The battle was practically over before it could even start. No one could really compete with the dragons of Berk, especially with Hiccup Haddock the Third as the captain. He walked across the plank to the captured ship, the metallic clanging of his peg leg driving fresh fear into the crew of the captured ship, as he had figured it would. He stopped at the very edge of the plank and surveyed the goods. His eyes lingered on the captain, an elderly-looking man, who was still giving Hiccup’s Vikings a rather hard time. A smirk appeared on Hiccup’s face as he moved forward, leave it to the Scots to keep fighting even though they had already lost. A path was cleared for him in a direct path to the still-struggling captain, though he was finally bound and was kneeling between Snotlout and Tuffnut.
“Are you the captain of this fine ship, the Rhiannon?”
The man spat on Hiccup’s boot, resulting in gasps from everyone, Viking and Scot alike, “What’s it to ya, eh?”
Hiccup merely wiped the spit off with the man’s clothes, “Because a trustworthy source informed me that you are carrying precious cargo. I am going to give you a choice, either you tell me what it is, or you and your men can walk the plank.”
“Oh, really, huh? And what happens if I don’t tell ya because I don’t think this precious cargo is precious to ya?”
“But it’s clearly precious to you, it just depends on if it’s more precious to you than your own life and the lives of your crew.”
“And what happens if that precious cargo has a bargaining chip of her own?” barked a female voice. Hiccup’s eyes snapped to where the fiery-haired girl stood, an arrow aimed at him.
“You’re the precious cargo?” The Vikings burst out laughing, but Hiccup eyed her, a realization dawning in his mind.
“You’re the princess, aren’t you?” The laughter immediately stopped, she was a precious cargo indeed if she was the princess.
“And what if I am? Right now, I’m offering you a choice, Captain Haddock, either release the Rhiannon, or lose your life.”
“Oh my, what a dilemma. You see, this is how pirates make their living, I can’t just leave without something to show for it. How about we take some of this treasure?”
“Hmm … OK, how about we take someone, like you, for ransom?”
“What? No! Leave this ship or get an arrow through your heart!”
“That’s the thing, I have to take something, or I’ll be back and take everything. Your choice,” shrugged Hiccup. Merida paused, her brow furrowed in thought. She glanced up sharply when she heard a creaking sound, Hiccup had taken a few steps forward.
“Stay back!” she shouted as she pulled the bow and arrow taut, ready to fire.
Hiccup put up his hands and took a couple of steps back, “Alright, alright, sorry Princess.”
“Tell your men to get back on your ship.”
“But what about …”
“Just do it!” Hiccup gave a slight nod, and the Vikings slowly moved back towards their ship, Hiccup the last one to leave. Merida kept an eye, and the arrow, on him, and slowly pushed him back towards his ship. He stepped on the plank, keeping her within his sights.
“Remember what I said, Princess? I have to take something now or I’ll come back and take everything.” He paused slightly, she had stepped onto the plank after him.
“I know what you said, I’m still considering it.” He waited a bit longer, letting her get a little closer before he moved again, much more slowly this time. If she figured out what he had in mind, things could go really bad for the both of them.
“Well I hope you consider it faster, because we’re running out of time,” he indicated that he was a few steps away from stepping off the plank onto his boat. He eyed her as she stepped closer, either she planned for this to happen, or she was more naive than he thought.
She glanced down at the plank, and noticed how close she was to the Viking boat, “So I see.” It was only a moment, but it was long enough for Hiccup. He reached out and grabbed the bow, yanking it from her, resulting in pulling her closer to him and landing on top of him. Realizing his intent, Astrid rallied a couple of Vikings together to pull back the plank and got the boat moving.
“No! Princess Merida!” The Scots tried to reconnect with the Nightfury, but the boat was far enough away by then that they missed.
“If you want your princess back, meet me back here in three weeks with a ransom! Decide well on how much your princess is worth!” shouted Hiccup as he held a dagger at her throat, the Nightfury racing away from the Rhiannon. Only when the Rhiannon was out of sight did he let the feisty redhead go. She, however, was back at him, hitting him like crazy.
