Other Fan Fiction ❯ Hybrid ❯ I Can't (theme 73) ( Chapter 3 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Hybrid: I Can't (theme 73) [rough draft], a DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon fanfic series by Raberba girl
List of themes by AngieChild, Variation 1 for the 100ThemesChallenge group on DeviantArt

A/N: Please read my fic Smelly before you read this vignette. (It's in my "Dragon Queen of Berk" series.)


The first time Valka was able to bathe herself after arriving in the dragon's nest, she could swear that Cloudjumper looked surprised and confused while he watched her. As soon as she got out of the water, he started restlessly sniffing and preening her, and she had to pet him and croon to him a lot before he settled down.

It was worse when she finally got her hands on a cake of soap. When Cloudjumper saw her using it to wash herself, he screeched and darted at her, frightening her more than he ever had since she'd first laid eyes on him.

He didn't hurt her, but he burned the soap into a greasy smear for some unfathomable reason and, again, had to be comforted a lot before he finally calmed down. His strange behavior worried her when it came to Hiccup, so she was relieved when the dragon, though looking confused and displeased, didn't put up too much of a fuss when she bathed her child. Cloudjumper did, however, insist on a strange ritual after every bath, touching his nose to Hiccup in a series of nudges from head to toe, snorting gently when the baby would giggle and flail at him.

The next time Valka was able to procure some soap for herself, she took pains to bathe in private. It took Cloudjumper a long time to find her - and when he did, he threw a tantrum, torched the soap again, then pinned her to the ground and preened her hair for over half an hour. Then he hauled her to the king and made some kind of angry, agitated report, and Valka finally learned why bathing upset her dragon companion so much.

The king communicated to her something like, "Confusion disappointment annoyance, why do you distress your companion who loves you?"

"I don't understand,"
she responded. "I try to cleanse myself--"

He didn't understand what she meant by 'cleanse/wash.' He kept wondering, "Licking? Maybe swimming??" in a confused way, so she could tell he had misunderstood.

"Clean," she fumbled. She often spoke aloud as she talked to the king. He couldn't understand her spoken words, but they helped to organize and enhance her mental communication. "Body feels good?? Was dirty before, bad, uncomfortable, yucky; but I 'wash' myself and now I am...feel good? Light? Good and comfortable?"

"I don't understand.... No licking??"

"No! Licking is not clean!"

They shared wordless regret at their failure to explain themselves to each other.

"No swimming?" he tried.

"No? Maybe. A little bit? Swim in 'hot spring,' not salt water."

"Too hot, no salt?! Revulsion; confusion."

There was a long pause.

"Why is 'Cloudjumper' / cloud jumper / four-wing-dragon that I love so upset?" Valka asked. "I'm not hurting him; why is he hurt?"

"Surprise, confusion. You strip away his love, of course he is hurt."

"What?! I don't do that, why does he think I do that?!"

"He marks you with his love, puts it on your head-fur-- Your 'hair,' and your skin, but then you take that bad thing / bad smell thing and strip all his marks away. Unhappy, confused. Why?"

"You mean the soap?!" Valka exclaimed in astonished realization. In her surprise, she had forgotten to try to convey it mentally. "'Soap,' this 'clean' thing that makes me feel good. Bad thing?! You say it's bad??"

There was another pause as they realized how great the disconnect between them was.

It took a very long time, but they eventually managed to explain the gist of their differing perspectives to each other. When Valka was finally dismissed, she ran to her dragon and embraced him and comforted him and promised to use as little soap as she could, if that's what it took to make him feel secure. (And to allow her to at least bathe in mostly-soapless water without making a fuss....)

It seemed that the more time Hiccup spent in the Sanctuary, the more he hated being bathed, but it didn't get too bad until soon after he met Toothless.

That was when every bath became a battle.

Valka never forgot the afternoon, warm by this northern land's standards, when she painstakingly got the water to just the right temperature and had everything ready and assembled - and Hiccup seemed to go berserk when she tried to undress him and get him into the makeshift tub.

It was bad enough trying to wrestle with her screaming, kicking, fighting, squirming, raging, tiny yet strong son. It was downright disconcerting to have what seemed like every dragon in the Sanctuary, including the king, gather around to watch with various levels of incredulity, horror, pity, dismay, fear, confusion, and sorrow.

