I remember the path every little line on my body. Thor knows how many sit on the white of my forearm, white trails on one side, brown splotches of freckles in the flip side. Long sleeve tunics had been a savior to me, hiding the scars with the overly long arms. It had been a year since I had fished my dagger from the cove's lake, placed it in front of Toothless, and had him blast it into oblivion, and I was silently celebrating. I was comatose for a month and a half of it, but dammit, I was proud.
One year and one month ago, I was a walking fish bone, a twig with a brain. One year and one month ago, I was a nobody. One year and one month ago, I was a loser, teased and beaten daily and unloved. One year and one month ago, I would slice my skin open, letting the physical pain overpower the emotional pain.
One year and one month ago, my mind had given birth to the most effective dragon catching weapon out there. One year and one month ago, I had done the impossible. One year and one month ago, I shot down a night fury. One year and one month ago, I sealed my fate. One year and one month ago, I made a discovery in the woods.
One year ago, I made a friend. One year ago, I had my friend destroy what was destroying me. And I felt free. And now, I was celebrating. With my newest friends.
"Snotlout dammit, it was my turn!" Tuffnut shouted. Astrid slapped him upside the head from her position between Ruffnut and I.
"Tuffnut, shut up. My parents may not be home, but that doesn't mean everyone else left the island."
"Nuh uh Tuffy, it's me then you." Snotlout poked back, ignoring the blonde's comment.
"Fine." Tuffnut huffed, slumping in annoyance. The six of us had decided to play truth or dare at Astrid's because most of Berk's adults were away at The Thing, only leaving the dragons, Gothi, and Gobber to care for us. We had already done quite a bit, including a few sips of ale, considering we weren't quite allowed to have it yet. Mostly dares were given, including dancing out in the snow, in only our undergarments (Both the twins got that one), the removal of a few small articles of clothing, killing all the lights spare a single candle and a few stupid stunts. The occasional truth happened, though, mostly from the sane half of the group before Fishlegs went home for sleep.
"So, who to do, who to do…" Snotlout trailed off, judging us like we were up for sale.
"Hiccup!" Snotlout exclaimed, too cheery for my liking.
"Truth, or Dare?" Snotlout puts emphasis on dare, as if willing me to say it. Why not, I mean, everyone else is doing it too.
"Snotlout, nothing too crazy or I'll send Astrid and Ruff on you." He sobered out a little at the very possible threat. His eyes searched around the room, and landed on a very particular blonde next to my very slightly muscled arms (Said muscles of which I am actually very proud of, thank you very much). A mischievous grin breaks out across his face. "Hiccup, you haven't taken anything off, besides your fancy top layer, have you? I mean, I took off my shirt," Oh gods, his ugly physique is something I would be happy never seeing again. "Tuff lost his pants in the water, Fish took off his boots before he fell asleep, and Ruff let their hair down and Astrid took out her headband."
"No shit, Snotlout. If you were just going to do a truth, that was a stupid waste of a stupid decision on my part."
"No! No, Hiccup, that wasn't my dare." Another look to Astrid, and he leers back at me. "Take off your shirt for the rest of the game. Like you have any muscles compared to this." He says, gesturing suggestively to his rather muscled torso. Ugh, I would hate to drown in my own shoulders. But what he doesn't know is, that all the lifting and work involved with doing dragon things, I have filled out, lanky form deciding 'hey, maybe we are supposed to do the big change thing that happens around this age', so voila, I looked and sounded much older. And from what the giggling girls outside the forge every now and then signified, somewhat more attractive too.
"Fine." I say, staring straight into his teasing eyes.
HOLD ON. My shirt? Oh no, another thing my chest wore as a decoration were the scars from enemies. Enemies like Dagur, Alvin, some pirates and Romans, but mostly myself. A map of the little lines flashed before my blinking eyes, and I felt the fear seep into my features.
"Uh, actually, can I-"
"Nope." Snotlout laughs at me, and I just sigh, irritated. "You already accepted the dare." I hate details. I gingerly tug my arms into the sleeves. I snake my arms into the main part of the shirt, and tuck my head in. Despite the darkness of the top, I can see a few bad scars standing out against the rest of my freckled chest. Gods dammit. I tug my knees to my torso to cover it, but Snotlout stops me. I'm gonna have to kill him later. "Nuh uh, there, lover boy," Oh, so this is why he wants me to take it off. To show Astrid that I'm weak. Funny. "No covering up." I poke my head through the head hole again, and give him a death glare, unknowingly matching my best friend's beside me. I stand up, and pull the dark grey tunic off of me. A shiver creeps up and down my spine from the slight summer chill. I look to my friends, and what I see, is absolutely not what I expected.
Snotlout and Tuffnut look confused, and the girls look, well, I can't understand the girls. I sit down a little further back from everyone, out of sight range of most of the scars, and cross my legs, indiscreetly trying to cover myself and look to the ground, letting my slightly shaggier hair cover my slight blush. After a moment of nothingness, Ruffnut pipes up.
"So, uh, who's turn is it?" Everyone snaps back from looking at what I assume is me, and comes back to reality.
"It's, ah, Hiccup's turn." Astrid stutters after looking at me. Wait, Astrid.. stuttered?
"Hold on, Astrid, did you just stutter?" Ruffnut grins at Astrid. I turn to her in the dim, flickering light, brushing aside my hair.
"N-No. I didn't"
"HA! You did it again! I knew it!" Ruffnut jumped up, laughing at the extremely flustered girl beside me.
