From One Misunderstanding
Author: Carla, aka cali-chan
Rating: PG-13 because making out.
Pairings: Hiccup/Astrid, of course.
Canon/timeline: Canon divergence, but it follows the general plot of the first movie. The deviation point is Hiccup and Astrid's "romantic flight"— namely, it takes a bit too long, and things just go downhill from there.
Disclaimer: I don't own How To Train Your Dragon but I really wish I could. I also wish I could own a real, live dragon. I mean, how COOL would that be, y'all?! :D
Author's note: I'm not planning on actually typing out the Scottish accents phonetically. I don't want William Wallace to rise up from his grave to finish me off for desecrating such a crucial element of his culture. You'll have to use your imaginations, sorry.
Summary: What could be worse than being forced into marriage because of a misunderstanding? Well, having a Night Fury crash your wedding, perhaps. Canon deviation, HxA.
Hiccup wisely decided to wait fifteen minutes or so after Astrid left before bidding Toothless goodnight and following the path she had taken back to Berk.
It had been a very eventful day for him, and he still couldn't wrap his mind around some of what happened— namely, the giant, cannibalistic lizard that ruled the dragon nest on Helheim's Gate, the fact that someone else now knew he was hiding Toothless, and the fact that Astrid had kissed him (Astrid had kissed him. Astrid had kissed him. Astrid had kissed him. He didn't know which part of it to focus on!). It was therefore with a maelstrom of confused/excited/scared/ecstatic thoughts running through his head that he made his way back home.
As he came closer to his destination, the moonlight crept between the few tree trunks that separated him from the clearing where the town of Berk stood, and Hiccup wished for nothing but to crash into bed and sleep the exhaustion off until the next morning. When he saw what was waiting for him at the edge of the forest, however, he realized he should've instead taken the long way home. Come into town from the beach, perhaps. Just walk all the way around the island through the forest. In the dead of night. Where he could get attacked by animals or step on all kinds of hunter's traps.
Yep, that probably would've been the safer option.
He looked up at his father's stern expression and cringed; he didn't know what he'd done wrong this time, but the reaction was instinctual by now. "Uh... what is going on?" he asked, looking past his father's vast form to the two equally formidable forms of Astrid's mother and father, who were standing behind Stoick and throwing him similar unhappy glares.
It was only after a second sweep of the scene that he noticed Astrid was standing off to the side, a few feet behind her parents, her arms around her torso and with a frown on her face, her eyes focusing on the ground at her feet like she was fiercely determined to look everywhere but up. "Is there some kind of party I didn't know about? You should've told me, I'd have—"
Whatever witty quip he was about to make got interrupted as his father grabbed him by the arm and practically started dragging him toward their house, the Hoffersons following close behind.
Astrid was going to kill the Thorston twins. This was all their fault. Thor knew someone should've done it a long time ago— the rest of the villagers would probably thank her for it, anyway.
Her mother knew she and Ruffnut were good friends, so when she failed to make an appearance for dinner last night, she went to Ruff's to ask if the female twin knew where her daughter was. According to Gertrud, Ruffnut had seemed surprised at first to hear that Astrid hadn't come back home yet, telling the older woman that she was probably practicing her axe-throwing and lost track of time.
That's when Tuffnut made his appearance and, as it usually happened when the twins got together and started talking nonsense, they forgot anybody else was around. Tuffnut commented what a coincidence it was that Hiccup had been missing as well, not to be seen since dragon training, in fact, and things just went downhill from there.
"Astrid was pretty pissed after the Goethi's announcement. Maybe she's finally killed him!"
"That would suck. It would've been much funnier to see the nightmare do it instead!"
"Yeah, Astrid knows the whole town is waiting for that, she wouldn't be such a buzz kill. But what else could they possibly be doing together?"
"Maybe they snuck off into the forest to hook up."
There was a pause as the twins looked at each other for a second, and then went "Naaaaaaaah!".
