SPOILERS! This landscape takes place AFTER the events of the second movie! Do not read unless you have seen How To Train Your Dragon 2!
“Toothless!” shouted Hiccup as he fell away from Toothless in the windy, frigid air. “Take control of your fear! Beat it! This is all fake, bud, not real. I can’t be with you this time. Remember, it’s-” Hiccup’s voice abruptly stopped as he hit the water. Toothless didn’t have long to go himself until the water took him.
He flapped his wings as hard as he could, breathing in when they spread apart, breathing out when they folded into him. But he still fell. Hiccup wasn’t there to help him. He couldn’t fly without Hiccup. And Hiccup was still under the icy waters. Hiccup could swim with one leg about as well as Toothless could fly with one tailwing.
Which meant two things. One, Hiccup was going to drown. Two, Toothless was going to fall. And then drown. He didn’t want any of that to happen.
Toothless continued to desperately flap his wings and search the water for any sign of his lost Viking. Any sign that Hiccup was alive. He found nothing to comfort him. The only thing he could remember were the words Hiccup had said as they fell together.
All fake. Not real.
What did he mean by that? Hiccup wasn’t one to speak in riddles. If he said it, if he chose those as the last words he might ever say, Hiccup had meant every one. So how did you beat a fear?
Toothless twisted in the air so that he faced down. He had an idea. An idea so bad Hiccup himself could have come up with it. Toothless closed his eyes, and closed his wings around him.
And Toothless fell.
That apparently worked, because Toothless didn’t feel anything as he hit the water. He felt calm. Peace. He’d beaten his fear. Toothless grinned. That wasn’t as hard as he thought.
He thought again when he continued to drown. Toothless was rapidly losing air and his internal ball of flame was going out. The cold of the water covered him and squeezed feeling from his nose and the tips of his wings. He tried to use his wings and at least get above water, but he couldn’t even do that. His wings were too weak alone and the lack of oxygen was making his head feel dizzy.
As water seeped into his belly Toothless fought to stay awake. He needed to beat this fear. Beat it like the other one. He drew in his wings again and tucked in his tail. And Toothless, despite the cold, despite the water, despite the certain death, relaxed.
Everything disappeared. And then, a second later, it all came back. Toothless was no longer under the water. There wasn’t even any water to be seen. Hiccup was back on Toothless’s back. He spat out a small explosion in contendedness… and winced a second later when Hiccup tensed in pain as they went through it. He always seemed to forget that Viking skin wasn’t as tough as nightfury skin.
A huge pillar of smoke rose in the distance and the echoes of a great roar could be heard. Hiccup tensed again, and Toothless with him. As Toothless hesitantly flew forward, the behemoth was revealed.
Toothless immediately quivered. This was all too familiar. This was the queen of his old nest. The beast that had almost succeeded in killing Hiccup and him, and taking Hiccup’s leg.
Hiccup patted the top of Toothless’s head. “It’ll be ok, bud,” he said soothingly. This was meant to be a calming gesture, but it only made Toothless more scared for his Viking’s safety. Hiccup was just so fragile! Only a tiny bit of flame and game over.
They were now on top of the beast, and flying up just as they had that first time long ago. Toothless flapped his wings hard and flew upward with everything he was. But all too soon, his cloth tail extension burst into flame.
Falling, again. Only this time there was no water at the bottom to save them—only fire. Hiccup clung to Toothless’s back, but eventually lost his grip and was thrown away. Toothless screeched and repositioned himself down so that he was facing the larger dragon’s fire, but despite flying lower in an attempt to reach Hiccup in time, he just couldn’t catch up.
“Toothless!” shouted Hiccup one last time as he was engulfed in flame. Toothless screamed back in return, refusing to believe what had happened. He plunged lower and lower, eyes being forced shut by the fumes, calling out for his Viking. But Hiccup was never going to answer again.
Giant, steaming tears ran down Toothless’s scales and evaporated in the hot air. He was too late. Too slow. Too late to save him. Hiccup, fragile little Viking Hiccup, was dead. And it was all Toothless’s fault.
“Take control of your fear. Beat it! This is fake, bud, not real,” pounded Hiccup’s voice in Toothless’s head. Fear? Toothless was confused. This wasn’t fear; it was grief.
