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Don't Hold Back

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Hiccup was taken into one of the buildings while Toothless was shoved into a cage outside. He wanted to fight, but he knew it was useless. He was surrounded by the Dragon Flyers with his hands cuffed in front of him.

He knew he was in for something bad when he was met with Krogan. The man was sitting with his feet up on the table like he owned the place, rather than it being something that belonged to the Wing Maidens. The room was lit with lanterns and candles. It was late, some time in the middle of the night.

Hiccup kept his composure despite the feeling of dread in his stomach. There were things on that table, things meant to hurt: different types of blades, a whip. It was all for him. Though, despite the situation he was faced with, he rolled his eyes.

“Jeez, do you guys ever sleep?”

“Not if it means missing an opportunity to get the Dragon Eye lenses,” Krogan responded. “Do you have them with you?”

“Does it look like I have pockets, Krogan?” Hiccup retorted.

Krogan huffed a bit in amusement, looked to the men beside Hiccup. “Did you check his saddle bags?”

“Nothing there, sir.”

“So,” Krogan swung his feet off the table, stood, “that leaves the question of where they are.” He came over to Hiccup, and Hiccup had to lift his head to glare at him. He was tall, almost as tall as his dad. He didn’t like that.

“What makes you think I would tell you?” Hiccup asked defiantly. He knew he was going to be hurt if he didn’t comply, but this whole situation was more important than his own safety. He couldn’t let Krogan go after his friends on Caldera Cay, and he definitely couldn’t let him get to the King of Dragons.

“Nothing, as of right now, but that can hopefully be changed. Viggo did say you were stubborn though.”

Hiccup frowned at the mention of Viggo. He was glad he wasn’t there. If he was being honest with himself, he’d take Krogan over Viggo any day. Krogan didn’t have a sexual interest in him the way Viggo did. The former Dragon Hunter Chief had always been subtle, but had still made it quite clear what his intentions with him were. Luckily, Viggo had never gotten the chance to act. He could have had the chance a few times if he didn’t like talking so much. Hiccup was convinced he was a narcissist that simply liked the sound of his own voice. That had saved him on a few occasions.

“Yeah, I kinda pride myself on it,” Hiccup said, lifting his head a little. Krogan was too tall for him to look down his nose at him, but he tried to give the impression that that’s what he was doing.

Krogan smirked at him. “This should be entertaining then.” He looked to the men on either side of Hiccup. “Cut his armor and tunic off of him. Don’t want anything getting in the way, now do we?”

Now Hiccup attempted to pull himself free, but the hands on his arms were bruising. A shiver raced up his spine at the sounds of knives being drawn, and he tried one more time to wrest himself free before stopping. He didn’t want to accidentally cut himself.

Though, one knife sliced into his arm once the braces on his wrist came off, and he jumped and yelped at the sudden sting of it. The man who had done it snickered.

“Whoops.”

Hiccup turned a glare on him. He couldn’t see his mouth due to his mask, but his eyes were glittering with cruel amusement, a hint that he was smiling in the same way.

He shivered once his armor and tunic came off of him, both from cold and from fear. He was exposed now, easier to hurt. Blood trickled down over his wrist and dripped onto the floor.

“Hiccup, what would you like to start with?” Krogan gestured to the table with a broad sweep of his arm.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Hiccup asked in disbelief before he could stop himself. Krogan was going to make him choose?

“Ooh, language!” Krogan exclaimed. “Is that how a future chief talks?”

“Maybe to you it is,” Hiccup said with a scowl. He hoped it wasn’t evident how afraid he was. How long was this going to go on before he was rescued?

Krogan went towards the table, picked up the whip. “How about this?”

“Yeah, I’ll take the key to these, thanks,” Hiccup said, holding out his cuffed wrists.

Krogan turned back to him, shrugged. “You could if you told me where the lenses are.”

“Never mind then.” Hiccup lowered his wrists, made himself straighten and stand taller. His stomach was twisting and heat was rushing through his veins. “I’ll take the whip. Don’t hold back.”

