Just seeing how this goes.
From the back of a dragon, everything seems small. For some, it was easy to forget what was important. When you can fly great distances in a matter of minutes, why would you ever think of going home? When you could demolish a tree in seconds, it was easy to get carried away and level the entire forest. When you had the might of a dragon in your control, it wasn’t a stretch to want to use it to control everything. But throughout everything, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock (the third, for those of you who are recording this for the history books) stayed true to himself. Throughout his early years of social awkwardness and peer pressure to be something he wasn’t, he rose victorious above those who had put him down for so long. Throughout every disappointed conversation with his father, (Stoick the Vast, for the historians once more) he never lost hope that he would someday make him proud. Throughout the uneasy transition from no authority to being chief of the Hairy Hooligan tribe, Hiccup remained adorkable, inventive, and unsure.
The particular morning that we are beginning the history record on, July 8th, was round about when spring finally rolled into Berk. The sun was shining as brightly and as warmly as it could, and the sky was free of hail. Hiccup didn’t expect that to last long though, he didn’t have high hopes for the weather. He had woken up at precisely eight-oh-five that morning. He would have stayed in longer due to the holiday (it was Thor’s Day Thursday, nobody had to work on that day), but he had invited Astrid out for nine a.m on the dot. After stumbling out of bed, nearly ending up face first on the floor due to tripping on the blanket, Hiccup crossed the room to his clothing chest. He grabbed a fresh green tunic from the top of the stack and pulled off his old one, the one he’d worn to bed the previous night. After pulling on the tunic, he fumbled around under the bed and triumphantly pulled out his sock and boot (it is to be noted that this particular Hiccup Horrendous Haddock only had a single foot, after losing his left one at age fifteen). After putting both of those on his single foot, he headed down the stairs to his kitchen.
Hiccup tended to have things in just the right place simply because he knew he was going to need it to be there eventually. The same was no different with his foodstuffs. There was a small loaf of bread and a wedge of cheese in a pouch sitting on the tabletop right next to a butter knife, just waiting for Hiccup to head out and need to bring breakfast on the go. He picked up both the leather pouch and the roughly formed iron knife and went out the front door. A fresh and pleasantly cool breeze caressed him seconds later. Immediately to the right of the house was a barn. This barn was where Toothless was housed. There were no gates on either the front or back of this barn, Toothless sometimes liked to wander the surrounding woods, or go to the pond to catch himself a midnight snack. Hiccup smirked at the sight of the huge black creature curled up like a cat on his bed of hay. As deadly as Toothless could be, he was far too lazy to do much damage. At least, lately he was. True, he sprung up at the chance to go out for a flight and his battlefield reactions were as sharp as ever, but in between he mostly slept or lounged around. Hiccup made a mental note to take Toothless out more often, and then prodded Toothless’ tail.
“C’mon, Bud,” said Hiccup as soon as Toothless’ green eyes opened. He reached into the dented trough of dead fish and tossed one to Toothless. It didn’t get the chance to hit the ground, disappearing down his enormous maw in the blink of an eye. The morsel seemed to wake him up. Hiccup opened the lid of one of the smaller portable baskets and placed the pouch and knife inside, along with three extra fish. He reached down into his trouser pocket and pulled out something else, something small that he had spent weeks in his workshop crafting. He put this in one of the extra pouches and dropped it inside of the basket as well. He used the leather strap attached to the basket to sling it over his shoulder. “Today is a very big day. I’ve gotta be down at the new house by nine or Astrid is gonna kill me. Then who would take care of you?”
Toothless grumbled out something that was probably dragon for, “Don’t be so dramatic.” (Please note that dragons cannot speak any dialect save calls specific to the species, contrary to what some legends would have you think) Hiccup scoffed and saddled Toothless. After climbing up onto his back and hooking himself onto the saddle, Hiccup urged Toothless up into the clouds. The weather was only more pleasant the farther up they went. The breeze blew at just the right strength, speed, and temperature. It ruffled his brown hair and brought a smile to his face, thinking about how wonderful the day was turning out to be. Hiccup passed by the coast of the island. He spotted his mother and Cloudjumper down at the port, likely settling a trading dispute between two hard-headed villagers. Her gaze flickered briefly to the sky, but returned there upon seeing her boy in the clouds. She gave a big wave, so that she would be sure to be seen. Hiccup’s smile widened and he returned the wave, glad to have seen his mother. It was only Hiccup and Valka who knew what made today so special. Hiccup could scarcely believe that only a few years back, she had been living in a cave with hundreds of rescued dragons, and he hadn’t the faintest idea if she was alive or dead.
