Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to How To Train Your Dragon.

A/N: This happens when Dreamworks cruelly deprives us of "Hiccstrid" in Race To The Edge, also when you're rewatching said TV show at 2 in the morning. They're both supposed to be 19 and obviously into each other, so whaaat could be happening in between episodes? This happens mid way through the second part of RTTE. I'll say at the beginning what song I was listening to when I wrote the chapter, so you can experience it the way I wrote it! This chapter was influenced by the song "Hunger of The Pine" by Alt-J.

Warning: This story is (eventually) extremely sexual in nature. It is rated for some language, copious adult situations... and for Hiccup in general. NSFW content in "later" chapters. You've been warned!

When the gods chose to turn their attention to a single individual, it was always a potential calamity. Sometimes the gods smiled upon you, gifting you with bountiful crops or good fortune, and sometimes they frowned, laying waste to the land, ravaging the seas, making lives miserable. Other times the gods glared lightning and struck you down, too. And sometimes, sometimes they were simply bored. When that happened, they tended to tug at the strings of life, at the tapestry that wove creation together.

One such occasion happened to a certain shield-maiden in training, though why it happened to her she hadn't ever understood. Surely there had been other people like her? Other stubborn Vikings to choose? But no, one of her gods had turned their attention directly to her. One thing was for sure, she had never forgotten her experiences and had been torn between a confused disbelief and an equally confused gratitude since then.

Astrid Hofferson jerked awake one early morning, surprised by the wave of dizziness that clouded her still groggy mind. Feeling like she had been trampled by a horse, or maybe even Stormfly, Astrid threw her legs over the side of her bed and rubbed her head despondently, letting out a painful groan as her pounding head aggressively sought her attention. What in the name of Odin happened to her? One moment she was getting ready for bed after a long day out with her friends dealing with outcasts, the next she was waking up like she drank too much mead and got into an argument with a yak! She wasn't old enough to drink like that just yet and didn't go around having conversations with barn animals, usually... unless you counted Snotlout. Astrid snorted in amusement at the thought, trying to concentrate on prying her eyes open. The glare of the sun light streaming through her window made that difficult.

However, when Astrid finally managed to open her bleary eyes and glance at her sun dial by the window, one of Hiccup's latest Snoggletog gifts, her eyes widened involuntarily. Blinking past the tears, ignoring the screaming pain in her eyes and raging head ache, Astrid whipped her head around her. Alright, so maybe someone had slipped something in her water at dinner last night, maybe a prank by the twins, but something was definitely wrong! This was not her room! Astrid swallowed a gasp of pain as she shot up and out of the bed.

That was a mistake.

As soon as she got to her feet, disorientation the likes of which she had never felt flooded her, forcing her knees to buckle and give away as a new wave of dizziness hit her. Astrid's arm shot out and she gripped the posts of the bed. Okay, so not only was she in a strange place and woke up with one killer hangover, but she also seemed taller than before. Heart in her throat, beating to the rhythm of her increasing panic, Astrid strained her mind, trying to figure out what in the name of Helheim was going on.

After recovering from the nausea and retrieving her pride from somewhere under the bed, Astrid made to strand straight again. Okay, good, no overwhelming disorientation this time. Taking a glance around, the shield-maiden took in the details of the room she was in. From the looks of it, the room she was in appeared to be a sturdy and roomy looking log hut, held together by mortar, stone and metal. It looked like an average Berkian design, but it was completely alien to her. Taking a few cautious steps around the room, getting her bearings, Astrid noticed a few items that were definitely hers. A few of her favorite weapons, her travel bag, her mother's old storage trunk, and other various keepsakes she was familiar with. Had she been kidnapped? Had she been beaten over the head so she couldn't remember how she got here? Noticing a mirror on the dresser nearby, she went over to see if she had any signs of abuse.

As soon as Astrid laid eyes on the image that stared back at her, her panic returned at full force. Astrid stumbled backwards, away from the mirror, her scream getting lodged in her throat. This couldn't be right! She knew well that she was a few months shy of her seventeenth birthday, so why did she looks so much older? Gone were the swells of youth, gone were her big round eyes, mostly anyway, replaced with the sharper, more narrowed eyes of someone much older. It was as though she had spontaneously aged several years over night? Had she been in a coma? Was that why she was unfamiliar with the room? Was that why she looked closer to her twenties than she was? None of this made any sense!

