inquisitivetea: (httyd toothless hiccup flying)
tea ([personal profile] inquisitivetea) wrote2010-08-29 10:32 pm
Entry tags:

How to Train Your Dragon Fanfic: Helheim's Gate 6/8

Title: Helheim's Gate
Author: inquisitivetea
Rating: PG
Characters: This part features Hiccup, Toothless, and some Norse deities.
Spoilers: This fic will spoil the end of the movie.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. I barely own my computer.
Summary: Something is wrong with Toothless. Hiccup will go to Hel and back to fix it.
Author’s notes: Special thanks to my beta reader, Backroads.

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five

Helheim's Gate

Chapter Six

"Idiot," I mutter, as I stare at the floor. "Wow, am I dumb. We actually got things right for once?" Toothless nuzzles my ear. "Hey buddy."

"You can get up now," Hel says lazily.

"Getting up, oh great goddess," I say. I have to lean my hand against the brick over the fireplace to stand up again.

Hel moves her hand and suddenly we're standing in a bleak field. It's rocky and red and whatever grass there is is dry and yellow. Small white puffs are blown around by the cold wind. Some are the size of my palm, but most are pretty small. I catch a piece of the white fluff in my hand and pinch it with my fingers. It's feather-soft and falls apart easily.

I cross my arms and shiver as Toothless leaps around and chases them.

"That's where he gets it from," I murmur.

"What do you mean?" Hel asks, holding out a crystal.

Toothless hurries over and licks the crystal.

"Okay," I say, tapping the air with my index finger, "This is starting to make sense. In a way that doesn't make sense at all. Look, before anything else happens, just tell me: am I dead?"

"You are touched by the gods."

"Yeah, I'm starting to get over that. But am I dead?"

"You don't understand," Hel says. She flicks her hand and we're back in front of the useless fireplace. "The one you call Toothless is my son. I am the goddess of death. Therefore he is also--"

"A god," I finish softly. I swallow hard. "Toothless?" I say meekly. I hold out my hand. He pads over and pushes his snout against my palm, just like the first time we touched. "My best friend is a god," I say. "My dragon is a god." I shiver again. The fire is not doing anything to help. Toothless curls up around my legs.

"He favors you," Hel says. "Even though you damaged him."

I scratch the back of my head. "Oh, uh, you know about that?"

"He keeps nothing from me," she says.

"Sounds like you guys have a strong bond."

"You tried to leave your mother."

I rub my eyes with my wrist. "Yes, I'm a bad person. But I'm not meant to die here. Now. Am I?"

Hel's expression is gentle when she gazes at Toothless. As she lifts her face to look at me, her eyes thin and her eyebrows furrow. Her mouth is set in a straight line. "My son had a destiny before he knew you." Her voice is so low it's almost a growl.

"Okay, this is going to sound like a dumb question," I press my fist to my mouth before I go on, "What happened to it?"

"You." An unamused smirk settles into her expression. "My son needs you," she continues. "He cannot fly without you. He was going to be a hero. Alone. With no help from any mortal."

I look down at Toothless. "... Oh." I bite my lower lip. "What if I help him?"

Hel sighs. "You fought a battle he was not meant to fight. Together. That is how it must be now."

"So I'll live?"

She looks at me like I'm an idiot.

"I'm starting to see the family resemblance," I say.

"You're alive, Hiccup. Your fate is tied to his," she gestures to Toothless. "In the room, you chose the more difficult path-"

"That really is a Viking thing!"

"-And you have that damned feather."

I pat my pocket. I definitely owe Modgud. "So, how does this work?" I ask, "How do I help Toothless achieve his destiny?"

Hel blinks. "You're not interested in going home?"

"I'd love to go home," I say, "But I want to help Toothless first."

"Hm." Hel tilts her head. "You have courage, small one."

"It's-it's kind of new," I admit, "But it's there. I did this to Toothless. It's up to me to fix this."

"First you must swear an oath to the gods."

"Swear an oath. Okay, I can do that."

"Then you will return home."

"That's it?"

"The times ahead will not be so easy."

I take a deep breath and nod. "Let's get that oath sworn."

"It's not quite that simple," she says.

