Letters: A HicCami Tail
It is me. Your most favoritest blonde in the world. You might recognize the Terror—it's the same one you taught me how to handle. Well, you really just taught me the best places to scratch him, but I'll let you take the credit for our relationship. I named him Periwinkle!
Hiccup broke away from the letter to spare the delivery dragon a glance. The Terror was yellow.
He seems to believe he can find you, so send him back with a reply to prove him right.
I hope you've been well. I heard you and Toothless managed to save the world and all that clausula. Good job. Just don't let it go to your head—I can still kick your ass with just about any weapon. And then I can kick your ass with no weapon. Remember that.
Things have settled down here a lot, and we're starting to integrate dragons into our village. It's slow going. A lot of the older ladies still aren't too hot about having dragons roaming about, and I suppose there have been a few livestock incidences...but it's a start! I even have my own dragon now. Her name is Stormfly. She was purple, but now she's started to change colors. Can't say why, though. I don't really know enough about her yet. But I'm teaching her Norse so that I can talk to my dragon too. Is it normal for dragons to be able to speak to people? Because, for some reason, she's actually picking up the words. Maybe it's her breed?
But enough of that. I'm actually telling you all these things that will make you smile to remind you that I am your super-cute childhood friend who has totally supported all your shenanigans.
Right, so...remember when I said I was drinking common rue? Well...it was a little closer to raspberry leaf tea. And because you're a boy, and would just nod and smile no matter what I told you I drank, that's a fertility treatment.
Now, remember when I said I'd get the last laugh? Well, it's more of a nervous chuckle.
PLEASE KEEP READING!
You should know this had gotten me out of that marriage contract with Snotlout, so you don't have to feel guilty anymore (if you ever did). My mother's pleased because, despite technically being disowned, she still considers you one of the privileged. Your father will be pleased because now he gets grandbabies!
Well, this turned out a lot longer than I meant. I guess I should say thanks. So...thanks...for that night. I am kind of sorry for deceiving you like this.
Love, your childhood playmate who defended you against Snotlout and you love her too,
P.s. You should tell your dad. And please do so in a manner that keeps our tribes in a semi-stable relationship.
P.p.s. If it's a boy, you're raising it.
Toothless watched his human read through the message that had somehow tracked them all the way in Kalaallit Nunaat (or Grönland, as Hiccup insisted they call it), ignorant to the details of its content.
Though Hiccup absorbed the words in silence, his posture spoke what his mouth would not. Layers of heavy furs could not conceal the comprehensible reactions in his shoulders. Stilling, then seizing, tension mounting as they neared his ears, and then right back to static.
A moment longer passed where Hiccup stood, rigid and blank-faced, staring at the parchment with unseeing eyes. His first movements involved measured, steady breaths.
Then slowly, ever so slowly, Hiccup crumpled the paper into a ball.
Camicazi bit her lip, weighing the reply letter in her palm. She needn't read it to grasp its tone, not with the heavy smudging where a name should be—as if Hiccup thought about addressing her but couldn't quite decide on what to call her.
Steeling herself with a shallow breath, her eyes ventured downward.
How could you? I don't even know what to write or say or whatever. Congratulations. I'm at a loss for words. You've done what countless have tried and failed to do before.
I have half a mind to fly over to your island and yell at you in person.
So was that your plan the whole time? Seduce me AND rob me? I can't believe you! You looked me in the eye and told me you were drinking a contraceptive! Was that all I was to you our entire lives? A potential heir-contributor? I knew you were Burglar through and through, but I had no idea how much.
I have to end this before I get really angry.
This child is your responsibility.
He didn't even sign it.
Camicazi settled the letter on the table before her with silent and subtle motions to avoid the attention of the boisterous women around her. She couldn't betray the weakness that had taken over; she couldn't let them know how her stomach churned with a shame she didn't want to feel, and how a sickness seared the very base of her throat.
