Well, it's been fun! Hopefully it's not a terrible goodbye.
After much pleading, begging and wheedling - mostly from Hiccup - they were off to the shelter, to pick up their rescue dog. The kids were excited too, but Hiccup was practically hopping.
"We have to be good remember, or they won't give us Toothless!"
Aura chided her siblings, who nodded eagerly in agreement. They'd waited until their youngest was five, so they were old enough to start understanding responsibility and had the cognition to at least understand the dog wasn't just a big furry toy. They'd been involved in the selection of the dog, too, but when they visited the shelter it was love at first sight for Hiccup and 'Toothless', which was a nickname the shelter had given him, trying to make light of his teeth being so badly rotted most had to come out.
But still, he was charming and once he licked Hiccup's hand through the cage door and fixed him with wide eyes, Hiccup immediately turned to his wives looking very much like one of their kids as his face said "can we have this one?".
After a few more minutes waiting outside, Hiccup and one of the workers came out with Toothless on a lead, Hiccup beaming brightly as they got there.
"Is he really coming home with us?"
The dog was as excited as Hiccup, tail wagging away eagerly as he approached his new family. Having been spoken to in advance, the kids looked to their parents for permission before they went to greet Toothless themselves. He seemed very happy with all the affection, paws skipping around on the ground as Hiccup smiled over them.
Livy beamed up at the shelter worker, who turned and left them to take Toothless home. It was a bit of a walk, but given how much energy Aura still had, that was probably a good thing. Halfway home Livy got bored and let her big sister give her a piggy back, Henrik giggling at them both as he trotted along holding Astrid's hand, Lillian walking behind to keep an eye on Aura and Livy. Aura was only nine going on ten, but she was constantly on the go, already keen on exercising and loved going jogging with Astrid. Astrid had to slow down a bit for her daughter, obviously, but it was a fun bonding experience.
"Can we take Toothless when we go out running mom?"
"Maybe, we don't know how fast he can go yet."
"I promise we'll take him on family walks."
Cheers all round. Raised by their pagan parents, the kids all loved the outdoors, excited about rambling through nature and with a deep respect for the environment. Astrid had seen Livy lecture her classmates on recycling in the playground, and they were all the type to catch bugs and put them outside rather than squish them. Henrik loved spiders, and Livy was almost impossible to remove from the reptile house in any zoo. Aura adored any and all creatures, already said she wanted to be a vet when she was all grown up and had almost as many books on animals as Hiccup had on dragons.
In short, Astrid was enormously proud of all three of their wonderful, quirky kids.
"Ok, welcome to your new home Toothless! Remember to let him get a look around first kids."
"We will dad!"
They sat around while Toothless had a good explore, the back door open so he could go and investigate the garden too. It was hard to say who wanted to go play with him more - their kids or their husband. Hiccup was the one who'd taken a week off work to make sure Toothless got settled in, after all. Astrid was only surprised it took him so long to wheedle them into pet ownership.
"What about Morgan and Siggy?"
"We'll introduce Toothless to the family soon, but he needs a couple of days to get used to his new home first."
Aura nodded very agreeably, fidgeting very reminiscent of Lillian as she waited to be allowed to go play with Toothless again.
"Go get your hands cleaned before dinner, alright?"
"Can we help?"
Hiccup nodded, and that was enough to have the kids charging upstairs to wash their hands. He smiled after them fondly, then moved to dispense kisses to his wives.
"You are very welcome, now feed me."
He chuckled at Astrid, Lillian rolling her eyes as Hiccup headed off toward the kitchen. Astrid wriggled over to Lillian, snuggling into her side and Lils hugged her close with a soft, contented sigh. The kids dashed on by to join Hiccup in the kitchen, loving to get stuck in with helping with the cooking. Toothless was still padding around out in the garden, but he looked quite happy. Astrid stroked her sisters hand lazily, rubbing her thumb over the rings on her finger as they listened to the banging and clanging in the kitchen.
"If Hiccup tries to get me to let the dog sleep in our bed I'm gonna kill him."
Lillian chuckled, squeezing Astrid reassuringly.
"Aura already convinced him that the dog bed is going in her room, cus she's the one who didn't mind sleeping with the door open, and she's old enough to let him out if he's gotta go. I give it all of one night before the dog sleeps on her bed though."
Astrid shook her head, but she was smiling.
"Sounds about right."
With their youngest kid getting on for ten, Astrid's mind wandered slightly to many years gone by. They'd faced doubt and disbelief multiple times when introducing their relationship to other people; how could they share a husband? What would their families think? Weren't they going to mess up their kids?
And yet, over ten years since they tied the knot, they were still very much happy together, their family was a wonderful, supportive and mad lot, and while Astrid might be biased, she thought their kids probably benefited from three happily married parents, and were loving, bright and well rounded small humans.
Toothless eventually returned from the garden, and after some thought, headed over to the twins for attention.
