Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to How To Train Your Dragon.
A/N: Welcome back! Because everybody asked for it, this is the much anticipated sequel to "Thor Help Her"! And yes it is absolutely necessary to read that one first. Man, do I have plans for this story! I already know how it'll turn out in the end, and let me tell you, I'm extremely excited to share it lol. Quite a few questions will be answered here, including why they kept their relationship a secret, as requested by many.
The story itself was inspired by the song "Thousand Miles" by Tove Lo. I know, cheesy, but if you listen to or read the lyrics, you'll see why. This chapter in particular though was influenced by the song "Moondust" by Jaymes Young.
Warning: This story is (eventually) extremely sexual in nature, the same way the first story was, but much more of it. Let me be clear, there is a lot of sex in this story, also calling them "lemons" seems too weak lol. Definitely NSFW. Rated for Hiccup "hotcup" and of course Astrid "pervstrid" (because after getting a taste of him she wants more lol).
I love you, Astrid...
Astrid Hofferson woke slowly, gazing unseeingly out her window, the long ago words spinning around in her head like they had for almost one solid years since her return. She knew she couldn't dwell, but she couldn't help it... and those words had slowly turned into an almost poison, not releasing her from their grip, making her heart break every time they reminded her of... of what she lost.
It had been one whole year for Astrid, and the longest year she had ever experienced.
Over the course of that long year, Astrid had arrived to the conclusion that love wasn't as fickle as most Viking claimed it to be, at least the ones who didn't sing songs about it. She had thought the impossible feelings that had blossomed in her would have dulled over the length of time, but they didn't... in fact, they got 'worse', to the point where she simply couldn't get Hiccup Haddock off her mind.
Of course, over the course of the year it also made it much easier for Astrid to adapt and finally mold her walls around her heart again. This time though, there was a pretty large gate in those walls, allowing her to easily let her feelings for him free when she deemed it appropriate. Sometimes the gate seemed to have loose hinges though, making her slip many times... But it had become a lot easier to handle, at least.
It was easier to handle, but only when she didn't allow those freshly awakened feelings to suffocate her. Astrid spent her fair share of bitter, lonely nights missing the close bond she had developed with Hiccup... that didn't quite exist. She was terrified, feared with all her life that it simply wouldn't happen, that this time things were different and he wouldn't feel the same for her.
Even so, Astrid refused to let those fears take over her life. She braved through and forced herself to adjust. And now, after a year of struggling, she finally managed to accomplish this.
Still... even with how adapted she was now, Astrid was still surprised by how incredibly shy she still found herself around Hiccup. It was so much worse than it had been before her experience. He could just smile his normal, awkward- though admittedly adorable -smile, and she'd feel butterflies fluttering in her belly.
Whenever he called her milady, which was only during very select times, much less than she'd like actually, it made her feel giddy. He wasn't even trying and she was still swimming with longing for him, missing his arms more than anything else. It was like a gnawing in the back of her mind, and she knew it had absolutely nothing to do with Freyja this time.
She just couldn't seem to relax enough around him!
Maybe it was because her mind and her heart were synchronized with her feelings for him now. Maybe it was because she couldn't tell him how she felt yet. Maybe it was because she knew how much he would grow to love her and worship her body and how much she missed that. Maybe it was a combination of all of those things. Either way, she found she had trouble adjusting to him like she adjusted to being back home.
Even after a year of adventures and misadventures, the outcasts, keeping tabs on Alvin, making sure Dagur was still in prison, and training on their dragons. She was still a mess around him. Despite how much she liked to tease him and make him blush, how on the outside she seemed as collected and natural as she always had, on the inside she was just as bashful and nervous as he was.
Most nights, after a year, she could handle it, but sometimes, she still very much missed being with him, laying against him, surrounded by his warmth. That first night back with him had been a soothing balm to her soul, despite how much it had hurt at the same time. The next morning had been extremely awkward for both of them. They had found themselves tangled in much the same way they had been, in that other life. Hiccup had nearly passed out, thinking she was going to maul him to death. Astrid had been disorientated, startled, and at the same time, a little amused by his fear.
Poor Hiccup had been so confused and worried about her, even when he had thought she was going to kill him that morning. Astrid was so conflicted the only thing she could do was apologize to him profusely, completely confusing him again, but letting him relax and know he wasn't in trouble. After that, Hiccup had stuttered and laughed nervously as he told her she was welcomed back any time.
Of course, as soon as he had said that, he had turned bright red again and stammered over fixing his words, assuring her he meant that he'd have her back. Astrid had given him a look, trying to hide her own bashfulness and amusement, and punched his shoulder, even as her heart had sung with joy at those words. She hadn't gone back after that first night, even though a part of her yearned to do so. It had been a long and lonely year, but every day had been easier and eventually, the year had come and gone and she felt like herself again.
No, she hadn't gone back after that night, even though a part of her had screamed to do so, knowing he wouldn't push her away just made it worse to stop herself. She knew she couldn't. She couldn't do that to him, she couldn't confuse him like that, especially not when she was so confused about who exactly she was missing herself.
So she stayed away.
As much as it hurt, she stayed away.