Without any further delays, Hiccup proceeded to the new house that had been built for himself and his future wife to share. It had been finished just shy of a month ago. He had yet to see the inside. He wasn’t supposed to open the door until the eve of his wedding, when he was actually going to need it. It was placed at the edge of the small valley beyond one of the main hills of the island. Beyond the valley was a thin stretch of forest, surrounding it in every direction. The leaves of the trees were just beginning to grow back after the harsh winter. Through the woods was nothing but a sheer cliff with a straight plummet into the churning ocean below. The house stood at the base of the hill, leaving nothing but grass in the other three directions. Having a yard that wide was beneficial when the country’s main animal was the dragon. The nearest houses rested on the top of the hill, a five minute uphill trek away, should they need anything. The village was just beyond the hill. Hiccup prayed to Odin that Astrid and Stormfly wouldn’t be sitting out in the vast yard, waiting for his arrival. His prayers were answered, but not entirely. Stormfly and Astrid were approaching the house at the exact same instant. They waved to each other and landed down in the freshly trimmed green grass.
“Good morning, Milady,” said Hiccup, hoisting himself off of the saddle. Astrid did the same and the dragons flopped down, taking a deserved rest after the flight. “How are you this fine morning?”
“I’m fine, Hiccup,” said Astrid, taking notice of the basket slung over his shoulder. “What’cha got there, huh?”
“Just breakfast,” said Hiccup, lowering himself down on the grass and removing the basket from his shoulder. Astrid plunked down across from him. Hiccup lifted the lid of the basket and removed the leather pouch with the bread and cheese, along with the knife. He removed the other pouch discreetly, so as not to pique Astrid’s interest, and then tossed the basket over to the dragons. The fish tumbled out and the two made quick work of the food. Hiccup pulled out the bread and cheese. He sliced a bit off of each and handed them to Astrid. “I’m glad I picked this spot. It’s the perfect place to settle down. I just hope they got the interior of the house right. You think I should have been more specific?”
“Hiccup, I’m sure it’s fine,” said Astrid, taking a bite of the cheese in her hand. “After all, you were pretty specific in your decorating instructions. You said, ‘Think cherry tree’, how much could someone mess that up?”
“Um, a lot?” said Hiccup jokingly, taking a bite from his bread. The rustling of the branches was fairly relaxing, it helped take some of the edge off of what he was about to do. “Astrid, if I did something crazy, would you still love me?”
“Hiccup, I love you because you do crazy things,” said Astrid with a laugh. Hiccup smiled lovingly at her while her gaze was up at the clouds. He felt so lucky that she loved him. After all, he was nothing impressive, hardly the stuff of legend. The smile fell and his eyes flickered to the grass beneath them when her eyes met his. “So, what’s that crazy thing you were going to do? Not gonna go off on another cartography mission, are you?”
“No, no, not a cartography mission. Something much closer to home. Something much harder,” said Hiccup. He looked up at her teasing grin and rolled his eyes. “You are not making this any easier, you know.”
“Fishbone, I am never going to make things easy for you. This is me you’re talking to,” said Astrid, taking his right hand in hers and meeting his green eyes with her blue ones. He hadn’t been getting enough sleep; she could see it in the dark circles around his eyes. She was about to nag him for it, but then she remembered that it was partly her fault. “After all, I’m the only girl on Berk who wakes her boyfriend up by falling on him repeatedly.”
“Ugh, don’t remind me,” groaned Hiccup, remembering how he’d woken up on many occasions to the air rushing out of his lungs and three-quarters of her weight crushing down his breastbone. He sighed and smiled at her, knowing he wouldn’t want it any other way. “No, I… I need to…Ask you something, Astrid.”
“Oh. Okay then?” said Astrid, wondering what he meant. He rose to his feet (or foot, whichever), bring her up with him. She noticed the smaller pouch clutched in his hand. She wondered if maybe he was thinking about leaving the island for a while. She was worried for maybe a few seconds before she realized the look on his face was not his ‘Good-bye’ face. “Hiccup, what is it?”
“Astrid, how old were we?” asked Hiccup, placing his hands on her shoulders, or rather, her shoulder’s armour. Astrid’s eyebrows knit together. She hadn’t the faintest idea where this was going. “How old were we when the dragons became part of life on Berk?”
“We were fifteen,” said Astrid, still fairly confused. “Hiccup, what does this have to do with what you have to ask me?”