The terrible twosome laughed it off, quick to dismiss the mere idea as ridiculous. But it was too late: the idea had already taken root on Gertrud's mind and would not leave. Without bothering to say anything else to the twins, she hurried to find her husband so they could talk to Stoick and wait for their children to get back to town in order to settle this matter. 
So they had. The negotiations still needed to be held, but the agreement itself was very much a certainty now, no matter how many perfectly rational arguments her own daughter presented on the contrary. And oh, there had been arguments. Plenty of them. Arguments screamed through the door Astrid had slammed as she locked herself in her room the moment they came home from the Haddocks' the previous night, and still forcefully volleyed back and forth the next morning during breakfast.
"I just can't understand how you could be so irresponsible!" Gertrud exclaimed as she poured some angry-looking porridge into the bowl she was serving for Astrid. It must be a mom thing, the girl figured, to be able to make even porridge look angry. "I thought we raised you better than that!" She dropped the bowl on the table in front of Astrid with a lot more force than necessary.
"For the thousandth time, Mother," Astrid started, jaw jutting out, picking up the bowl in what she hoped came across as a frustrated manner, because frustrated was how she'd been feeling for the past seven hours, and she wanted her parents to see that. "I've told you already, nothing happened last night! Why can't you just believe me?"
"Because I know how these things go!" Gertrud shot back, not half a second later. "You think I was born yesterday, Astrid? I know what teenagers go off to do in the dark!"
"Of course you know. You think I never figured out that Hack was born five months before your first wedding anniversary?" Astrid retorted, intending to say it under her breath, but it came out much louder. She didn't care. She wasn't about to tolerate that hypocrisy from her parents, treating her like she'd done something wrong when her older brother Hacksaw was clearly not a honey-month baby and nobody batted an eyelash over that. How was that fair?
Another inherently "mother" skill of Gertrud's had to be the ability to blissfully ignore any remotely incriminating fact implying her to have been any less than the perfect daughter and role model for her own children. "It's not that I don't like your choices— I'm sure even Hiccup has some good qualities," Astrid glared at her. She may not want to get married to Hiccup, but she didn't like it when people treated him like he was useless. Not anymore, at least. "And he is the son of our Chief, after all. I like that you're aiming high. But you are not a child anymore, Astrid, and you should understand how these things work. I thought you would have more sense than Odin gave a goat and know to do things the proper way!" She deposited a basket of bread on the table in-between her daughter and husband and by Frigga, she managed to make that sound disappointed.
Astrid clenched her hands into fists. "Mom, I don't want to marry Hiccup. I don't want to marry anyone right now! Dad," she turned to her other parent, who had always been of a calmer disposition than his wife, hoping somehow he'd be more amenable to not ruining his daughter's life. "Dad, come on. Hiccup and I are just friends. Nothing improper happened last night. We just lost track of time, I swear! Please tell me there's another way to fix this."
Asvald sighed. "I'm sorry, Astrid. Even if what you say is true— and I'm not taking sides here," he added, before his wife could interject against him. He had always tried to be as diplomatic as possible whenever his wife and daughter's tempers flared against the other. "But even if nothing happened last night with you and the Haddock boy, it's too late now. I'm sure by now the entire town knows you were out with the boy until after midnight, and they'll be talking."
"By Thor, if even those Thorston menaces could put it together, this will be the talk of the town in a matter of minutes!" her mother exclaimed, and Astrid itched to scream at her that she was being overdramatic.
"I don't care if they talk!" was Astrid's response, instead. Hadn't she worked her ass off all these years, with her training, and chores, and helping out in town and following every order, to make a name for herself, on her own merits? She'd be damned if she let stupid people who needed some scandal to create some excitement in their bored-out-of-their-skulls lives dictate her own worth.
Unfortunately, her father still had a point. "I care," he said, and signaled to Astrid's mother with a nod of his head. "We care. We can't let rumors taint the honor of our family, Astrid."
She cringed, closing her eyes tightly as she took a deep breath to settle her temper. The honor of their family. Of course he had to bring that up; it was always about honor with the Hoffersons. It was the only argument he knew Astrid could not refute. She sighed. "There are other ways of dealing with a slight on our honor."
