Okay, this is the last of the different endings. I packed them all in one update because I want to focus on my other stories, mainly the Prince Hiccup/Servant Astrid story, which I'm totally pumped about. Remember that Astrid/Virgin story I promised? That's it. You should totally go check it out. You don't have to, though, because you're you and can do whatever.
So…somehow ALL of these endings kind of came out depressing. Just a warning. AND I didn't give this chapter my typo-grammar search, because my head is thumping right now, and I don't feel like it, so…I apologize to all your grammar Nazis out there.
Alternative Ending 2: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Banishment. Death. It was hard to say which was worse. In the long run, Astrid supposed it didn't matter. If she had picked banishment, then she would never see Berk, her home, or her friends, again. She would have to start over. That, in a way, didn't sound that bad. When compared to death, life somewhere else had a plus side of being alive.
Astrid took a deep breath. The cold Berk air was seeping in through the window. Down below, Berk was going about the day, as if nothing was wrong. She saw Hiccup, here and there, making sure everything was fine. Did anyone else know? What would they think when they did? They wouldn't look at either of them the same, her or Hiccup.
She'd ruined his reputation. It would be better if the village suspected her dead than having done such a horrible thing to Hiccup. It would be better, then, if she just…vanished. Astrid stepped toward the window and climbed up to the sill, glancing out toward the wide ocean. It seemed to never end. If she left, would Hiccup come after her? She wouldn't, if she were him. Maybe he would understand that it would be better this way.
Taking a deep breath, she quickly packed a bag, and whistled for Stormfly at the widow. Her horned head appeared and her wings stretched as she landed on the sill. It creaked under her weight, but she wasn't there for long, as Astrid climbed onto the saddle and nudged her forward. Maybe, if she was lucky, she could get out without anyone notices, or giving too much notice, and she could leave all of this behind.
Stormfly quickly left Berk behind and the ocean spanned in every direction. Astrid glanced behind her only a few times, as Berk shrank, looking for dots in the sky. But there were none. She flew in the direction that he had left, knowing that the odds of finding him weren't in her favor.
Was this even the right choice? Was there a right choice to be made? It seemed that no matter what she chose, people would get hurt. If she stayed, she would most likely die, and Hiccup would humiliated, and if she left, Hiccup would be hurt, although less humiliated.
The ocean soared beneath her as she pushed Stormfly to fly as fast as she could. The wind whipped her bangs, stung her face, but she ignored it. She could feel the wet lining her eyes. No. She had made her decision. It was too late to feel bad about it.
How she found the boat, she didn't know. It appeared beneath her, suddenly, and without thinking about it she nudged Stormfly downward. Several men were pointing upward, looking, and supposedly talking. Eret appeared on deck amid the pointing. He looked up, but his expression was impossible to read.
Stormfly landed and Astrid wrenched her fists from the saddle. Had she been gripping it that hard? She hadn't noticed. She slipped on the saddle on shaken legs. The crew had gone silent and were pretending to be busy.
"Miss me?" Eret tried to smirk, but there was a falter in his lips.
Astrid couldn't feel her legs. She reached for him, the fur clutched between her fingers, and she pulled him toward her, or she fell into him, she wasn't sure, but she was leaning into him, either way.
"What happened?" Eret asked, loosely pulling his arms around her.
Astrid shook her head.
"Come inside," Eret pulled her toward the cabin. Stormfly stayed on deck, watching the crew, and occasionally helping. Once the cabin door was closed, everything spilled out.
"I don't want to die," Astrid said into the fur.
"No one generally does,"
"I'm sorry, I didn't know what to do," Astrid pulled her hands to her face. "I stay, I die, I leave, either way everything is too fucked up to fix,"
Eret inhaled, but didn't say anything. He exhaled.
"Is there somewhere that you can take me where I can just…start over?" Astrid said. She felt beyond stupid for asking for help, especially that Eret had been at the root of the problem in the first place, and if it hadn't been for him none of this would be happening.
"Of course," Eret said. He swallowed. She felt it against her temple. "But, uh, I mean, you're welcome to stay here, if you want."
"You said women on board were unlucky."
"Yeah, I did say that," Eret nodded, "But, and it's a true thing that the old pirates say, but it's not really something that I believe."
Astrid looked at him, brow raised.