"I know they say bark worse than bite, but honestly his breath is worse than his bite."
Lils sniggered at Astrid wrinkling her nose, trying not to breathe in too much as Toothless panted and huffed happily in their direction.
"Yeah, well, it's not called dog breath for nothing."
With some kind of foodstuffs still in his messy red hair and a little apron not really keeping the flour off his clothes, Henrik tottered into the room and waited to have both his mothers attention.
"Dad said dinner is almost done so you should go wash your hands!"
Chuckling at his sincere, almost severely-serious tone, Astrid nodded at their son.
"We will Hen, promise."
Nodding, he headed back to the kitchen. The twins shared a giggle, then ventured upstairs with a furry little shadow so they closed all the upstairs doors to bedrooms. Washing dog off their hands, they got down just in time for Hiccup to appear at the kitchen door, complete with small floury handprint on his face as he smiled and told them they could come in. Toothless got dinner too - which Hiccup had made himself, obviously, after getting advice on feeding a dentally challenged dog.
That dog was going to be spoiled rotten, Astrid could just tell.
Livy laid the table (her latest achievement, now she was finally tall enough to see over the table and reach) and shooed her mothers into chairs, Hiccup fighting laughter behind her, while Aura attempted to extract Henrik from the apron he was quite attached to, Hiccup managing to move about putting food on plates without tripping over a stray child.
An average dinner time in their household, really.
Morgan and Mala were the only people Hiccup had ever known who could gut a pumpkin without making a mess. He wasn't sure how they managed it. Sigmund was wearing the stringy guts over his head like a wig, and Aura had an area of destruction all around her in the form of scattered pumpkin seeds, while Livy and Henrik's shared pumpkins insides were mostly visible in the orange stain all over their hands.
But the pumpkin carving was an excellent way to get some excess energy out of the kids, which helped them quiet down for the dumb supper that evening. Henrik had Hiccup's knack for art, and liked drawing the pictures on the front of pumpkins, which usually came out alright (if a little wonky, as he didn't practice drawing on uneven vegetables often).
They took a few photos, as they often did for the various holidays, Hiccup smiling with Morgan and Sigmund perched on his lap - standing photos would come out rather comical, since he was so much older and taller than his two half-siblings. Then his own children all wanted to join in - pumpkin-smeared hands and all, but it was all good fun and Hiccup loved how fun and energetic the pictures would come out - who wanted a family album full of staged poses? That sounded really boring to him.
"Ok, let's start cleaning up, then we can get into costumes?"
Supervising hand washing (and a quick scrub of the cloth through Sig's hair to get the remnants of pumpkin guts out) made Hiccup laugh as Aura had the bright idea to climb in the bath and wash her hands there, then squealed when surprised by her feet getting wet.
Finally relatively clean, Hiccup shooed the horde of children downstairs again, where assorted parents were waiting with their kids costumes. Henrik's spider costume had been a bit of a cheat - Hiccup had adapted one for dogs to fit him, rather than make eight individual legs. Livy got scales painted on her face by grandma Valka, to match her scale-patterned jumper and trousers. Aura was a pirate that year, because she liked to change it up each Samhain. Sigmund was a Viking, like every other year he'd been old enough to choose, because that's what his dad went as, and Morgan had soon donned his skeleton costume, but didn't like the feeling of face paint, so he didn't wear it.
Toothless was throwing them sad puppy dog eyes thinking he was going to be left behind, but perked up when strapped into his dragon wings and invited along for the party. A couple of people who joined their Samhain celebration were allergic to dogs, but with three others who used service dogs for conditions like diabetes or epilepsy, they just dosed up on anti-histamines in advance.
"Ok, kids grab your pumpkins and walk to the car. You'll be sad if you run, trip and smash your pumpkin."
Hiccup and Astrid each grabbed a box of food to take along, while Lillian kept an eye on the procession of children. They trotted out obediently to the amassed cars, seperating for the trip. They'd need a minibus to transport everyone, and that was if they could find one that would fit Stoick. But with Morgan and Sigmund in the same age group as their nieces and nephew, they spent a lot of time together.
"Get your legs out of my face!"
Hiccup looked around from the front, perplexed before he realised Livy was batting away one of Henrik's spider legs.
"I can't help it! They have a mind of their own!"
Henrik defended, pouting and Hiccup couldn't deny how much his son looked just like him then, which probably said the adult man pouted a little too much himself.
"Calm down Livy, it's not that long a drive. Hen, try to sit still so you don't mess up her face paint with your extra limbs."
He gave his best serious face, sitting very very still as Hiccup started the car. The motion of the car moving itself did jostle the legs, but Livy gave up dodging them and just held them down away from her face instead. Thankfully for possible tensions between children, the drive wasn't too long and Livy was first to scramble out of the car, escaping the spider legs.
"Hi uncle Snotface!"
Scott's husband Dagur was nearby, stifling sniggers at the nickname the kids refused to stop using.
