Six months later, two months after Hiccup’s sixth birthday, Valhallarama had not yet returned. People began to whisper in grunts that Hiccup couldn’t hear, and a lot of pitying glances were being cast his way. Stoick became more and more quiet, and if Hiccup did even one thing wrong, Stoick would lash out. He never hurt Hiccup, no. At least, not physically.
Seven months after Mom left on her trip, Dad sat Hiccup down on his lap. “Hiccup,” he said. Even Hiccup could immediately tell that something was very wrong. “Your mother… Val… she won’t, won’t be coming back, Hiccup.” Dad continued to cradle Hiccup in his arms, but Hiccup didn’t notice it anymore. He was too busy trying to process what Dad had just said.
Wasn’t coming back? Mom was… gone? Although he was only six, Hiccup was very bright, and it only took him a few seconds to figure everything out. That’s why everybody had been looking at him funny. That’s what the whispering was about. That’s why Dad had been so mad.
As he came to this realization Hiccup was bombarded with too many different feelings to cope. Tears gathered at his eyelids and began to fall like a heavy rain shower all the way down his cheeks onto Dad’s arms. Hiccup’s muscles all got tight and he couldn’t move very well. Before he could catch it, a wail pushed its way up his throat. Mom wasn’t coming home again. Mom was gone.
Unlike the others times Hiccup cried, Dad didn’t yell at him this time. He just continued to hold him gently and rock him back and forth. There was nothing Hiccup could do under the weight of all he was feeling, and after a long time of sobs, he did as any six year old does when they get upset. He cried himself to sleep.
When he awoke, he was in bed. The sun shone through the window and the door was left open a crack. Sitting up in bed, Hiccup rubbed his eyes and wondered how long he’d been asleep. Something had happened, hadn’t it? Something bad… Oh. That’s right. Mom. Hiccup froze in his bed and stared at the wall across from him. The crying part was over for him now. Now there was just emptiness.
For weeks Hiccup moped around the house, mostly alone. Dad couldn’t stop taking care of the tribe and he mostly liked to ignore Hiccup anyway. So Hiccup was left to himself, completely.
Within a few days he’d started to wish that he’d kept his little dragon. Mom had always liked that little dragon. And now it was gone, at the bottom of the ocean. The one thing Hiccup had to remind him of his mother, and he’d thrown it out to sea. He thought he would cry about that. He never did. He didn’t have enough energy to cry; there was only the emptiness.
About a month after Hiccup got the news, Dad sat him down again. “Look, Hiccup,” he said. “I know losing your mother is hard. On both of us. But, Hiccup… you’ve still got to be a Viking. And Vikings don’t laze around moping! So that’s why, Hiccup, you’re going to be Gobber’s apprentice over at the armory from now on.”
Hiccup had no idea what Dad meant by “apprentice,” but he didn’t really care. So he didn’t ask. That’s why, that afternoon when Dad lead Hiccup down to Gobber’s armory, he had no idea what to expect.
As they approached, Gobber set down the giant hunks of metal he’d been working with and waved to Dad. “Hey’ya, Stoick! And Hiccup, me lad, come on in, in ya go. You’re my new recruit, don’t ya know?”
Hiccup was lead into the smithy by the huge hand of Gobber and could only manage a small smile. This whole thing was too new for comfort. After only a minute Dad silently slipped away, and Hiccup was completely alone when it came to figuring things out. Not that he didn’t know Gobber, but he didn’t know Gobber’s work.
“Now Hiccup, since you’re such a wee lad, you won’t be doin’ any a the big jobs,” Gobber explained. “Fer now, you’ll mostly just be fetchin’ me sea water to cool the weapons with and the like. Understand?” Hiccup nodded his head. “Well, then, off with ya! I need a bucket of the stuff before I can start the day.”
Hiccup scurried out of the armory and down to the ocean with Gobber’s big bucket, and as he hauled that gigantic bucket filled to the brim, with salt water getting all over his clothes and the land around him, he looked back out to sea again. That’s where Mom was. That’s where Mom was going to stay. And because of that, Hiccup realized, nothing would ever be the same again.