Eret cleared his throat, "Because I knew that you would go back, with him,"
"Oh," Astrid nodded.
"You are welcome to stay, is what I mean," Eret said. He tightened his arms around her. He shrugged. "I would be happy to let you stay. I like having you around."
Supposedly, being welcome somewhere, even if it was Eret's boat, is better than not being welcome at home.
"I can take you somewhere, if you want, set you up with a job and a place to live," Eret shrugged. "I know several quaint port towns."
"That sounds nice," Astrid sighed.
"You look exhausted," Eret rubbed her arm. "How about a rest?"
Eret motioned to the bed tucked nearly in the side, comfortably made up with furs and blankets, and pillows with patterns that she'd never seen before. She was let go and collapsed into the furs. The gentle ocean oscillation put her to sleep in less time than it took to pull a fur over herself.
How long she slept, she wasn't sure, but the daylight that seeped from underneath the cabin door was gone. The furs were comfortable, the bed was warm, and the sea was gentle. Maybe, if she rolled over, she could find sleep again. She rolled onto her back and was suddenly very aware of the presence beside her. It was dark, but she could make out the profile of his face in the shadows. He was breathing evenly, his chest rose and fell underneath the blankets, his lips were parted.
When had he climbed in with her? Astrid sank back into the furs and tried to find that center, that slumber, but it was gone. The air in the cabin was cold as she pushed herself into a sitting position. Eret stirred beside her. He rolled onto his back and one of his hands found her stomach.
This was it. This is what it would be like. This was her decision. She made it. It was too late to turn back. Astrid lifted her hand and tentatively held it over his lips. His breath was so warm. What was she doing? Sighing, this was what she decided. She gently touched her fingers to his lips. They were dry, but soft, as lips often are. They closed under her touch.
"What?" Eret mumbled against her fingers. His hand came up to pull them away.
"It's nothing," she sighed.
"Are you alright?"
Astrid laughed. "What do you think?"
"I'll take that as a 'no,' then," Eret sighed. His hand left her stomach. He rolled back onto his back. His eyes closed.
This was life, now, she needed to get used to it. Astrid straightened her legs and pulled them under herself, clawed under the blanket to him, fingering her way up his chest, to his chin, and waking him back up with a sharp kiss on the chin, to the lips. He hummed against her, racing his hands to her waist as her legs straddled him, kissing her back without hesitation.
She broke away from him, sat up, and worked her shirt from her skirt, slowly working it up her torso, his hands following the newly exposed skin with twitchy fingers, latching onto her bare torso. She pulled her shirt over her head and tossed it to the floor. She paused her hands at the knot of her bindings, waiting for his reaction, squinting at his face in the dark. His hands tensed at her sides, slipping pinky fingers underneath her skirt and wiggling it lose. His breath hitched in his throat as she pulled at the knot.
He'd seen them before, touched them, she didn't understand why the reaction was the same every time. His hands came first, followed by his mouth, his lips, his teeth, his tongue. He hummed to her skin, she moaned to his touch, pushing reality as far away from herself as she could.
In the dark, she could picture Hiccup holding her, touching her, being with her as a husband should. In the dark, it didn't have to be Eret. In the dark, her decisions were invisible, covered in shadows, just out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind. She was pushed in the furs, but to her it was Hiccup moaning into her ear, grasping at her hair, thumbing her thighs, thumping his way to ecstasy.
She twisted her hand in his hair, in Hiccup's hair, and gasped as he pulled her into the white hot pleasure that only he could provide, wrapped her legs around his narrow waist.
Gods, what had she done?
Alternative Ending 3: Everything is Wrong
Astrid heard the front door open, the footsteps up the stairs, Hiccup at the top of the stairs, but she wasn't ready for what she knew would follow. Hiccup was trying hard to keep his face straight, expressionless, but she could see the residual anger, the disappointment, the betrayal. He reached for her, took her by the arm, and lead her without interference, to the prison.
"What?" Astrid asked as they stepped inside. "Why are we here?"
"Just come on," Hiccup didn't look at her.
Was the trial in the prison? To eliminate the task of dragging her off afterwards? She was already in prison, so there, no waiting. But, in contrast to that idea, the prison was void of Vikings. Even the everyday guards were gone. Something was off. It was in the air. It was too still, like it was holding its breath, knowing that the day would bring nothing but bad news.