Hiccup never mentioned it either, but always seemed to stick by her side when she was being quieter than usual. The very fact that he would do that for her was enough to soothe her most of the time. It even helped her adjust, knowing he was there and would be for the foreseeable future. It was a comforting thought. When had Astrid Hofferson's axe-hacking, warrior-training, badass-chick world start revolving around some boy? It was inconceivable... but there it was, the mighty Hofferson femme fatale had turned into a typical girl.
Now that she was more of less able to deal with that lingering longing, Astrid was free to focus on the now. Such as, how every couple weeks, Hiccup seemed to go through interesting changes. If she had to force her feelings for him back again, she could at least take the pleasure of watching him grow. While she wasn't taking care of her own business, training, going on drills, putting up with the twins, beating Snotlout up, the usual stuff, she was spending time with her best friend... at least, of the human variety.
They often went on flights together, laughed and joked. Hiccup was still extremely insecure and shy, but when he got going, his sarcasm and humor had her in stitches. It was always innocent fun between them, and for now Astrid was completely content with that. Of course, it didn't mean her mind wouldn't wander on occasion. And now with those changes he was going through, her mind was wandering a lot more often.
It had come to a great and pleasant surprise when she had actually taken notice one day of how different Hiccup looked, since last year at least. Maybe it was because she had been so focused on getting herself back together, focused on chores, adventures, general life back at Berk, to actually notice. But one day, when he was droning on about some sort of invention he wanted to try, some kind of mechanism to store Gobber's arm extensions, she had taken a closer look at him and notices the changes.
Hiccup was growing up, figuratively and literally.
Astrid was happy to see that the seventeen year old Hiccup was finally starting to look a lot like the man that had shown her his love for her so passionately. Not quite there yet, but Astrid could see it. He was already slightly taller than her and his hair was starting to look crazy... needing a hair cut desperately actually, though he still mostly had a round, soft face. He was starting to look hot, but at the same time still adorable. It was a confusing, though at the same time very nice, combination. Most of the time things were calm on Berk, and Astrid could take moments like those to admire him a little... but sometimes... sometimes things weren't so peaceful.
One such time, was when the six riders had been in the middle of a lesson in stealth and ambush. They were about to do drills on the element of surprise, one of Hiccup's favorite tactics, when Gobber showed up and announced that their unofficial leader was needed at the Great Hall. The five of them were left wondering what was going on. Normally, at their age, they weren't allowed to attend council meetings, but maybe Hiccup was the exception. He was both the leader of the main defenders of Berk, and the Chief's son. When he returned then with a mission, they had all gathered their dragons quickly.
Hiccup was in tactician mode when he spoke to them next. "Alright gang, we got a carrier pigeon today from Johann. He was attacked by what he claims were bandits. His ship is a wreck so we have to go and rescue him before eels get him first," he explained.
"Eels... you know our dragons won't like this..?" Fishlegs cringed.
Hiccup nodded. "Yes, I know, but we have no choice." Toothless crooned in protest. "Sorry bud, we can't let Johann fall to their jaws, you know that..." Toothless groaned but didn't object anymore, snorting to the other dragons to get their own act together. Hookfang's head hung slightly.
"Do we have to rescue him? He's so annoying..." Snotlout complained.
"You're annoying too, but we still put up with you," Astrid quipped back. "We're going, so you better get used to the idea." Snotlout scowled and crossed his arms, but didn't say any more.
"Any more complaints?" Hiccup raised a brow.
"Yeah, I got one, why can't they just send ships?" Tuffnut asked.
Hiccup blinked in surprise. "That's actually a smart question," he murmured in disbelief. "Anyway, yeah no, we can't do that, there's no way they'll make it to him on time! Okay, come on, we need to go now. Move out!"
They flew out with various degrees of eagerness, though mostly eagerness to get in and get out as quickly as possible. As they neared the wreckage, they could see big green and black eels circling. The dragons all jerked at the reigns, groaning and crooning in protest. They each tried to placate them, even bribe them, but eventually the riders convinced their dragons to swoop in. Toothless grabbed Johann by his claws, then tossed him up so he'd fall on his back. Johann was out of it at least, so they didn't have to worry about him talking so much for now.
"Tuff, Ruff, and Snotlout, get Barf, Belch, and Hookfang to tow the remainder of the ship. Fishlegs, make sure the lines don't snap. Astrid, make sure we're not trailing behind eels. Take care of them if we are. Let's go," Hiccup said, directing them to their tasks. Soon enough they were moving off from the eel infested waters and both the dragons and their riders breathed a sigh of relief.
Once they got back to Berk, Johann had already woken up. "And then when I spent time with Persians, I had the pleasure of trying something called Sherbet! It was a delicious type of ice cream, without the cream! At least, I'm fairly certain they don't have Yaks, or cattle." Hiccup sighed from his seat, trying to ignore the older man's prattling and Astrid's amused smirk at him. Finally they touched down and Hiccup had very happily delivered Johann to his father to deal with. Johann had told the council that he had seen the bandits heading off the opposite direction, so he was fairly certain they wouldn't be a threat. When nothing happened after a week, they all relaxed.