“Oh, I don’t plan to.” Krogan’s next words were to his men. “Turn him around.”

Hiccup didn’t fight as he was turned around. He knew he was stuck, and he was resigned to suffer as long as he had to until Snotlout worked out a rescue mission. Snotlout wasn’t always the brightest out of the Riders, but he trusted him, trusted that he’d manage to figure something out to get him out of this.

He stood there, waiting for the pain, muscles tensing. Soon. It would be soon. It would be- now. There was a crack and fire dashed across his back. He arched away from it, shouted, but it came again. And again. It didn’t stop until he’d been hit at least ten times. Then he was left trying to find his breath through the pain. Blood trailed hot over his skin.

“Care for some more?”

“Yeah,” Hiccup panted out. His back twinged as he sentenced it to more hurt. “Don’t think that was nearly enough.”

Another crack. Another breaking of skin. Another shout. Hiccup twisted, pulled at the men holding him, but their grips only tightened. He would have stomped on their feet with his prosthetic in hopes of breaking toes, but he knew that wouldn’t get him anything but retaliation. Instead he was left writhing in their hold each time the whip hit him. Stop. Gods, he wanted it to stop. It was in his power to make it stop. He knew how, but he wasn’t going to do that. He wasn’t going to tell Krogan where the lenses were. He couldn’t, he couldn’t!

Blow after blow rained down on him. He could do nothing but scream and brace himself for the next one. The next one didn’t come. He sagged a little, groaned. He’d lost count of how many times he’d been hit now. Twenty? Thirty? He certainly couldn’t tell from the pain alone. It all just blended into each other, one bit of broken skin becoming another, leaving his whole back in agony. There was no way to count it.

Silence - Krogan waiting for him to speak, to tell him where the lenses were. Hiccup said nothing.

“Is bleeding something you enjoy doing, Hiccup?”

“M-maybe. Could be i-into that. You never- you never know.”

“Then maybe we should try something else. Turn him back around.”

Hiccup let the Flyers turn him back the other way, and he tried to give Krogan a defiant look as he stepped over to him. The whip was back on the table, stained with red. It turned his stomach to know that that had come from him, that it was still coming from him, trickling generously down his back and soaking the waistband of his pants. His wounds were throbbing, and he wanted to deny it, but he was trembling.

“Are you right handed or left handed?” Krogan asked coolly as if the question were part of a normal conversation and not a precursor to more torture. Hiccup felt everything inside him clench at the question.

“What’s it m-matter to you?”

“Curious as to what would inconvenience you the most,” Krogan told him, and Hiccup tried to pull his hands back as he reached for him, but then the Flyer on his right was grabbing him by his injured forearm to keep his hands where they were, thumb digging into his wound and making him shout.

“I think this whole- this whole thing is pretty inconveniencing, don’t you?” Not my left hand, not my left hand. He felt a tad bit of relief when Krogan grabbed at the index finger of his right hand. He could make due without the use of his right hand. He would have to. “Not even just for me. For the both of us. Y-you must have better things to do- to do with your time.”

“If you find it to be so, then tell me where the lenses are. And maybe this isn’t inconveniencing for me.” Krogan smiled at him. “Maybe I’m enjoying it.”

Hiccup opened his mouth to speak, but an anguished wail came from him instead as Krogan made a swift motion and snapped his finger. He felt the crack more than he heard it, pain exploding into his nerves. He tried in vain to pull his hand back, but the hands on him were tight, and his right forearm was burning from the finger digging into the wound there. He hadn’t wanted to cry, but tears quickly built up and fell, and he sobbed as Krogan released that finger and took ahold of the next. He didn’t break it yet though.

“The lenses?”

“E-eat a rock.”

Hiccup wished Krogan would go and do that, but instead he broke his middle finger. Hiccup jolted and shrieked, and then, losing his judgment for the moment, slammed his prosthetic down on the toes of the man on his left. There was a crunch, a shout, a hard blow to his face, and then the wooden boards of the floor were underneath him, blood trickling from his nose and a cut in his upper lip. He’d hardly oriented himself to the fact that he was now on the floor when a kick landed in his ribs, and he tried to scream but found himself choking instead. That had hurt. The tips of Krogan’s boots were metal. He’d drawn blood with the kick.

