Dragonwalkers were long deemed creatures of legend. A fairytale told to children before bed. Beings who looked just like them but could communicate and control the beasts called dragons, wild magic embedded in their very souls.
Created long ago by the gods to keep the balance between humans and nature, dragonwalkers walked the line of man and beast. Appearing human while awake, but at night while they dreamed, became…
From the moment Hiccup was born, Valka refused to let him out of her sight for even a moment.
There was a motherly affection in her actions, but also a slightest touch of fear. No one thought much of it at first. Dragon raids happened so frequently it seemed they had to rebuild the village and restock their food every other week. Some of the greatest vikings had been lost in the battles between man and beast. Children who reached the passage of adulthood were celebrated, knowing from experience on Berk that only the strongest would survive so long.
Those that didn't, were mourned.
And her son, Hiccup, was clear from birth to be a weak, sickly thing. Small for his age, frailer as well. A miracle designed by the gods themselves that he'd survive even the first night. How a runt could come from the strong, proud Stoick the Vast was a mystery. A mystery that spouted rumors. Rumors that were quickly put to rest once the chief caught wind.
Valka's protectiveness of their son and Berk's heir was understood. Expected. Until it began to approach the line of oddity.
She never left him alone with anyone, not for a minute. Not Gobber, despite her son's immediate attachment to the blacksmith and his own fondness for the boy, not even Stoick. If she had to do an errand or run out during a raid, Hiccup could be found strapped to her chest or back, no matter her husband's protests to leave him with him, or Gobber, or any of her friends on Berk. Excuses were made to get out of festivities or any event in which the chief and his family were required to present themselves. Whenever Stoick managed to coax his wife into attending, she was anxious, agitated and snapping when people demanded to hold or see Hiccup, and sneaking off back home if the signs of sleep began making themselves known on her son's face.
She was afraid of something, that much became obvious. Of what, or who no one knew.
More than once, Stoick wondered if it was he she feared. Tradition dictated any runts were to be left out for exposure, to save the trouble of the problems the child would have as they grew older. A cruel way of saving weaklings from a world that would never treat them fairly. But the moment he caught sight of Hiccup, who was, well...a hiccup, and he survived that first night, he knew in his heart his son would grow to be strong . Perhaps not in a way they expected, but Stoick's seen his son's a fighter.
If Valka knew that was unsaid. But she seemed determined to guard him against anything that might harm him.
The truth wasn't too far off. However, it was stranger.
Valka hadn't grown up in Berk the same as Stoick had. It'd been so long since, and she'd adapted so well that many forgot she had once been an outsider. That she had to learn their traditions, their language, their culture, their people...and disregard her own. No one had known where she'd come from, who she'd been, in her youth. Just a girl found lost in the forest and brought into the village by the chief's son.
Over the years she'd made the decision to stay as she grew closer to Stoick, a foolish hope in her chest that maybe from within she could start some spark of change, only to be disappointed again and again. Up until she found out she was pregnant, she had kept trying. Had to.
She had spent so long among the humans, she wasn't sure if her own people would take her back even if she could find and return to them. But she still had this. Her home, her family. And she had to keep trying to get to the bottom of this bloodshed and stop it. To open people's minds to change.
There was only so much, she could do, though, since her magic had long since gone.
Dragons were her kin just as much as humans were. She couldn't turn her back on them. Despite her efforts to keep a foot in both worlds just as she had once in her youth, the longer time went on, the more she could see she'd have to choose someday whose side she was on.
And a feeling in her gut told her that was coming soon.
And so until she was sure her son had or hadn't inherited her magic, she'd just have to keep a close eye on him. It could wake up in him at any time, but with Stoick's blood in his veins, he might grow up to be just another normal human boy. Once she knew, she could think on how to cross that bridge, but for now, no one could watch Hiccup sleep. Not even Stoick.
She's lost track of the amount of times she'd stayed up in the past few months since he'd been born, watching him sleep for hours before allowing herself to rest. What would her husband think if her son was like her? If he found out what she once was, what she still was deep down in her core, though she could no longer change. Would he cast him out? Kill him?
No matter how hard she tried to shake those thoughts from her mind, they remained. Stoick loved Hiccup, had such faith in him. She remembered what he told her when Hiccup managed to survive his own birth.
"Our boy's going to become the strongest of them all."
And she knew he wasn't just saying it to reassure her. He truly believed it.
But she'd also seen the way he'd treated dragons. Trapped them, killed them, forced them into the kill ring. The kill ring where they might as well be torturing the poor beasts, setting them loose only to teach their young to fight before forcing them back into their prisons. Or for their new generation of dragon killers to prove themselves as "proper vikings."
Stoick was a man set in his ways, and she'd fallen in love with him despite herself and all she was, but she feared him, too, and what he'd do if he knew. What the people of Berk would do, if they knew.
Dread filled the pit of her stomach when one night, just as she began to believe the boy was like his father after all, a soft crash reached her ears from where she'd placed Hiccup to sleep hours before. Giving her husband a quick reassurance, she ran out the room to find Hiccup sound asleep in his cradle, quiet. Sleeping quieter than he had in ages. And looking down at the floor, she knew why.
Quickly shutting the door, she turned back to the vision in front of her now. A hatchling smaller and developed slower than those his age, scales black as night and not yet fireproof, little nubs around his face, padded along the floor, looking disoriented and stumbling over his new limbs and senses. Valka couldn't help the soft laughter that left her lips.
At the sound, the dragon hatchling looked directly at her, big green eyes the same shade as her son's, pupils dilated. He gave a soft trill and started toward her, stumbling and falling down more than once as he crawled to her despite being a few months from doing so. At least while awake.
Valka kneeled down, beckoning him to her. Little face scrunched in concentration, the little dragon finally managed to waddle over to her, plopping his head on her lap, looking rather proud of his accomplishment.
"Yeah… It takes a bit of getting used to," Valka whispered. "Hiccup." The hatchling cooed and looked up at her again with wide green eyes.
The rules of their magic, of Valka's tribe before she'd gotten separated and lost from them, echoed in her mind.
Dragon when asleep.
Human when awake.
If she were with them, if she were in a world where she needn't worry, she'd have been proud. One's first shifting had always called for celebrating, but now fear tainted the moment. Hiccup began crawling to the door, likely wanting to show his father his new trick, but Valka quickly grabbed him much to the other's indignant screech. She shushed him, gathering him into her arms, muttering soft words to him he likely didn't yet understand, but her tone and voice placated him as he snuggled closer to her.
They spent the rest of the night like that, Valka wondering what now to do.
On any other night, Valka would never say she was thankful for a raid.
But she couldn't deny it gave a good distraction.