Astrid Hofferson needed answers, and she would get them! Grabbing what she recognized as her mother's axe hanging on the wall, Astrid quietly made her way to what looked like some sort of door. Pushing it didn't seem to do much. Frowning, she looked around and found a handle near the bottom. Raising a brow in confusion, she knelt down and gripped it, and to her surprise the door slid upwards. Pulling the door open and trying not to get distracted wondering who thought up of a door such as this, Astrid cautiously made her way out of the hut. As soon as she stepped foot outside, her breath was lost in a rush.


That was the only word she could think of in her muddled mind to describe what her eyes beheld. Around her were wooden platforms connecting several other colorful huts, all circling around a center building, puffs of smoke rising from the ventilation at the top. The sun shown over the canopy of trees surrounding the back of the location, a serene looking beach below it all, just a large and deadly drop from the hut she had been in actually. The air was warm, the sun was pleasant, and the grass was a rich green. This was definitely not Berk!

Crouching slightly and walking on the balls of her feet, Astrid made her way as quietly as she could, looking around for signs of guards or any other sign of life as she climbed ladders and crossed bridges. It took a little bit of effort to get used to her sudden height, but fortunately it wasn't too drastic and the disorientation didn't last long. After a little bit of wandering with no signs of her captors... or anyone else for that matter, she came upon a pleasant surprise. After discovering what looked like stables, she found very familiar dragons there. The doors were all wide open, and they seemed to be sleeping peacefully, so maybe she hadn't been kidnapped? There would only be one way to be sure though, and that was finding those responsible for bringing her here! But first!

"Stormfly!" Astrid let out a breath of relief when the Nadder lifted her head up at her and blinked sleepily. Soon though, the familiar happy trills greeted her and Astrid felt herself collapse next to her girl, hugging her big scaly head. "Oh, I am so happy to see you!" Stormfly purred in response, nuzzling her human. Astrid adjusted herself over the floor and stroked her smooth hide, noticing right away how calm her dragon seemed. That right there was a very obvious clue that told her that neither of her assumptions were correct. If she had been kidnapped, or even in a coma, Stormfly's reactions would have been much greater, much more frenzied. At least, she liked to think her girl cared for her enough to be super relieved to see her! So that was it then, she hadn't been kidnapped and she hadn't just woken up from a several year coma. Knowing that, just increased the mystery and her need for answers however. "Stay here, Stormfly," Astrid warned her Deadly Nadder, lifting herself back up on shaky feet. Said dragon seemed to shrug and roll over, happy to get back to sleep for a change.

Alright, so now that that question was out of the way, she had more. Deciding to comb the place for human life, Astrid once again set out on her way, figuring the building with smoke rising up out of it would be the most logical place to start. As she climbed more ladders and walked over the beautiful wooden decks, Astrid felt her heart rate pitch slightly when she heard voices. Fortunately, one of them sounded suspiciously like Fishlegs! Excited at the prospect of both seeing her friends and getting answers, Astrid double-timed her pace, thankful for her rapid sense of acclimation, getting used to her height quickly, letting her be as graceful as she knew she was as she all but ran to the large building.

The doors, and she counted four of them on either sides of the building, were all open, lifted up in that odd way. When she stepped foot inside however, she was once again overcome with confusion and disbelief. From her spot she could see Snotlout standing in the center, near a fancy looking hearth, food and mugs scattered about it. Fish legs was standing nearby, biting into what looked like a boar leg, nodding every now and then. The twins were sprawled on the floor for some reason, helmets nearly touching, their eyes closed. What struck her as baffling though, was that aside from them looking as aged as she did, they all seemed as calm and lazy as Stormfly, not a care in the world.

It was then Fishlegs noticed her, greeting her as carefree as they all appeared to be. "Oh hey, Astrid! There you are," he smiled amiably.

Astrid took the time to stare with uncertainty for a second before carefully responding. "Uh... hey, guys."

Was it only her? Was she suffering from that mental disorder that sometimes hit you when you were old, or when you got injured? But if she was, wouldn't they be even a little concern about seeing her? They had glanced once at her, greeting her in their own way, then carried on with whatever conversation they were having without another thought. What was going on?! Then Astrid heard the unmistakable sound of a boot step followed by the clink of metal and she all but spun around in a rush, maybe a little too eager to see the person those unique footsteps belonged to. Surely Hiccup would have the answers she was looking for!