“Go get that looked at,” Krogan ordered to the man whose toes Hiccup had most definitely broken. “You, go with him. I can take care of this idiot Dragon Rider myself.”

Hiccup waited for the Flyers to leave the room before speaking. He could tell one was limping, leaning on the other, and each step elicited an exclamation of pain. He felt a small satisfaction at that.

“Don’t think I’ve been called an idiot before.”

Krogan’s hands were on his leg, pulling his prosthetic from him, and there was a clatter as it landed across the room. Hiccup’s satisfaction died. Maybe idiot was a fitting term for him at the moment. If he hadn’t broken that man’s toes he would have still had his prosthetic, would have still been standing, without his right side throbbing and bleeding.

“Really? Even when your stubbornness gets you into situations like this?” Krogan had a hand in his hair, yanked on it to pull him to his knees.

Hiccup made himself shrug despite how it pulled at the wounds on his back, despite how his tears were still flowing. “N-never been properly tortured before. Got a bit of a beating here and there, b-but never something like this. I-I can add it to my achievements list.”

Krogan’s eyes narrowed. “Did Viggo appreciate your sass?”

“Yeah, actually. Made him laugh once or twice.”

“Interesting.” Krogan let go of his hair, straightened. “Well, he does seem reverent of you. Now, speaking of Viggo, this next method actually comes from him.” He reached for a vial on the table that Hiccup hadn’t noticed before. He had to take a deep breath to keep himself from shaking harder. His injured ribs didn’t like that. He wondered if they were cracked. “It’s quite cruel, but I’ve never been one to go easy on people, and you’re tough to break.” He uncorked the vial, then crouched down by him. “Of course, I do have the antidote for this, and I will give it to you if you tell me where the lenses are. Maybe you won’t even need this or the antidote. Maybe you’d like to tell me now, hm?”

“Y-you know? I think your Flyer hit me in the head,” Hiccup said, though he was scared out of his mind. What was that substance that Krogan was going to force into him? What was it going to do? “I can’t remember.”

“Alright then. Have it your way.” Hiccup had nowhere to go as Krogan grabbed for his face, squeezed hard, forced his jaw open. Then the liquid from the vial was being poured into his mouth. It burned his tongue like too-strong alcohol. He choked, tried to spit it out, but the way Krogan was holding his face and tilting his head back was keeping him from doing any of that. It went down his throat, and he swore he could feel it settle in his stomach, or maybe that was just the dread. Krogan let go of him and he coughed, made a face.

“Wow, that tasted awful.”

“You’ll find yourself wishing that that was its only property,” Krogan said as he stood and placed the now-empty vial on the table. “You’ve encountered a Triple Stryke, yes?” He folded his hands behind his back.

“Yeah…?” Hiccup affirmed nervously, waiting for Krogan to explain what he had just been made to ingest.

“Remarkable dragon. Especially the tails. All venomous, each with a different type.”

Oh no. Oh gods. He’d been forced to swallow a dragon’s venom. Thor knew what that would do to him. The hair raised along his arms. When would it begin taking effect? What was that strange warmth he was beginning to feel throughout his body? Was he just imagining that? Had it started already?

Krogan began circling around him, leisurely - a cat that knew that its prey was helpless and so was gloating over the soon-to-be-victory. “One venom numbs and paralyzes the victim.” Hiccup swallowed hard. He doubted Krogan had given him that one. “The second causes terrible hallucinations, like a waking nightmare.” That one? Had he given him that one? Though, Krogan seemed more likely to induce physical pain rather than emotional. The heat was building. He felt like his skin would be hot to the touch. “And the third one, that makes the victim feel as if they’ve been set aflame. It causes no actual damage. Just tricks the body.” He came around to face him again. “Know which one I gave you?”