But, thought Toothless as he evaded the behemoth’s mouth and sped towards the sandy beach, maybe it was a fear. A fear of losing Hiccup. Of letting Hiccup slip between his paws.
As he made contact with the sand, Toothless did something he never thought he’d have the power to do. He forgave himself. It wasn’t his fault. His tail was burnt up. He’d tried his best. And Hiccup knew that too.
He was in a forest. Toothless blinked a few times to take in the completely changed scenery. He was alone in an unknown forest, his tail extension back, but useless without Hiccup to guide him. This fear Toothless knew.
He was lost.
This fear Toothless knew had been coming. Sure, he could get himself food. He could find himself shelter. He could survive. But without Hiccup he was grounded. And without Hiccup, Toothless was just as alone as he was before Hiccup had befriended him.
Sitting up straight and still in the woods, Toothless lifted his head to the trees and wailed. He didn’t like being alone. And lost meant being alone for a very long time.
All fake, not real, echoed Hiccup again. It was a small voice, one that Toothless could barely hear, but he still heard it. Not real. Fake. He wasn’t really lost. He was still in landscape.
Toothless curled up tightly in a ball and nestled his head in his wing. Despite his own instincts telling him to get up and to at least try to find his way home, Toothless trusted Hiccup first. And let his fear go.
Once again the world around him disappeared. Toothless was now on a hillside, and Hiccup was only a few great dragon leaps away. Toothless grinned at Hiccup and Hiccup back at him, and together the pair ran to each other. But then something happened. Something Toothless didn’t expect.
A foreign mind entered his and fought with Toothless, winning out easily and caging Toothless’s mind in a tiny prison, completely encased but with just enough window to see clearly what was going on. Toothless’s pupils were slits, and his grin became a toothy snarl.
Hiccup realized what was happening too late, and by that time, this dark Toothless had pounced on top of him, ready to rip him to sheds.
Inside, the real Toothless gnawed at the bars encasing him and frantically hurled his entire body weight into the walls of his cell, trying relentlessly to take control, to come back, to save Hiccup from himself. But the prison was too strong.
“Toothless?” asked Hiccup faintly, clearly scared, confused, hurt, and betrayed. As Toothless stared at his Hiccup, knowing what he himself was about to do, Hiccup changed in his eyes from the young but strong Viking dragon master that Hiccup was now back to the mere child he’d been when he’d first seen his Viking. And that image, that innocence, completely and utterly destroyed by Toothless’s own paw, broke something inside of him.
As the dark Toothless tore at Hiccup and Hiccup screamed and cried his name, Toothless closed his eyes to the sight. He curled up in a tight ball in the middle of his cage and tried to block out the sound. But the damage had been done. Toothless could never unsee or unhear what he had done.
Was this fear? No. Fear was too light a word for this. This was a feeling so deep, so intense, so profound that it defied description. Panic was child’s play compared to this. Toothless’s heart shattered into a million tiny pieces that in turn ripped at his insides, causing him excruciating pain himself. All Toothless could feel was pain. Pain. Anguish. Self-hatred.
The one sliver of light that Toothless clung to in the dark was Hiccup’s voice telling him that none of it was real. The fact was that, real or not, the things Toothless saw now could never leave him. But maybe, just maybe, he could escape it here.
Toothless focused on one of the first moments he’d ever shared with Hiccup. The day Hiccup had turned away and offered Toothless his hand, putting all of his trust in a dragon he didn’t even know. The day Toothless had nuzzled his nose into that hand. And the day their friendship started. Little by little, Toothless forced his heart back to normalcy. And with a start, he woke.
A body clung to his side and stroked him. “Easy, bud, it’s ok, it’s alright, I promise. I promise,” he whispered, voice cracking almost every other word. Toothless twisted his body slightly to see Hiccup lying on the ground with him, throwing himself onto Toothless and quite publicly crying. Toothless felt a twinge of guilt. Had his emotion been really that visible? He must have worried Hiccup half to death! Toothless gently nudged his Viking under the arm.
Sniffing, Hiccup sat up, keeping one hand still on Toothless. “You’re awake. I thought I was going to have to pull you out early,” he said, trying and failing to sound nonchalant. Hiccup laid both hands on Toothless again and buried his face in Toothless’s wing. “I love you, bud,” he whispered. Toothless patted the top of Hiccup’s head in response. He was safe here. He was safe with Hiccup. His Viking.