She couldn't let them see whatever caused her eyes to burn and her vision to swim. So she lowered her face into her hands.
Look, I know what I did was wrong. Very, very wrong. I hadn't initially intended for this to happen. It was after talking to you that I decided I had to take action. You were right—we DO only get one life in Midgard. And you did crazy things to make it yours. You inspired me to do the same. I will not marry a man I do not want, and I will not spend my life grounded. I belong on the sea just like you belong in the air. I did what I had to do and I won't regret it. I will apologize for involving you the way I did, but I'm not sorry you're the father and I'll never forget that night. After all, you compared me favorably to a Greek woman!
I never once saw you as a potential heir donor before then, not once. I swear, it was spur of the moment. You were always my friend, probably my best friend outside of my tribe. That's what makes this so complicated, because I don't want to hurt you, and I mean it!
I do hope you'll forgive me one day. I know you don't want this child but you did save my life, whether you want to acknowledge it or not, and he or she will know how great their father is. I'll make sure of it.
How mad is your dad? Think he'll raise it if it's a boy?
I did speak to my father. As you can imagine, it didn't blow over well. But our tribes still have the alliance and you're still allowed on the island provided you don't show up pregnant. Only dad knows, and he's working on trying to spin it so that it sounds like the alliance didn't work out in a much more...acceptable manner.
You just lost a lot of trust from him, and 'Lout is going to have to learn of this someday. It isn't putting you or your tribe in a good light.
I'm still mad at you. I've calmed down some. Just some.
Still maintaining that this is your responsibility,
Camicazi smiled; he had always been so dramatic. She found it encouraging that he at least signed the letter, with all his characteristic theatrics. Hiccup was a good guy—a good man—forgiving and kind. He wouldn't stay mad forever. He just needed some time and space, and things would eventually return to normal.
Luckily for her, Hiccup had all the time and space in the world.
My mother met with your dad; he was a little cold to me, but didn't seem all that upset. 'Lout is all set to marry some Meathead broad (Thug's cousin, I think?), called me a pleating tart, thanked me for ridding him of the Atlantic's worst example of a wife, and went on his merry way. I was surprised he knew what 'ridding' was. Maybe Riberta will be good for him?
Cami, (He signed her name!)
Dad wasn't as mad as I might have led you to believe. You were right—he was happy about grandchildren. He probably would take the kid and hold onto the title of chief just to give it to him. I think he still has reserves about 'Lout taking over. Personally, I think the big guy has come a long way.
I was the one who was mad.
Honestly? The real reason I'm so angry is because I don't want to be a bad father. You're not giving me much of a choice in being one and I never wanted to be negligent to any child I might have. If I am going to be a father, I want to be one. And I can't be one for this kid. Not now. I'm not ready for it. I couldn't tie myself down in Berk, and that's why I didn't want to marry. I can't have these kinds of responsibilities grounding me—not when I have a choice.
Which, I don't, anymore. What ever happened to consensual procreation?
And even if you say I don't have to take responsibility raising it, I'll always feel responsible because I know it exists.
Nothing can be done to avoid it now; I just want you to understand how much this still upsets me.
It is impossible for you to be a bad father. Even if you're never around. I know you'll somehow manage to always show up when it matters. You have a history of that, if I recall.
The healers think it's going to be a boy
If it is, what are the chances of you knocking me up again?
Don't tease me. You know I can't take care of a kid. I don't even have a home. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. You once said you were taking after me, so do what I did and screw tradition. Take responsibility for your actions (and I'm talking about the part I had nothing to do with). I left knowing the dangers I would face, giving up stability and safety. If you find your "freedom" worth stealing my seed, then maybe you should be willing to be the first to raise a boy. Breaking rules has consequences as well.
No title addressed the response that found Hiccup in the forests of Hofstaðir, months after he first learned of this disturbing situation. It should have clued him in to what lay beyond.