“N-not one.” Hiccup felt like he was going to be sick. The thought of the third one… More tears welled up. The heat intensified, pain crawling into his senses. “Th-third one!” It came out as a cry. It got bad, and it got bad fast. One second it was an unpleasant heat, and the next molten metal was coursing through his veins. He couldn’t hold himself up, collapsed to the floor, shrieking out his agony. He writhed, twisted, arched and kicked, trying to fight it off, to find some position where it didn’t hurt so much. There was none. Every part of him was on fire. He was being engulfed in flame, burned alive. He should have smelled his own flesh burning, should have been choking on smoke. For the moment he forgot where he was, what he was doing, forgot everything save for this pain. He had thought he’d known the meaning of the word pain before. He hadn’t. Anything before this was laughable. No suffering he’d had in his life could possibly compare to this, and combined, the various injuries he’d sustained through the years couldn’t amount to this. Not even his leg. He’d been unconscious for that, hadn’t felt it being blown off of him. There had been pain after, still was pain, but nothing like this. Never like this.

“If you tell me where the lenses are I can give you the antidote!” Krogan shouted over his shrieks.

Right. Krogan. Dragon Eye lenses. He could tell him. He could. They were on Caldera Cay with Mala. Mala had them. Mala. Queen of the Defenders of the Wing. She had them.

But even with the flames devouring him, Hiccup couldn’t make himself say it. He couldn’t do that. It wasn’t just Mala that had them. It was Astrid, Ruff and Tuff and Fishlegs, Dagur. Krogan would kill them. He couldn’t let that happen.

So he continued to burn.

Hiccup wished he was actually on fire. If he was he would probably be close to dying. That’s what he wanted: to die. If he died he wouldn’t feel this impossible burning anymore. Maybe he’d even be dead already if he was actually on fire. How long had it been? A second? A minute? An hour? A century? It felt like eternity. All he knew was this. His other wounds didn’t even exist.

Hiccup wasn’t a very religious person, but he found himself praying to the gods, just praying. Praying for it to stop, praying to die, praying to lose consciousness if nothing else. He prayed to Odin, Thor, Frigg, Loki, every god and goddess he knew the names of and could somehow recall through the flames. He prayed to all of them to just make it stop, make it stop!

He was still screaming, screaming the hardest he ever had, as if letting his torment known to the world would somehow help him. He found himself on his stomach, left hand curling into a fist because there was nothing to hold onto, right hand itching to do the same even with his broken fingers. He wanted to hold onto something, to clutch tight and ground himself and somehow ride through this, but instead he was lost in it. All he knew was fire. He felt like he was going to lose his mind. There were just thoughts of panic, of him silently begging for it to stop, silently begging for death. Yes, death. Could someone just slit his throat? Was that too much to ask for?

“The lenses, Hiccup! Where are the lenses?!” Krogan’s presence came back to him through the sea of flame. A metal-toed boot kicked him in the side, and the fire grew hotter with the contact. It felt like his side completely exploded, and his screams turned into grating screeches. It took him some time to realize that all his flesh was still there, that all his ribs were. Krogan was growing impatient, and Hiccup was afraid that he’d kick him again, but for the time being he didn’t.

Hiccup considered giving up the lenses, his friends, the King of Dragons, everything, just for the antidote. He needed the antidote, needed the fire to stop raging through his veins and destroying him. It would be so easy. It would make it all stop. The words were on his tongue…

He stopped himself. He couldn’t do that. He couldn’t sentence the people he loved to death. It would end with Krogan and Johann acquiring the King of Dragons. There would be chaos, war. So many would die. Hundreds. Thousands. That’s what would happen if he told him. Maybe, just maybe he could take this if it meant preventing that. But how long would it go on for? He was hoping for rescue, hoping for Snotlout. Where was Snotlout?

 

Snotlout faltered in his attack when Hiccup screamed. He’d heard him scream a little earlier, but not like this. This sounded like he was being torn to shreds, like his very soul was being ripped out of him. It didn’t stop either.

Thor, what are they doing to him?!