It had been six months since then now. Astrid found herself at the docks, the only one out of the five of them that was actually eager to see Hiccup. He had been out with his dad on a fishing and hunting trip for two months, and those two months had been an agony for her. Not that she could actually let anyone in on her innermost feelings over it. But now they were back and she was excited to see her best friend. "Welcome back!" she greeted excitedly, not having seen the chief or his son for about... too long.
"Thank you, Astrid! It's good to be back," Stoick greeted her amiably, hauling his basket over his shoulder. The trip hadn't been just for fishing and hunting of course, and Astrid could see by Hiccup's sour expression that it probably had to do with a bit of father son bonding and responsibility planning. Knowing Stoick, it was probably more painful and exasperating to him than anything else. Ever since Hiccup had taken down the Red Death and got the Academy in order, Stoick had decided he had what it took to be his true heir after all and wanted to try and make a Viking out of him.
As he got closer from the docks, Astrid felt her heart begin to thrum in her chest. Lords almighty, how could he have grown so much in just two months? Hiccup had gone through another stage in his development, his shoulders were a little broader, chest a little stretched, his tunic just barely fit him now... making it actually extremely enticing to look at. And gods, his hands were huge, compared to the rest of him. He was still a little lanky, but at least he didn't look so much like a fishbone anymore. His words, not hers.
As they walked up to the town center, Astrid noted that it wasn't just his appearance that had changed. Maybe the trip with his father had done more good to him than he was currently complaining about. He seemed to hold himself straighter, no longer slouching so much. His chin wasn't perpetually stuck to his chest anymore, held up high. His now longer legs strode with a purposeful gait, no longer skittering about or clumsily meandering. He was starting to have the body language of a man, and it set her heart racing again.
A few days later, during a particularly nasty thunderstorm, in which many of the Vikings worried over it being a bad omen, the riders were tasked in getting the frightened animals to the barn. Unfortunately, one of the Yaks had been having an attitude the whole day. Hiccup had been the brave one to try and wrangle her on foot, but she reared up on him and tried to kick him. Hiccup jumped out of the way, twisting hard as he rolled. Something no one expected happened then, least of all him. His already too tight vest tore apart with the harsh movement.
It was an interesting sight to be sure. It was one thing for his chest to stretch his clothes very nicely, it was quite another for his clothes to just... rip apart like that. "I think you look... uh, better without it..." Astrid had assured him, grinning mysteriously, after he stood staring at shredded pieces of his beloved vest. Hiccup blushed deeply at her words. He hadn't been sure what she was getting at, but had shrugged, having given up understanding her already anyway. Astrid hadn't been sure if it was because of what she said or because he had grown out of them, but he hadn't bothered designing another leather vest since then. She had to wonder, was this when he finally began developing his armor?
The storm had whipped up a cold fog over the fjord and had masked the approaching ships. Perhaps it had been an omen after all, because not two days later the men on the watch towers spotted sails with fierce crests on them. Stoick had rounded up the riders after that. "We've spotted those bandits Johann had spoken of before. It seems they have circled back and found Berk. I want the six of you out there. Make them wish they never found us," he ordered them. He wished fervently that he still had Thornado to help, but he trusted that Hiccup knew what he was doing by now. He gave them the report his men had given him and watched his son take charge.
"Hiccup?" Astrid queried, watching the wheels turn in his face.
Hiccup turned to the group and regarded them as he thought up a plan. "Okay, this is what we'll do. There are five longboats, which means one for each and one of us to swoop in and give cover fire," he began.
Hiccup turned to Astrid. "Astrid you'll be on cover fire duty. Make sure to have Stormfly use spineshots to distract range weapon users."
"Right," Astrid nodded readily.
He turned to Snotlout then. "Fly in low with Hookfang and burn the deck of the ships, to scare them off. Don't destroy their ships, we want them out of our shores."
Snotlout nodded with a wicked grin. "Raining down fear, I can do that!" he rubbed his hands together with excitement.
Hiccup rolled his eyes and turned to the twins. "Ruff, Tuff, you guys confuse them, move between the ships, draw their fire away, but don't let Barf and Belch fire directly on them, it'll cause too much damage."
"Aww, come on... that's no fun," the twins groaned at the same time.
"Guys, please," Hiccup sighed, then directed his attention to the remaining member. "Fishlegs, use Meatlug's weight to rock their boats."
"Whoa now, I thought they were our enemies, not our lovers!" Tuffnut snickered.
"Well, bro, who knows, maybe there are some attractive bandits on those ships," Ruffnut commented thoughtfully.
"Hmm, yes, you may be right, sis," Tuffnut tapped his chin.
"Tuff, Ruff... please..." Hiccup pinched the bridge of his nose. "Fishlegs, keep the rest of the men occupied with the disorientation. Everyone alternate between ships so they don't adapt to one dragon and form of attack. I'll handle herding them away. Everyone know their part?" He received various replies then. "Alright gang, move out!" They followed his lead without question, taking off with their eager dragons.
Stoick stood there with a thoughtful look in his eye. Gobber walked up to him and nudged his arm. "Who knew that boy would grow up to be a pretty fantastic Viking and tactician, eh Stoick?" Stoick merely grinned and nodded, swelling with fatherly pride. It seemed like that hunting trip had done wonders for the boy!