You know what? You have NO right to be mad at me anymore. You're getting your revenge every time this troll of your seed beats me from the inside out. I always have to pee. I can't sleep. My boobs are so swollen they'll be hanging down to my stupid, fat, ankles by the time your spawn finishes sucking the life out of them. You should be here—you should suffer with me.
Now I'm hoping it IS a boy, and that your dad doesn't take him, and you have to raise him, and he's horrible to you, and you end up miserable.
That hope is the only thing I have to look forward to before my vagina is torn open.
Thanks for nothing, you useless pig.
A cricket chirped somewhere to his left. Hiccup tried to focus on that beat to keep his heart in rhythm.
Once he felt it was safe to move again, he gently placed the letter down atop the dry-leaved ground with all the care one would show to a volatile weapon. He took three measured steps away from it, cautious in keeping his surroundings as undisturbed as he could.
"Toothless...I need you to burn this. Right now."
How was it this Terror could find him no matter where he was in the world?
It's a girl. You lucked out. You probably don't care but she just happens to be the most beautiful baby in the world. Can't say I'm surprised. I know how to pick 'em.
"It's a girl," Hiccup mumbled to Toothless, careful not to aggravate his head anymore than necessary. He was starting to recognize a problem with alcohol where, once he started, even if he had the intent of only enjoying one drink, he wouldn't stop.
Pacing was an art he'd perfect much more quickly if he went out drinking nightly.
The dragon didn't so much as stir to his voice, completely dead to the world with an open mouth and a forked tongue that lolled out onto the dirt. They happened upon a field of dragonswort the night before, and, with a couple, newly "acquired" flasks of ale on hand, both males felt like letting loose.
Both males would regret it for the rest of the morning.
Hiccup blinked at the dragon in envy; he wanted to sleep as well—dirt-coated tongue and all—but a short nip to his pant-leg told him he was not to keep Periwinkle waiting.
"Mmph...alright...you pesky little..."
He rolled over to his bag—literally, as he didn't think his head would agree with elevation of any sort—and blindly fumbled for his charcoal.
His eyes were half closed as he wrote his response on the back of the same parchment. His head was back on the ground without seeing the dragon take off.
Camicazi didn't expect much by way of a response; Hiccup hadn't replied to her letter before last, and she couldn't blame him given her state of mind at the time. Even now, several weeks afterwards, she cringed at the thought of what she may have written.
Needless to say, finding that the letter she now held consisted of only one line did not surprise her.
The content, on the other hand, did.
May I see her?
Shocked, touched, and generally unsure of what to feel, Camicazi spent a moment just staring at the note.
He didn't love her enough to give up his life of migration. Granted, she didn't love him enough to go into a legitimate marriage. They knew from the beginning that any fixed relationship between them would never work out. If it weren't for him she probably would have married Snotlout, done what was expected of her, because she didn't know that she could do more than defy rules before Hiccup. She could create new ones. Redefine what was right in her life, rather than what was acceptable.
Of course, if it weren't for Hiccup, she probably would have only suffered through that bogus alliance for a month or so before that dragon-controlling demon wiped out the remainder of both their tribes.
She tossed a small fish to Periwinkle, giving the Terror a quick snack as she scribbled a reply on the back of the very same parchment.
At least, she thought that's what she wrote. She had a horrible feeling she wrote 'please' instead, but this feeling didn't weigh on her until after the little dragon took flight.
Despite her permission, Hiccup's arrival on the island two weeks later sent a thrill of delighted stupefaction through Camicazi's stomach. He landed the dragon on the foot of an empty dock; his arrival drawing enough attention to gather a generous crowd by the time Camicazi made it to the port. The young man took his time dismounting, his eyes sweeping over every living creature in the vicinity. He looked ready to bolt at the slightest hint of aggression—from humans or dragons.
Camicazi pushed her way to the forefront of the welcome gathering. She wanted to be the first to greet him; he was still so skittish around people with that dragon, even after all the progress their tribe made with the integration.
