An update that isn't 5 weeks later? From me? It's more likely than you think! Chapter 12, in which Astrid repeats herself, Matt is doing his literal job and Hiccup cries
Chapter 12 - Reconstruction, part one
The doorbell tore through the silence like Toothless would into a tuna treat. Hiccup flinched but quickly rose to peer through the hole in the door and unlock it as he saw who was on their doorstep.
"Hey, mate," Matthew grinned and hugged him shortly. "I just wanted to drop by before my shift, we, ah-" He craned his neck to peer behind Hiccup and waved when he spotted Astrid sitting on the sofa.
"Astrid," he stepped closer to her, rummaging through his pocket. "I have good news. We managed to recover your phone."
He offered her a bag.
The young woman hesitated shortly, then took it from his hand. Her eyes widened when the slim device fell into her lap.
"The screen's done for," Matt commented, sitting down on the arm chair in front of her. "But everything else is there, photos, texts, contacts … I thought you might want this back."
He shot Hiccup a glance.
He was still standing by the entrance, leaning against the wall, watching Astrid with a wistful smile on his face. Astrid herself was now timidly pressing the button of the phone, her eyes widening at the screen lighting up and revealing a picture of both Toothless and Hiccup (who was weighed down and partly hidden by the cat), in which Hiccup was grinning widely, despite being seemingly crushed to death by the cat.
"I …" she started but broke off, her trembling fingers hovering over the screen. She looked up, meeting Matthew's gaze. "Could we … talk for a second?"
A dull thump and a click told them Hiccup was already moving towards the stairs, shooting Astrid a small smile and a nod.
The young woman waited for him to shut the door upstairs before she inhaled and again, could not bring her voice above a whisper.
"I know it's only been two days, but I - you said going home would help. That familiar surroundings would do something, but I … I don't know what to do. It's hard - to be here. With him. Nobody told me it would be this hard."
She could feel her throat closing up, tears threatening to fall again. Furiously, she wiped at her eyes, staring at the floor like it was the source of the problem.
"Do you want to go somewhere else?" Matthew asked carefully and almost flinched whe quickly shot back, "No! No, I don't. I just wish my brain would give me something - anything."
She paused and felt her heart calm down a bit, the hot anger wavering slowly in her chest. Astrid sighed and slumped back, uncurling her fists.
"He told me he loves me yesterday," she admitted quietly, not daring to look up at the doctor. "I didn't know what to say. I feel dead, Matt. I feel like I'm a … a cheap rip-off for his wife, and now he's stuck with the fake."
The young man hesitated, taken aback by her words shortly. Then he asked, "Did you tell him that?"
"What? No, of course not!"
"Are you planning to?"
A beat. Then, "I don't know."
Matthew sighed and stayed silent for a moment before he clasped his hands and leaned forward.
"Astrid, I did not send you home telling you to expect immediate results or effects. This is new for both of you, it's a situation neither of you has expected or been in before. It's natural that you won't know how to act around each other. It will take some time. You need to grant yourself that time. And Hiccup deserves to know - he has to know how you're feeling, or he won't be able to help you through this properly. I'm not saying this as your friend, Astrid. I'm saying this as your doctor."
He waited for her reaction.
Astrid had listened, her gaze still cast down, her hands clasped together, a finger turning the two rings she was wearing over. Eventually her shoulders slumped and she nodded, holding his gaze again.
He exhaled shortly, then squared his shoulders and got up before laying a hand on her shoulder shortly.
"I'll have an afternoon shift this Wednesday. You can see me in my office and we'll give you another bodycheck and discuss physiotherapy. I'm thinking we can ditch the wheelchair soon - the crutches will help with re-building some arm muscle. Sound good?"
She nodded, somehow very aware of the way his voice changed whenever he was talking to her as Dr Emrys - as he had ever since Hiccup had left the room to leave them to talk.
She wondered what Matthew's perspective was on this, but figured it would be best to bring it up another time.
He gave her a short pat on the shoulder, then he bid her goodbye and walked up the stairs, headed for Hiccup.
Hiccup only realised he had been waiting for one when he heard the knock at the bedroom door. He scrambled to his feet and opened the door to see himself confronted with a teeth-gritting Matt.
"You got a minute?"
Hiccup nodded feebly, motioning for his friend to sit down on the oriel windown.
"Is this gonna be a talk with Matt or Dr Emrys?" he heard himself joke weakly, cracking a half-hearted smile.
"Dr Emrys, I'm afraid, Hic," Matt replied, patting the space next to him to signal his friend to sit down next to him.
"Don't make it sound so cheerful," Hiccup mumbled and followed suit.
"I'm going to have to ask you two things right now, Hiccup. How you've handled this so far and how you're planning to deal with it."
"Okay. And by 'handling this so far' you mean …?"
"What you've told her so far, what you're talking about, how you're talking about it."
Hiccup hesitated, taken aback for a moment, furrowing his brow. "Oh. Alright. Well, I - I, uh, told her how we met, scratched on the surface of how we got together in the hospital. Her age. Toothless. Some of her favourite music on the ride back home. And I, uh, might have accidentally told her I love her." He grimaced. "Not my best moment. And you know, back home I showed her the flat, then made dinner. After that I just gave her the phone and my number and went downstairs. It's complicated shortening nine years into words."
He found Matthew scrutinizing him with closely drawn brows, hunched over. After a moment of silence he said, "I have a feeling you're leaving something out."
"I - I mean, I guess we also talked about kids? She found the, uh, contraceptions. We haven't really talked about other important things."
"Her personal hygiene. Her job. Her being uncomfortable."
Dr Emrys paused, confused. "You know about that?"