Ah, but why would the gods, who Astrid was sure had a hand in whatever was going on now, make things easier for her to handle now? Why would they stop their entertainment now, stop tormenting her poor addled mind? Oh no, apparently they decided messing with her mind and apparently her lungs and heart was too much fun. No, things couldn't be simple for her, could they? She couldn't just catch a break, could she? The... man that approached her was not the Hiccup she was accustomed to. No, this guy looked like a tall, beardless, slimmer version of Stoick the Vast.

As he walked over to her, Astrid took a second to study the changes in him. He had a sharp, low jawline, wild hair, and entirely too green eyes. What seemed the most impressive was what he was wearing; a deep red tunic stretched by shoulders that were wide enough to make the armor stick out fetchingly. The type of getup he had going looked like what a type of warrior she had heard about would wear. They called them "Roman" soldiers. She had heard of them once or twice from trader Johann, had even seen a painting of one before and she was certain he looked just like that painting. Gods above, this could not be Hiccup!

Yes, Astrid was certain the gods were toying with her now.

Hiccup, reached her with a few long stride, a soft smile on his unfamiliar face. "Good morning, Astrid," he said calmly, a voice slightly deeper than she remembered it, though thankfully recognizable. A long, slender arm stretched out then, offering her a mug of something dark and hot. Astrid stared at him in disbelief for a moment, then glanced down at the proffered mug, and then back up at him again. There was a little crinkle in his eyes now as he continued smiling, lips tilted up in a familiar yet somehow unfamiliar way. It seemed as though he had done this before, had expected her to take it without question.

Just then, Tuffnut's voice snapped Astrid out her thoughts and she glanced over in time to see him shoot up from the floor. "Hey, why don't you ever bring me steaming mugs of... whatever that is... in the morning? Huh, Hiccup?" the male half of the twins mentioned in mock offense. "What is that anyway? Can I try it?" Tuffnut leaned over, nearly falling over as Hiccup took a step back, pulling the mug out of the way.

The beardless Stoick look-alike next to the poor confused girl seemed to stiffen. "You... won't like it, I promise," he stampered slightly, shifting a little uneasily where he stood. Huh, so he was still Hiccup after all?

"How do you know I won't like it? Do you know what I like? Wait, do you? I wouldn't be surprised, you've always had an uncanny ability to know people. Wait! Can you read thoughts? Is that why? Are you reading mine right now? Stop reading my thoughts!" Tuffnut clutched his helmet and flinched away from Hiccup dramatically.

"Hiccup, stop reading his thoughts!" Ruffnut said then, jumping up to console her brother, patting his back soothingly.

Snotlout snorted nearby. "Mutton-heads..." he muttered to himself, resting his chin on his palm over the center table where he leaned. Fishlegs didn't seem interested in the conversation, happily munching on his food, scraping some off his plate to Meatlug who Astrid now noticed laying by his side.

Hiccup sighed wearily, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I can assure you, I can't read thoughts," he told them in a tone that sounded like he was keeping himself from throwing his hands up in exasperation.

"Oh thank Thor!" Tuffnut shouted, collapsing back onto the floor.

Hiccup rolled his eyes, shooting him a tolerant look before turning back to Astrid. "Will you take it?" he asked gently, smile back in place.

Astrid took the mug without question, trying to keep her confusion and disbelief from making her scream. Hiccup grinned then, sending her heart aflutter and turned back to the group without another word. Astrid backed up a little, trying not to reflect outwardly how freaked out she felt inwardly. Then she found a seat near her and promptly slumped into it, resting the mug on the table. Trying to calm down, she focused on the others, listening to Snotlout impatiently ask if he could finish his report now. Hiccup gestured for him to carry on and the shorter boy went on with his tale where he left off.

From what Astrid could gather, past her bewildered thoughts, was that Hookfang had been caring for baby Monstrous Nightmares, who were now flying. As he went on, Astrid skillfully kept herself from jumping in surprise when Hiccup walked near her again and leaned against the wall beside her seat, close enough for his narrow hips to be almost touching the back of her chair. Alright, so not only was he bigger and older, but he seemed much more comfortable being near her than he did when she knew him. Completely tuning out Snotlout, Astrid's eyes strayed to the tall form next to her more than once, taking in the look of contentment he had on his much more matured face. Something about him made it difficult for her to look away; he was still slim if she looked close enough, but if she wasn't mistaken, he seemed stronger than before... if the tightness of his armor over his chest was any indication.