Astrid clenched her reigns tight, focused on her task. The rush of wind cloaked over her as she and Stormfly bore down into the Fjord with the other riders. Rain shot past her face, almost biting into her angrily as she urged Stormfly on faster. The six dragons growled almost in unison, baring their teeth at the enemy in their sights, talons drawn, maws with sharp teeth ready to bring terror to their souls.
"You know your roles!" Hiccup shouted over the pounding in their hearts, over the roar of the wind, over the blood rushing in their ears. They were Vikings, battle was in their very veins. They swept in using V formation with Hiccup leading the charge, a snarl of determination on his face. The bandits shot at them, crossbow bolts flying through the air, flaming arrows whizzing by them. "Flaming arrows! Snotlout, Astrid, return the greeting!" Hiccup called.
Astrid had Stormfly sweep backward, waiting for Hookfang to shoot a blaze of inferno in front of her. "Now, Stormfly!" she called and the Nadder let her spines fly, fire whipping around them as they rushed toward their target. Angry and frightened screams sounded from the ships below.
"They're distracted, get in position!" Hiccup yelled. The riders swept back in, blinking away the sting from the rain as they bore down on the invaders. They swarmed them, rushing to do their assigned tasks, disorientating and scaring the bandits with spectacular results. Hiccup's sharp eyes caught Fishlegs and Meatlug struggling with a fishing net over them. "Snotlout, help Fishlegs!" he called, dodging a barrage of attacks from the heavily armed men.
Snotlout rushed in with a grunt of annoyance, though he and Hookfang had been too busy moving out of the way of their own attackers to notice the twins barreling toward them at high speed. They collided in the air, with Barf and Belch getting tangled around Hookfang's own long neck. "Get your stupid dragon off!" Snotlout shouted.
"You're the one that got in our way!" Ruffnut snapped. "If you weren't so useless you'd know where to go," she smirked.
Hiccup pulled at Toothless to get him to rear back. "Guys! Get out of the way! Get back to your positions! You're too out in the open!" he cried, glancing worriedly over to Fishlegs and Meatlug, but could do nothing while he was being fired on so viciously.
The argument went on however, Snotlout unable to get past the direct jab at him. "Did not! It was your ditzy half-brained dragon!" he shot back, earning a snort and glare from Barf. "Just stand by and let the Snot take care of the action! I've got this!"
"Guys... arrows!" Tuffnut cringed. They didn't seem to hear him. "Guys!"
"Get out of the way!" Hiccup roared at them, but they seemed stuck in their positions, dragons tangled and snapping at each other just as their riders did.
"Oh Thor!" Snotlout gasped. "Get off, get off!" he yanked on Hookfang's horns, who cried in both pain and irritation, smacking him across the head as he tried to disentagle himself from the other dragon. "Shit!" the arrows were right on them.
Just then Astrid swooped in and hacked the arrows apart with her axe. Astrid turned on them furiously, astonished that they would choose to act so juvenile at a time like this. Though honestly it probably shouldn't have come to such a surprise. Even back when she was stranded in the future, she had been technically three years younger than them, and still more mature. "Get your act together! Do you want to get each other killed?!" she snarled at them furiously, before rushing over to help Fishlegs and Meatlug before they were gutted, seeing them being beaten where they were trapped on one of the ships.
Hiccup sighed in relief, knowing he could count on her. He glared at his other team mates. "Snotlout, Ruff, Tuff, get back to your tasks!" he ordered.
Snotlout finally managed to pry himself free and angrily had Hookfang shove at them, yanking his horns to get him to move where he wanted. "Ha! That's what you get!" he sneered. Hookfang snarled and whacked him again. "Okay, fine!" he huffed, then jerked back to the twins when he heard Ruffnut scream. To his horror, he saw her plummeting straight toward one of the ships below, crashing into the water next to it. "...Oh..." he gasped.
"Ruffnut!" cried Hiccup and Astrid in shock, watching horrified as the men threw a net over her and reeled her in.
"Ruff!" Tuffnut cried, trying to reach her, but she was already dragged onto the ship.
The bandits grabbed her and threatened her with their weapons, some of them making lewd gestures. Ruffnut snarled at them and slammed her foot on the one holding her, making him yelp and let her go. One of the men in front of her growled angrily and thrust his sword at her. Ruffnut dodged it just on time, but... she wasn't able to move fast enough, feeling the cold iron slice into her side, making her screech and flinch away, right into the paws of the other bandits there who threatened to make her pay for the resistance.
"Ruff!" Tuffnut roared again, urging Barf and Belch faster. They reached them then and stomped onto the deck of the ship. In a blazing fury, Tuffnut charged with the two-headed dragon, snarling at them and setting the deck ablaze. "Unhand my sister!" he roared, brutally knocking the bandits overboard. He quickly snatched up his sister, letting her weakened form rest over his lap as he rose back up with Barf and Belch. "Get us away, boys!" he ordered his dragon, who obeyed without question.
Hiccup stared in frozen shock at everything around him.
It was going so wrong!
Nearly all of them had almost met their end in one way or another!
In a rage, Hiccup shouted to his remaining comrades. "Don't let up! Increase your attacks! Snotlout, rain fire on them. Astrid, I don't care where Stormfly fires her spines, just get them out of here!" he howled.