Snotlout remembered himself, dodged the axe that came his way, the baby Razorwhip on his back flapping and dragging him back from it. Then he leaned forward, the Razorwhip flapping again to give him more speed and power, and he impaled his spear into the gut of the Hunter he was fighting, then tore it free in a gush of blood. He was moving on before the man even hit the ground. He had to get to Hiccup, had to hurry up and save him from whatever torture he was being put through. He was still screaming, and Snotlout had a bad feeling that he wouldn’t stop.

He got to the building where they were holding Hiccup. It was too evident that the screams were coming from there, and Toothless was in a cage outside, muzzled, blocking his ears and moaning in distress. Everything about this situation felt like an arrow in Snotlout’s chest.

He charged at the Hunters guarding Toothless. He wanted to go for Hiccup first but he’d feel better with a Night Fury protecting his back when he did. Where was Minden with Hookfang? She should be here any moment now.

She appeared as Snotlout engaged with two of the Hunters. He caught a sword on the shaft of the spear, shoved the man back, then swung the spear at the second one. The man dodged and he missed, but Snotlout was quick to re-engage, and he clipped him on the side of the head, sending him reeling back. Minden and Hookfang were blasting away at more Hunters out of the corner of his eye. The first Hunter came forward again, swinging his sword, and Snotlout dodged. It was weird fighting without his feet on the ground, but it gave him an advantage, and the dragon on his back could move fast. He knocked the sword out of the Hunter’s hand with the butt of the spear, then slashed at his throat. He was tumbling down, gurgling out blood when the second came forward again, brandishing his axe, looking in the heat of blood lust. Snotlout was feeling it too, was feeling unrivaled anger. Hiccup was still screaming. That was his friend! His leader! Snotlout shouted, flew high and kicked the man in the face. There was a snap and blood flew from his nose. He stumbled, lowering his axe, and Snotlout took the opportunity to stab him right in the chest.

More Hunters rushed at him as soon as this one fell, but he fought hard, furiously, and Minden and Hookfang were by his side, setting the Hunters to die in the face of flame. The smell of blood and metal and burned flesh filled his nostrils. Clangs, shouts, grunts, the cacophony of battle, and all the while Hiccup was still tearing his voice out of him.

Snotlout took a slash on the arm, a kick in the stomach, but he kept fighting. It wasn’t serious. Adrenaline and rage numbed him to the pain.

Then there was no one left around them. His feet finally hit the ground, and he stood there panting for a moment before he remembered Toothless. He ran for the cage, the baby Razorwhip on his back squawking. Minden hopped off of Hookfang, joined him to unlock the door and fling it open. Toothless looked reluctant to remove his front feet from his ears, but he did, bounding forward to let them pull the muzzle off of him.

“Toothless, Hookfang, you stand guard,” Snotlout ordered the dragons. Gods, Hiccup was still screaming. Whoever was torturing him, most likely Krogan, might not have even heard all of the struggle outside. “Minden, you’re with me.”

They rushed into the building, and Snotlout had a moment to take in the scene in front of him before Krogan reacted. For a few seconds he just stood there in surprise, and Snotlout was able to look at Hiccup. He was on the floor on his stomach, convulsing and shrieking, shirtless, back soaked in blood.

Snotlout leveled his spear. “It’s over, Krogan!”

Krogan pulled his weapon from his back. It looked like some type of halberd, but Snotlout had never seen anything like it before. All he knew was that he didn’t want to get hit with that thing.

But it didn’t go for him. It went for Minden. She jumped up instead of dodging, probably having planned on taking flight, forgetting that the dragon wasn’t on her back. It hit her in the side, knocked her hard against the wall. She crumpled.

“Minden!”

Krogan was rushing past him, for the door, and Snotlout pulled himself together enough to slash at him with the spear. He was still too distracted for a good hit, and the tip grazed his shoulder and drew blood, but Krogan didn’t retaliate, didn’t turn around and face him. He ran, and right now Snotlout would have to be okay with that. Minden was pulling herself up against the wall. Hiccup was on the floor screaming. Why was he still screaming? He already had too much to deal with.

“Minden, are you alright?!”

