This is the first chapter of many I have already written. I am not putting them all out at once until later, so I hope you will enjoy this as it comes along. Follow for more chapters that are sure to come!
Reunion, written by Phay G. (TheBabeLebowski)
Chapter One: Trust Fall
Her name seemed to make no sound as the wind pelted Hiccup's face relentlessly, Toothless flying beneath him faster than usual. He readjusted his new foot and Toothless' tail, turning them into the island away from the coast. The sun was setting and frost slowly crawled from the mountains to the lower lands of Berk.
Since finding Toothless, his Night Fury and the only dragon of his kind on Berk, Hiccup changed greatly. He became a dragon rider, promoting a change in Berk's way of life. People no longer killed dragons, a common pest for the Viking tribe of the island, but rode them instead, befriending them and caring for them. Hiccup always traveled the skies around the island, but usually it was with Astrid and her Nadder, Stormfly. Neither could be found.
He tried calling Astrid again. Of course, it didn't work, and Toothless was much better at making a sound heard over the pounding of the wind above. He roared and grunted and cooed in hopes of finding his master's friend. They kept flying, Hiccup worried. The only time he had seen her get so angry was when he beat her in the dragon fighting days a year ago, but today, she didn't even talk to him. She disappeared.
Toothless was thirsty and the closest freshwater was in a familiar place for the pair. The cove. The cove was where Hiccup had found Toothless and rehabilitated him to health, and where Astrid first met the Night Fury back when she would have tried to kill him. They found the break in the ground, the gleam of the fresh, blue lake, and glided into it gently. Toothless landed and Hiccup unclipped his metal leg from his dragon, dismounted, and let Toothless drink. They would resume searching afterwards.
Hiccup turned around and slowly walked around the cove. On his new leg, it seemed awkward. Not feeling his other foot beneath him was like flying a dragon for the first time. He gazed around the rocky walls and his eyes caught glimpse of something blue.
Stormfly peeked from behind a large boulder, croaking and hooting like a huge bird. Before Hiccup chose to run to her, Stormfly ran to him instead. The sounds she made were worrisome and Toothless perked up as the Nadder jumped behind Hiccup. She nudged him violently forward.
"Ow! Stormfly, what's going on? Where's Astrid?"
He heard her before he saw her.
"Stay away, Hiccup!" she yelled threateningly from behind the boulder. Hiccup glared. Stormfly whined and pushed him towards it.
"Stormfly won't let me."
Astrid growled. "I will cave your face in if you step around that boulder."
Hiccup frowned. With Stormfly behind him acting the way she was, and Toothless corresponding with her in a way that made Hiccup worried, he approached the boulder slowly. It sounded like Astrid tried to get up, but she cried out and there was a thump. Stormfly stiffened and growled deep in her throat, shifting side to side and shaking her head about. Hiccup ran around the boulder and found Astrid on her hands and knees shaking.
"Astrid?" Worry became alarm as he leaned next to her. She put up a hand to wave him away. It was smeared with blood. Hiccup fell back onto his backside when he saw the red on her pale skin, and she looked up. Her skin was paler than usual, her skin beading with sweat and wet with tears. "What happened?"
Her jaw quivered as her anger morphed into hatred. "They were going to marry me off."
Hiccup blinked. "What?"
"After the fight with Red Death," Astrid explained angrily through gritted teeth, "my parents told me they had a marriage contract ready. They were going to make me do it."
Astrid's face said the rest. She hated the idea of being married off. She was a strong, young woman who had no qualms about cleaving your head in two with her battleaxe. Marriage was not something Astrid wanted for herself, and with things between her and Hiccup on-and-off and yet entirely innocent, she hated the thought of marrying someone she didn't know.
"To whom?" Hiccup wasn't sure if he wanted to hear the answer.
"I don't know. I don't care."
"…Why are you bleeding?" Hiccup asked. He crawled over to her and rested a hand on her back, hoping the closeness would reveal an injury she was trying to hide. What he caught a glimpse of were her thighs free from her trousers, and smeared with the same blood on her hand.
He jumped to his feet and scrambled backwards, his stomach flipping. He tried to say something, but no words came out.
"I can't get married to someone I don't know!" Astrid protested. "And the only way that can happen is if the elder sees I've been touched."
Hiccup pulled on his hair and felt his knees go weak. He wanted to hurl, but managed to breathe, "We need to get you home."
Astrid spit through her teeth both in pain and anger. "No one can know, Hiccup. I don't want them to find out I did this."
