Astrid strolled through the center of Berk, casually flipping her axe from hand to hand as she often did when she was happy. It was time to get it sharpened again. One of the perks of dating the blacksmith apprentice: her order jumped to the front the line. She'd be back to swinging it in no time.
Speaking of lines… there was a small gathering before the smithy. Astrid frowned; she knew this to be a quiet day for forgework. Hiccup often got off early.
A closer inspection of the group told Astrid they weren't there for weapons.
Her lip curled and her steps grew heavy as she stomped towards the queue. The flathead of her axe accidentally swung a little too far in her game of switch-hands and it caught one girl at the waist. She went sprawling to the ground. The small crowd broke.
"Astrid!" the downed girl snarled.
"Scram, Inga," Astrid snapped. She passed an edgy glare over the rest—a couple girls her junior, one her senior, and two boys. None were trained to fight—choosing a life of craftsmanship over warriorhood. Softies, as she called them. They definitely weren't here for the weapons.
Inga huffed and shuffled to her feet, brushing her long, fair hair back in the process.
"Just because you're a shieldmaiden doesn't mean you get to push us around! We have every—"
"No," Astrid barked over her. "I get to push you around because you're flouncing around my boyfriend. Now scram! All of you!"
She buried her axe into the dirt just shy of Inga's foot. The smaller girl shrieked and scurried off, her fellow groupies at her heels.
"Honestly," Astrid muttered, wrenching her axe from the dirt. She knew Hiccup got spare attention from others now and again, and she didn't mind too much. But to huddle at the forge? What was so…
Astrid's thoughts stopped as she peered into the shop window. A wave of heat struck her face, but that wasn't what made her cheeks flush. The room was overcast in shadow with only the pulsing heath fire for light. Gobber was nowhere to be found; only Hiccup worked within, fanning the flames with large, installed bellows. That in itself wasn't strange.
Hiccup was without shirt. His pants were cinched low on his narrow hips, held up only by a drawstring, and clung to his calf muscles and thighs with the humidity of the forge.
From the waist up it was all pale, freckle-dusted skin, sharp bones and flat planes of muscle. A couple beads of sweat rolled from his hair and down the nape of his neck. The firelight from the hearth reflected delightfully over his working back muscles and suddenly the broadness of his back mattered.
Astrid swallowed with a rapidly dry mouth and tried to call his name, but choked down the impulse at the last second. Just a moment longer…
His growth spurt was certainly more noticeable than ever. Taller than her, but still thin, with shoulders that seemed to stretch well past his hips for the first time, and long, tight limbs. The strength was there; wiry, corded muscle wrapped up his waist and along his arms, bunching and stretching with every movement. Such detail was rare on VIking men, who often had mass and fat to hide their power structure.
"Oh," Hiccup's voice broke her daze. "Hey!"
He turned to her with a smile and Astrid was thrown again.
His stomach was flat and ribbed, every bit as tight and lean as his back. She could see the fine red hair that circled his nipples and gathered at the incurve of his ribcage. It sprung thicker from the waist of his drawers and reached towards his bellybutton. The skin across his freckled chest and cheeks were flushed from heat and glistened under a thin sheen of sweat.
He must have noticed her stare.
"Yeah, it was a little too hot in here…" He scratched the side of his sweaty neck and looked mildly abashed.
"A-ah… sure," Astrid agreed. But wasn't it usually hot in the forge? Then again, she didn't work there. Perhaps Hiccup could feel the temperature difference more acutely...
"Got something for me?" Hiccup asked. He didn't approach her, but instead continued his work. He picked up a pair of forceps, pulled the sword blade he had been heating, and carried it over to an anvil.
"Oh… oh yeah! Yeah, my axe…" Astrid trailed again. Her eyes were glued to the dimples of Hiccup's back, just above his pant line…
Hiccup grinned and readied a hammer in his grip.
"Sure thing. Just let me shape this while its hot." He lifted the hammer over his head—the flesh between his shoulder blades tightening with the movement—swung the tool down against the heated metal.
Sparks flew…directly into Hiccup's naked torso.
Hiccup stumbled back, clutching his stomach. He dropped the hammer in his pained shock. It landed on his only good foot.
Astrid gasped. "Are you okay?"
Hiccup ignored her. He threw all his weight onto his prosthetic and fell backwards.
"That was so st-stupid—! AHHH! DAMN IT!"
He landed on a rack of freshly sharpened weapons. Hiccup flailed and fell to the side, trying, with one hand, to apply pressure to his punctured back while the other grabbed at his burning front.
Astrid's hands went to her mouth. It all happened so fast.
In his haste to escape the blades, Hiccup ended up back at the anvil. His exposed hip hit the abandoned, red-hot sword. Astrid could hear the flesh sizzle.
"ODIN'S GREAT—MOTHER OF—!" Hiccup screamed and fell to his knees. His hip blistered, his back bled, his chest was covered in a splatter of raw skin. Hiccup curled on the ground, moaning.
"HICCUP JUST PUT YOUR SHIRT ON!" Astrid yelled at him from the forge window.
"I CAN'T!" he cried back. "IT HURTS TOO MUCH!"
"WHY WOULD YOU TAKE IT OFF IN THE FIRST PLACE?"
"I DON'T KNOW! I JUST. DON'T. KNOW!"
And that was the last time Hiccup worked in the Blacksmith without a shirt on.
Because he's not a godsdamn idiot.