"Well, your father can't very well challenge the boy to a fight. He'd snap him like a toothpick!" Gertrud intervened with a wave, like Hiccup was there in their living room and she was gesturing to all of him dismissively. Astrid almost snorted; Hiccup would hate that. She could just imagine the face he'd make if he actually were present in the room.
"And I can't very well demand compensation from our Chief, either," Asvald declared, which once again, made a lot of sense so Astrid couldn't refute it. "Stoick's my friend. I won't do that to him. And say what you want, but I know there's no way that boy could've kept you out there if you didn't want to stay, so I can't in good conscience blame him for this."
Well, not the boy, but the boy's dragon...? she thought but didn't say, because no matter how deep in trouble they were this time, no matter how much she did not want to get married and how there seemed to be no other way out, telling her parents about Toothless was simply not an option. Hiccup would never forgive her if she did. She'd never forgive herself if she did. "Well, you got that right," she muttered under her breath, instead, with a scoff.
Her father gave her a reproachful look, probably as severe an admonishment as she would get from him, and she felt like curling up and turning away from his gaze. As much as she wanted to point fingers at Hiccup, her parents, even the Thorston twins, she knew she only had herself to blame. Her mother was right, she should've known better— not that she was doing anything wrong or indecent, but she should've been more aware of the time, of how it would look if she came home too late from hanging out with Hiccup. Claiming that nothing happened might have flown (no pun intended) when they were kids, but they were fifteen now, and no longer had the benefit of childhood innocence on their side. It was careless of her not to think of that.
Her mother walked out of the room to go attend to the laundry she'd left on the tub earlier that morning, and her father turned to look at her, this time more curious than anything else. "So, what were you two doing in the forest at that hour, anyway?"
Astrid sighed, complying to his question, if only because she was relieved he actually believed her. "Nothing. Just talking. I was... upset that he got chosen to slay the nightmare instead of me..." She saw her father chuckle and knew exactly what he was thinking: "upset" was an understatement. "So I followed him into the forest to demand he tell me how he got so good in the ring." She shrugged. "He managed to calm me down and we just... talked. Lost track of time, that's all."
Her father beamed at her, a bit like he did whenever she told him she won at an axe-throwing tournament, and she didn't fully understand why until he spoke again. "Ah, but see, that's already a sign of good fortune for your future! Communication is one of the most integral parts of a successful marriage."
She narrowed her eyes at her progenitor, feeling very annoyed that he seemed so excited about something she had already repeated countless times she was not happy about. "Right, and that's why you waited until mom left to ask me that."
"Knowing when not to disagree with your wife is also an integral part of a successful marriage," Asvald said with a laugh, as he scooped up the remnants of his porridge with a piece of bread. "I'm sure the boy is smart enough so that part won't be a problem for him."
She shook her head, letting out a frustrated huff as she got up from the table and yanked her bowl away from the table. "Stop turning this into a joke, dad! It's not funny." Just out of spite, she grabbed her father's bowl, which he still wasn't done with yet, and took everything with her to the basin in the back of the room so she could wash off the food residue. "Don't you understand that I just... can't get married? I'm not ready for any of this!"
Her voice shook, not from tears but from the utter resentment at her current circumstance gripping her throat with a tight vice. "It's not about Hiccup, it's about— it's about fairness. I can't believe one stupid misunderstanding is going to dictate my entire future and I have absolutely no say about it. It's not fair. I can't just let this happen to me!"
She realized belatedly that as she spoke, she unintentionally stopped washing the dishes. She heard her father get up from the table behind her and forced herself to spring into action again, rubbing at the bowls angrily because she didn't want to seem like she was waiting to be comforted. Apparently she resumed the washing one second too late, because her father approached her anyway, laying one big, meaty hand on the top of her head. "If I could spare you this, child, I would," he stated, gravely. "This is not the way I ever imagined giving you away to a husband. But that is how things are done according to our traditions, and as Vikings we have to take the hits as they come. It makes us stronger."