“Why you little, scheming Viking!” Hiccup just gave a little chuckle, grabbed her arm, spun her around, and tied her arms behind her back, just before Toothless reached them.
“Well, aren’t you the fiery, little, warrior Princess? Be careful now, he doesn’t like it when people hit me,” he stated, indicating the growling Toothless. She grunted and struggled as he dragged her down to a cell. He untied her hands before locking her in. “Now Toothless, you can’t kill her, we need her alive. You can keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t try anything stupid, but no killing, got it?” Toothless gave a little snort before going back to eyeing Merida. “Toothless?” The black dragon rolled his eyes before giving a little nod. “Good, thank you.” Hiccup walked back to the stairs, turning back at the sound of Merida’s voice.
“You can’t just leave me with the dragon! How do I know he won’t kill me?”
Hiccup grinned, “Because he only does what I tell him. But don’t worry, Princess Merida, I’ll come and visit.” True to his word, Hiccup did visit her, and often, over the next two weeks, so much so that Astrid confronted him about it in his cabin one day.
“What are you doing spending so much time with the Scot?”
“That’s my business, Astrid.”
“You’re interested in her, aren’t you?”
“And what’s it to you?” he asked as he sat down as his desk.
“What happened to the rule forbidding attachments to prisoners?”
“Last I checked, that didn’t stop you, and I was even kind enough to let it slip,” he stated, glancing sharply up at her. A little blush came to Astrid’s cheeks.
“E-Eret was different. And you’re the Captain!”
“Astrid, things are changing, we’re changing. What happens if I want to stop being a pirate, especially when it’s time for me to become chief?” Astrid glanced down, unable to say anything. “You know I want to make changes to our policies concerning foreigners. What better way than to speak with a foreigner?”
“Is that so? Or are you just really interested in her?”
“Well, she is really interesting to talk to. She won’t try to kill us when it’s time to let her out …”
“Wait, what? You’re going to let her out?”
“Uh, yes, she can’t stay cooped up in that cell for the next week, she needs to get some exercise before the exchange.”
Astrid rolled her eyes, “Oh fine. You’re the Captain.”
“Thanks Astrid,” smiled Hiccup. That evening, Hiccup brought up Merida, the two chatting away as they ascended the stairs. The rest of the crew were uncomfortable as Hiccup showed her around, especially Toothless, the dragon following them like an overgrown shadow. By the third night, Toothless wasn’t as suspicious of Merida, and let the two walk around while he napped away. The crew were also more comfortable with her around, and they began to chat with her. On the sixth night, the night before the exchange, the winds had changed.
“Captain! We’ve got a ship coming in on starboard! And it’s definitely not Scot!”
“Can you tell where it’s from?” Hiccup asked as he moved Merida closer to the stairs.
“I don’t … oh no, Captain, it’s Dagur!” Growls escaped Hiccup’s and Toothless’ throats.
“Battle stations! Ready the cannons! Dragons, get in your places!” He pushed merida down the stairs. “Stay down there, don’t come out until you hear my voice or a Scot’s, you hear?” Merida only gave a slight nod before he closed the latch. He turned back to his crew, helping them get armed and ready for Dagur’s onslaught.
“Oh come on now, Hiccup! Is that any way to welcome your brother?” Dagur shouted over the water as his ship bore down on the Nightfury.
“Stop calling me your brother! We’re not even distantly related!” snapped Hiccup.
Dagur chuckled, “Of course, that will only make this so much easier.”
“What do you want, Dagur?”
“That redhead guest of yours is a princess, right?”
Hiccup’s eyes widened, “What? How …?”
Dagur laughed, “You were so focused on your honored guest that I could sneak up on you quite easily! You really don’t change, do you, brother?” Hiccup gritted his teeth. “As for what I want, brother, either we share the ransom, or I take that pretty princess from your arms.”
Hiccup’s eyes narrowed, “Oh really? Why can’t you go on your own raid instead of trying to steal my hard work?”
“Because I’m not as good as you are, and I get to see you more often.”