Hiccup's shoulders slumped and he leaned forward, nodding. "I … overheard her after we got home. She said she feels," his voice gave way and he cleared his throat, not able to meet Matthew's eyes. "Dead."
The black-haired young man exhaled slowly, leaning back, considering his next words.
"You two need to have this conversation, but know that she earlier told me she feels like a rip-off of herself."
Hiccup was sure his heart had skipped a beat. Or that it had disappeared completely, dropped into the void his stomach had become.
"It's my fault. I'm making her feel this way, aren't I?"
"She didn't say," Matt told him, almost gently. "But I'm not the right person to ask that. Ask her. Talk about it, and solve it together. Hiccup, I've known you for half my life. I know the way you two communicate, and I need you to keep that up. Okay? This is a setback, but it can't be a dead end. Do you understand?"
Hiccup nodded, still not sure where his heart had gone. Maybe it was downstairs.
"I know relying on stories makes you feel safe because you can mask everything with words," he heard Matthew say, but he sounded like he was far away. "But those aren't going to be enough as triggers. Try to reach her motion and muscle memory - tasks she performs often, it can be as mindless as filling up Toothless' bowl - recreate routines with her, give her her perfume, ask her questions you'd usually ask, like 'How was your day?', it can be as simple as that. Try to connect pictures and the stories."
Hiccup nodded hazily and watched Matt get up, almost immediately scrambling to his feet as well. The young doctor laid a hand on his shoulder and offered him a gentle smile.
"I know this is hard for you, but treat her as normally as possible."
He turned and walked towards the hallway, already through the door before he stopped, his hand on the door frame and added, "And who knows, maybe kissing her would also do a trick."
He smirked and pushed himself off the wood. Hiccup only heard his footsteps down the stairs and muffled voices as he was saying goodbye to Astrid.
When Hiccup returned to the living room, Astrid was laying on the couch, her leg propped up on some pillows, wrapped up in a blanket, her face only illuminated by the screen of her phone.
When she heard him approach, she craned her neck to look at him.
Hiccup paused on his way down the stairs, but then smirked and mumbled, "You look like you could use some light."
She chuckled lowly. "That'd be nice. I could also use some food."
Hiccup hummed, lit the standard lamp next to the sofa along with the fairy lights that were hung along the corners of the room and wandered into the kitchen.
"What do you want for dinner?"
"What do you want for dinner?"
Astrid closed her eyes as his arms wrapped around her from behind and felt him press a kiss on the crown of her head. She sighed, leaning back into him.
"Honestly, I don't care. Surprise me. I can't think straight anymore."
His chest was rising and falling steadily against her.
"That bad? I thought you said you had a good feeling with this exam."
Her head dropped against his chest, eyes still closed.
"I always have a good feeling about the exams, it's just that I end up being proven wrong every single time. You can't just breeze through midterms. They only have ninety minutes. I can't just go 'the entirety of the industrialisation - go!'."
She sighed and felt him draw back his arms to squeeze her shoulders.
"What do you got so far?"
"I was thinking for reproduction social question, then a source - I found some good ones, but I don't know if there's a good one yet - and then either a caricature or a statement or both. I don't know."
Astrid opened her eyes and craned her neck to look back up at him. She was met with his warm eyes set firmly on her and a reassuring smile.
"That's a lot for two hours," Hiccup acknowledged and Astrid wasn't entirely sure if he was being serious, so she squinted her eyes at him. "And you know what you can be absolutely one hundred percent sure of?"
Astrid was pouting. Off midterm season she'd never. But here she was.
His smile widened. "That you'll feel a lot better with some actual nourishment."
She cracked a smile at that. "What, like coffee and granola bars aren't a stable diet?
"You're almost making it seem like one," he joked and loosened his grip around her, chuckling lowly when she whimpered at the loss of contact and pulled him back.
"I'll call you when dinner's ready," he murmured somewhere near her ear and pressed a kiss to her temple. "No more granola until then."
Astrid grumbled, but her faking was obvious as soon as the smile had stolen itself onto her lips.
"I'll try my best," she promised dutifully and let her grin widen.
"Just what I wanted to hear."
She jumped, shaken out of her stupor. Astrid blinked (When had she sat up?). Her eyes met Hiccup's, and they were filled with worry (what was he suddenly doing on the floor in front of her?)
"Are you okay?"
"I-" she broke off. Opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came forth. She nodded instead, trying to ease both his worry and her palpatating heart.
She found he had taken her hands in his and that she had not flinched at the contact.
Her heart slowed down, so she tried again.
'I remembered something, Hiccup, I remember something, I remember feeling safe and happy and absolutely in love!' she wanted to cry. She looked up at him again and met his gaze.
"I'm a teacher." she whispered, and it was almost a statement.
Hiccup rasped out a laugh, squeezing her hands, pulling them to his chest. "God, Astrid, you scared me, you can't just - wait, what?"
His mouth went slack, eyes wide with disbelief as he stared up at her. "You … what did …" he trailed off, his mind devoid of any other thought than the fact that she remembered something.
Astrid was looking at him, her eyes no less wide than his, heart thudding up to her throat.
"I'm a teacher," she repeated, louder this time, and he nodded, and then she found herself mirror the slow smile that was blossoming on his lips.
"I teach history."
"Yes," he breathed, and she was shocked to see tears glistening in his eyes as he nodded. "Yes, you do."
"I remembered," she choked out, her own hands now gripping his arms as if to steady herself. "I remembered, Hiccup, I remembered!"
There was not a word coming over his lips when he let himself fall forward, head dropping against her knees, only a bit-back sob.
They both knew this was not a big step. But it was a small victory. And maybe, just for a couple moments, they could believe that everything else was going to be a bit easier after it.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed this chapter! :D
Also, does anybody have an idea what they could have for dinner because honestly I'm lost?