The forge was one of Zephyr Haddock’s favorite spots on the island. It was the place where she could watch and help her Uncle Gobber and father make incredible things from scratch. It was where she spent a lot of her days watching her uncle and hearing him tell many stories about her parents that always hooked her in right from the start. It was also the place where she first saw her dad cry. Her strong, loving, and dorky dad…cry.
It was a day she’d never forget.
She was six years old.
She had gone to the forge in search of something to do since it was way too cold to play outside with the other kids and the forge was always warm and it was never boring.
But her hearty and cheerful uncle was nowhere to be found. It was quiet…unusually quiet. But it was toasty so she stood by the fire to warm her face that had become frozen and numb on her walk over.
The small crash of something falling onto the floor behind her and in her father’s space had made her head whip around quickly. She squinted at the curtain blocking her view into the tiny room and saw no shadows or feet moving behind it. Curiosity setting in, she wandered over and slowly peeked her head in.
Her dad was hunched over the table, head resting in his right hand, and his other hand caressing old faded papers and drawings in front of him. It was quiet so the sob that erupted out her father’s mouth made her jump. And the sniffle that followed immediately after made her quietly walk into the room.
“Daddy?” She called out, crossing her arm over her chest.
Hiccup sat up quickly and wiped at the tears still making their way down his cheeks. He put on the best smile he could manage but the pain was still noticeable in his green eyes. He turned to face his daughter standing in the room with furrowed brows and a worried expression across her face that made her look exactly like her mother.
“Zephyr, I didn’t know you were in here,” Hiccup spoke hastily, his voice cracking on the last word.
“Are you okay?” Her tiny voice asked him timidly.
He hesitated and grinned again, but it wasn’t the smile that he gave her when she’d show him a new drawing of hers or the one he’d greet her with when she woke in the morning. This was a sad smile.
She walked a few steps closer to him and saw that even in the light of the fire, his eyes were red and the rims were filled with tears that he was trying his best to hold back, “Why are you crying?”
Hiccup sighed then. It was a long sigh and made his shoulders slouch and his eyes glance down at his hands clasped in his lap. And Zephyr didn’t like the heavy silence that loomed over them at that moment. It made her tighten her grip on her arm and shift back and forth.
After the longest minute of her life, her dad did look back up at her and this time with his warm and safe arms open for her to jump into. She did just that, always loving the comfort that being in the arms of her father brought her.
He turned them back around to the papers spread out all over the table. They were faded drawings, most of the same thing. A tail. A tail she knew went along with the dragons her parents had told her all about.
And her father picked one up carefully, trying his best not to rip it any more than it already had been. He told her the story of this particular drawing. How it wasn’t long after finding Toothless in the woods back on the Berk that he’d grown up on. Back on the Berk that knew the joys and pains of living with the creatures.
This particular drawing was the first tail he’d ever made for Toothless. And as he recounted the story, she eventually looked away from the drawing and back up at her father. Her strong father who wasn’t holding back the large tears anymore. The tears of missing someone who once meant everything to you. The tears of missing a best friend.
And even though he was still in the middle of the story, that didn’t stop her from turning around and wrapping her tiny arms around him, burying her face in the crook of his neck. The story stopped then and she felt him bring her closer to his chest and press a small kiss to the top of her head.
Father and daughter didn’t say anything for a few moments. After shaking sobs coming from her father had quieted down, Zephyr spoke to him reassuringly, “It’s going to be okay, daddy.” She smiled that bright grin, the one that always made Hiccup’s day.
And even through the pain of missing the past sitting on the table in front of him, he returned the smile. He smiled because he was looking into the bright blue eyes of his present and his future. He was looking into the eyes of his whole world.
“You’re right. It is going to be okay.” He reassured both her and himself and touched his finger to the tip of her small round nose.
And Zephyr had always seen her father as strong because he was her father and he was the Chief of Berk and was talked about across all the land. But she didn’t truly see just how strong her father was until that day. Until she saw that no matter the pain of missing what once brought him so much joy, he still managed to not only be her everything, but their family’s everything, and also Berk’s everything.