Your first memory is of screaming and flames. You don’t know why it’s that one exactly, but when you look back at your childhood, you see fire, fire and death. Death is something that most Vikings know very well from early childhood on.
That, and the cold and the dragons. As long as you can remember, the dragons have been there, and your village doesn’t remember a time without them or the bloody fights against them. The elders talk of gods, brave heroes and great chiefs and you listen with gleaming eyes and know that you will walk in their steps one day, and more – you will leave your own footprints in the history and legends of your people.
As soon as you can hold an axe, you throw yourself into battle, already the biggest and strongest back then. Fearless and stubborn you fight and when you are nine years old, you kill your first dragon. You have been friends with Gobber since you could both walk but in the winter of you first kill, you too really grow together.
Not only that, you also become closer to some of the other youths on Berk. You, Gobber, Valka, Spitelout, Brunhilde and Sven form a tight group of friends and soon you are infamous for your mischief (even if you wouldn’t admit it later.) In the summers you go fishing together and in the winters you have snowball fights and so your childhood goes, not really peacefully, but ultimately happy and relatively carefree.
You often get scolded by your father, but you don’t really take it seriously. It will be a while until you take over his position as chief and right now you have more important things to think about.
You want honor and glory, you want to slay dragons, want to sit by the campfire and drink to Berk and the gods. You want to wake up the next morning with a horrible headache and not think about anything but the fact, that Gobber has beaten you again in arm-wrestling.
You get older but not wiser and when you are fifteen years old you look at Valka and realize that you are hopelessly in love with her. You see her rosy cheeks, because she just raced against Sven (and won) and the stars in her eyes and you would give her the world because she is kind and smart and better than you in so many ways and you can only try to be enough for her, the big dreamer, a bird who wants to fly away.
In your seventeenth summer you dance together and make love to each other and you feel so free. You feel as if you can move mountains and tame the sea. Everyone expects you both to marry soon but you take your time. You don’t need to marry to know that you love each other.
You train with the others and your fathers decides, that it is time to properly prepare you for your role as future chief while Gobber starts working in the forge and becomes a blacksmith under the watchful eye of the old Gundar. You all grow up.
When you are twenty-one, your mother dies, a sickness that takes a lot of lives all over the isles that winter, you got lucky, really, with how little people died on Berk. That knowledge doesn’t make the grief easier. Two years later your father dies, killed by a Monstrous Nightmare. You are not surprised. Your father always said that he would die fighting, and, if you’re honest, you think it will be the same for you. So, you are twenty-three years old and the new chief.
Val and you marry, and you are happy, but you are not as carefree as you used to be. You can’t, you now have to look after a whole tribe and Gobber has taken over the forge and the attacks on Berk continue and the winters are long and hard, and the summers are short.
You try to be a good chief and you can’t throw yourself mindlessly into battle anymore. It isn’t just about your life now. You make a strategic mistake in a battle with another tribe and fifteen of your warriors die and you will never forgive yourself.
You become more cautious and serious. You get older and people in the village start asking you about an heir, and when Valka tells you about her pregnancy, you laugh, lift her up and twirl around the room with her. It’s one of the best moments of your life.
In the year that Sven dies, and leaves behind his newborn daughter Astrid, your son is born. Too early and too small, and Valka doesn’t know if he will make it but you look at him and see a fighter. Valka names him Hiccup and claims, with mischief in her eyes, that the name will keep trolls away.
The summer is good, even though your son keeps both of you awake and the next winter is close. You look at your little family, at your wife who tells Hiccup a story even though he can’t understand it yet and you are happy.
But the happiness doesn’t last. Hiccup is six months old, when Valka dies through one of the countless dragon raids. You run as fast as you can when you see the dragon at your house and you are shouting at her, you tell her to run, you try to kill the beast, but she is taken away. You call her name and she calls yours, but you have to watch, helplessly, as she slowly vanishes from sight.
Val always said, that the dragons weren’t evil, but you look at your house and life that lay in ruins, at the wound on your sons chin and at the dragons that are carrying away the love of your life, to where you cannot follow her. And you hate.
Looking back, you don’t know how you made it through the next year, still the leader and suddenly very much alone with Hiccup. Maybe you would have drowned in your grief and desperation, but you had to be strong for your village and for your son.
You adapt and Gobber often helps you. Soon, a cradle stands beside your seat in the great hall and eventually wooden toys. The pain doesn’t stop, you don’t think it ever will, but it lessens and five years later you look at Berk with your son and tell him that it will be his responsibility one day. You try to hide your tears from him, but Hiccup notices anyway, so you tell him that love also means loss.
Hiccup grows up and you focus on hunting the dragons. If you can only find their nest, or, even better, the home of all dragons, you could end this war once and for all. Hiccup wants to kill dragons too, but he is too small and too weak, and damn it, you are worried about him! He just won’t listen to you and you in turn don’t notice how you are crushing him with your expectations.
You become strangers and you don’t know how to talk to him anymore. It was easier when he was younger, when he didn’t want to desperately be something he isn’t but you have to admit that it’s also good that he is trying to fit in. Even if it doesn’t really work. You try not to be too disappointed.
Again, you search for the nest of the dragons and when you come back, Hiccup is suddenly the best fighter of his age and, well, you are a little skeptical, but you are to relieved to say anything. Finally, you have something to talk about again but then comes the betrayal and you can’t believe that your own son decided to side with those monsters. In the aftermath, you say and do things you will later regret and your whole world is shattered and put together again.
You watch how flames surround your boy and how he falls and later you hold him in your arms, and never want to let him go because you can’t protect him if he goes too far away and you look at the dragon, that saved your son and you are so grateful and you start seeing dragons with new eyes.
Hiccup loses a leg, and Berk and the dragons befriend each other while you adapt again, even if it takes some time. You try to listen to your son, try to become a better father and a better chief.
Hiccup grows up and falls in love and goes his own way and you are proud of him, really damn proud, even if he is very different from you. You’re preparing him to be the next chief and you think that he will be a good one. Maybe you should be stricter with him, when he vanishes again for days to explore the world, but you were young and free once yourself and you want to give him some time until he has to become more serious and responsible.
You see Val again, almost twenty years later and it’s like nothing’s really changed. It fragile and sad and beautiful and you dance with her again. You die like your father did – killed by a dragon, Hiccups best friend, turned into a killer by a madman, and the decision to save your son is not really a decision after all. A chief protects his own and you will always protect your family.
You die when you are fifty years old and your descendants will talk about you long after you are gone. Your people will tell stories of your bravery, stubbornness, your heroic deeds, of the love that guided you all your life and of the flames that escorted you to Valhalla.