“Because every day since we were fifteen, I’ve woken up knowing that either you were outside the door to my room, my house, or the DragonAcademy. You were never very far,” said Hiccup, the loving smile creeping onto his face involuntarily. Astrid’s face responded and returned the smile seconds later. “And no matter how many times you punched me, slapped me, set my clothing on fire, insulted me, or pushed me, I always knew that that was you’re extremely odd way of showing you cared. And I know I’ve never said this before, and I don’t know how you’re going to feel about this, but… Astrid, I love you.”
A shocked look came to Astrid’s face. Her shock only continued when Hiccup pulled a metallic object that glinted in the sun from the small pouch, cast aside the pouch, and fell to one knee. Astrid knew right then exactly what he’d brought her here to do. Her gaze flickered very briefly to the house a few dozen feet away. He intended to share that house with her.
“Astrid, I know I’m not much,” said Hiccup, holding up a bronze ring with a white stone in the center. Astrid knew better than to stoop to get a closer look at it. “But I’ll love you like I’m made of much greater stuff, I promise. Will you marry me?”
Astrid said nothing, a million thoughts racing through her head at once. Her heart raced, her breathing became shallow, her throat tightened, and her eyes brimmed with tears. She couldn’t focus on anything, not a sound, not a sight, not a thought. She stayed silent for a few seconds until her mind formed a thought she could cling to. It made her breathing go back to normal, her throat loosen, and her fists clench at her sides. It was only three words, three little words that she completely and entirely related to. How dare he? It repeated over and over in her head, getting louder and louder by the second. How dare he? How dare he?! How dare he?! HOW DARE HE?! By this time, Hiccup was wondering why she hadn’t said anything.
Astrid wasn’t in the present moment, however. She was six years old again, hearing her father’s thunderous yelling, watching as he tossed her protesting mother aside like a rag doll and left, and slamming the door behind him so hard that one of the hinges snapped. She saw in her mind’s eye her mother crumple to the ground, heard her broken sobs. That same anger she’d felt then boiled up. She wasn’t going to fall for it; she’d never have her heart torn out like that.
“Um, Astrid? There are really only two answers to this question, so could you pick one so I can-?” He would’ve finished the question, but Astrid effectively cut him off with a hard punch to the jaw. Hiccup fell back, landing on his elbows with his legs splayed out. His right hand flew to the beginnings of a bruise on his chin while his left snatched the ring before it could roll away. He looked up and a fearful look came to his face when Astrid fell to her knees and grabbed his tunic in her fist, the other arm drawn back to land another punch. His arms flew up to defend his face. Stormfly and Toothless didn’t even bat an eye. If it had been a different person in that situation in place of Astrid or Hiccup, they’d rush to aid them, but they were used to Astrid beating up on Hiccup. “Astrid, what the…?”
“How dare you?!” asked Astrid, giving voice to the bitter thoughts and memories racing a million miles an hour. “After everything you’ve put me through? Just disappearing for days on end, with no apology when you get back? Throwing yourself into fights you can’t possibly win? Never once asking me if I was sick of all of the stupid expectations put on me?! After so arrogantly thinking you’re the only one who has it rough, you have the gall to ask if I would want to spend my life with you?! Huh?!”
“Those are all very excellent questions,” said Hiccup, arms lowering just enough so that he could meet her eyes. “What do I say to you to make you not punch me like I very much feel you will?”
“You promise,” growled Astrid, arm pulled back farther than before. Hiccup flinched and moved his arms back up. “You promise me that you will never ever …”
Astrid took a few deep breaths, and lowered her fist slowly. Her chest and throat tightened again and the tears that had never left her eyes brimmed over, spilling down her round cheeks. She shifted out of her attacking position and onto her knees. Hiccup brought his arms down to his sides, looking at her sceptically. When he saw her tears, his eyes took on a sympathetic light. He placed a tentative hand on her shoulder and she all but fell into his arms, her head resting on his shoulder. Hiccup sat up straighter and held her tight, knowing that she had some sort of reason for her quick change of mood. She always did. Astrid took a shaky breath between streams of tears and finished her sentence.
“You promise me that you will never ever leave me the way Dad left Mom,” said Astrid, her face pressed against his shoulder. Hiccup exhaled sharply, like he’d been punched in the gut, upon realizing that she thought he’d do something so low. Astrid took another breath and sat back, hands on his shoulders. “I saw what that did to Mom. She was devastated for years. She still isn’t the same. So please, don’t leave me.”