Removing his hand from her head, he gave her instead a pat in the back. "And alright, the boy is a bit of a walking disaster, but you could do worse, you know?"
Astrid sighed. Before yesterday, she would've glared at him or rolled her eyes, because Hiccup the Useless was hardly what anyone would call husband material. He was hardly worth even thinking about, which is why she always stayed out of it whenever the other teens would tease him or taunt him. But yesterday, she had seen a different side of Hiccup: his caring, warm, joyful side. The Hiccup who enjoyed the wonders of life, who exuded freedom and curiosity. The Hiccup who would stand up for those he cared about even if it meant putting his own life in danger. And it completely changed the mental image she had of him. She didn't really know how she saw him now— didn't really understand why she kissed him other than as a "thank you" for the most amazing evening of her life— but they were... she could say they were friends, right?
She bit her lip, wishing she could explain all of this to her father, but of course she couldn't. And that made her angry all over again. "I don't know, dad. He's just... he's just Hiccup," she replied, shortly.
She looked up at Asvald only to find him smiling down at her. "Well, I have never known my very driven daughter to ever lose track of anything. So maybe that's a sign from the gods that you can grow to like him, hmm?" He patted her back again with a nod. "Now hurry up with the washing, or we'll be late to meet with Stoick."
Her father left, to oversee that everything was prepared for the upcoming negotiations. Astrid frowned. Yes, the meeting where they would barter away her future to expunge a smirch in her family's honor that didn't even exist. She scraped at the bowls furiously, as if punishing them for what was happening to her, and for the thousandth time wondered how she got into this mess.
Much like the twins had predicted, several people in town had been disappointed when Stoick announced to the tribe that Hiccup's match against the nightmare had been postponed indefinitely. On the other hand, most had been excited to hear the reason for this was that the Chief was negotiating a wedding. Although some thought it might be a good omen to start a marriage with a triumph (and Hiccup's abilities with the dragons had become the stuff of legend over the past few days), nobody wanted to risk the chance of things going badly and Stoick's only son having to spend his honey-month in bed for all the wrong reasons, so in general the crowd understood the necessity of postponing the match.
Berk was a small village, so they didn't get many weddings each year, and Viking weddings were lively affairs— the people loved them almost as much as Viking funerals . Who in their right mind would turn down a week-long feast? So of course Stoick's announcement was received with cheers and applause .
Well, by everyone except the future bride and groom, that is. After the announcement, the two families, plus a few high-ranking men from the tribe to serve as witnesses, moved to the Great Hall to partake in the negotiations. And so for over an hour, Astrid had sat at her parents' side and sulked. She wanted nothing more than to get out of there and maybe throw a few axes around for good measure, but she knew she shouldn't leave. It was important for her to be here. Brides normally weren't included at all in their wedding negotiations, but her parents insisted in her being present. They were trying to make things easier for her, she recognized. Let her have some control, if only in appearance. She couldn't throw that back in their faces, no matter how angry she was .
But she was having a hard time staying still. She got up and went to get herself a drink, filling a tankard with water around the same time Stoick stated that the wedding should take place as soon as possible because "winter was almost here, and their reserves were partially depleted from an... unfortunate incident," so the earlier the better if they aimed to restock. She made her way back to the central table but instead of sitting with her parents, she stood next to Hiccup, who was leaning against a wall behind his father and trying really hard to pretend like he didn't notice that everybody in the room was staring at him after that "unfortunate incident" comment.
"Well, that's one way to get out of killing a dragon," she commented in a forced casual tone as she rested her weight against the wall in a similar position to his. She probably should have kept her voice down, but even when they were not arguing Vikings were unnecessarily loud, so it's not like any of the negotiating parties would hear what she was saying anyway.
Hiccup cringed like she'd hit him, and she felt a little guilty; she could've phrased that in a slightly different way. "When I said I'd think of something, this is not what I had in mind," he said earnestly. He sounded as frustrated as she felt. "I'm sorry. This is all my fault."
She shook her head. "It's okay, Hiccup. I don't blame you. This is all one big, stupid misunderstanding, and if only my parents would believe me when I tell them that nothing happened last night..."