Astrid hoped that he wouldn't spot her studying him, because if he noticed how her eyes trailed shamelessly over the length of his slender body, she would be utterly mortified. Hiccup was taller than any of them there now, leaning against the wall with a casual ease, arms crossed, bunching the muscles in his neck attractively. Astrid felt her cheeks flush as her eyes skimmed over them, but before she could pull her gaze away, Hiccup had seemed to read her thoughts, much like Tuffnut had "feared" earlier. He turned to her then and the light of the sun cast interesting shadows and angles over him, making the green in his eyes pop like brilliant gems. Godsdamnit, Hiccup was supposed to be her cute, dorky, little friend, he had no right being that attractive! Said Viking smiled that familiar yet somehow now so much more heart-skipping, partially toothy, crooked smile at her then.

Proud of herself for being able to do so nonchalantly, Astrid managed to tear her eyes away from him. Now if she could only control the way her cheeks flared up from embarrassment, that would be great. Taking a minute to center herself, relax, Astrid forced herself to concentrate on the conversation between the older versions of her friends. Deep breaths, she could do this, it was just Hiccup, no reason to lose her head over him. Focus!

So far, what the shield-maiden managed to gather was that she was the only one affected by whatever had happened to her. None of the others seemed to know and carried on like it was a typical day. This meant that before she could actually talk to anyone about it, she needed to figure out what happened to her, why her, and for how long she would be stuck in this... extremely realistic dream? Astrid sighed inwardly, knowing this couldn't be a dream either. This was too real, too physical, she could feel the wood of the tankard in her hand, hear chirping birds outside, smell the salt air, practically feel the... heat coming off of the young man next to her... yeah, you couldn't experience those things that vividly in a dream.

Hearing a bit of a commotion made Astrid turn her attention back to her friends. At some point Tuffnut had stood back up and taunted Snotlout, if the grin on his face and Snotlout's glower was any indication. Snotlout reacted to the teasing in a completely predictable way, becoming easily aggravated, turning red with outrage. In a split second, the smaller man jumped, swinging at his friend in one fell swoop, cracking him across the jaw before yanking on his hair. "You stupid fu-"

"Hey-hey! Watch the hair!" Tuffnut jerked away, flailing and trying to keep his agitated friend off him.

Fishlegs winced at them. "Guys, please don't fight!"

Ruffnut hopped to her feet, arms in the air. "Yeah! Bite his ear off! Gouge his eyes out!"

"Who... who are you even cheering for?" Fishlegs stuttered, cringing at the sight of his friends taking swings at each other.

"Who cares! Let's see some blood!" Ruffnut cheered, all but jumping up and down in excitement over a good brawl.

Out of pure habit, Astrid turned to Hiccup. "Aren't you going to do anything?" she deadpanned, not feeling up to interfering. She realized then how automatic it was to turn to Hiccup when she remembered this was not where... or when she was meant to be. They still behaved so similar to how she remembered them all though, which was a comforting thought, that for a second she simply forgot. It had just been natural to turn to him, but saw that he was focused on the fight; he had a little frown dipping his brows, sharpening his eyes, his jaw set. Gods, did he even realize what he did to her?

Hiccup released a weary sigh and rubbed his neck. "We probably should break them up. We've got stuff to do anyway," he muttered with a shrug. Hiccup walked up to them with a purposeful gait as they continued to try to smash their fists into each other. Astrid watched with interest as he placed his hands on either of their shoulders, and yanked them apart with enough force to root them to the floor. The shield-maiden's eyes widened at that, knowing the Hiccup she had been used to wouldn't have even been able to wedge himself between them. "Alright, please calm down, both of you!" Hiccup's tone was level, diplomatic, but it also held an unmistakable note of authority in it.

Snotlout jerked out of his hold and like a child complaining to his parent, pointed an accusing finger at the other male. "He started it!" he spat, glaring holes at his so called friend.

Tuffnut puffed up then, placing a balled fist to his chest and spoke dramatically. "Why yes! Yes I did start it! It was on purpose, you see!" he finished with his finger up in the air theatrically.

Hiccup tilted his head slightly and Astrid's eye caught sight of two small braids below his right ear as they shifted with his movement, wondering if he put them there or someone else? "Oh?" he questioned, his brow raising.