They swept back in, the remaining dragons using every attack available to them. It seemed like hours had gone by, but finally, finally the enemy was on the retreat. They kept firing though, the dragons grabbing the men and lifting them up, dropping them back onto the ships unconscious, shredding at their armor, slashing at their weapons, scaring them to their core.
When the bandits were far enough away, Hiccup ordered them back to Berk. They flew in complete silence, except for Ruffnut's occasional pained whimpers and Fishleg's groans as he rested on Meatlug, his sides where he had been kicked aching too much for him to move, most likely from cracked ribs. No one said a word, wary of Hiccup who's furious expression had yet to leave him.
When they got back, Stoick greeted them. "You're back! Did you take care of-" he was cut off in shock when his son, like a smoking volcano, blew his top.
"Snotlout!" Hiccup raged, turning on his cousin with outrage contorting his face. "How could you be so reckless! How could you be so careless! What were you thinking? Wait, what am I saying, of course you weren't thinking!" he threw his arms in the air, leaning in toward his cousin threateningly, unaware of how much the other teen shrunk away.
"What kind of irresponsible, overbearing asshole are you? You nearly cost two of your teammates- your friends their lives! They almost died because of your stupid need to show off! For once in your life stop worrying over gods damn pride and do as you're told!" he snarled at him. Snotlout stared in absolute shock, his head ducking the more his cousin ripped into him, biting his lip to hide his whimper.
By the time Hiccup had finished shouting at him at the top of his lungs, he stood there panting, face red, shoulders shaking. When he realized what he'd done, and how quiet it was all around him, he took notice of all the faces around him, wide-eyed and startled, disbelieving that he'd be so ruthless in reprimanding someone, most of all the one who had always picked on him the most.
"I... I... I'm... s-sorry..." Snotlout whispered, wishing the ground would open up wide and drag him away, feeling a sting in his eyes and a tearing in his heart.
Hiccup stared in shock, not able to believe what he had just done, not able to believe he had snapped like that. Seeing the stricken look in his cousin's face, the red-rimmed eyes where he tried to keep himself from crying, tore him apart. "I... I..." he gasped, emotions conflicting, warring inside him. "I... need to go," he turned sharply on his prosthetic and left without another word. Toothless crooned worriedly, casting an almost apologetic look to the rest of them, and bounded after him.
There was still a great sense of heaviness in the air, silence and tension as thick as the slimes of a swamp. Snotlout sniffled slightly and his team turned to him incredulously. "I... I just... the battle worked me up, okay? It's... I'm not... -come on, Hookfang!" he clambered aboard his dragon, who mercifully flew them away. They all knew what had really happened, how hard he had taken the blow from his cousin, how much guilt he felt, it was too much for him, he hadn't even been able to fully form his excuse.
Tuffnut held his sister close, who at this point was trailing blood from her side. "I'm taking Ruff to Gothi," he announced mutely and gently guided her away.
Stoick stared in the direction of where his son had stormed out in frozen shock. No one had ever seen him snap like that, so viciously. He had been so passionate about his worry over his team mates and so angry over nearly losing a battle. Maybe there was a warrior within him than he originally thought, after all. Without another word, Stoick left for the Great Hall to think, needing to reevaluate what he had always thought of his son.
Fishlegs muttered he'd go see Gothi as well, relying on Meatlug to help him walk out. Astrid stood there, just as muted in astonishment as the rest of them. She knew he had passion deep inside him, she had even been in battles with him before, but she had never seen him rage like that before. Frowning with a twisting conflict of sadness and concern toward him, she longed to try and ease him, but she knew he needed time to process everything that happened. So she stayed away.
That night, however, Astrid wasn't able to keep away, couldn't leave him to brood and kick himself all night, knowing he was hurting. Unable to stop herself, for the second time in a year, she found herself sneaking into his house in the dead of night, past his sleeping father, and up to his loft. She found him sitting at the edge of his bed, ignoring the incessant croons and worried warbles from Toothless. The dragon spotted her then and walked over, nudging her, his eyes pleading. Astrid rubbed his cheek reassuringly and nodded, heading toward her best friend.
Hiccup barely reacted to her presence, staring at the floorboard blankly. Astrid frowned in concern and placed her arm around his shoulder. When he still didn't react, she nudged him down until he was laying on his bed and laid by his side, her arms around him. "Hiccup," she said softly, trying to pull him out of his gloom.
"A-Astrid?" his eyes widened, finally recognizing her. "Wha-What are y-you doing here..?" he asked, finally noticing that she was actually there with him. Shocked and nervous were word too weak to describe what Hiccup was currently feeling.
"I was worried about you. I knew you'd be in the state you're currently in..." she answered softly, trying to ignore how what she was currently doing made her feel, made her heart race. Now was not the time to think of her own feelings though. "You comforted me once, let me do the same for you," she whispered against his shoulder, hiding her face.
Hiccup relaxed and nodded silently, letting her hold him. After a few minutes of silence, he spoke, his words broken and woeful. "I nearly got my friends killed..." he whispered.
Astrid frowned in confusion. "What are you talking about?" she mumbled in question against him, struggling to not fall asleep on him. "It was Snotlout's carelessness."