Hiccup chuckled humorlessly. "Well, my father doesn't even listen to half of the stuff I tell him, so the award for Parent of the Year goes to..." Astrid rolled her eyes at his sarcasm, but he only let out a resigned breath. "We have to tell them," he stated, this time dead serious.
She didn't have to think twice to understand what he meant, and she didn't agree. "No. That's not an option."
"Astrid, believe me, I've been thinking about this all night," he said fervently, and for the first time since they walked into the Great Hall, Astrid looked at him straight in the face. She could now clearly see the dark circles under his eyes and knew that he wasn't exaggerating. She'd gotten very little sleep the previous night herself, but Hiccup looked like he'd spent the time torturing himself. "It's the only way out I can see."
"But you said it yourself," this time she did lower her voice, "they'll kill Toothless. And you're right, they will."
He ran a hand through his hair and shook his head sharply. "Yes, but if he stays hidden it will take them a few days to find him, and that gives me time to come up with something else to get him off the hook. On the other hand, once that contract is signed," he pointed to where their parents were now discussing their future living quarters, "we're screwed for life. Or, you know, at least until you divorce me." 
Why would I divorce you? The thought rose unbidden in her mind and she bit her lip to keep it from coming out of her mouth. What the hell was she thinking? "What about you, though?" she asked instead. "They'll say you're cavorting with dragons. You could be thrown in prison, or even banished!"
"Yeah, well, maybe that's what has to happen. I was going to run away yesterday anyway, remember?" he pointed out, and of course Astrid remembered. When she first found him in the cove, he'd been muttering something about him leaving. At the moment she hadn't known who he was talking to, but it became obvious soon enough. "Don't worry about it. Being punished is an everyday thing for me. I'm used to being the screw-up."
"Don't say that," she shot back at him, with a frown. She felt that protectiveness again, the one she felt when her mother was underestimating Hiccup that morning. She didn't like people speaking ill of him... not even himself. "Listen to me," she started again, poking him on the chest with her index finger to make sure he was paying attention. "Everything you've learned from Toothless... it's a good thing. It could change things in Berk— it could change everything. And you're delusional if you think I'm going to let you go merrily into banishment and leave me with all that responsibility."
She punched him in the arm, just to emphasize her point. "So here's how things are going to work," she continued over the sound of his pained groan. She almost rolled her eyes at his antics. Would that boy ever learn how to take a punch? "Either we both get out of this, or we don't. Got it?"
"Yes, ma'am, whatever you say," he muttered, sounding like a soldier being forcibly ordered to do something, but still rubbing the spot on his arm she had hit. Something about how quickly he said it reminded Astrid of her father's words from that morning: Knowing when not to disagree with your wife is also an integral part of a successful marriage. She shook her head to rid herself of thoughts of Hiccup as a husband, which seemed to be coming up in her mind too often for her liking today.
"That would be the most convenient date, then," Stoick's booming voice pulled them both out of their conversation. "On Frigga's day, two weeks from now." She cringed, and felt Hiccup do the same at her side. Two weeks. That's all that was left of their freedom. 
"We need to find a new location," one of the witnesses intervened. "The grove where we usually do weddings got half burnt down in the last dragon raid." And right on cue, everybody turned to look at Hiccup again. The young man suddenly became very interested in a thread that had come loose on the bottom edge of his tunic.
"There's a small cove on the north side of the island, near Raven's Point," Spitelout, Snotlout's father, who was Stoick's second-in-command, intervened. "Could be usable." Once again in unison, Astrid and Hiccup tensed up and turned to look at each other with wide eyes. They couldn't go to the cove, that's where Toothless was! Astrid bit back a curse. It seemed Spitelout had the same uncanny knack as his son for coming up with the worst possible suggestions at the most inopportune times.
