Hey everyone! I'm writing for the first time in ages and felt inspired to pick this up again! I'm re-writing the earlier chapters to improve the storyline (and basically treat this as a sequel to IJAS lol) Hope you enjoy! :D
Chapter 1 - Prayers
"Don't come home too late. I've missed you."
The young woman smiled and wrapped her coat a little tighter around her body. "I've missed you too. And I won't, promise," she replied and stepped out into the darkness of the night.
"Okay, I'll see you in a bit, then. Love you!" he said and hung up. Stuffing her phone back into her pocket, she quickly made her way through the narrow alley, aiming for the high street.
She really, really was over today. Lesson prep had taken her longer than she'd anticipated, and then Camilla had asked her to digitalise some files for her. You'd really think she'd have figured out Excel by now, she thought and smiled to herself as she remembered Hiccup writing shortcuts he'd got from his dad's secretary. Her stomach growled.
She imagined him preparing dinner, maybe with some candles, neatly folded napkins and the bouquet of flowers they'd picked on one of their walks. Astrid smiled as she imagined her husband in his beloved 'Kiss the cook' apron, loudly singing to one of his playlisted cooking songs. But honestly, things turned out to be on the brighter side when he was the one cooking. Astrid had never had very much of a, say, gift for cooking. Finally, Astrid emerged from the alley and found herself in the buzzing middle of the high street of Berk. Passengers were rushing around to go get their shopping done, cars filling up the road in the evening rush. Astrid chuckled. Good thing I didn't take the car, she thought and picked up the pace a little bit. She made her way to the bus stop, pushing through the crowds, hoping for a bus to arrive soon. In this weather, she didn't really feel like taking the 45-minute walk back home. Astrid pulled out her phone and dialled Hiccup's number, smiling at his profile picture.
"Evening, my love," her husband's voice greeted her. "I haven't heard your voice in almost five minutes. Was starting to miss you."
She snorted and rolled her eyes but grinned. "Blame traffic."
"Yeah, it might take a while. I think I'm gonna have to walk," she said, squinting up at the empty arrivals board of the bus stop. "Doesn't look like there's a bus anytime soon."
"Or you could have stopped working earlier," he replied softly.
She chuckled. "Yeah, or I could have listened to you and taken the car."
"You've been doing that a lot lately," he noted, dodging her reply. "Staying longer, I mean. Are you sure everything's okay?"
"Yeah, it's just exam season, and Jeannie's ill, so I had to figure some stuff out. Plus, Camilla still hasn't figured out how to bloody organise her excel lesson plans and I have to say, it's driving me insane!"
"That … does not sound great. Hey, if you want, I could come to pick you up and we can walk together?"
"Thanks, babe, but I think I'll just walk by myself. I'm kind of dying for some me-time."
He smiled audibly. "Okay, but then we'd be stuck together."
"I'm stuck with you every single day for the rest of my life," she replied sarcastically and grinned when he laughed.
"Don't wait up for me," she said softly, her earlier dreams of a joined dinner postponing themselves.
"Alright," he replied, a smile in his voice. "See you later?"
"See you later," Astrid confirmed and hung up, still smiling. She continued making her way down the street, wondering if she'd ever stop falling for him every single day.
If she'd ever not feel completely safe and loved in his presence. Probably not, she thought, smiling to herself.
She stopped at a red light and used that time to fumble her headphones out of her coat pocket and put on some music. She was in the mood for Taylor Swift's Evermore tonight. The light went green. Soft snow was starting to fall just as she started crossing the street.
Then, everything went too fast.
Matthew Emrys pushed the emergency door open, quickly nodding to the two paramedics that entered with the stretcher, quickly scanning the situation as they rushed along the hallway. His fingers were flying over the small buttons of his beeper as he sent the info to the ER.
"Alright, what do we got?"
"Young woman, between twenty and twenty-seven, hit and run, pedestrian called the ambulance for her."
"Vertebrochondral ribs 8 through 9 are broken, or at least sprained, contusions on face, scalp, chest and legs - her right shin could be fractured but you'll need to x-ray that -, contorted left wrist - not broken, maybe sprained. She's been unconscious since we got there but has been breathing normally since we gave O2."
The Doctor nodded quickly and put his beeper back into his pocket. "Okay, thanks. Anything with her, bag, ID?"