“What? What kind of an excuse is that?”
“The only one I’ve got, other besides wanting you dead so I can have those dragons!” With that being said, Dagur led his men onto the Nightfury, and battle broke out between the Vikings. The dragons launched themselves against Dagur’s men, fighting to protect their masters, shielding them again and again and blasting arrows out of their way. Dagur finally made his way to Hiccup, and the two clashed, Toothless watching the battle intently. The sound of metal meeting metal rang out again and again as Hiccup and Dagur swung and parried each other, neither one wanting to give in. Dagur managed to knock Hiccup off his feet and sent his sword clattering to the side. Toothless rushed to his defense, giving Dagur a run for his money before some of Dagur’s Vikings restrained him. Dagur turned his attention back to Hiccup and the two raced for Hiccup’s sword. Dagur reached it first, snatched it up, and held both swords at Hiccup, pushing him back.
“Looks like this is the end for you, brother. So sad that we’ve come to this point so soon, but, you were the only person standing between me and my success. Goodbye, Hiccup.”
“Take another step and I’ll shoot!” The battle paused as everyone glanced towards the speaker, her flaming hair blowing in the wind.
“What’s this, the pretty princess to your rescue? This just got interesting. And why would you want this pirate to stay alive, princess?”
“Because it sounds like he’s a lot better than you, and he keeps his word.” Dagur blinked before turning to Hiccup and grinned.
“Well, well, seems you’ve really impressed the princess. She must really like you to defend you.” He turned to Merida. “You do look kinda pretty, I can see why my brother might fall for you.”
“Stop calling me that!” Hiccup lunged at Dagur, knocking both swords from his hands and the two began wrestling. Merida stayed her arrow, she didn’t want to hit Hiccup. A noise caught her attention, Toothless was struggling against rope and Vikings in an attempt to rush to Hiccup’s aid. Merida aimed in his direction and let loose a few arrows, downing a few Vikings and cutting through the ropes. She was surprised when Toothless barreled towards her. She ducked, and he knocked a few Vikings over the edge of the boat.
She gave him a quick hug, “Thanks, Toothless, you’re the best.” They turned their attention back to Hiccup and Dagur, both were struggling to get the upper hand. Dagur separated and grabbed his sword, Hiccup frantically searching for his or any others. Dagur brought the sword down Hiccup, but it met with another sword.
“No!” shouted Merida as she took to fighting the deranged Dagur, proving quite skilled with the blade. Dagur got her to drop the blade, but Hiccup grabbed it and stepped back into the battle with him. At that moment, the Vikings were attacked by Scots, and were soon overrun, Dagur and his men escaping the way they came.
“Dad!” Merida’s father scooped her up into a big hug.
“I’m so glad you’re alright! Thank you, young man, for protecting my daughter.”
“Uh, sure, no problem,” Hiccup grinned sheepishly.
“Uh, Fergus, he’s the brute who kidnapped her in the first place,” muttered Chief Dingwall. Fergus blinked and glanced between Merida and Hiccup. Merida took her father’s hand.
“Um, Dad? I think the three of us need to talk, there’s a lot that I’ve learned in the past couple of weeks, and, well, I think you need to listen to Hiccup.”
A year later, Hiccup and Merida stood on a dock, looking over the sea.
“Do ya really have to go?” she asked, glancing up at the Viking.
“Of course I do, I have to take care of my people. Just because I have two homes doesn’t mean that everyone else does.”
“Well, maybe we should do that, have everyone spend the summer in Berk and the winter in Scotland.”
Hiccup chuckled, “I’ll think about that.” He pulled her in and gave her a tender kiss. He pulled back, but she pulled him in for another before finally letting go.
“You and Toothless take care of each other, alright?”
Hiccup laughed, “That’s second nature for us.” He gave her one final kiss before getting on board the ship. Merida watched it until she could no longer see it, finally peeling herself from the dock when the sun began to set. She smiled as she walked back home, he was a pirate, and she a princess, but fate had driven them together, marking the beginning of a change for both Scots and Vikings, at least those of Berk.