Fortunately, her mother was off on expedition at that time, taking with her at least half of their village to brave the seas and search the world for treasures. Camicazi, like a good majority of the women left behind, was on "maternal stay", as they affectionately dubbed it. She understood better than Hiccup that the quantity of those present didn't quite negate the quality.
She was on an island of hormonal woman; and now there was a man on it as well.
Half of these women wanted to jump him, and half wanted to kill him.
The presence of a Night Fury—who would never quite lose his novelty among the clans—diminished the intensity of both these impulses, for which Camicazi found herself thankful. She must have been feeling unusually possessive that morning if the stab of irritation at her tribemates was anything to go by.
Her approach slowed as she neared him, her footsteps leaving longer creaks in wood of the old docks.
Damn, she forgot how good he looked. His hair was longer than she last recalled; he had a couple small braids pulled back with the ponytail—braids she knew him to use as mementos of his travels much in the same way she used tattoos. There was another scar, as well. Bold and relatively fresh in its pink state, running just before his ear and branching at the back of his jaw. She could only imagine what creature delivered that blow, or where he encountered it. She could only imagine what other scars she may find on his body, provided he ever allowed her to touch him again.
"Hey," he greeted first. He sounded breathless and soft, as though suddenly remembering all the words between them, written and unwritten.
"Hey," she returned, mimicking him in word and in manner.
If Hiccup realized he was on an island of man-eating women, he certainly didn't show it. He quietly regarded her with an unreadable expression, and she couldn't glean if he were still angry with her or not. His command over his features had advanced since their last encounter.
An unanticipated reservation struck her, swift in its arrival and cruel in its timing; one that made her glad for the modest clothing she had taken to wearing over the last months. For the first time, Camicazi realized she was a sight bigger than Hiccup last saw her, particularly around the trunk of her body. She worked off most of the baby belly, and the energy nursing required helped to return her figure to her, but the damage was done. The stretch marks were there, despite the daily application of a special cream she bartered for, and her breasts had swollen to proportions she once thought of as impossible. She had mom-body.
Camicazi never felt ashamed of her figure before, and she swore she never would, but for some inexplicable reason she wanted his eyes off her.
"Come on. You have a daughter to meet." She gently grabbed his arm with an inhalation that only released when he didn't jerk it back. She was allowed to touch him, at least.
"Right," he breathed, appearing faint. She thought she felt him tremble against her side, but his following lungful of air returned that measured control over his body. Still, it was enough for her to see how nervous he was.
Toothless trailed along behind them, completely at ease in opposition to his companion. Camicazi couldn't understand the dragon as Hiccup could, but she caught amusement in those expressive green eyes.
The spectators gave them a wide berth as they made their way to the chieftess' lodge, and the young heir knew this to be more likely because of the Night Fury tailing them than respect for Hiccup's presence.
"Whit's he doin' here?"
"I invited him," Camicazi returned to the disembodied question with a hard edge.
"Yeh, sharin', honey?"
She kept up her smooth repartee, but she was sure Hiccup felt the tightening of her fingers around his arm. She'd simmer down when post-natal impulses died off.
Hiccup was wise to keep his mouth shut. He allowed Camicazi to lead him away from the crowd, up to the most elevated piece of land the village had to offer, where the chief's home was traditionally located. A medium-sized dragon waited for them outside the door, long and lean in body, with shimmering, orange scales.
"Stormfly," Camicazi called as they neared. "Thank you for watching her. She didn't wake, did she?"
"Oh good. I'd hate for her to make a bad first impression on her father." She gestured to Hiccup. "This is her father, by the way. I'd like you to meet Hiccup. Hiccup, this is my dragon, Stormfly."
"How-d-di-o-there!" The slender dragon greeted with a nod of her head. Her mouth opened and her tongue moved to form the words. Hiccup jerked beneath Camicazi's hand.