Hiccup shook his head. "No. It was my decision to send Snotlout out like that. I knew the twins were nearby but I didn't think about that. I knew they would be unpredictable, and I knew Snotlout would let his emotions get to him. I did this. I had led them and caused everything to go so wrong..." he said, shivering in her embrace.
Astrid bit her lip, twisted up, her heart aching with how much he bore all of the responsibility over his shoulders. "Hiccup. You can't take on every bit of the responsibility. They have just as much blame. They were the ones who made the decision to act like morons. That wasn't your fault. You directed the fight as best as you could. And for what it's worth, we won in the end without casualties. No one died and we made sure Berk was safe. You earned the respect of everyone today, including ther chief. So please, stop being so hard on yourself. You're a fantastic Viking, Hiccup, no matter what you might think, but you're still not perfect."
Hiccup felt his heart swim with emotion at her words, conflicted by them at the same time. "I... have to be hard on myself... I have to prove myself," he admitted quietly.
Astrid's hold on him tightened, hurting that he still thought he had to prove himself, to beat himself up, still thinking he was useless. "If it makes any difference at all, you've proven yourself to me at least, a hundred fold," she told him with a smile.
Hiccup smiled back weakly, relaxing a little more. "Thanks, Astrid..." he murmured. "I'm lucky to have you..." when Astrid's eyes widened at his words, he realized what he said. "I uh... I mean, you know... as a friend..." he stuttered with a deep blush.
Astrid swallowed the emotions that got lodged in her throat at his words and smiled weakly, feeling the familiar and all consuming love for him rush through her before she could cage it back up. "A-Any time..." she told him shakily. They were silent once more, but this time there was an odd sort of tension that weighed the air down around them. Feeling like things were getting too awkward, Astrid made to get up.
"W-Wait..." Hiccup whispered, catching her wrist. "Please... stay..?" he asked softly, trying not to blush too hard at the clumsy request.
Astrid fought to keep the whimper from escaping her, overwhelmed again by his words. Taking a breath to calm down, she slipped back onto the bed and very happily and a little guiltily let him pull her close to him. Neither of them knew how the other inwardly sighed blissfully. They fell asleep then, both of them lost to the warmth and peace they found in each others arms. They did not wake until the rooster crowed early in the morning the next day. After a great deal of awkwardness between them, much like it had been the first time, a year ago, they separated before they were discovered by Stoick, and probably teased relentlessly.
A week later, after Hiccup had finally calmed down and the entire village stopped giving him such a wide berth whenever he walked by and such wary looks, Astrid found herself, as usual, watching Hiccup work. It had finally settled down after that and thankfully they hadn't heard another word of bandits. Neither of them spoke about that night, much like the last time, though they both thought of it, often. As they got older, it was beginning to get difficult not to think of those things, especially when hormones got the better of them.
As Astrid sat on her table, she let her eyes follow his movements with interest. By now he was a little used to her presence there, though it didn't stop him from blushing and making the occasional mistake. Astrid still found it amazing how her mere presence could affect him so strongly... funny how things had a way of turning around. As she sat there, toying with one of the many half constructed weapons on the table, she noticed Hiccup fitfully brush away hair from his face, again. It had been happening a lot more lately. "Hiccup? Are you under there?"
Hiccup had just finished an order for Mulch, a basic shear, which he would be picking up later that evening. Setting his tools down he turned to regard her. "What do you mean?" he asked with a curious frown, swiping at his bangs for the hundredth time that day.
Astrid watched his hair flop right back over his eyes. "Your hair is getting a little long. I can barely see your face anymore," she explained.
Hiccup glanced up at his bushy bangs. "Oh," he laughed nervously. "I'll just tie it up," he shrugged awkwardly.
"Well, I don't know," Astrid pursed her lips in thought. "Shorter looks kind of... well, nice on you," she told him, feeling slightly bashful for admitting it.
"R-Really?" Hiccup stuttered nervously, unable to keep his blush from his cheeks.
Astrid smiled and gave him a nod. "Here, let me help you!" she grinned, brandishing her newly sharpened axe.
Hiccup jerked back from her in surprise and a little bit wary of her intentions. Not that she'd ever seriously maim him... right? "Wha-wha-with your axe?" The seventeen year old viking gaped incredulously at her, feeling more like a fifteen year old in her presence again.
Astrid gave him a tolerant look and crossed her arms. "Hiccup," she began, her axe dangling haphazardly from her grip. "Do you trust me?"
It didn't take more than two seconds for him to respond, which made her feel annoyingly giddy. "Yes, yes I do," he sighed and sat down over in one of the chairs at the forge, giving her his back and letting her hack away at his hair. Fortunately, Gobber had stepped out and the orders were very slow that day.
Astrid took a breath to calm down. She could do this. She was a master with her axe... even though that meant she was a master at tearing things apart with it. Nah, it would be fine! Settling behind him, where she though would be the best place to start, she tried not to notice how much bigger Hiccup had gotten in just six months and concentrated on her work.