"So you'd rather everyone thought you snuck about?" Hiccup murmured. He liked Astrid, almost admitted to loving her, so the thought of having the village believe she was one who fooled around made him sick. The degree of what had happened, of what Astrid implied she did to herself, made his mind run faster than he could comprehend. "We need to get you help. We need to get you back to the village."
Next thing he knew, Astrid was grabbing onto the straps of his riding vest and sneering in his face. "You can't tell anyone what I did! You need to promise me that – augh!"
Astrid bit her tongue and groaned. Hiccup, breathing fast and hard, held onto her. "Fine, okay, I won't tell anyone. Just come home."
"I don't want to get married," she whimpered. "Please. Don't let me marry someone I don't know, someone older than me. I'd rather die."
Hiccup swallowed and looked to Stormfly, who was agitated and worried to see her owner injured. "I promise you, Astrid. We'll… come up with a story."
Hiccup kept that secret for five years. After telling the elder Gothi about how Astrid got attacked by a foreign fisherman, Gothi had looked between the two of them after healing Astrid to the best of her ability, pursed her lips, and gave a small nod. He knew she didn't buy the tale, and Astrid's marriage contract to the unknown suitor hadn't been dissolved, but merely postponed until she grew older and decided she was ready as the other party of the marriage contract didn't want to fully annul the agreement.
A year after that, Astrid's parents had another child. Her younger sister was named Snowdrop, an odd name, but that was to be expected. To have a pretty name or a name that made any sort of sense stood out like a sore thumb, like Astrid. But two years after Snowdrop's birth, Astrid's dad perished in a horrible poisoning accident, and her mum was captured in an Outcast raid. They were two of many Vikings and dragons who lost their lives, but theirs were the most memorable and mourned. Snowdrop's care went to Astrid solely, and thus, Astrid became a parent. But she still had time to fly.
"Okay, bud," Hiccup called over the wind that pelted his face as the sun rose in the horizon. The new saddle he made to replace his smaller one when he was younger was holding strong. He had to forge a new leg with Gobber's help to account for his recent growth spurt shortly after his twenty-first name day, and that too was working better than he had thought. Good thing, too. Something was chasing them.
Hiccup cranked his foot down to fold Toothless' tail. They dove downwards towards the angry sea. The rider was still lanky enough to rest his body over Toothless to remain streamlined when fast flying was most required, and they shot through the air faster than an arrow down, down, down closer to the waves. He pulled up to fan out Toothless' wings to shoot over the water. Looking behind him, he expected to see his attacker long lost in the darkness, Toothless being in his element of night.
But Astrid was on his tail, Stormfly's jaws open and her body swooping on top of the Night Fury dangerously close. Hiccup twisted out of the way and the chase grew even more hostile. Stormfly spat flames towards Toothless' tail, trying to light the prosthetic alight. The flames brushed it but the tail held firm as Hiccup flew over the cliffs.
"Now!" he demanded. Ruffnut and Tuffnut, on their Zippleback Barf and Belch, shot out from a hole in the cliff-face, their dragon's necks wrapped in tough leather armour. They rose up under Stormfly and wedged her body between their heads. They crossed to trap Astrid. But she told Stormfly to spike up. Hundreds of deadly spikes shot out from Stormfly's tail, and an eruption of flame lit up the dark blue sky. Snotlout and his Monstrous Nightmare, Hookfang, lit the released spikes on fire to protect Hiccup further.
Astrid and Stormfly fought Barf and Belch off of them. Ruffnut, wielding a spear and a mischievous grin, leapt off Barf's head and onto Stormfly, trying to overpower Astrid. That was next to impossible. She was too good of a fighter, even in breakneck speed, and she met Ruffnut's advances with her bare hands and her feet, eventually kicking Ruffnut in the gut and sending her into thin air. Tuffnut and the dragon released Stormfly to catch her while Fishlegs and Meatlug, his beloved Gronckel, puttered above firing lava shots. Astrid counted those six shots, grunting and ducking and feeling the heat on her back.
"Great manoeuvering, guys!" Hiccup called proudly as Astrid leveled out. "The new tail is working!"
Astrid's face was covered in sweat, her long blonde hair sticking to her forehead and flicking in the wind. The gang pulled up on their dragons to ascend higher in the clouds. It was cooler up there. But as they rose, Astrid felt Stormfly beneath her. Her Nadder seized up, one of her wings folding in awkwardly and suddenly. They lurched to the side. Flung from her dragon, Astrid expected to fly through the air, but her arm was caught in the strap of her saddle. Her arm screamed in pain and she gasped. Stormfly couldn't unfurl her wing and they began to fall.