Also, Toothless nearly attacked her.

When he saw the distress of his little friend, the baby dragon screeched and arched his back, wings flaring, pupils contracted, a whistling warning starting up--

It was Cloudjumper's fierce snarl which saved Valka. Toothless cut off his shot before firing it, flattening himself to the ground and staring up at the Stormcutter for a minute. Then his eyes narrowed and he slowly began to rise, an almost eldritch yowl rattling in his throat - then Cloudjumper gave a great roar, and the little dragon fled to hide behind his wide-eyed father and hissing mother.

Forbidden from fighting, Toothless cried instead, and the heart-wrenching sounds he made tore away at Valka's resolve like claws. "It's just a bath!" she cried, utterly exasperated. "I won't even use soap; Hiccup, hold still, just let me make you a little less filthy!"

The next time she tried to give Hiccup a bath, he fled with Toothless. When she tried to trick him into it later, he begged and sobbed in such genuine distress that she couldn't bring herself to force it on him.

"Sweetheart," she said. Her arms were locked around him to keep him from escaping, so she kept her voice as gentle as she could. "I'm not trying to hurt you. You won't lose Toothless, I promise. I just want to get you a little cleaner, that's all. Look." She scooped up a handful of water and scrubbed at a patch of grime on Hiccup's arm with her palm. "Look, we're just getting rid of the dirt, see? I won't use soap, you'll still smell like yourself, Toothless will still know you."

"Don't," Hiccup begged tearfully, "don't, don't," but eventually got himself to a tolerable level of cleanliness.

He still hated bathing. He would whine and complain every time Valka had to nag him to do it, she had to stop him from trying to lick the dirt away from his skin or letting a dragon lick him 'clean,' he insisted on washing himself rather than let her be as thorough as she would have preferred, and he refused to come anywhere near soap. (Soap was actually the most effective threat she had in order to get him to at least bathe without it.) But he did remove the worst of the grime on a regular basis, and Valka eventually managed to train Toothless to limit his post-bath licking to a few important marks, rather than the frantic slathering he'd kept doing at first.

In addition to Hiccup's virtually non-existent sense of cleanliness, his sense of smell seemed to have been affected by growing up amongst dragons, too. There were no odors he found offensive except for a few that didn't bother an ordinary human, such as the perfume which Valka once salvaged from a shipwreck. Then she'd catch him sniffing curiously at things a normal human would have found repulsive.

"Hiccup NO, stop that!" She yanked him away from the disgusting puddle. "Don't smell that! Or get close to it, or touch it!"

"Bad egg, maybe; rotten," Hiccup said. "Bad, sick." Then, to the half-grown dragon who had vomited, "You threw away bad rotten egg. You feel better now?"

she warbled, looking tired. Hiccup patted her neck and nuzzled her.

Another time, when they were traveling in the woods, Valka turned back to find Hiccup and Toothless examining a pile of dung. Just as she was opening her mouth to order her son away from it, Hiccup jumped up and hurried to her with a worried look, Toothless at his side. "Mama, hurry, [flee] fly away, away away away, poison angry sick, he will hurt us if he finds us, sick, Mama!! Bad sick, dangerous!" The boys had realized the danger from what they had seen and smelled, and were able to give warning in time.

Later, when they were back home, Valka sat huddled in Cloudjumper's wings, sadly watching Hiccup and Toothless play with a few other hatchlings. "My son is a very good dragon," she remarked, her words heavy with worry, "but how can he return to the human world if he's a dragon? How do I get him to be a good human, too...?"


Author's Notes: All the natural freshwater sources available are either too hot or too cold for a child to bathe in, so I figured that Valka would need some kind of tub for Hiccup until he gets old enough to be able to use the hot spring that she herself bathes in.

I've got two more stories that have already been written and one more story that hasn't, and then I think I can try again at the Hiccup's-adventures-in-Eret's-castle story.

Since no one reads my stuff on MediaMiner, I decided to do for Hybrid what I did for His Soul Reflects My Own, and try to keep the chapters in order on MMO. (I don't want to fix them on AO3 and FFN until the main storyline is done; it would get too confusing if chapters were constantly jumping around.)

Complete: 13/100

Chapter 2
Chapter 4
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