“T-take care of Hiccup!” She was clutching at her side. Snotlout didn’t see blood. Maybe the weapon hadn’t gotten through her armor. That didn’t mean it hadn’t caused damage though.

Snotlout rushed over to Hiccup, knelt down by him, tossed his spear aside.

“Hiccup! Hiccup, it’s Snotlout! What’s wrong?! What’s happening?!”

“Venom!” Hiccup managed to shout. “Antidote! He said there’s an antidote!”

“What venom? Where’s the antidote?” Snotlout was trying hard not to panic. Was Hiccup dying?

“Table! Ch-check the table! Aaarghh!!

Snotlout rushed over to the table, sickened by what he saw there: numerous blades, luckily free of blood, but the whip that lay on it was covered in red. There was a corked vial on the table. He grabbed for it, prayed to Thor that it was the right one and he wouldn’t be sending Hiccup into more pain. He hurried back over to him, rolled him onto his side, and Hiccup jolted at the touch like he’d been shocked.

“Hiccup, I got it!” Snotlout pulled him into his lap, cradled his head. He was crying hard. Snotlout had never seen Hiccup cry before. He couldn’t imagine the amount of pain he had to be in to be like this. He poured the contents of the vial into Hiccup’s mouth, and he took it and swallowed it down willingly. Then he was just writhing in Snotlout’s arms, bringing up his manacled hands and clutching at him with his left one. Two of the fingers on his right hand were at sickeningly odd angles, broken.

Gods, please stop soon. Please stop. Snotlout couldn’t stand seeing Hiccup like this, and he was terrified. What had Krogan given him? And had Snotlout really given him the antidote? If it wasn’t would all this just stop on its own? What was Hiccup even feeling?

Then he looked to Minden. She was kneeling on the floor, one hand against the wall, the other to her side, eyes closed, face contorted in pain. Snotlout felt utterly helpless, and now the adrenaline and the rage was fading from his blood. His wounds throbbed. Exhaustion began to creep in. The sun was rising outside. He’d been up all night, running around and fighting, and now he had to deal with this.

In about a minute, Hiccup stopped screaming, was making small, whimpering noises instead.

“Is it getting better, Hiccup?”

“Y-yes,” he rasped out. “Thank you. Th-thank you so much.”

“Did you tell him anything? Did you tell him where the lenses are?” He didn’t want to ask Hiccup about that, but he had to.

Hiccup didn’t respond, just sobbed softly.

“Hiccup, did you tell him?”

“N-no. Didn’t tell him. Didn’t tell him anything.” He let out a long breath, and then went limp in Snotlout’s arms.

“Hiccup? Hiccup!” Snotlout shook him a little, panic clutching at his heart with searing hands. Then he realized that he was still breathing, his chest rising and falling. Hiccup wasn’t dead. He’d just fainted.

Snotlout had done all he could for Hiccup at the moment. He gently set him down on the floor, jogged over to Minden. He carefully put a hand on her back.

“Hey, let’s get this armor off of you and then lay you down, alright?”

Minden nodded, and so Snotlout found the clasps to her armor and undid them. She was compliant in it being pulled off of her, though she cried out at the movement. She was wearing a white tunic underneath, and luckily Snotlout didn’t see any blood on that either. He helped her lay down on her back.

“Can I take a look at it?” Snotlout wasn’t going to lift anyone’s tunic without asking first.

“Yeah,” she squeaked out, and so Snotlout took ahold of her tunic and lifted it to reveal her abdomen. Her left side was an angry red with purple beginning to blossom.

“Are you breathing okay?”

“Think so,” she responded. “Just hurts to do it. Think my ribs are broken.” She took a shuddering breath. “This is all my fault, Snotlout.”

Snotlout had all but forgotten the baby dragon on his back. It slithered off of him, crawled over to Minden, nuzzled its face against hers.

“Don’t think about that right now. Please don’t.” Snotlout grasped at her hand, gave what he hoped was a reassuring squeeze. “Can I leave you here for a bit?” he asked. “I have to get the other Wing Maidens and send Terror Mail to the Defenders of the Wing.”

Minden nodded, squeezed his hand back.