"HICCUP!" she screamed. She clawed at Stormfly's saddle, trying to free her arm. Stormfly howled as they spiralled towards the stormy morning sea.
The entire party spun around to see Astrid in a deathspin.
Hiccup pushed Toothless down and tried to catch up. But the Nadder was spinning too wildly to get as close as he needed to.
"We need to get that wing open!" Hiccup told Toothless. Toothless grunted beneath him and lunged forward, using his jaws to snap at Stormfly's contorted wing. He wrapped his gums around the arm of the wing and wrenched it open, steadying Stormfly so suddenly that it caused Astrid's arm to pull free. They didn't realize she was still falling until she smacked the water of the frigid sea. Toothless dove away from Stormfly, who was still struggling but was keeping her wing open, and Hiccup looked into the waves wildly.
"Astrid! ASTRID!" he yelled into the waves. It was the peak of winter and the water was cold enough to kill. A hand exploded up from under the horrendous waves that sloshed Astrid's strong body back and forth. She gasped in the frigid air and almost couldn't breathe again. She flailed around before Hiccup hauled her in front of him.
"Stormfly," she shivered, shaken from the impact to the water and the frozen embrace she clawed out of.
"We got her. Gods, this is bad, we need to get you to a fire."
"Is she okay?" Fishlegs called from above. Hiccup waved to them and motioned to Stormfly.
"Get her back to the Academy, get Gobber to check that wing again. I'm taking Astrid home." He leaned forward to talk to Astrid. "Lie on top of Toothless, he'll keep you from freezing."
She huddled forward and Toothless perked up his crown of dragon fins to give her more protection from the wind. Hiccup leaned over Astrid to cover her more and the three of them raced back to the town on the island of Berk.
Toothless landed limberly in front of the Hofferson home, left entirely to Astrid and her younger sister since their parents were taken from them. Hiccup slid off Toothless first and Astrid slumped into his arms. Her clothing was too wet and heavy and her body too cold for her to properly walk herself. That didn't mean she didn't try.
"I'm fine," she growled, pushing from Hiccup.
"Yeah, uh huh."
He watched her try to open her door. From the back, her shoulders hunched and her hair dripping onto her furs, Hiccup almost wanted to laugh. It was as if she knew, because she turned around, eyes full of anger.
"I can't open the door without waking up Snowdrop."
Hiccup crossed his arms and cocked his head to the side while Toothless chirped behind him. There was a tense silence. He took the opportunity to stare at Astrid with a mischievous grin. Her cheeks were fiery red and her bright blue eyes glared into Hiccup's with annoyance. "So I guess I'll see you tomorrow?" he challenged.
Astrid narrowed her eyes into slits. Hiccup laughed gently as he stepped around her, pulled on the lock latch, shoved open the door, and gestured Astrid inside. She stumbled inside, but not before punching Hiccup in the gut. He groaned as she sat in front the embers of the fire, tossing a log into the pit. She untied her furs and tried to pull them off, hanging them on a rack. Hiccup grabbed a wool blanket and tossed it over her shoulders. She then tried to undo her braid. She lifted her arm and gasped.
"What's wrong?" Hiccup asked quickly, crouching next to her. She tried to roll her shoulders and she grimaced.
"My arm got caught in Stormfly's saddle," she grunted. Hiccup pushed the blanket aside and fingered her pauldron, the armour covering her shoulder. Astrid looked away as Hiccup pulled the armour off.
"May I?" he asked politely, motioning to her shoulder strap. Astrid murmured assent and Hiccup pulled the strap down her shoulder. It was bright pink and red. She looked over and Hiccup moved her arm gently. It hurt, but she was more or less alright. "You won't have to go to Gothi."
"Thank the gods," Astrid groaned. Hiccup straighten up and looked to Toothless who lay next to the door licking his arm. Toothless looked up at Hiccup, his huge green eyes happy and wide. Hiccup smiled and motioned him over. Astrid shot a look at Hiccup. "Wait, maybe I do want to see Gothi."
"No, you don't," Hiccup laughed. "Toothless, here." He held out his hand. Astrid rolled her eyes and shivered as Toothless stuck out his huge tongue and licked Hiccup's palm. Even Hiccup winced as the spit dribbled down his wrist. "Okay, that's still disgusting."