As she began gently and very carefully cutting off pieces of his hair with her razor sharp blade, her hands skimmed over his shoulders a moment to get him to sit still. She had to actually resist biting her lip from how nice they were beginning to feel under her touch. Focus! Astrid batted away the distracting thoughts and went back to work. When his hair was at a more manageable length in the back, she stepped over in front of him.
Unable to handle the silence for too much longer, Astrid decided to ask him what had been rolling around in her head for a bit now. "So... did you talk to Snotlout lately?" not that she actually really cared a whole lot about that overbearing pig, but she was curious to know how the dynamic between them was now.
Hiccup shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Yes... I have. He got over being yelled at pretty quick," he rolled his eyes. "But... he seemed... I don't know, wary of me since then. He doesn't really pick on me quite as much, or at least, not in the same way," he explained with a mild bit of confusion.
Astrid was quiet for a bit, absorbing this interesting bit of information. "I'm glad," she said honestly.
Hiccup glanced up at her in a guilty bit of disbelief. "You are..?" he asked cautiously, watching pieces of his hair float to the floor around him.
The axe-wielder rolled her own eyes. "Of course I am, mutton-head." she teased softly. "Why wouldn't I be? I think it's about time you started getting the respect you deserve..." she told him, smiling a little when he blushed again.
Hiccup's eyes seemed to shimmer at that. "You really think so?" he asked, his tone one of wonderment, as though he was amazed she would think of him in that way.
Astrid's eyes softened. "Yes, I do."
Hiccup smiled and glanced back down. "...Maybe, maybe you're right..." he reluctantly agreed.
Astrid frowned slightly, not liking that he was still so insecure of himself. "You know," she began, hoping she could both pull this off without sounding like a stuttering fool and give him a boost in the right direction. "Confidence... is a sexy thing..." she said softly. "You'd... benefit from it..." she bit her lip, trying not to remember just how much benefit his confidence would bring him in the future. She was still wielding an axe, very closely to his face, after all! She had to concentrate!
Hiccup flushed deeply once again, wondering why she was bringing that up. But then again... maybe if he was more confident, she'd... maybe... want to go out with him? That was a possibility, right? They were friends? She didn't seem to dislike him, so..? It certainly sounded fantastic. Confidence, he could work on it... right? "I'll uh... I'll k-keep that in mind..." he muttered, glad she was concentrated on his hair and not how awkward it was.
After a few more minutes, she felt satisfied with her handiwork and with the fact that she could now clearly see his irritatingly attractive face. With surprise, she realized his hair was now basically identical to the way it had been on his counterpart in her trip to the future. Had she really..? No, it had to be coincidence. For all she knew he had done it to himself the first time around with his dagger. Astrid wasn't sure how long his counterpart and her own had been together, so who knows how it happened? In any case, it was done now. "There... I-um, I think I... did a pretty good job! You're looking- ah... good... you know, for a dork," she murmured shyly and punched his shoulder lightly.
"Gee, thanks," Hiccup said sarcastically, huffing in fake offense, moving to get up.
Astrid had another idea. She had thought of this for a while now and decided she had had a hand in it the whole time, probably more so than the actual hair cut, since she was fairly certain he wouldn't bother learning how to do it himself. "Wait, come back. Hold on, hold still," she said, pulling on his shoulder, surprised by the amount of strength she had to use to get him to sit back down.
"What is it?" Hiccup asked, letting her sit him before her again and turning to look at her.
Astrid tried to get him to look forward again but Hiccup was being fidgety again. "I just... want to try- something- Hiccup, hold still!" she gave his newly shortened hair a sharp tug.
"Gah! You don't have to yank!" Hiccup protested, but held still. After a moment he noticed what she was doing to his hair and up went his brow again. "... Are you... braiding my hair..?"
Astrid smirked at his incredulous tone. "All Vikings have some form of braid, whether it's in their beard or their hair... since you don't have much of a beard, I thought you'd look... good-" she cleared her throat and was infinitely glad he wasn't facing her to see her blush now. Gods, and that word wasn't even the right word to describe him! And he wasn't even at that level yet! She couldn't let him know though, not yet.
Hiccup squirmed a little in his seat. "Hey! Not having a beard is a choice, you know," he answered before she could go on, giving her no indication he picked up on her lately utterly distracting views of him.
Astrid inwardly sighed in relief, rolled her eyes but smiled all the same. "Right, you keep telling yourself that, Haddock," she murmured fondly. It took a fair bit longer to carefully braid in two bits just behind his right ear, just like she remembered, but she felt very satisfied when she was done. "There, I finished!" she grinned triumphantly, stepping back to admire him- or rather her work.
"So? How do I look?" Hiccup turned then and smiled at her, his lips tilting up, teeth peeking and blazing green eyes shining. For the thousandth time that year, though most likely more if she counted her experience, Astrid had to tame her wildly thrashing heart. That damn smile, coupled with his rapidly developing striking features framed by his new haircut and the flattering braids. Oh, oh she was supposed to be trying to resist her feelings, or at least not let him know about them so soon! Though, wait, why was she doing that again? In any case, she just made it infinitely more difficult for herself. "You don't like it..." It was more of a statement and his smile dropped.