"You see, young Hiccup, I had felt that our bond as friends, nay- as men was lacking! Therefor, I simply had to remedy it! I merely started this scuffle with good Snotlout because communication with fists between brethren is just too potent to ignore!" Snotlout's arm fell from pointing at him disbelievingly and gave him a disgusted look. Next to Tuffnut, Astrid was surprised when a chicken popped up seemingly out of nowhere and squawked angrily at the prankster, it's wings flapping as it hovered about him. Tuffnut grabbed the chicken and gave it a hard stare. "Jealousy is not a good color on you, Chicken," he sneered.

It was at this point that Hiccup's palm met his face in a very familiar manner. "Oh Gods..." he sighed again, letting out an exasperated groan. Hiccup shook his head and walked back over to Astrid, deciding to take the seat opposite of her, turning himself toward the group, not noticing her shift uneasily in her seat. Astrid felt anger toward herself like she'd never felt before. Why was she acting like some little girl with a crush? Sure, okay, he was... good looking, she guessed, maybe... in any case, she never acted that way around attractive guys before! Why would Hiccup be any different? A little voice seemed to tell her that it was because it was Hiccup that she was having so much trouble. Hiccup rubbed at his head a moment before interrupting Snotlout before he could snap at Tuffnut again. "Okay, settle down, please. Now that we're all here, we can discuss what the plan is for today."

"Oooh! I know! How about- and hear me out, -something involving wanton destruction? Eh? Eh?" Ruffnut grinned. "C'mon!"

Hiccup sent her a pointed look and a snap response. "No."

Tuffnut crossed his arms. "Tyrant. You never let us have any fun," he muttered sourly.

"Moving on. I think it's about time we looked over a few of those islands the Dragon Eye spoke of," Hiccup said then, leaning against the seat. At this point, Astrid had been finding the floor very interesting. This helped her concentrate on what he was saying at least. Astrid sincerely hoped at some point she'd get over how much they had all changed and be better equipped to figure out what was going on with her. But first, Dragon Eye? What the heck was that? Some sort of book? Or an artifact?

"Might I point out, Hiccup, that the islands it spoke of are... well, in the fog, you remember, from just before we reached the first island? The one that's like a soup?" Fishlegs mentioned, giving Meatlug the rest of his food. The rotund dragon's tongue lulled over her mouth happily, wagging her tail at the delicious treats she was given.

"Yes, I am aware," Hiccup nodded, picking at one of his straps on his armor idly.

"Fog, Hiccup! We'll get hopelessly lost in there!" Snotlout growled. "It's always just jump right into uncertainty and danger with you, isn't it?!"

"Hey, I'm working on a compass and charts. We won't get... completely lost?" Hiccup shrugged, then waved dismissively at him. "It's fine, it's fine." Toothless ambled over from somewhere in the back, a fish poking out of the corner of his mouth, nudging him and warbling in agreement. "See, Snotlout? Toothless isn't afraid of a little adventure, are you bud?" he scratched at Toothless' chin, who purred blissfully.

Snotlout threw his hands in the air. "He's a dragon! Of course he's not afraid! He can fly and breathe fire!" he cried indignantly.

"I'm working on the flying bit," Hiccup grinned.

Snotlout scowled again, pointing a finger at him in warning. "Hiccup, don't think I won't take your other leg!"

"Yeah! Take his leg!" Ruffnut cheered, giving her brother a high five. "Bloodshed!" The twins crowed, ignoring the surprisingly synchronized irritated scoffs from the two men.

"Uh- we could always take another crack at boar island then? The Dragon Eye did hint at something interesting being there. Maybe we missed a dragon or something? An island that big can't just have boars, right?" Fishlegs suggested then, trying to be the buffer between the two eternal rivals.

"Boar island!? No way! No, I am not stepping foot on that godsforsaken hunk of dirt again!" Snotlout shouted.

Tuffnut smirked at him. "What's wrong, Snotlout? Mr. Man scared of a few pigs?" he teased him.

Snotlout whirled to him once more, glaring at full force. "I am not scared of a bunch of bacon, Tuffnut! I just..." he trailed off. "There's nothing there! It's just such a bother having to go back there when we know there's nothing! Okay?!"

"Sure, sure," Tuffnut chuckled, sharing an amused look with his sister.

"Argh, Hiccup! Do something!" Snotlout complained, not liking being ganged up on like that.

Hiccup shrugged casually in response. "I don't know, Snotlout, sounds like as good a plan as any. Astrid, you haven't spoken much, what do you think we should do?"