He smeared it over Astrid's shoulder. She growled. "That hurts!" she hissed. Hiccup shook his head as her face calmed. Night Fury saliva was a common healing agent; Hiccup discovered its sedating properties after Toothless first licked his face and his skin went partially numb. Now, it soothed Astrid's pulled shoulder as Hiccup rubbed it in. It wasn't intimate, just close, and Hiccup felt something flutter in his stomach. But he asked Astrid to replace his hand to rub the spit in.
Astrid was still shivering even though the fire grew hotter. Her hair was dripping down her back.
Hiccup grabbed her hair and untied the leather strap to unbraid her golden locks. She soon stopped shivering as he silently worked his calloused fingers from root to tip. He used another blanket to rub it dry, or at least to get the extra water out. Astrid leaned back against him and Hiccup caught his breath. They rarely had these comforting quiet moments, on and off since the battle of the Red Death. But when they happened, they both smiled internally in each other's company. Marriage laws in Berk made it more difficult for them to do anything more (if they wanted to).
"I hope Stormfly's okay," Astrid mused. "I know her wing has always bothered her, but it would only get sore…"
Hiccup nodded against her ear, sighing heavily. He wrapped his arms around her to warm her up even more as he thought. "She was a fighting dragon before she became yours. I mean, you were the one who broke a shield across her head."
"Don't remind me," Astrid shuddered. "But I never hurt her wing."
"But someone else did. So we take it easy. We've been trying out new things with her. Training has gotten harder on everyone, I'm not surprised that it hurt this morning."
Astrid twisted her mouth and huffed. "What if that happened when I was alone?"
There was a tense silence as the couple thought of it. Hiccup blocked the image of Stormfly and Astrid drowning, or worse, one of them drowning and the survivor living without the other.
"That's not going to happen, Astrid."
She nodded against the side of his face and relaxed a little. Hiccup tightened his arms around her and closed his eyes. He was so relieved he was there; Astrid was the type to try to save herself. Usually she was more than capable, but alone over the ocean with a downed dragon struggling in the freezing waves far away from any sort of shore…
"Toothless seems to like his new tail," Astrid mused.
Hiccup shook off his worry and looked over. "Yeah… the fireproofing worked, so that's a step. And the new leg is, too."
His new foot gleamed in the firelight as he looked down at it. It had to be completely redone to make up for his final growth spurt, making it twice as long as his very first leg. And this one secured to his leg firmly. He felt it controlled Toothless' tail a lot easier, and that was the main point.
"I wanna see!" a shrill voice laughed from the bottom of the stairs. Hiccup and Astrid both jumped. Astrid cursed under her breath as her shoulder throbbed from moving. Snowdrop, Astrid's younger sister, stood at the bottom of the stairs in her furs. Her blonde hair was tangled hilariously over her blue eyes and she was missing another tooth. She bounced up and down and scurried over to the pair. Hiccup made it to his feet from behind Astrid and caught her. She squealed as he spun her around, roaring like a dragon.
"Look out, it's a Ferocious Snowdrop!" Hiccup gasped. He brought her down and tickled her before she laughed too hard to breathe. "Good morning!"
"I wanna see your new leg, Hup!"
Snowdrop was only three and smart for her age, but she couldn't pronounce Hiccup's name quite yet. But Hiccup showed her and she laughed when she poked it.
"You ready?" she asked excitedly to both Astrid and Hiccup. "I wanna go!"
"That's why I'm here! I'm going to take you to the Academy myself," Hiccup smiled. "Astrid will catch up with us later."
"Can I ride Toofless?!" she gasped. She held onto Hiccup's neck and she squeezed him with all her might. "Please, Hup! Pleeeeeease?"
Hiccup looked over her shoulder to Astrid, who looked back at him. The corner of her mouth curled up and she rolled her eyes. "Only if you tie your hair."
It wasn't Astrid who did that for her, but Hiccup, who even with his architectural hands, couldn't brush hair worth spit. But eventually, Snowdrop was bundled up in her furs safe and tight and clambered onto Toothless. Hiccup secured himself behind her and he nodded at Astrid, who was standing and slowly rolling her shoulder back and forth. She would be fine in a couple of hours.
Toothless walked gently out of the Hofferson house and the door shut behind them. Then Hiccup leaned over Snowdrop, who wrapped her tiny hands around the saddle, and Toothless charged up the square before rising into the sky. Their next stop: the Academy.