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Welcome To Berk
by K. Stonham
first released 2nd October, 2014

It was at the tail end of a very long and cold winter when Stoick stood looking down at the ruins of his village. His mouth was pursed as he tallied up the damage, noting which buildings needed repair and which would have to be pulled down and rebuilt entirely. His people were already digging through the wreckage of many of the latter, he noted with a nod, searching for what could be saved.

At least the beasts hadn't killed anyone this time, he thought as the thin winter dawn spilled across Berk. Though young Treestump Jannsen might still lose his arm; the burns had been bad. But the flocks were safe, and the supplies stored in the caverns behind the Meade Hall would see them through to the ice breaking and hopefully the first crops.

All in all, it had been a good winter.

A young woman, her long blonde plaits not yet pinned up, pelted toward him and stopped just shy of the chief. Knollhill gasped for breath a few times, then managed to get out, "Chief, your wife... the baby's come."

Stoick felt himself blanch. And promptly ran to his wife's side.

As there was every year, a cluster of births had happened over the winter. The Ingermans had been first, their large, placid son popping out almost as soon as the sea had iced over. Not a month later, the Thorstons had produced a fine pair of squalling fraternal twins. Then Stoick's inlaws had a colicky infant who kept Spitelout and Lacksadaisy up at all hours with his screaming. And the Hoffersons... well, there'd been trouble in that household when Troutweed had been disappointed that the child was a girl. Brewcup had been incensed, and from her birthing bed declared the daughter to be as good a son of Hoffer as any, and kicked her husband out. In fact, Stoick wasn't sure if he'd been let back in the house yet. Not, he noted as he pelted past, that there was much of the Hofferson home left. Another thing to rebuild.

And now it was his turn. Too soon. Too early! The child wasn't due for another month, month and half yet. Valka must've been in labor nearly the entire dragon attack, he thought as he cleared a rubble-heaped cart in the plaza, pounding strides eating up the distance.

An early labor. Yet another thing to blame the beasts for.

The child would be born too soon. It would be too small. And the winter was too cold. Stoick felt his heart crumble into ash.

A baby. He hadn't known whether to wish for a son, a strong boy to follow in his footsteps, or a daughter, a little thing to spoil with toy sword and shield....

And now his wishes, his and Valka's both, were useless.

And then he was at the Meade Hall, shoving the doors open.

The crowd parted before him. Valka'd been living, as all heavily pregnant women did, in the small rooms off the hall, where the dragons couldn't get. And it was there she'd given birth to the last of the winter's babies.

Stoick only had eyes for his wife, and the wrapped bundle in her arms as he entered the room. The Elder and the midwife looked silently at each other with mournful eyes, then left.

"Val--" he said, dropping to his knees beside her.

"It's a boy," she said softly, beaming, as sweaty and exhausted as she'd been after any battle, and just as beautiful. She tilted her bundle toward him.

Stoick's heart sank into his knees.

He knew what Viking babies should look like. Big and healthy, yelling their heads off.

This was not that child.

Val read the look on his face and instantly snatched the child closer to herself. "He is a fighter," she said. "You should have seen his first breaths, Stoick. My boy will fight, and live, and thrive." And if you cross me in this, her warning went unspoken, you are no longer my husband.

And he knew she meant that unspoken threat. She would leave him, move back in with her widowed mother, and he would never again be but as a stranger to her and this child.

Stoick swallowed. "Aye," he said, and looked again at the baby. The tiny, wrinkled, still baby. He wondered whether it might die no matter how much care she gave it. But for the love of her, he had to let her try.

The babe stirred, just a tilt of its head. It opened its eyes. Valka's eyes, Stoick realized with a pang.

Then the baby opened its mouth and screamed.

Stoick's mouth fell open.

"Oh dear, what's wrong, what do you want, m'love?" Valka flustered about the child, helpless as any new mother.

But Stoick....

Stoick laughed.

Which, curiously, made the baby go quiet as he stared at his father.

"Oh, love, he's a Viking through and through!" Grinning, Stoick took the child from his wife, nestled the tiny bundle in the crook of his arm. Dangled his finger before its face, watching green eyes try to focus on it. "He'll be strong, our boy. The strongest of them all!"

"Well, maybe," said Gobber, who had somehow come into the room. He bent over the child, examining it. Straightened. "But for now, Stoick, he's a wee hiccup of a lad."

Val gave Gobber a tired smile. "A hiccup, is he?" she asked. "So be it." She looked down again at her son. "Hiccup," she said. "Welcome to Berk."

Author's Note: Don't want to know how long it's been since I posted any fanfic. This piece was mostly written before HTTYD2 came out, then rewritten to reflect what Valka said. Thing is, it's all very pretty to say, "You came early into this world. You were such a wee thing. So frail and so fragile. I feared that you wouldn't make it. But your father, he never doubted. He always said you would become the strongest of them all. And he was right" But it just couldn't be that easy. Also, I've long had a miff about, if the Vikings name their children strange things to ward off goblins and trolls, why does Astrid have a normal name? I finally decided that it's her surname that is meant to confuse the trolls, as technically she should be Hoffersdotter, not Hofferson.

Date: 2014-10-03 02:13 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Keep it up. Good story so far. Let's see what the lad has going for him....

Date: 2014-10-03 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tainry.livejournal.com

Date: 2014-10-03 11:01 am (UTC)
ext_9800: (bird)
From: [identity profile] issen4.livejournal.com
Yay, I've been looking for fic in this fandom! This is fun. Re naming: my guess is there's a number of reasons for the names - in memory of someone; a name with a powerful meaning; or yeah, some scary ones or weird ones to confuse the goblins.

Date: 2014-10-03 02:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rose0mary.livejournal.com
Now this is a great fic!
I liked the movie, but never felt inclined to write a story in that universe.

Hiccup's entrance to the world would go like that - and I can just see his mother (and father) behaving as you describe them.

Lovely work on the background of Hiccup's world before he went and told his story to the world.

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