"Took you long enough to get here cuz, what were you doing?"
"Getting five kids into their costumes after scrubbing pumpkin off them."
Greeting various other family members, Hiccup hugged Gobber. Or rather, was hugged, quite fiercely.
"Aye laddie, you're lookin' well!"
"Thanks Gobber. How are things for you?"
"Good, good. Your lot are lookin'... unique."
Hiccup laughed, nodding as he saw Henrik wriggling so his multiple legs went moving too, showing off to the other children there.
"Yeah, well, they are unique."
"Aye, true. Enjoy your night lad."
"You too Gobber."
The kids all respectfully greeted aunt Gothi, who didn't appear to have aged at all in the fifteen years or so since Hiccup had started bringing Astrid and Lillian along to Samhain. She gave them all smiles in turn, then shooed them off to have a little fun while they waited for everyone else to arrive in time for dinner. With new generations adding numbers, they had to get a second table, which also got an intentionally left-empty seat.
Their kids were all old enough to stay silent for the dumb supper, though they were antsy and keen to expend some energy by the end of it but that was easily rectified once the supper was over and the requisite food offering had been made.
"Ok, who wants to dook for apples?"
Chorused the kids, already heading over to the kid-sized tub. Livy's face paint wasn't going to survive, but she and Henrik were big on competing for who could get an apple the quickest. Hiccup managed to beat his mother for once, but Mala soon avenged her by defeating Hiccup soundly. She barely even got her hair wet, while Hiccup could barely see through the damp curtain dripping down his face. And with his hands tied, he couldn't move it out of the way.
"Someone untie me, I'm blind!"
"Drama queen" Astrid freed him, Lillian brushing his wet hair out of his face and smiling up at him "you're out. Our turn!"
Binding Astrid and Lillian's wrists was something he definitely didn't only do at Samhain, and the way Astrid winked at him when he was done said she was thinking the same thing. She'd never change, he chuckled to himself as he stepped away to let the twins dook it out. Aura beat a couple of her cousins, but let Henrik and Livy beat her and left them taking their next turns while she dried off her face.
"Which mom won?"
"Don't know yet, neither have an apple!"
Lillian finally resurfaced, apple clutched in her teeth and grinning seconds before Astrid reappeared with one, scowling when she saw she was beat.
"Two out of three?"
Scratch that; they would never change. Hiccup didn't mind. He loved them as they were, ridiculous as could be.
They dried off and warmed up around the fire, many painted faces smudged and smeared by then but still smiling. Tummies full of Samhain treats they had helped to make, the kids were starting to get sleepy as they sat with their parents, the warmth from the fire seeming to encourage them to fall asleep there.
Midnight ticking in was when most of the parents-to-young-kids began to make their goodbyes, but there was still an ample amount of food left over (as usual) and they weren't want to waste it, so after many goodbye hugs and promises to see each other soon, Hiccup left his wives to herd the kids and Toothless into the car while he agreeably packed up some leftover roasted meat and cookies.
There was definitely napping in the car, despite the yearly insistence they would all be wide awake and not tired at all by midnight. Barely rousing even when poked awake to get into the house, Hiccup chuckled as he watched the kids amble in the second the front door was open.
"Ok kids, upstairs to brush your teeth and get into bed. You two can go up too, I'm just gonna put these leftovers in the fridge and make sure there's no stray pumpkin seeds lying around for a curious dog to get a nibble on."
Thanking him with exhaustion clear on their features, Astrid and Lillian followed their children upstairs. Hiccup let Toothless out back, then took the food through to the kitchen and loaded it into the fridge. By the time he'd finished checking for pumpkin remnants, Toothless had come back in and gone upstairs of his own accord, so Hiccup locked up and headed upstairs to check in on the kids before he headed to bed himself.
He peered in to see Henrik was little more than a lump under blankets, spider costume discarded on the floor in his sleepy haste to get into bed. Closing that door behind him, he checked on Livy, who sleepily requested tucking in and a goodnight kiss when she saw him. Indulging her happily, Hiccup ruffled her hair affectionately before he left her to sleep. He could hear Aura talking to Toothless, poking his head around her door and (unsurprisingly) seeing Toothless settling down on the end of her bed, completely ignoring his own plush doggy bed in the corner.
"Lights out Aura."
"I know, but Toothless knocked my books over and I had to put them back."
Well, that was fair enough. Hiccup bade her goodnight, turning to see Lillian yawning in their bedroom doorway, looking sweet in all her sleepy, messy haired glory, one of her old maternity tunics serving as nightwear.
"Hiccuuuuup, come to bed."
Smiling as he heard Astrid call out in agreement from their bed, Hiccup turned the hallway light off and went to join them, content their family was safe and well.
And we're done! I hate writing endings so much, but here we are. This story evolved way beyond my wildest expectations when I first got the prompt, but it's been a lovely journey with these three and their family.