"It can't be him. It can't!"
Astrid Hofferson was standing in the centre of the room, shaking with rage and disbelief. Her muscles were tense, her fists were clenched.
For the first time in her life, she felt absolutely helpless.
"Astrid, you're being unreasonable." Hiccup approached her, doing his best to calm her down, trying to talk some sense into her. He had been doing that for the last ten minutes, but apparently, he was failing miserably.
"It's not about reason, Hiccup!" she cried out, finally raising her sight at him. "It just doesn't feel right! And it must feel right!"
"You know that's not true -"
"He's supposed to be my soulmate, for fuck's sake, of course it must!"
Hiccup gritted his teeth as he listened to her hopeless calls, and wondered for the millionth time that day what on earth should he do in his position. How could he tell Astrid to calm down, while his own blood was boiling as if it was 200 degrees hot? Still, he knew he couldn't agree with her, not in this case.
Not in this life.
"Astrid, please," he tried again, taking her trembling hands into his own. She was surprised, no doubt, but she didn't protest. "It doesn't always feel right at first, but there are no mistakes. As long as you can recognize your soulmate, you may be sure it will work out in the end. Even if it's hard at first, it always works out in the end. Think of your parents."
"My parents hated each other," she admitted with a weak smile, but then shook her head.
"That's my point. They did once, and now they are one of the greatest couples I've ever seen in my life."
"But this isn't because they're soulmates!" she shouted again, almost snatching her hands away, only Hiccup's grip on them was too tight to allow it. "It was because they worked hard on it, bringing forgiveness and goodwill to their relationship, and because they learned to care about one another."
"Exactly. And you'll learn to do the same."
Astrid looked him in the eyes, meeting his steady, certain gaze; he was still squeezing her fingers in that gentle manner she adored so much, trying to reassure her as well as he could.
Good Lord, how lucky his soulmate would be.
He didn't look away, knowing it would do no good; instead, he smiled fondly at her, hoping it would make her feel at least a little bit better. Astrid was a mess, there was no point denying that – and that was why he had to stay calm and unmoved. He had to be her voice of reason.
Hiccup saw her blue eyes glittering with tears, which she was fighting back with all her might; she wasn't crying yet, but who were they kidding – she would eventually. And he had to make sure to be there for her when she does.
He didn't have to wait long. After a few additional seconds of biting her twitching lip, Astrid broke into the most painful sob he had ever seen, throwing herself against his chest before he had a chance to react; he freed their hands and embraced her, praying to God this outburst of emotions would do his dear friend some good, that it would be the catharsis she needed so desperately.
He felt her heartbeat against his own – fast, strong, to the extent it was almost improbable; then again, his was just as crazy as that. Her tears were wetting the collar of his shirt, but it made no difference. All that mattered was that Astrid craved comfort, and he was expected to give it to her.
She moved, and he felt her hot breath against his neck.
Hiccup's heart was positively breaking. But it made no difference, either.
Neither of them could tell how long they had been standing like this, two lonely people in the middle of a great, empty library. The sun was setting down, and its red beams had been getting into the room long before they noticed, but they didn't care. There was no one else in the Haddock house – and they had all time in the world for themselves.
"Feeling better?" Hiccup asked, eventually, acknowledging that his friend's sobbing had almost ceased. She nodded, face still buried in his shoulder. He smiled softly. "You need a tissue?"
She nodded again, sniffing. Hiccup took one of his hands from her back and reached to the pocket of his jeans; his other one was still embracing her, keeping her close to his chest. Not that she was going anywhere.
"Here," he said, forcing her to pull away a little, and handing her the tissue, holding it right in front of her eyes. "Do you want me to wipe your nose or you'll do that yourself?"
"I'm not that overwhelmed, thank you very much," she answered in a mock offended voice, taking the item in her fingers and using it, loudly. Hiccup laughed shortly, and she almost did the same. "That was rather undignified, I'm afraid," she admitted.
"Not as much as your snuffling."
"I hate your sarcasm."
"It's not sarcasm. I'm just mean."
He took the tissue from her hand, ignoring her protests and sliding it into his back pocket. Astrid sighed, and rested her forehead on his shoulder again.
"Can I just stay like this for a little longer?"