Astrid had been listening to the argument with more and more astonishment. They all seemed so close now, teasing each other and getting along so much better than she remembered. The interaction between Hiccup and Snotlout was the most eye-opening though. Hiccup seemed to be able to completely control the others now, a far cry from how they all but walked all over him when she knew him... at least, unless it was academy related.

Hearing Hiccup call for her opinion then, made her head jerk back in surprise. She looked over to the group, seeing their eyes expectantly on her. Swatting away her nervous flush, she thought for a second. She knew next to nothing about where she was, when she was, or how she was here... so maybe flying around a place where they obviously knew well would be a good way for her to, let's say, spread her wings? Or at least find her feet. "I say... we have another crack at boar island?" she suggested quietly.

Hiccup's eyes softened when Astrid's met his and she felt almost like she was screaming lies at his face by staying silent about her problem. The almost tender smile he sent her just about broke her heart. Astrid opened her mouth with the intention of spilling everything to her friends, to try and tell him what was wrong with her, but something in the back of her mind kept her from doing so. Astrid had suddenly been overcome with an overpowering feeling that weighed down on her mind and closed her throat up.

Alright, that was very weird, but maybe... maybe it wasn't the time yet? Astrid wasn't sure what was going on, but if something was keeping her from telling them, maybe she should listen to it? Astrid wasn't sure she wanted to think about what or who seemed to be controlling her, she just wanted to relax, godsdamnit. But gods, was it going to kill her not to just tell him.

Hiccup turned back to the group then. "Boar island it is!" he declared.

"No, come on! We should at least take a vote!" Snotlout protested.

"Alright, all in favor?" Hiccup raised his hand, followed by everyone else. "Sorry, cous', looks like you're outvoted," he grinned brashly, clearly not sorry at all.

"Ugh... fine..." Snotlout scowled, arms crossed broodingly.

"Yes! More boars for the boar pit!" Tuffnut cheered and smashed his head with his sister's. "Boar pit!"

"Alright gang, let's move out!" Hiccup said, getting to his feet once more. As they got ready to head out, Hiccup turned to the still seated Astrid. "You okay?" he asked curiously, stepping closer to her. "You haven't really spoken much at all this morning."

Astrid jumped and scolded herself for being so high-strung. "I'm fine, I guess I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning," explained lamely, shrugging and avoiding eye contact.

Hiccup took a moment to study her. He could tell something was wrong and Astrid knew he was skeptical, but fortunately he didn't call her out. Hiccup glanced back to his retreating friends, disappearing around the corner, then back over to her again with what she could swear was a twinkle in his eyes. "Maybe it's that bed that's the problem..." he said, sending her what looked to her like a suggestive smirk. That could not be right... could it? Before she had a chance to analyze what he meant, he stuck his hand out at her, offering to help her up.

Was he serious? "I can move on my own just fine, you know," Astrid said in a rush, swatting his hand away with a little more force than she meant.

Hiccup's brow rose in question, letting his hand drop to his side. "...Someone's grouchy today," he hummed softly. "I guess you really didn't sleep well, huh? I'm sorry about that. Well hey, hopefully our little adventure today will help perk you right up again," he grinned. He gave her one last fleeting look of concern, probably not actually intending to let her see it, before spinning on his prosthetic and walking out.

Astrid's brows furrowed as she watched him head out. Grouchy? What? Was he used to her being... softer with him? Astrid rubbed her arm to try and calm herself, this was all so jarring! "Yeah... maybe..." she muttered as she followed. Would she ever get her answers? None of her friends noticed anything off, so whatever happened to her was solely on her and for now it didn't look like she could do much about it but go with it.

At least she was more or less familiar with something here. Finding her dragon waiting for her made her sigh in relief. If nothing else, she was grateful that she had Stormfly here. The feathered dragon greeted her as blithely as ever, brushing its snout on her hand to coax her to pet her. Astrid felt herself relax instantly as she scratched at her affectionately. Once she was seated, she felt like she was back home. However, as they flew out of the stables in formation, Astrid wasn't able to keep her eyes off the Night Fury next to her, more specifically, Hiccup's form, now so much more... how could she describe it? Stable? Formidable? Even how he flew Toothless had changed, seeing more security in himself and fearlessness as he flew. It threw her off for a moment when she first saw him, but now she couldn't help but admire the change.