They went underground. Torches lit the lower cells, depressing little crumb-holes were the rats thrived. Hiccup pulled her along, his grip tight and tense on her arm, to a lone cell at the end. Inside, Astrid sharply inhaled, was Eret. Shackles restrained his wrists and he looked like he'd been beaten.
Would Hiccup honestly have done such a thing? No, Astrid reminded herself, he wouldn't have, but he would have allowed it. Someone else threw those punches.
Her axe was resting against the wall. Hiccup let go of her and reached for it, tossing it to her, and unlocked the cell door. It swung open with a creak. Hiccup motioned inside.
"What?" Astrid blinked at him.
"This is your mess, Astrid," Hiccup said, "Either he died by your hand, or you both die, it's up to you,"
Speechless. She couldn't imagine how she must look through his eyes, confused, upset, worried, in denial. She couldn't believe those words he'd said, because surely, the Hiccup that she knew, loved, and married wouldn't have said them, wouldn't have made that decision. But, there he was, as serious as a hungry dragon, holding her axe out to her.
"What?" Astrid gasped at him.
"You heard me," Hiccup stood firm. "It's him, or the both of you,"
Astrid blinked between the two of them. Eret kept his eyes on the floor. She took the axe in shaking hands, glancing up to Hiccup, who refused to let his emotions show. He was furious, surely, but whatever was under that, she didn't know.
Her legs shook, the cell grew smaller, the axe was raised, and fell through the air. It stuck into the floor, she felt the thud, but she had kept her eyes tightly closed. She didn't want to see it. She heard enough. The swish, the squishy thud, the pit-pat of life dripping onto the stone floor. The smell was enough. She turned, dragging her axe behind her, and she was out in the corridor before she turned to look at it. The gray blade was red. It dripped long the edge and onto the floor.
She didn't remember making it back to the house. But she had, and here she was, lying on the bed while Valka was downstairs, humming as she cooked, as if the day was any other. The sun moved, the shadows followed, Hiccup came home.
"Busy day?" Valka asked.
"You could say that," Hiccup said.
"Son, I know it's hard," Valka said. She said something, but it was too hushed for her ears.
Hiccup laughed, a half-laugh, with pity.
"I know, it might not be my place to say, dear," Valka said lowly. "Ata would have made a better wife. She would have been loyal."
Astrid froze at those words. She would have been loyal? That insinuated that Astrid had not been, but this other woman had, but what did that mean? It stung, like an axe to the chest, burying itself in the bed below her, leaking out the warm blood, staining the floorboards.
She was Astrid, loyalty was her, was supposed to be. Grasping either side of her head, the world spinning, her breath came in gasps. Everything was wrong. She'd done it, twisted it, kept turning until it was irreparable. She couldn't fix it. There was no fixing it. There was no way out. This would all be better without her. It was the only way out.
The stew smelled delicious. Maybe his mother was getting better at cooking.
"Alright, it's just about ready," Valka sighed. "Is she eating with us?"
Signing, Hiccup looked toward the loft. He'd have to go up and get her. Pushing away from the table, he started toward the stairs. He jogged up them, opening his mouth to speak, to call her to the table, but all words failed as he reached the top. How had he not heard? Or something? Anything?
Astrid was there, but he was too late. Her face was white, her eyes listless, empty, the blood on the floor already drying. Hiccup took short steps to her, fell beside her, and reached out to her cold cheek. Her skin was balmy, like she was just sick, but he knew there was no coming out of this.
"Hiccup?" Valka called from below.
"Mom," Hiccup choked on his words.
Her feet hurried to the stairs and jogged up after him. Her hand rushed to her mouth. "Oh, no, Hiccup,"
"No, it's my fault,"
"No, no, don't blame yourself,"
"But why else would she have?" Hiccup shouted. He grasped his head, "Everything is wrong."
Alternative Ending 4: Let Sleeping Dragons Lie
Astrid woke up with a horrible gurgle in her stomach. She felt it burning up her throat and she had just enough time to through herself out of bed, and cling to the basin, before the contents of her stomach forced their way out.
"What?" Hiccup said, the sleep still fresh on his tongue.
Astrid answered him with a groan, followed by splattering.