"Of course it isn't. It wouldn't be my life if it was." I hold my hands out. "Not that I'm not glad I'm alive, or anything."

She lifts an eyebrow. "Uh huh."

"How hard is this going to be, exactly?"

"You must swear on the river," Hel explains, "This has never been attempted before. No spirit leaves Helheim."

"But we're not dead spirits... since we're not dead can't we just... fly?"

Hel walks toward me and Toothless. I turn to follow her as she pats Toothless's tail. "It will not work until you reach the gate," she says, gesturing to the red tail fin.

Toothless flicks his tail. I turn to look at his face. He watches me with trust in his eyes, even though I did this to him.

"And there is Garm," she adds.

"Isn't he your dog?" I ask, "Isn't there some kind of free pass you can give me so we can get past him?"

"Entering is easier than leaving," she informs me.

"Yeah, I definitely should have planned this better," I say. "Question: is it going to be this hard every time Toothless needs to see you?"

"You must find two souls strong enough to hold the gate open for you. If you leave through the gate and find the river again, if you get past Garm, I will have you swear your oath to the gods. This will give you free passage."

"That sounds fair," I say. "We can do that, right?" I look to Toothless and smile. He grins his toothless grin. "I'll do this for you, bud," I assure him with a nod.

"We will have light for a half-day," Hel says, "You will leave in half that time and you will have that time to make your oath at the river."

"What happens if we don't make the deadline?" I ask.

"You stay here forever."

"Okay then. No pressure."

"I missed you," Hel says, kneeling on the floor. She clucks her tongue and Toothless purrs as she kisses his head.

"I have another question," I say.

"Yes?" she says, looking up at me.

"Was that really my mother?"

Hel regards me with a solemn look.


Hel offers me a plate of food before she bonds with Toothless. The bread looks and feels about as dry as a rock and I can't even tell what kind of fruit is in front of me. It's cut in half; the inside has no pulp and lots of red seeds. Even though I'm feeling a little weak as I stare at the plate, I decide it might not be the best choice to eat something from the house of the dead.

I do a lot of staring as I wander around Hel's house. For some reason, even the smallest details, like a scratch on the wall, captivate me. I guess souls are pretty contemplative in the peaceful afterlife. I barely get through two rooms before Toothless comes bounding toward me.

"My son says you feed him well," Hel says, following him.

"We've got a lot of good fish around the island," I tell her.

"You do not have crystals?" she asks.

"We have sugar crystals. He seems to like those."

She nods.

"Listen, I'm sorry," I say. "I'm really sorry. I hurt your son."

She shakes her head. "Nothing can be done about it now."

"Still, I apologize."

"Vikings don't apologize for being Vikings."

"You may not have noticed," I say, "but I'm not like other Vikings."

"You aren't," she agrees. "I usually like them."

There's a conversation killer. "So... How do you two communicate?"

"You must go now," she says. "You will move closer to death as light ends. Beware."

She kisses Toothless again on his snout, then leads us to a doorway. As she opens it, light pours in so I have to cover my eyes. I can't see outside.

"Step forward," she says.

Just as I obey, I hear the door creak as it closes behind me. Toothless and I look out at the field full of small white puffs. He starts to chase some of them around.

"Toothless," I say, "Toothless, we have to get to the river!"

He looks at me and I swear he's pouting, but he trudges back over to me.

"Two souls who will open the gate," I say. "Got any ideas?"

Toothless starts down a path. When he realizes I'm not following him, he turns and looks at me expectantly.

"Well, I guess you'd know your way around," I admit as I start to walk.

We travel over a succession of hills that get steeper and steeper. There are a lot of souls standing around, staring. Most of them watch the white puffs blow around. At first I do my best not to touch them, but Toothless just walks right through them like it's normal. I try walking through one and feel a deep chill in the pit of my stomach as it vanishes from my disturbing it. I turn around to make sure it reappears, which it does, but that turns me off to walking through souls.

Toothless stops when we reach the edge of what looks like a forest of dead trees. He sniffs the air then turns to me and nods.

"In there?" I ask, pointing into the forest.

He jerks his head back and lowers himself.