"Did—did she just—?" He couldn't seem to speak himself.
"I told you," Camicazi laughed. "I'm teaching her Norse."
Hiccup stared down at her, features heavy with disbelief. "I thought you were just...I don't know—that wasn't what I was concentrating on... I mean, this is...I-I've never..."
"I also told you that I don't know what kind of dragon she is," she felt she had to remind him. "But she can sort of vocalize things. It's a slow process. And she tends to make up her own way of using words."
"That's incredible," Hiccup murmured. He reached a hand out to the speaking dragon. "Hello Stormfly."
Stormfly cocked her head; a small pause preceded the stretching of her neck toward the offered palm. Before the dragon could complete the greeting, Toothless knocked his human aside and brought his own twitching nose to Stormfly's pointed beak.
"Whu—Toothless!" Hiccup snapped, affronted by the rude behavior.
He moved to shove the dragon back but Toothless' tail smacked Hiccup's outreached arm without ever having to turn his attention away from Stormfly. Hiccup conceded a disgruntled defeat, allowing the two dragons to acquaint themselves without further interference.
"Brat," he muttered, rubbing his smarting wrist.
"Looks like they're hitting it off," Camicazi observed. Her serenity countered Hiccup's ire nicely. She moved closer to the man, taking up his arm once more. Again, he allowed it.
The two dragons nosed about each other, heedless to the pair of humans watching. Toothless warbled and Stormfly crooned. The female's scales turned pinker and pinker as a silent conversation of sorts passed between reptiles.
Hiccup's eyebrows moved towards his hairline.
"Did she just?"
"She changes colors...and she speaks..."
"You know how to pick 'em, don't you?"
Camicazi glanced up to find Hiccup staring down at her rather than the dragons. She could have focused on the proximity to his lips and jaw, to the coarse stubble that darkened his throat, or the smell of the leather harness that only seemed to empower his own. Her mind, instead, chose to recall a time when their height difference wasn't so grand.
"I still have a lot to learn about her," she admitted with a shrug. She stayed pressed to his side, wanting to hold on to this easy, comfortable atmosphere they shared. He had yet to yell at her, as he said he would. She should have known better than to unreasonably worry; Hiccup simply couldn't hold a grudge.
"I'll mention it to Fishlegs," Hiccup affirmed. "He'll love the challenge."
"Thank you," she said sincerely. She gently tugged him around the curious dragons, who had begun an odd process of shaking their wings at each other. "Come on, she's waiting."
He tensed only for a moment. Camicazi watched his face, watched the nerves and reservations battle his unending desire to see his child. Then his feet moved beside hers into the darkened home.
Camicazi immediately released his arm upon crossing the threshold and travelled the span of the first floor, spacious room, toward the wide bed she had taken from her mother during the last months of her pregnancy. Convenience went to the woman with the greater needs, after all.
On the center of the bed, flat-backed with short, pudgy limbs splayed out in all directions, lay their sleeping daughter. Hiccup's feet stopped a good faðmr from the napping babe, but Camicazi continued on, settling one knee into the mattress and scooping the child into her arms.
The baby grunted as she was lifted, but otherwise remained in slumber.
"This is Alivia," Camicazi introduced softly. Their child looked so right in her arms that Hiccup felt his stomach clench.
"Alivia?" he choked out the name, wanting to keep his mind grounded in the face of so many unexpected emotions. He wasn't prepared for this...this sudden admiration. This gratitude for something he couldn't want. He wanted to touch them—these two girls who somehow belonged to him an in obscure sense. They were the proof that he existed, for all his flighty tendencies.
"Family name," Camicazi explained, heedless to Hiccup's muddled mind. "One of the things I had to do to get on my mother's good side."
Either Hiccup chose to ignore any negative implications of that admission or he didn't hear it. He remained fixated on the baby, full-cheeked and unblemished.
"I like it," he hummed.