The paramedic nodded, pointing to a backpack under the stretcher. "Yeah, she had everything with her, ah," he quickly pulled out a wallet and read aloud, "Astrid Haddock, née Hofferson."
Dr Emrys stopped dead in his tracks, his face pale.
"Oh, my God."
Hiccup sat bolt upright when he heard the phone go off. He must have fallen asleep on the sofa. The TV was still on in the background, the orange glow of the streetlights trickling in through the windows. How late was it? Why had Astrid not woken him up? Groaning, he reached for his phone and picked it up.
"Hello?" he croaked and cleared his throat, rubbing his eyes, still trying to wake up.
"Hiccup", a voice said, sounding urgent. Hiccup paused for a moment, surprised not to hear Astrid's voice and slowly drew himself into a sitting position.
"Matt?" he brought out, his heart racing. Matt never called his late. Except when he was drunk and needed someone to pick him up. But he didn't sound slurry. "What-"
"Hiccup, it's Astrid."
His heart stopped. Ice-cold daggers rushed down his spine and for a moment, he felt as if he was plunged underwater, his throat closing up. Matt's voice on the other line seemed to come from far away.
"She's been hit by a car, got in a few minutes ago. How fast can you be here?"
"Ten minutes." he choked out, trying to get his shoes on while holding the phone.
Matthew's voice seemed distant now through the blood rushing through Hiccup's ears as he quickly strapped his prosthetic on and grabbed his keys.
"Okay. We're prepping her for OR right now and they've just beeped me to come in- Hiccup?"
But the young man had already hung up, blind panic surging through his chest as he stumbled out of the door, running towards the car.
Oh God, oh God, please, not her. Not Astrid.
He felt sickness crawl up his stomach, where it settled itself as a flat, stinging pain. Hiccup had never been a religious person. But on this cold, desperate car ride, he found himself praying, over and over, to anyone who was willing to listen. Part of him hoped this was a nightmare, fuelled by the stupid horror film he'd watched over dinner, and that he was still on the couch, and that she'd come home soon and gently shake him awake. He had no idea how he'd got to hospital in once piece. But here he was, pulling into a visitor parking space, nauseous from panic, scrambling out of the car, into the main hall.
"Astrid Haddock, my wife, she - she just arrived, hit by a car-", he panted at the lady at the reception, the words barely making their way across his lips to be heard but by some miracle, she heard him and nodded, a sympathetic smile on her face. "Yes, she just got in. I'm sorry, but you'll have to wait, she's in the operating room, but you can wait over there."
At her words, Hiccup's head started spinning and for a moment, he thought his legs might finally give way. His shaking hands clinging to the counter, he nodded, still praying in his head. "Okay," he croaked, "thank you."
Slowly, he made his way to the chairs beneath the A&E sign. His head dropped in his hands. Please, God, please. Please. Let her be okay. Please.
Hours seemed to pass, filled with whispered prayers over his desperately clasped hands, and the horrifying images circling round and round his head, her body on a cold operating table and he hoped, prayed, that she didn't know what was going on and wasn't scared. Eventually, he got up and stepped outside into the cold, crisp night. He didn't know what to do. His fumbling fingers pulled out his phone.
Before he'd even noticed what exactly he was doing, he had dialled a number.
"Hiccup? I thought you'd be asleep already, haven't you got a night shift coming-"
"D-Dad, "Hiccup choked, and for the first time tonight, he felt his eyes watering and desperately blinked them dry, forcing his focus on his father's voice. He couldn't break now. She was going to be alright. She had to be.
"Son, what's wrong?"
"It's Astrid. She's had an accident."
Was this how she'd felt when he lost his leg? He'd give his other leg just for him to take her place.
"Mercy Hospital." Mercy. God, please.
And that was all Hiccup managed to say. Then, his voice broke down. He was shaking all over his body. His father ended the call.
And so Hiccup stood in the cold, shivering, and finally, his knees gave way for they could no longer bear this weight, and so he sat down on the cold, wet asphalt, burying his head in his hands. He felt the cold, golden wedding band around his finger brush against his freckled cheek.
And that was how his father found him.
He hauled him up to his feet and dragged, more than led him inside into the warm waiting room.
"What happened, son?"