I'm feeling weaker, so I don't bother to argue before I climb up onto his back.

Toothless gallops around the edge of the forest until we come to a pair of huge rocks sitting side by side. He squeezes past them and leaps across the black chasm just beyond them.

"Whoa," I say, "Let's try to avoid those, okay?"

He smacks me with his ear and hurries to a hut just beyond the next grove of dead trees.

Toothless stops at the door of the hut. He sniffs the bottom of the doorway, then moves on to a window.

"There's no one inside," I tell him.

He trots around the house.

A man and a woman are standing behind the hut.

Okay, I have to say it. The man is handsome. Golden hair, ocean blue eyes, muscles in all the right places. I mean, my axe doesn't swing that way, but if he were a woman, I would really be dead because I'm pretty sure Astrid would kill me for even looking at him.

"Excuse me?" I say.

Both of them look up. "Yes?" says the woman. "Oh." She holds her hand out to Toothless. Toothless moves forward and nudges her hand with his snout. She's solid.

"Hi," I say. "Um. My name's Hiccup."

They stare at me.

"May I ask who you are?" I say.

"Baldur," the man says distantly.

The woman glances at him then looks back at me. "Nanna," she says.

"Oh man," I say. I gulp. No one is ever going to actually believe this happened. I slide down to the ground on my hands and knees. "Hail thee god and goddess!"

"... Did you need something?" Nanna asks.

I keep staring at the ground. "Um. Are you two busy or anything?"

"We're not doing anything," Nanna says.

"I was wondering... Would you mind doing me a huge favor?"

"What is it?"

"Do you think you could hold the gate of Helheim open for me?"

"Get up," Nanna says.

I stand.

"You're leaving Helheim?" Nanna goes on urgently.

"Presumably," I say, "I have to get past Garm and make a holy oath and stuff. But that's the goal."

"We have never found the gate," Nanna says. "You know the way?"

"He does," I say, jerking my head toward Toothless.

Nanna nods. "If you lead us, we will go with you to the gate," she says. She looks at Baldur.

"Hum?" Baldur says.

"Is he going to be okay?" I ask her.

Nanna tugs Baldur by the arm. "We are going with the boy," she says, "To the gate."

"I can't promise anything," I tell her, "I mean, I'm not sure if you'll be able to leave or anything."

Nanna shakes her head. "Just get us there. I want to try it for myself."

"... All right," I say, "Thanks for agreeing to help. Before we do this, is there anything I can do for you?"

Nanna hardly thinks about it before she answers, "Remember us in your oath."

"I will," I say.

"Then it is done," Nanna says. She smiles suddenly and pats Toothless's head. "We have not seen you in so long."

Toothless purrs.

"So long," Baldur says quietly as I climb onto Toothless's back.

Toothless takes a different route when we leave the hut. I want to ask him about it, but I decide to trust him. He probably knows more about Helheim than Baldur, Nanna, and me combined. At points it looks like we're going around in circles, but I notice that some of the terrain changes. For instance, there aren't so many trees anymore.

Unfortunately, we are not making good time because Baldur stumbles and falls constantly and when he's not doing that, he's just really slow. I'm definitely feeling weaker and what little light we have seems to be getting dimmer.

At one point, Toothless has to smack me twice with his ear to wake me up. 

"I'm starting to lose it," I tell him. When I look up, I can see the gate. It looks as if its height never ends.

It isn't long before Toothless stops in front of it.

"This is it," Nanna says. She touches the gate and turns to Baldur. "This is Helheim's gate."

Baldur nods. "... Gate."

"You did your part," Nanna says to me. "Baldur." She grips his hand. "Baldur, hold these." She puts both his hands around two rods.

"Hold," he replies.

"Hold them," she says, pressing down on his hands to make sure they're secure. "Pull."

Baldur pulls. He doesn't put in very much effort, but the whole gate shakes and creaks as it opens.

Nanna takes hold of two more rods and does the same. "Pull, Baldur!" she commands. "Pull!"

"Thank you!" I yell out as they both pull. Toothless darts out through the space that opens up and immediately we are knocked sideways. I fall off of him and slide along the ground. I can see Nanna pressing her hand against the open air. She pushes against it, but cannot pass. A shadow hovers over me and I quickly turn to avoid getting smashed by one of Garm's paws.

