3. Witch’s Cottage

“Oh Mom, it’s happened again!”

“What do you mean, Merida? What’s happened again?” Merida led her mother through the door.

“Look, that’s Hiccup!” Hiccup, now a brown bear, waved and grinned as best as he could with his bearish features.

“Oh no, you’re going to have to get him to the cottage and see what needs to be done to reverse this.”

“You know how to get back?” Elinor glanced at him, her mouth opening wide.

“Yeah, there’s that too. Hiccup told me she gave him something to drink instead of something to eat. The spell’s different so he can talk, but I don’t know for how long.” Elinor’s lips closed into a determined line.

“All the more reason for you two to get back to the cottage immediately, come on.” She led the way out, Hiccup following Merida as steadily as he could, still getting used to his new, big body. Elinor took them down several corridors and tight passages, ending up in the kitchen.

“But aren’t we going to let Dad and the others know?”

“I will let them know, you two need to get back to the cottage and find out what you can. We’ll be ready to help with anything when you get back.” Merida nodded before hugging her mom and grabbing her bow and quiver.

“Thanks Mom, we’ll be back as soon as we can.”

Hiccup turned to Elinor, “Thanks, and, keep an eye on Toothless please, he’ll be worried sick.”
Elinor smiled, “I will, I’ll try to explain it to him as best as I can.”

“Come on, Hiccup, let’s go,” said Merida as she walked out the door. Hiccup gave a Elinor a nod before bounding after Merida.

“Good luck, you two,” sighed Elinor as the door shut.

Merida led Hiccup out of the castle and into the night, the forest swallowing them up as they raced towards the witch’s cottage.

“So you’ve met the witch? And this has happened before?”

Merida sighed, “Yes, well, my mom and I were having some difficulties and I wanted her to change.”

“Know how that feels,” muttered Hiccup.

“So I followed some will-o-the-wisps to the witch’s house . . .”
“What are will-o-the-wisps?”

` “They’re fairies that look like blue flames with children’s faces. We might see one, but back to my story, I asked the witch to give me a spell that could change my mom.”

“Let me guess, when you said change she thought you meant literally, and into a bear.”

“Right, and I only had two days to change her back.”

“Whoa, not a whole lot of time.”

“Which is exactly why we need to find out tonight how to change you back. If we don’t get you changed back into a human, you’ll be a bear for the rest of your life. And not a talking bear, you won’t be Hiccup anymore, you’ll just be another bear.”

Hiccup gulped, “Wow, I didn’t know it would be that bad. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done it. I just, she was so nice and listened to me, I really thought that she could have helped me be more like my dad.”

“What’s your dad like?” Merida asked, slowing down their pace.

“Was like, he . . . he died saving me.” They walked slowly in silence for a bit before Merida spoke.

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, it . . . he was about as big as your dad, perhaps a bit bigger. He was known as Stoick the Vast for a reason,” he chuckled harshly. “Everyone loved him, looked up to him, knowing that he would do what was right. He put our tribe first, he could be harsh, but he had his reasons. Everyone listened to him when he talked. That’s why I made my wish, I wished I could be more like him, or well, at least as big as him so that I wouldn’t need Toothless to be there just so people could listen to me.”

Merida sighed, “Guess you got your wish then, and you get to talk! My mom didn’t get that, and I don’t think Mordru did either.”

“Wait, that bear your dad boasted about fighting, he used to be a human?”

Merida nodded, “My mom was saved from the spell, Mordru wasn’t.”

“Oh,” was all Hiccup managed to say. He started to move a bit faster, he had no desire to become like Mordru, not one bit. Merida moved faster to keep up with his stride, and was soon overtaking him. They reached a hill and Merida reached the top first, disappearing from Hiccup’s view for a bit.

“Look Hiccup, the ring of stones! We’re almost there!” He bounded up the hill, Merida stood within the circle, beckoning to him. “Come on, quick!” He raced towards her, she was already moving to the other side of the hill. “Ah-ha, I’ve found it!” she exclaimed. She was bouncing by the door of the cottage when Hiccup caught up.

“Alright, let’s go see what I need to do to change back into a human.” Merida grinned as she opened the door and led the way in.

“What? Where is she? She was here just this morning!” exclaimed Hiccup when they entered an empty cottage.

Merida sighed as she moved further into the house, “She probably found an excuse to leave before we came back. She did it to me too, but watch.” She tripped a wire that rang a bell, then a ball moved, hitting a bear toy that rolled into an axe, knocking it into a knife that cut through a string before ending up in the wall mere inches from their heads.

“That was close.” Merida grinned before pointing at the pot in the middle of the room that had glowing green smoke coming out of it.

“It’s her cauldron, come on.” They moved forward cautiously as the witch’s head appeared out of the smoke.

“Hey, that’s her!”

“I know, now be quiet.”

“Welcome to the Crafty Carver . . .”

“Crafty alright.”

“Hiccup, be quiet!”

“I’m currently out of stock . . .”

“What? She had a full house just this afternoon!”

“Hiccup, be quiet!” Merida closed the bear’s mouth.

” . . . want bear frames or party favors, phial one. If you are planning a wedding and need items specifically for that, phial two. If you’re that nice Viking, I hope the red-haired lass is there to help you with phial three.”

“Oh,” Merida grabbed the third phial and tossed it into the cauldron.

“Hello Mr. Viking, and uh, hello, to the one I hope is the princess. Anyway, Mr. Viking, I didn’t get to tell you about the rest of spell, you left pretty quickly upon hearing the pretty princess call your name,” she cackled.

“What? That isn’t why . . .”

“Hiccup,” Merida stared at him.

“OK, OK, I’ll be quiet. But how does she do that?” Merida glared at him.

“Anyway, as I”m sure the princess noticed, you have the ability to talk, the first one to try my new potion.” Hiccup opened his mouth to protest, but then glanced at Merida and thought better of it. “Which means the rules are a little different, as long as you stay away from your home you will be able to speak. But the morning after you set foot on your home soil, you will cease to speak, and the bear will begin to set in.”

“Oh no.”

“After that, you have until the second sunrise to undo the spell, or you will become a bear forever. Now to undo the spell, you must remember these words, to become a human requires a selfless act, be yourself and make the pact. I will repeat that, so listen very carefully and remember them. To become a human requires a selfless act, be yourself and make the pact. Again, you have until the second sunrise after you reach your home to change back. Good luck, I’m sure the princess will give you all the help you’ll need. Bye bye!”

“No wait! That – that can’t be it!”

Merida sighed, “I’m afraid it was, Hiccup, come on, we can figure what she means on the way back.”

“But . . . can’t we try the other phials?”

“No, I don’t want to come back and rebuild the house again, so let’s go. We have what we came here for. The second morning after you return to Berk is your last day being Hiccup, and I guess you have to make a pact and do a selfless act before then to return to your human form.”

“Right, the – the pact! I have to make the pact between Berk and the Scot happen!”

“Exactly! And you just have to be yourself! See, we can do this!”

“Right, and since I can still talk until I get back home, I can still make the pact! This should be easy! Come on!”

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