"Uh, what?" I voice the exact thoughts of every boy in the room.
"Nothing Hiccup, just ask someone a damn question."
"Astrid." I hear her groan in frustration, avoiding eye contact and huffing away a strand of golden hair, in the cutest action I had ever seen her do. "Truth or dare?" I plan on trying to get her to explain what Ruff was laughing about.
"Well, you're probably going to ask what that was all about if I say truth, so dare." Damn. Sometimes I hate that she's smarter than 90% of Berk.
"Well uh," I look around, and see Ruff's braids carelessly undone. "Take your thing off."
"MY WHAT?" She shouts, and I immediately realize she probably thought I was talking about her shirt.
"NO NO NO! Not that tie, your hair… braid thing...hair tie thingy." I motion to where her braid would be if I had one on my shoulders while trying to explain what the hair tie was. She calms down, and shrugs, while tugging the leather band from her golden locks. Which wow, her hair is really tempting to run my hand through. I push the thought away, into the mental file of 'life goals of things to do with Astrid'.
"M'kay. Done. Hiccup, truth or dare?"
"Ah… Truth?" I don't know which one to say, considering Astrid has a goal right now with me.
"Are we dead to you both?" Tuffnut whines in annoyance, but Astrid glares at him.
"Well, I'm asking the question on all of our minds." Oh shit. She turns to me, biting her lip, and I swear she glanced at my chest. "Hiccup, where'd you get…" she gestures to my chest, hands barely under flailing. "Those."
"Muscles or scars?" I say gingerly, unsure of what she was asking.
"Scars? Well, ah, both."
"Yeah, bro, where'd you get the muscles? What happened to little twiggy?" I groan at Tuffnut's use of the playful nickname Ruffnut gave
me a few months back.
"Despite what you think, I am not unable to form muscles. I had them before Toothless, you know." I deadpan to the group, who seems surprised at the information.
"Before?" Snotlout inquires, with an incredulous look on his face.
"Yes. Working in the forge made me decently strong, you know. I just don't let onto things. I preferred to have others do the heavy lifting. Plus the dragon stuff now is helping too."
"What about those five scars on your chest? Drop a knife on you?" Snotlout jokes, determined to make me look like the fool. But I'm grateful they only see the major battle scars, not the smaller personal scars.
"Actually, this one," I gesture to a small slash across my collarbone. "Was Dagur a few years back. The one across my back were some Romans or pirates, and this one." I trace the several hands long white angry line down my side. "Was Alvin, back when he took me. It was my torture, it was done with a needle, a little bit deeper each day." The group looked horrified, even the twins. This other one on my left side was when he threatened two people I-" I stop myself from saying love, in case Astrid figures out the second person was her. "I care about. A stab to the side, nothing major."
My words leave everyone but myself shocked, and terrified. After recovering from that, Astrid looks a little closer at the scars.
"C'mere." Astrid interrupts the silence after my explanation. Unsure, I scoot forward halfway, and stop. Annoyed, Astrid leans to me, and I subconsciously lean back a little, but a firm, feminine grip on my arm stops me, and she peers at my torso, face becoming unclear.
"Holy Frigg and Odin, Hiccup. How did you get all those scars?" Oh no, she probably sees the small ones.
"I… Uh… just told you?"
"No, not those, the tiny lines, smaller than my finger."
"Trick of the light?" I suggest, trying to change the subject.
"No, no, I know a scar when I see one." I sigh in defeat, knowing I can't convince Astrid to leave it alone for later. "Ruff, light back up a lantern."
"Astrid that really isn't necessecar-" I don't have the time to finish before Astrid gasps as a light illuminates my sliced up torso.
"Bro, it looks like a angry terror walked all over you."
"Thor's hairy boobs, Hiccup what happened to you?" Snotlout asks, as Astrid notices the small lines on my arms and flips them over, only to reveal more.
"A dagger and some thinking time." I answer simply, trying not to make it obvious. But that didn't work. as Astrid gasps again and snaps her head to me, eyes pleading for this to be a joke. Shaking my head, I look to the ground, suddenly interested in my boot fur. I hear Ruff snatching the two boys by their ears, threatening something precious if they didn't follow her outside. I hear the door shut, but refuse to make eye contact. But nimble fingers curl under my chin, pulling it up a little, and Astrid ducks to meet my eyes.
"Ah… yeah." I see something inside her break, and wow, I feel like an asshole. "Listen, listen,this whole cuting thing stopped a year ago." I chuckle a little at the fact that I've made it a year, and it sounds so real out loud. "It's been a year. Exactly a year ago, around noon, I laid my dagger on the ground, and Toothless blew it to Valhalla." Astrid just curls into a hug, and I lift her into my lap rather accidentially and she just curls her legs around my waist, face tucked into my shoulder, and arms under mine, tight on my back. I feel something warm on my shoulder, and I realize she's crying. Wow. Never thought this would be happening. But I just tighten my grip on her back, pulling her close, and rub little shapes into her back, one hand between her shoulders and the other at the hem of her shirt. "It's ok. Better I sent the dagger to Valhalla then send myself." I feel a shaky breath on my bare chest, and close my eyes.
"I'm happy you didn't."
"So am I, Astrid." And we sit there in content silence, Astrid's breathing starting to slow, and to even out. Smiling, I press a kiss to the crown of her head. "I love you, Astrid." I say to her slumbering ears. If my face wasn't so close, I wouldn't have seen the slight grin or hear her mumble back.
"Love you too."