Camicazi found Hiccup's unguarded wonderment too adorable. She took three steps forward to encroach on his personal space.
Alivia was held out to him, limp in her mother's arms, her tiny mouth open with her soft, even breathing. The girl could sleep through Ragnarǫkr.
Camicazi's offer had the affect of a cat-o-nine on the home-born Berkian.
"What?" Hiccup's face drained of color, leaving his freckles stark against his skin. "Oh, no, I—no—I'll—"
But Camicazi had already pressed Aliva to his chest.
"Hold your arms out," she commanded. His arms moved underneath the infant almost as soon as Camicazi moved her into his personal space. "Support her head with your elbow, yes, like that. Now brace her body with your other arm. See? You're doing great..."
Hiccup's shoulders seized with the added weight; his body stiffened in fear but his features quickly softened as the realization that this was his daughter settled over his mind.
"Wow." The word rushed out of his mouth as a nervous laugh. His wonder with the child seemed to have magnified tenfold. Camicazi got the impression that her presence no longer registered to Hiccup. "She's...heavy."
"It's mostly all in her head. Maybe she got her father's brains?"
For the second time, Hiccup appeared not to have heard her. "Is she supposed to be this fat?"
Camicazi's expression fell.
"Give me her," she demanded. The edge in her voice must have gotten through Hiccup's fascination because he tore his eyes away from the silent baby to give Camicazi a fearful look.
"She's my baby!" The gall of this man!
Hiccup shrunk inward, drawing Alivia closer into his chest as a result.
"You're going to hit me!"
"You called our baby fat!"
"No! Not directly. She's just...just...rollier than I expected."
The Burglar raised her eyes to the ceiling in a silent prayer for strength. Her initial indignation simmered at the reminder that Hiccup had next to no experience with children. "And what did you expect? A miniature adult?"
Hiccup shrugged, sensing the drop in immediate danger. He had seen babies before, but never any that resembled him so much. This felt so surreal to him, like a dream he once entertained had come back to remind him of past hopes. He had given up on the idea of a family, of a lineage, long ago when he made his choice to live by Toothless over humans.
Yet, here he was, holding something—someone—that was half him...and half a woman who refused to let him go.
"She kind of looks like me," he observed. The color atop her head resembled his—though more red than he could take credit for. He thought she had his nose as well—granted, it was just a little button of a thing centered on his face, but now that the idea came to mind he couldn't see it any other way. It didn't share Camicazi's upward turn; it looked rounded, like his.
Definitely his nose.
"Rumor has it all babies look like their fathers—proof that she's yours. She should be taking on my appearance any day now." Camicazi made a show of observing her nails.
Hiccup smiled, and there was nothing sarcastic about it. "Lucky her."
A loud warble drew both their attention to the doorway, where Toothless—apparently finished with introducing himself to Stormfly—decided to let himself in.
"Hey, buddy," Hiccup's grin broadened. He turned to show his dragon the child in his arms. "Check this out. This is Alivia."
The Night Fury padded up to the human-hatchling in Hiccup's arms. It smelled odd to him, fresh and milky. He brought his nose up and sniffed at the tiny, reddened face, sensing much of his rider in the small form.
"Yeah, I thought she looked fat too," Hiccup mumbled under his breath. He sent a nervous glance over to Camicazi who, having clearly heard him, crossed her arms, looking anything but amused.
She still didn't know if Hiccup could actually understand Toothless, or if he pretended to for show.
Alivia scrunched up her own nose at the hot dragon-breath ghosting over her once crease-less features. She looked like she was about to cry.
Hiccup felt panic set in.
"Oh, oh no," he muttered. "What do I do? Toothless! What did you do?" The dragon reared back, ear-fins falling in indignation. He wasn't to blame! Hiccup ignored the Night Fury all together, his focus falling on the grimacing baby. "What—hey, shh, please don't cry. Shhh—I don't know what to do—it's okay..."