Astrid then realized she had been staring at him, probably with a wide-eyed surprised look. Damn it. Snapping out of it, she flushed in embarrassment. "What? No! I mean I do! Really! You look..." she trailed off in frustration, turning her head, her blush darkening again. If she kept this up her cover would be blown. The irritating little Viking didn't even know how well he was growing up, or how much of a knock-out he would be in just a few years, probably sooner. So, when words failed, Astrid fell back to what she knew best.
"What-? -Agh!" Hiccup jumped in both surprise and pain as she struck his arm hard, the familiar and sharp jolt of pain surging up his arm. "Wha-why would you- what was that for?" he asked indignantly, resisting the urge to rub his arm. Hiccup knew she had hit him with the same force she would usually hit him, and really it did hurt quite a bit,but not as much as it had in the past... huh, maybe he was getting used to her punches? Or maybe he was finally getting stronger?
"Nothing," Astrid said, getting up and brushing her clothes. She turned from him, not able to hold his gaze, at least not until she relaxed. "Don't take it off, okay?" she took a breath to calm down. "It looks good on you, Hiccup," she finally admitted in a soft tone, still not looking at him, before walking off.
Hiccup's next words made her pause in her retreating steps, however. "Thank you, milady..." he said in the usual gentle and knowing tone.
Astrid flushed deeply all over again and was glad he was not looking at her. Damn him and his ability to make her feel so girly and giddy. Why did his words always have to affect her so? Even now. Waving it off, refusing to look at his frustratingly increasingly handsome face, she went on. And to her delight and frustration, Hiccup hadn't unbraided it since then.
Just a few months later, Astrid was looking to get in some training after a hard day of chores around Berk, when she was surprised by an interesting sight. She found Snotlout with Hiccup over at one of the training grounds. Snotlout was actually showing Hiccup how to use a blade properly, not tormenting or picking on him, but instructing him. Was Ragnarok coming? Astrid stood back and watched, not wanting to disrupt the fledgling bond between them. Snotlout was still gruff and irritated with him whenever he would messed up, throwing his arms in the air, but he stuck by and showed him how to do it. This was a far cry from how it had been just last year.
Surprisingly, ...though maybe it shouldn't have been so much with how much Hiccup was growing in leaps and bounds lately, the one-legged Viking was able to grip the blade rather well, no longer being weighed down by it. When Snotlout tried to show him how a 'master' did it, Hiccup stood his ground and tried it again on his own, insisting he had it. Snotlout looked a bit surprised by the firm tone but held back.
Hiccup frowned at the target and gripped the sword better, cringing slightly but managing to swing his body around and strike it rather well. Astrid grinned at this. So Hiccup was starting to have more confident in himself? Fantastic. Deciding to give them space, she went off to see if Stormfly wanted to fly for a bit.
It was just a little after his eighteenth birthday when Hiccup had reached his most interesting growth spurt yet, and this time, Astrid wasn't able to stop the longing that accompanied it. He just... looked so very much like the man she had given her heart so complete to, so long ago. His face and eyes had sharpened, jaw squared out, and he now towered over all of them. He had given up wearing vests a while ago and had begun developing his amazingly attractive armor. He was looking very much like the man she knew he would become.
It was so much better being able to see the tantalizing changes in him slowly over time. He had grown into his haircut, letting the strands frame his face like the glorious lions mane it was. Astrid felt a bit of intense jealousy for the first time in her life at one point, seeing how she wasn't the only female in Berk to have noticed the very interesting changes in Hiccup... who was in fact, no longer a 'hiccup'. Some of the women were even old enough to be his mother! Gross.
Her dreams and memories of him were becoming more and more difficult to brush away now. While during the day it wasn't so bad, every night she had to try harder and harder to push them away. It was everything she could do to act nonchalantly around him, though it was a lot easier for her to do now, now that she was prepared. However, it didn't help her at all that lately memories of her time with him had been viciously resurfacing, keeping her up those night. She knew it wasn't fair to him either, but what could she do? She was helpless to him and he didn't have a clue about it.
Astrid lay in bed one night, wishing for the feel of his arms around her again, wishing she could sneak into his room like she did again, months ago. When she dreamed then, her dreams were full of images and memories of being in his embrace, feeling his love surround her. The dreams forced her to remember when she had given herself completely to him, when she had given him her body, and opened her heart utterly to him. When she woke the next morning, she tried to ignore the tears in her eyes, tried to keep the deep ache, the deep longing away, missing him in ways that confused her, because he was there and she knew it, but she couldn't have his love... not yet.
Her resistances to him were starting to rapidly fail her again... how long could she stay away from him now? How much longer would she be forced to deny her heart?
For now, she stayed away.
End A/N: Starting out this story with a bang! Sad-ish end to the chapter, sorry, don't worry though, it'll pick up quick! You'll see. Yes I jumped over a year (technically two as I skipped over age 16 entirely) in this chapter, but it had to be done; the story isn't supposed to focus on them so young. It will carry on for a while at 18, as that is when things really start to get interesting... Also, this chapter answers the question why Snotlout doesn't walk all over Hiccup anymore in RTTE. He got himself snarled at by the alpha.
I hope everyone enjoyed this first chapter! Let it be known that because this story is a lot longer and has more in it, it will take me a little longer than two days to update. Not too much longer though. Let me know what you thought of this!