“Okay. I’ll leave Hookfang to guard you. You’ll be alright.” He looked to Hiccup, unconscious on his side, his back covered in blood. “You’ll both be alright. I’ll make sure of it.”

 

Hiccup woke slowly, on his stomach, with a slight burning under his skin. It was nothing compared to the fire he’d endured, but he still hated it. He hated the throbbing and burning of his back, his fingers, his ribs, the cut in his forearm. He just hurt so much and wanted it to stop, wanted to fade back into unconscious.

And so he did. There he dreamt that he’d told Krogan where the lenses were, that he was now killing his friends while he laid there helpless. Or maybe it wasn’t a dream. Maybe it was real. Maybe he was witnessing him killing everyone.

Or maybe he was dead. That would make some sense. The last thing he’d seen had been Snotlout, taking him into his arms, silver wings sprouting from his back like a Valkyrie. Hiccup had thought the Valkyrie were only female. Maybe they were and he’d just been seeing things as he died. He’d wished for Snotlout to come rescue him, and so the Valkyrie that had delivered his soul from his body had looked like him. That must have been it. He was dead.

But Valhalla couldn’t be like this, couldn’t be him witnessing his friends’ deaths and the destruction of everything he loved. But those wings. Those silver wings.

The next time he came to there were voices. The burning had lessened, but was still there. The rest of his pain was still there. He tried to groan but it would hardly come out. His throat was raw, his voice mostly gone from screaming so much. He was alive, and right now he didn’t like how alive felt.

“Hiccup, how are you feeling?” That was Astrid. He wearily opened his eyes, saw her standing by the bed. Yes, he was in a bed. He could feel that all his wounds were bandaged and he was in clean clothes. He was too out of it to feel embarrassed by the fact that someone had dressed him in his sleep. Well, he didn’t have to be embarrassed if it was any of the Riders. It wasn’t anything they hadn’t seen before. They all bathed together sometimes.

“Like a Screaming Death chewed on me and spit me out,” Hiccup answered hoarsely.

“Hiccup? Is that Hiccup? Is he awake?” That was Snotlout, his voice frantic, and then hurried footsteps came over to the bed.

“Yeah, I’m awake.” Hiccup peered at him. “Wings?” They were gone.

“Wings? What wings?” Snotlout tilted his head.

“Y-you had wings.”

“Oh, that!” Snotlout remembered. “Yeah, I was borrowing Minden’s Razorwhip. Used it to fly around and kick some ass. It was pretty awesome.”

“Thought you were a Valkyrie,” Hiccup told him. He didn’t know why he told him. His head felt like it was stuffed full of wool. He wanted a drink. “Thought I was dying.”

“Thank the gods you weren’t,” Astrid said.

“But Thor, it really looked like you were,” Snotlout said. “What the Hel did Krogan give you?”

Hiccup was feeling too weak to keep his eyes open anymore. He closed them. “Triple Stryke venom. Makes you- makes you feel like you’re on fire.”

“And I’m assuming that stopped?” Snotlout checked.

“Yeah.”

“Wait, Hiccup… You went through all that for the Dragon Eye lenses?” Astrid asked in astonishment. “No one would have been mad at you if you gave them up to save yourself from all this. You didn’t… you didn’t have to let this happen.” Her voice was pained.

“Not just the lenses.” It was beginning to hurt his throat to talk, but he had to get this out there. “For you. For all of you. C-can’t let them get the King of Dragons.”

“What’s so important about this King of Dragons anyway?” Snotlout asked.

“He can control the minds of other dragons,” Hiccup answered. “Whoever controls the King controls the dragons. And with Krogan and Johann controlling it that would mean death. So much death, destruction. I couldn’t let that happen. I just couldn’t.”

“Hiccup…” Astrid didn’t continue. There was nothing to be said to that.

“Please at least tell me you found a safe place for the lenses.” He could go back to sleep if they did, and hopefully this time it would be free of nightmares.

“We did,” Snotlout answered. “The Wing Maiden’s have a hidden shrine that can only be accessed with flight. That’s where they are.”