"Uh…I'd ask if your okay, but," Hiccup shook. "You're obviously not."
"Shut up," Astrid groaned. Her head was spinning.
Hiccup got up and came over to her, placed a careful hand on her shoulder, and pulled her braid around to her back.
"Was is something that you ate?" Hiccup asked. "But then I guess we'd all be sick, I mean, we ate dinner together. I would blame Mom's stew, but I think it's getting better."
At the mention of food her stomach flipped.
"Sorry," Hiccup patted her shoulder.
Valka came up at the commotion and by noon, Astrid was feeling better, however when the next morning came with the same stomach-emptying awakening, Valka agreed to escort Astrid to Gothi's. Hiccup was in the village when he saw them return home and excused himself and hurried back.
Astrid was sitting at the table with a steaming cup of tea in her hands. Valka was smiling.
"What?" Hiccup asked. "What's wrong? Is it bad?"
"No," Valka laughed. "I can't believe I didn't see it. I must have been with the dragons for too long."
"Huh?" Hiccup looked between them.
"Hiccup," Astrid said, her eyes tired, "I'm pregnant."
His smile widened further than he thought possible. He collapsed into her, wrapping his arms around her. A baby.
A baby. There was a baby in there. Astrid held a hand over her still flat stomach.
"I know, it's exciting and scary," Valka said, her hands soapy from the dish water, a smile on her lips. "It's hard to wrap your head around at first,"
"Are you ready to be a grandmother?"
Valka smiled, "No. I'm not ready to admit that I'm that old. But, it would be nice to have a little one again, you know, to make up for those years that I missed with my own."
Astrid smiled, knowing that the extra pair of hands would be nice. With the dishes done, the dinner had, she collapsed into the bed. Gothi said the tea would help with the sickness. She could defiantly go without being sick. Hiccup came in. She heard his footsteps on the stairs.
When he climbed into bed, his green eyes were as tired as they always were at the end of the day, but he held them open to look at her. She smiled back at him.
"It doesn't seem real, a baby, I mean."
"Are you regretting it?"
"Of course not," Hiccup's smile faltered. "It's just nervous,"
With a goodnight kiss, the candle was blown out.
When she first heard the cries, her heart flipped, tightened, and squeezed. Suddenly, the pain didn't matter, the time didn't matter, the blood didn't matter, nothing else mattered besides that babe's cry. Her muscles were weak and sweat stuck her hair to her brow.
Valka was beside the bed with a bundle in her arms. There was a brightness in her eyes that passed to Astrid, as she bent down to deliver the blanket. It landed in her arms, the weight pleasantly familiar, the tiny face that poked through sinking into her heart. Tiny red fingers squeezed around her pinky finger.
"He's small, but strong," Valka smiled, a hand on the tiny baby's blanket.
The tiny baby's eyes were squeezed shut. Astrid looked, waited, watched, to see them. What color were they? She needed to know. Green? Blue? Brown? Hiccup's eyes were green. Her eyes were blue.
Eret's eyes were brown.
In her anticipation, Astrid thought she saw a glimpse of brown, but was unsure, and pretended not to notice. Didn't her grandfather have brown eyes? Yes, now that she thought of it, she was sure that he did.
Day by day, the baby seemed to grow stronger. He opened his eyes, bright green, like Hiccup's, but his nose was Eret's, his cheekbones were Valka's, and his brow was Astrid's. Or was she trying to see too much in such a tiny little face?
"Oh, there's the little bugger," Eret said the first time that he saw the baby.
Exhausted, Astrid was glad to hand off the baby to someone else, even for a little while, until he discovered that it was not his mother or his father holding him, and the fit came. In Eret's arms, the baby seemed fine. He slammed a tiny pudgy hand against Eret's chine, that resembled his own, and poked the tattoo.
She hated herself for not being completely sure who the boy's father was. She supposed, even if it was her just trying to make herself feel better, that it was better to have two fathers than none. Hiccup didn't question it. Eret didn't bother it. She wouldn't either. As far as anyone is concerned, the baby is Hiccup's and hers, no one else's.
It didn't matter who his father was, Hiccup was Dad. He would raise him as his own, as an heir, as a Haddock. She saw them both hold the child, play with him, and the confusion she felt was pushed down. When she saw them with the child, separately, the confusion became real, but it was just as easily buried.