"Dad, are you sure a change of location is a good idea?" Hiccup tried to intervene in a hurry, but it was clear to Astrid that he hadn't quite thought of a good argument. "After all, the grove has been our traditional place for weddings for generations—"
"Nonsense, Hiccup," Stoick interrupted straight away and Astrid had to wonder if he'd actually heard what Hiccup said. She knew teenagers complained about their parents routinely, but maybe Hiccup was onto something when he griped about his own. "A half-burnt grove is no place to receive the blessings from the gods. I'm sure they will understand our decision." He turned to Spitelout again. "We will send a party to accompany the Goethi to bless the place. Later in the week, most likely; Bucket has been swearing up and down that we're going to be it by storms soon. Now, unless someone has any objections, we shall discuss the bride-price."
 As far as I've been able to gather from my (admittedly, very limited) research, Vikings weren't nearly as gung-ho about a bride's virginity as other cultures were. It wasn't unheard of to have teens fooling around before marriage, but even then, if they were caught in the act, the parents of the girl still had the right to ask for compensation for the loss of virtue of their daughter (which was considered an affront to the family's honor, akin to stealing). This compensation could be monetary or, yes, even a duel to the death.
 Got this one from an episode of Dreamworks Dragons, the TV show based on HTTYD. I still laugh about this bit every time I remember it. xD
 Viking wedding feasts could indeed last over a week. It was a sign of status; the longer they lasted and the more bountiful the feast was, the more important the groom was. Hiccup's wedding would've been expected to be the event of the decade, with him being the son of the Chief and all.
 Viking maidens were basically considered to be the property of the clan, headed by the clan leader, and as such they didn't usually take part in any kind of negotiations, even for their own marriage. Therefore, Astrid's presence at the negotiations wasn't required. Hiccup, on the other hand, as an adult male, would've been expected to handle the negotiations with Astrid's family on his own, but of course given the circumstances Stoick took the reigns. The bit about the witnesses is also true, usually men from high-standing clans would be present to lend their influence and support to the marriage.
 Viking women could indeed divorce their husbands under certain circumstances, which is one of the coolest aspects of Viking culture if you ask me. Because divorce was allowed, it was highly encouraged that the bride be okay with the marriage in the first place, and not be forced against her will. Which is why Hiccup seems so certain that this particular forced marriage will end in divorce anyway.
 Frigga (or Frigg, really) is Odin's wife and the nordic goddess of intuition and wisdom. Weddings were held on Fridays ("Frigg's day") in her honor. Weddings were also held outdoors, at groves or similar places which were consecrated to the gods.
Hi, all! I hope you liked this first chapter of FOM. I watch a lot of shows/movies and read a lot of books with teenage protagonists, and it never fails to make me LOL how much freedom these kids get that they really wouldn't if they were real teenagers. Therefore it's not unusual to hear me go "where the heck are these kids' PARENTS?" whenever I see these characters being out at all hours or doing whatever they want without any parental supervision. It doesn't really bug me, I just find it funny, mostly. In HTTYD I only had that feeling once: during Hiccup and Astrid's romantic flight, given that they spent the entire afternoon and well into the evening by themselves in the forest, and no one in town batted an eyelash at it.
It all seemed very innocent to me when I watched the movie, but then I joined the online fandom and realized that they were actually 15 in the movie (instead of 12/13 like I'd previously thought). Suddenly what had seemed so innocent initially, became something adults would've been blowing a gasket over FOR SURE in a real-life setting. And thus this story was born. I know arranged marriage plots have been done to death, but hopefully I'll be able to give it my own twist and make it stand out from the rest somehow.
Anyway, long author's notes are long, sorry. I just wanted to say this story is written in its entirety already, there will be 8 chapters total and I will be publishing a new chapter every Tuesday. If you liked this first installment, please let me know by reviewing! Also if you're interested in reading some snippets from future chapters, be sure to follow me on Twitter (girls_are_weird) and Tumblr (girls-are-weird) as I've been known to post some bits and pieces there.
Be sure to let me know what you thought of this first chapter! Reviews are love. :) Wishing a very happy Christmas to those who celebrate it, happy holidays for everyone who celebrates something different in this part of the year, and a great last few weeks of 2014 in general for all of you! See you next Tuesday.