Hiccup breathed a sigh of relief, let tension release from his muscles. “Good.” His suffering hadn’t been in vain. The King of Dragons was safe for now, but most importantly, his friends were safe. “Now where’s Toothless?”

“You sure he won’t jump all over you?” Astrid asked.

“He’ll be careful,” Hiccup told her. “Let him in please.” He just wanted his dragon. And sleep.

“Got it.”

Astrid left. There was the sound of a door opening, and then heavy, bounding footsteps and curious grumbling. Hiccup let his left hand hang over the side of the bed, and Toothless nuzzled into it.

“Hey, bud. They didn’t hurt you, did they?”

“Toothless is fine,” Snotlout assured him.

Hiccup was able to smile at that. Toothless was safe too. Right now he was hurting, but eventually everything would be alright. He let himself slip back into unconscious with his hand on Toothless’ nose.

 

Snotlout went to see Minden after it became clear that Hiccup had slipped back into unconscious. It had been two days, but she was still bedridden. Multiple broken ribs would do that, but the Wing Maiden healers were being attentive to both her and Hiccup.

He knocked, not wanting to be rude or surprise her, which was odd for him. Usually he didn’t knock and just barged into places.

“Come in.”

Snotlout entered the room, saw Minden lying in bed with her Razorwhip curled up against one shoulder. Her hair was loose around her.

“Hey, Snotlout.” She gave him a small smile.

“How ya doing, Mindo?” Snotlout asked as he entered and softly shut the door.

Minden rolled her eyes, but there was affection in the gesture. “Why do you call me that?”

“No idea,” Snotlout answered honestly. It had just come out of his mouth one time and now it kept doing that. “But seriously. How are you doing?” Minden shifted her legs as a sign that he could sit on the edge of the bed, and he did so.

“No different from when you saw me two hours ago.”

“Hey, it was definitely three.”

“Okay, no different from when you saw me three hours ago. You know you don’t have to check up on me that much. I’ll be alright.”

“But I want to check up on you,” Snotlout said. “Keep you company and all that. I mean, as long as I’m not being annoying. If I am, by all means, kick me out.”

“It’s a good annoying if that makes any sense,” Minden told him. “So how’s Hiccup? Did he wake up yet?”

“Yeah. Just talked to him for a little bit. He’s in bad shape right now, but he’ll be okay.”

Minden frowned, drew her gaze away from him. “And he’s in bad shape because of me.”

“Maybe,” Snotlout said. “But it was Krogan that did it. Not you.”

“I should apologize to him.”

“If you feel like you have to.” Snotlout wasn’t going to argue that it wasn’t Minden’s fault. She’d made bad decisions that had landed them in this situation. It was her fault, and owning up to it was better than denying it and hiding from it.

Minden looked back at him now. “Will he be angry with me?”

“I don’t think so. Hiccup’s really forgiving.”

“But the pain he went through…”

Snotlout frowned. She was right about that. “Well, if he’s angry, then it won’t be forever. He’ll forgive you.”

“I don’t know if I forgive me,” Minden admitted. “I got Atali hurt, Hiccup tortured, and things didn’t really go well for me either, did they?”

“Go a little easier on yourself, Minden. That’s quitter talk coming out of your mouth. I thought you were done with that.”

“I am, I suppose.”

“So you’re not still going to quit the Wing Maidens?”

Minden looked to the baby Razorwhip asleep by her, shook her head. “I spoke to Atali. She said you told her of how I helped fight off Krogan’s men, and in the end did save everyone. She doesn’t want me to leave.”

“Good. Because I don’t want you to leave either. You’re a Wing Maiden. That’s how it is and how it should stay.”

Suddenly, Minden was making to sit up.

“Woah, woah, what are you doing?” Snotlout asked, putting a hand under her back to support her.

“Just thanking you.” She sat all the way up, took his face in her hands. Then she kissed him. They hadn’t kissed since that night in the forest. This kiss still held the same level of surety, of confidence. It was good. Someone actually wanted to kiss him, so Snotlout gently cupped her face and kissed back.