He sent several panicked glances at Camicazi through his under-toned ramblings.
"You're doing fine," Camicazi assured him with an easy laugh. Alivia made a very lamb-like noise of protest to this and Hiccup didn't know how Camicazi could look so calm in the face of so much fidgeting.
"She's going to cry!"
"Calm down," Camicazi laughed again. She moved so close to Hiccup that their toes were touching. She placed on hand on his upper arm, another rested delicately on Alivia's soft head. "She's not going to cry. She's just waking up, see?"
Hiccup looked back down, and suddenly blue, blue eyes stared up at him. Cloudy from sleep, but quickly clearing.
"Hey darling," Camicazi cooed in a voice Hiccup never would have thought could come from her throat. "You have a nice nap? This is your daddy. He came all the way from who-knows-where to see you. See how pretty your parents are? You're going to be so pretty..."
She rand a hand over the little girl's head multiple times as she spoke. Alivia grunted, hardly registering the attentions of her mother when this new face could entertain her.
"They'll turn green."
"What?" Hiccup didn't look at Camicazi, his fascination with his child renewed. She was so...alive. Just staring at him, acknowledging him. Judging him.
"All baby's eyes are blue," Camicazi explained because she knew this was something he wouldn't know. "Hers will turn green some day. I know it."
Camicazi watched as Hiccup's face brightened, much like it would when they were children and his father showed a rare interest in one of his inventions.
Alivia caught Hiccup's smile and imitated it with a toothless one of her own.
"She smiles!" The sheer awe in Hiccup's voice had Camicazi laughing once again. "Toothless look—she looks like you!"
The Night Fury approached a second time, stealing Alivia's attention away from her father. The smile fell from Alivia's face when the dark creature moved in to observe her. She didn't cry. She simply stared with wide eyes at the foreign dragon.
A low moan escaped her throat; Toothless purred in response. Alivia waved a fist at him.
"She's going to grow up around dragons," Hiccup noted, as if just coming to the realization. His smile hadn't diminished since she opened her eyes. His cheeks would be hurting soon.
"Yes," Camicazi agreed.
"It's a new generation."
Neither spoke for a moment thereafter. Hiccup allowed the world around him to fall away, and Camicazi reveled in witnessing this drifting man find his footing in the world.
"How are you?" Hiccup asked after a beat, using a voice as soft as Alivia's cheek. "With all this, I mean."
He shifted Alivia in his arms a bit, starting to feel her unexpected weight start to wear on him. She was heavy, yet he still felt as though he could hold her forever.
"I'm fine, I have all the help I could ask for here. It worked—" She seemed to catch herself in whatever she planned on saying. When she continued, she spoke in soft, subdued words, hardly above a whisper. "I'm sorry, Hiccup. For how I did things."
"For how you did things, yes," he mumbled, but he continued to stare at Alivia in such a way that told Camicazi he wasn't sorry for how things turned out.
"But everything will be okay, right?" She needed to hear it from him. They'd gotten along so wonderfully since he arrived but she needed to know.
The pause before Hiccup's response was not promising to her. That his smile had faded significantly was even less so.
Hiccup released a strong breath through his nose. "I still...I'm still upset about, about how I can't be an actual father. She's not going to have a dad like she deserves."
And she deserved the absolute best. Hypothetically, he would love to be the best father his child could have. But realistically...he couldn't. Now that he had her in his arms, and she was staring up at him as gorgeous as can be, he knew he would prefer anyone to be her father—as long as she got the best.
"You can still be that dad," Camicazi insisted, desperate for his approval. "You can visit, you can bring her things—she'll only have great memories of you, even if you're not always around!"
"Oh, perfect. I can be just like my mother," he spat, embittered.
She placed a hand on his cheek, still rough with stubble like she remembered it the last time she touched it so intimately. Getting a clean shave on the road must have been hard.
"Hiccup," She spoke his name hushed and firm. "You love your mother."