“Oh, Astrid,” said Hiccup softly, folding her into his arms again. “I promise. I swear on all the gods and everyone I’ve ever loved that I will never ever leave you alone like that.”
“Okay,” said Astrid, knowing that the tone of her voice showed her reassurance better than she could represent in words. She pulled back again and smiled through her tears, wiping them off of her cheeks. “Then I’d be absolutely thrilled to marry you, Hiccup.”
Hiccup couldn’t help smiling as he lifted the ring to her outstretched and waiting left hand. He slipped the ring onto her left ring finger and looked up to see her expression. She bit her lip in excitement at took a close look at the ring. It wasn’t a normal ring, with a stone set on a band; Hiccup was far too into showing off his blacksmith skills to do something so plain. Instead, it was made of what looked to be miniscule twigs, with diamonds on every leaf. At the very center was an opal, pure white and yet a hundred different colors at once. Astrid looked up from the ring and at Hiccup, her smile only growing. She wrapped her arms around his neck and planted her lips on his, hundreds of hopeful thoughts of the future replacing her bitter thoughts of the past.
The next few months were a whirlwind of planning, gathering, making, baking, and keeping Hiccup away from the wedding planning as much as possible. Astrid knew if he got his hands on it for even a second it would become this vastly complicated, dragon-laced extravaganza. Astrid had to pry him away from the plans with a stick just to make sure he didn’t get too crazy. He got to pick the cake flavour. That was basically all he was allowed to ‘help’ with. He complained, but Astrid ignored him when he got pouty.
After what seemed like ages, the morning of the wedding finally arrived. Hiccup was still fast asleep when Astrid came to get him, still in her nightclothes with her hair in the style her pillow chose for her. She had no idea how he could sleep so soundly at a time like this. She walked to his bedside, held her arms out at her sides, and was about to flop down onto his stomach when she realized that was probably not the best thing to do, considering the circumstances. She lowered herself slowly and noiselessly onto her knees. She didn’t try to wake him up. Instead, she watched him. He looked so much less worried when he was asleep. She hadn’t really taken time to notice it before. She softly brushed a lock of his hair from his forehead and smiled lovingly. He was a truly beautiful person, both inside and out, and she counted herself lucky for the ring on her finger. She rested her hand on his cheek. He was going to be hers. By that time the next day, he’d be hers and no one else’s. She gave a quiet, breathy laugh and relished in that thought for a few more minutes. Hers. Hers. All hers. Not anyone else’s, hers. No more uncertainty about each other’s feelings, no more questionable looks from their friends. Just them. Together, happy, the way it should be. She shook her head at how sappy she sounded and placed a soft, lingering kiss on his forehead. Someone else could wake him up, she had unwanted primping to get to before her mother, Valka, and Ruffnut came looking for her. Once he heard the door creak shut, Hiccup slowly opened one eye, just to see if she really was gone. His fingertips brushed his forehead and he broke into a grin. He threw off his blanket and dashed to his desk, where the wedding bands were.
Astrid was on her way to the village’s equivalent of a salon when she saw her mother, Valka and Ruffnut on their way to her house. She sighed and ran over to them. These three were pretty much the only girls in her life, save Stormfly and Heather (she and Heather had kept in touch since rescuing her from Alvin and the Outcasts), she was grateful to have them by her side today. She had only been nervous a few times before in her life, but this day was too nerve-wracking to not bring butterflies to her stomach, despite her usually fearless attitude towards everything.
“There she is!” exclaimed Ruffnut, her usual tone of annoyance present in her words. Astrid watched as the three women redirected their route in her direction. Her gaze flickered between their eyes; her mother’s wet grey eyes, Valka’s beaming green ones, and Ruffnut’s unamused blue ones. “You realize you have a wedding today, right?”
“No, Ruff, I completely forgot all about my own wedding,” said Astrid, her voice dripping with sarcasm but her expression friendly. “Thank you ever so much for reminding me. Where would I be without you?”
“Um, dead in a ditch?” said Ruffnut, crossing her arms and her voice taking on a matter-of-fact tone. “Remember, I saved your life that one time.”
“Oh yes, that one time,” said Astrid, pretending to know what Ruffnut was talking about. Valka suppressed a laugh and Astrid’s mother cleared her throat. When she had Astrid’s attention, she held up the sack with Astrid’s wedding clothes and accessories inside. “Right, right. We all have a wedding to get ready for. No time for childish arguments.”
“But childish arguments are my favourite part of being friends with you,” grumbled Ruffnut, the group continuing on to the salon. “It’s the only reason I spend time with you.”