she saw Hiccup, she rose a hand to her mouth, shut her eyes, and wept silently. Hiccup put his arms around her and together they walked inside. Even their children knew enough to run away to their rooms and stay quiet.
After a long afternoon, Hiccup organized a grave to be dug by the hidden lake, where that friendship had first begun. When Toothless’s body had been lowered into the hole, Hiccup stood in front of it and gave his last testimony.
“Toothless. He was, as far as we know, the only nightfury ever to grace our skies. We used to think of him as the unholy offspring of lightening and death itself, but we could not have been more wrong. Toothless was the most lively, joyful, perfect friend anyone could ever ask for. I am credited with being the first Viking to befriend a dragon, but that’s only half true. I was the first Viking to befriend a dragon, but Toothless was the first dragon to befriend a Viking. I refused to kill him, but after I freed him and he could have killed me, he refused to do so. He deserves as much, or more, credit and fame than I do. Toothless was—is—the best friend I have ever known, and one of the best things in my life.” With that, he knelt down and placed Toothless’s red tail extension into the grave with him.
One by one, each Viking silently shoveled dirt on top of Toothless, hiding him from view forever. Hiccup looked on, completely devoid of any emotion, as Astrid clung to him, choking back sobs. And one by one, all the other Vikings left. Hiccup had quickly carved a headstone that afternoon, and he drove it into its place now. Together, Astrid and Hiccup left.
But that night, after Astrid had fallen asleep, Hiccup quietly left his home and traveled alone to the grave. He knelt before it and stared at the inscription.
Here lies Toothless the Nightfury, may he rest in peace.
“I’ll see you again soon bud. Don’t have too much fun before I get there.”
Hiccup stared at the inscription, and pounded his right fist on the ground. He lowered his head, and the legendary Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, chief of the Hairy Hooligan tribe and first tamer of dragons, cried.
At dawn, he heard a light ruffling of grass and even lighter footfalls. He noticed, but didn’t acknowledge, his wife as she knelt beside him and placed a small heap of Dragon Nip by the headstone. Astrid placed an arm around him, and didn’t say anything. There was nothing to be said.
But then Hiccup said something. His voice was thick from crying and it came out in a quiet rasp, but he muttered, “By Odin, I swear I will never fly again.”
And he never did.