"No problem. How long exactly?"
"I think that will do."
"Thanks, Hiccup," she mumbled. "You're the best."
"Yeah, I know."
They remained silent for a little longer – Hiccup gently rubbing her back, Astrid just leaning against him, breathing him in with every inhale she made.
"It's going to be so hard," she whispered finally.
"Nah, it's not. Just have a little faith, and you'll see it will be fine. There's a happy ending waiting for you, Ast, it will just take you some time to figure out the way to it."
"How can you be so sure?"
"This is how this world works. Besides, if your parents could have got along, then you and Eret will as well."
"And what if he's not the one?"
Hiccup froze for a moment, surprised with her question. Could she be serious?
"Hey, listen," he said, taking her arms and pulling her away slightly. "You know he is."
"I mean, he does have this mark, but -"
"Astrid, stop." He let her out of the hug and took her hand, raising it to her eye level. There was a little, black mark on her wrist, with a symbol she could never mistake. "What do you see?"
"My stupid soulmate tattoo."
"Does that look simple for you?"
"What do you mean?" she raised an eyebrow, not sure how to answer that.
"Does that look like a symbol you could confuse?"
"Is it complex?"
"And what was that mark you saw on Eret's chest?"
"What was it, Astrid?"
"It was the same stupid symbol," she admitted at last, feeling defeated. "But mine looks like a tattoo! And he said his was a scar!"
"Well, it looks like one, to be sure. But it doesn't change anything. It's the symbol that matters."
The fire inside her eyes was gone. Hiccup hated the sight, however, at least he could believe that Astrid was starting to accept her fate, which meant he had succeeded in his mission. It ached awfully, but he knew it was the right thing to do.
"I've known Eret my entire life, Ast. He's a great guy. Smart, strong and caring – and he would never hurt you."
"I know that. It's just so… disappointing!"
"Eret, son of Eret, is disappointing? Do you even know what you're saying?" he chuckled, remembering all the girls following his older friend with dreamy eyes. "Ruffnut would rip you into pieces for even thinking so!"
"Oh, yeah, because he's sooo muscular. How could you not like that? Gosh, he's not even that handsome," she retorted without hesitation, and added, "jokes aside. I'm not really disappointed in him. I'm disappointed in the situation. I mean, come on! That's the moment every girl is waiting for! I should be all over the moon, dancing like an idiot. Or I should be confused and amazed. Or even mad - I mean, when my mum and dad met, she came home and broke some ancient vase, almost causing my granny to have a heart attack - and I don't even feel like this. I feel… nothing."
"Maybe you just need a little more good will here," he smiled at her again. "As you said, sometimes you need to work hard before you can see the results. But I promise you it will be worth it."
She nodded; then she sniffed again, making Hiccup laugh.
"Okay, so here's another tissue for you; hopefully you won't need more than that. Besides, it's not you who should be crying here, right? Your best friend isn't leaving you all alone because of some brawny PE teacher."
She punched him on the shoulder. Hard.
"Okay, fine, I'll shut up. What do you say I'll walk you home now? And as soon as you're there, you'll call Eret and tell him you didn't mean to reject him, and that you only need some time to get used to the thought. I'm sure he'll understand."
Astrid shook her head.
"You can walk me home, but I won't call him before tomorrow. I wouldn't know what to say to him, and I don't want to screw it up. After all, that may be the guy I'll spend the rest of my life with."
Author's note: So, here I am, with a brand new Hiccstrid story, and for the first time ever, it's a multi-chaptered one. Crazy, right? Still, it's here, and as it's already written (and in English), you may be sure of it being updated regularly.
I've been familiar with the soulmate au for quite a while now, but it's the first time I wrote anything of this kind myself. It is a bit different than what we're used to, but I hope you'll see it as an advantage - either way, I'll be most grateful for sharing your opinions in the reviews section ;)
I must now thank two of my friends, both amazing fanfiction writers, who helped me with the final editing of this story - water-star (and author of an amazing Hiccelsa story Thaw Slowly), and QueenoftheWilderwest (basically the best Hiccstrid writer that has ever walked the earth). Guys, you're amazing. Thank you.
That would be all for now, I suppose. I'll see you soon!