Hiccup raised his head and faced his father's grey, worried eyes. "I ... I don't know.", he replied and broke eye contact again. "She just ... we talked on the phone just a couple of hours ago ... she was fine, she said she'd be home soon – they said she was hit by a car, I don't know-"
"Mr Haddock?", a voice suddenly interrupted him. His head shot up. A nurse smiled at him tentatively. "She'll be out of surgery in a few hours. They've stabilised her, so if nothing else goes wrong we should be able to get you into ICU to see her in a few hours, okay? Just hang tight for me."
Hiccup nodded, closing his eyes, forcing a deep breath, in and out, still shaking. "Thank you," he said, his father's hand on his back, heart still racing.
He tried not to think about how many people he had dragged out of their burning cars and the ones he'd lost on the cold, dark streets of the city, desperation clawing at his heart, the biting smoke in his chest. He tried not to imagine Astrid in their place, splayed on the asphalt, eyes open as his hands came down on her chest, desperately breathing new air into her lungs.
Still, the blind, cold panic consumed him and still, he was holding back his tears in a desperate attempt to make it not real.
He barely felt his father getting up and walking out into the cold, barely made out his voice that said, "Gobber, I don't know what to do. I need you to come to Mercy Hospital."
What were a few hours? Three? Six? They said they'd stabilised her – from what? A hematoma? Internal bleeding? Where was the driver? Hiccup had never thought himself a violent person, but here, on the cold, hard plastic chair in this godforsaken waiting room, he hoped whoever this bastard was, had been hurt worse than her.
His father had returned and offered him a coffee. Hiccup thanked him and took it, his numb fingers clinging to the plastic cup as he stared onto the grey linoleum floor, praying again. An hour passed, and the nurse hadn't returned. His eyes had focussed onto his shoelaces now, the cold coffee still in his hands.
Stoick was pacing around the waiting room, hands behind his back, and Hiccup tried to sit as still as possible in a feeble attempt to stay focussed.
Another hour had passed. Quarter past midnight now. Gobber walked into the room, but Hiccup barely took any note of him. His uncle and father were talking in hushed tones, and he sat there, eyes closed, cursing cars and late buses and roads and I'm dead if she doesn't make it.
"Mr Haddock," a voice said and for the first time in hours, his head shot up to look at the nurse who had walked in again, a soft smile on her face. "Sorry to keep you waiting. You can go see her now. I'll take you into ICU, if you'd just follow me – oh, just you for now," she added quickly upon seeing both Stoick and Gobber springing to their feet. Hiccup shot both of them a quick look as he followed the dark-haired woman into a corridor, his heart throwing itself against his ribcage, as if to escape.
The nurse, who had introduced herself as Freya, instructed him to put on a mask and hand sanitiser, led him through the door of the ICU, past empty beds, and he thought his heart might escape through his throat, and then –
There she was, laying in a bed by the window, moonlight illuminating her face and for a second, Hiccup wanted to throw up, reaching for the wall next to him to steady himself. Astrid's face was swollen, littered with bruises and cuts. The blood from her nose had been sloppily wiped up with cotton buds; the breathing tube was still taped to her mouth.
"She's still coming off the anaesthesia," Freya said softly from behind him. "We'll take the tube out during the night as she comes to. I'll let her know you're here if she wakes up at all during the night, but she's going to be a bit drowsy still, so she might not fully appreciate that, just to let you know. Depending on how the night goes, we can get her out of ICU in a day or so, we just want to closely monitor her now, as she suffered an internal haemorrhage and significant brain trauma. The doctor will fully update you tomorrow morning, if that's okay."
"Yeah," Hiccup said dully, unable to take his eyes off her face. She was almost unrecognisable.
"Okay," Freya said, and gently placed a hand on his shoulder. "I'll give you some privacy for a few minutes. I'll come get you afterwards."
"Thank you," he rasped and, for the first time tonight, he smiled, walking closer to Astrid, his heart calm now.
Slowly, he sank down on the chair beside her. It was cold. And everything had that awful, antiseptic smell.
And she was here, and she'd be okay. He knew that now, as his hand was finally touching her bandaged head, the blood from the cut on her forehead barely visible.
"Hey", he whispered and slowly, carefully ran his fingers over her hair, careful not to touch any of the bandages or cables. He didn't even notice the tears that welled up in his eyes. "It's me."