"Toothless!" I call out. "Toothless?!"

As I get up, I can hear him roaring. Or is that Garm?

I see something black darting between Garm's legs. I start to run after him, but my pegleg stops me. I try to walk the way Gobber does when he's in a hurry, but I just don't have any strength left. Swear words pour out of my mouth.

Garm pauses above me. Slowly, his head tilts down. He sniffs, so hard I can feel the air pulling me toward his snout. Then he lifts one leg and lowers his nose so that it's right next to me.

"Whoa!" Something grabs my right leg and I slide out from under Garm. Toothless leaps over me and puts himself between Garm and me.

Toothless growls and Garm growls too as they face each other. But Garm doesn't seem interested in Toothless. He eyes me.

I take a deep breath and launch myself up onto Toothless's back. "Go for it!" I yell.

Toothless roars and we take off, flying over Garm's head.

Garm snaps at us from behind, and I feel his hot breath against the back of my neck.

"There's the river," I call out. "It's just within Garm's reach. We're going to have to take him on alone. You ready?"

Toothless dives past Garm's head and lands a shot of fire. Garm flinches and yelps. Then the dog gets angry.

"Holy--Seriously?" I ask.

He now has three dog heads and three snake heads spurting out from his body.

"How many shots do you have?" I ask Toothless.

He growls and dives toward Garm. Then Toothless spins.

"Not a big fan of the spinning!" I tell him. I shut my eyes against the dizziness that ensues.

When he finally does stop spinning I look to see that two of the snake heads are smoldering.

"Okay," I say weakly, "This is good. Four heads left."

Toothless goes in for a dive and we charge one of the dog heads. As it opens its mouth to chomp down on us, Toothless fires into its throat. The remaining three heads roar and hiss.

"We've got this," I encourage Toothless. I'm barely whispering now. Everything seems so dim. "We've got this, buddy."

There's one snake head left. I glance at the gate as we soar high up. Nanna watches us, her mouth hanging open. When I look down, I notice how long the snake head's neck is.

"Toothless, the gate!" I tell him.

Toothless fires at the snake head's nose. It's badly injured but still in the game. It shakes off the injury and continues to follow us to the gate. Toothless flies between two of the rods. I feel the prosthetic tail fin start to fail, but then he circles around the rod to just outside the gate. He continues, flying in circles around the rod. When we finally pull away, the snake neck is wrapped around the vertical length.

Garm's dog heads whimper as his body tries to tug itself free.

My whole body starts to tingle and I feel lightheaded. I shut my eyes and hold my head between my hands as Toothless navigates.

We touch down just where the water's width is about as wide as a good-sized Viking warrior. I slide down to my knees on the stony bank. "Oh great goddess, Hel," I mutter, "I have reached the river."

Garm barks. He's unwrapped the snake neck halfway.

"Come on, come on," I say, fighting to keep my eyes open. "Hello? Anybody there?"

"You made it," Modgud says behind me.

"Yes," I reply, gasping for breath, "Even without anyone telling me that Garm actually has six heads."

"Oh, right," Hel says to my left, "I forgot to mention that."

"Is there anything else I should know?" I pant out.

"You're dying," Hel tells me, "Make your oath."

"How do I do that?"

"Swear upon this river that you will devote your life to the gods," Hel says.

"Wait. Wait, hold on." I lift my hand, then drop it because I can't hold it up anymore. "What exactly does it mean to devote one's life to the gods?"

"It means you will serve them as a hero," she replies.

"This sounds like kind of a big commitment."

"Do you want to live or not?" Modgud demands.

"Swearing," I say. "How exactly do I swear?"

"Say what the great goddess said," Modgud helps me, "then we will hold you underwater."

"I--really?" I ask. "Can't we just shake on it?"

"Hiccup," Modgud warns, "Garm's free."

"Okay, okay! I swear upon this river that I will devote my life to the gods!"

Modgud and Hel each take hold of one of my shoulders.

"Especially Baldur and Nanna," I add just before they shove me into the water.