"I did. I do," he sighed. His eyes narrowed, squinting at their daughter, perhaps not even seeing her. "I just..."
"I don't want her to..."
"So did I, but it still—"
"You won't die on her." Camicazi proposed this rather strongly. "You'll be around to see her grow, and her wedding and our first grandchild, and much more. There will even come a time where you can take her with you...provided you bring her back in one piece."
He granted her admission a crooked grin, but he had that child-like hope in his eyes. One she had forgotten before this day. "You think? I mean, I don't lead the safest of lives..."
"I know." She rubbed a thumb along his jaw, tracing that new scar. And referring to his survival record she added, "You're like a cockroach."
Hiccup's smile grew, still crooked, but more frank.
"Flattery," he began, deepening his voice, "will get you no where."
He suddenly moved closer to her, and considering how close they already stood, his action consisted of leaning his face towards her. Perhaps it was seeing his gaze darken while holding their child in his arms, but air left in Camicazi's lungs expelled obviously and quickly.
She touched one hand to Alivia's head while her eyes remained on Hiccup's as she closed the last of the short gap between their bodies.
"I forgive you," Hiccup whispered in the split instant before she kissed him.
His arms were occupied, so it was up to Camicazi to hold him to her, with forearms resting against those wide shoulders she once thought impossible to ever develop on his frame. Her hands moved to his neck, fingering the loose hair at the base of his ponytail and smoothing under the collar of his tunic.
His lips parted against hers, inviting her to deepen the kiss, and she accepted it with a leading, wonton sigh to pervade the cavity of their mouths.
Alivia chose that moment to announce her hunger with all the vehemence of her mother and all the tact of her father.
Hiccup stayed night.
He stayed the night and he loved her in that intimate, sensual way few Bog Burglars ever knew.
And then again, that morning.
It was different than before. Less alcohol. Less aggression and confusion. It was slow and connected, full of healing and apologies. They lost the vigor and senselessness of youth. They were older; she was a mother and he, while maybe not father material—perhaps in another life—but he was experienced, and they fit together so perfectly. They were linked in some way, their bond as children only served to seal this newfound intimacy between them. All the awkwardness and danger of crossing the friendship boundaries ebbed. They were meant to be unionized in this manner. Onlookers from either tribe could frown at them all they wanted, but they both knew this was the best and most personal affinity either could ever hope for. Marriage would take away the absolute taboo of it, but their child added a sense of right.
He left the following morning, just before noon under an unusually blistering sun for spring. No man was allowed on their island for any extended period of time and, while Hiccup was the exception to many things, this would not be one of them.
"I'll come back," he promised to both mother and child. "I'll stay in touch."
He'd do more than stay in touch. He would visit periodically, and witness every important milestone in Alivia's life. Hiccup wouldn't be tied down, he couldn't be grounded, but even a bird needed to land every now and then. Camicazi had given him that.
"Make sure you bring me something shiny," the blonde demanded.
Hiccup laughed and kissed her forehead. And then her cheek. And then her mouth, long and hard so that she would not forget his taste or his confidence. The cat-calls from her tribmates went unheeded. Clearly, his aversion to public displays of affection had diminished over the past year.
Before he mounted Toothless, he kissed Alivia on her feather-soft brow. It would take many visits for Hiccup to become a permanent inclusion to their daughter's memory, but Camicazi had no doubts that he would follow through on his swear to stay involved.
She saw the way he looked at their daughter before taking flight and found it impossible to hold in a smile, despite never truly knowing when she would next see him.
They would be okay, because Hiccup did love her—he loved this part of him and her. Alivia.
She would have his eyes; Camicazi could see that already—though still blue, they would change. She would freckle and have her wild hair and she would be the smartest, craftiest Bog-Burglar ever to journey Midgard. And when she was grown she would take to the seas like her mother and the skies like her father.
And she would rule the world from every angle.