Blatant and slightly disbelieving amount of attraction to him aside, Astrid continued to struggle with keeping silent to him over what had happened to her. She had always told him everything, never lied to him either. She absolutely hated the idea of lying to him, even if it was a lie of omission, never having done so before, at least not to him. No matter how hard she tried to tell him though, she wasn't able to even formulate the words in her mouth. After a while, Astrid all but gave up. In any case, her situation was so strange that she didn't even know what telling him could do to begin with. So what could she do except follow her friends off and do what they did?

After they reached the island, Hiccup gave out his orders, telling them to meet up at a designated rendezvous spot if they found trouble, and then they split up to scour the island in pairs. Astrid was a little relieved when she was paired with Fishlegs for this expedition, unsure of how to even hold a comfortable conversation without staring blankly, if she had been paired with Hiccup. She was however surprised once again that Hiccup would willingly team up with Snotlout, but she did notice that aside from all the arguments, there was virtually no hostility between them anymore. Years of bullying had been replaced with a mutual, fond rivalry between them. It was definitely another nice change. Astrid was glad that Hiccup was finally getting the respect he deserved.

They must have spent an hour combing the island, maybe two. In the end, it yielded no results, but it had been nice to fly with Stormfly, coasting in the air, relaxed and with plentiful fresh air to help clear her mind. The effort might not have helped them find a new dragon, but at least it helped her get a grip. She could handle this, she was a Viking, after all! All she had to do was sit through it and see what came her way. When she had proper answers to this mystery, then she would relay it to her friends. Before that though, she had to be patient and observant. For a decapitate first, ask questions later type of warrior, such as herself, that would definitely be a challenge. But she was always up for challenges.

Once the twins were satisfied with the four hogtied boars they caught, they all flew back.

After returning down directly at the stables, they split up again. Fishlegs assured Hiccup that he would take another crack at the Dragon Eye, figuring that maybe he had misread the description of the island it spoke of. Astrid stood there, unsure what to do with herself, but decided to stay at the stables, giving Stormfly a brush. Concentrated on grooming her dragon, she completely missed that Hiccup stood there with Toothless. Hiccup felt that something was off with her all day, but he couldn't place it. Normally they would use this time to relax with each other, but she seemed to be lost in her own thoughts that day. When she didn't turn to him as she usually would, he shrugged and walked off with his Night Fury, figuring she needed the space.

Astrid heard his footsteps leave and glanced back, frowning thoughtfully. Had he been there the whole time? Astrid wasn't sure whether to feel a little freaked out by his odd behavior around her or nervous and shy about it. It was extremely disconcerting. After a little bit, Stormfly began to nudge her, warble softly and gesture with her big head out the door. Astrid grinned, knowing what she wanted, and grabbed her saddle again. Maybe an extra flight would help her. The girls took off into the air, breathing in the crisp air and enjoying the balmy weather. It was so different from Berk here, so much more sun, more heat, it was so nice. Astrid wasn't completely sure about her surroundings still, but Stormfly seemed to know where to go, swooping and diving between cliffs and ledges, making her laugh with glee and forget her troubles.

Arriving once more at the stables after a good chunk of the day getting the lay of the land and committing it to memory, Astrid had Stormfly touch back down at the stables. She took the time to pull her saddle off and brush her once more. Stormfly nuzzled into her hand lovingly then trotted back to her nest for a nap. Astrid stretched out her arms and legs, sighing as her muscles eased themselves back from the long flight. Deciding to see what people did around here for food, she headed out again, carefully making her way along the bridges and walkways. As soon as she entered the clubhouse, she spotted Hiccup already there, shrugging two large baskets from his shoulders onto the ground with impressive ease. "...Hiccup?" she questioned curiously, trying to ignore her seemingly perpetual unease around him.

Hiccup jumped and spun around, surprise clear on his face. "Astrid! Hey! I didn't hear you, what-what can I do for you?" he asked in his comfortingly familiar goofy fashion.

Astrid relaxed slightly and shrugged. "I was just wondering what a girl had to do to eat around here?" she smiled weakly.

Hiccup's face split into a brilliant grin. "You're just on time, Toothless and I finished catching fish for lunch-" Toothless decided then to butt his head against his leg in indignation. "Alright alright, bud, you did most of the catching," Hiccup rolled his eyes fondly, the smile never leaving his face. "I was just about to call the others," he said as he made his way over to her.

Astrid took an involuntary step back as he drew closer to her than she was used to. "It's... it's alright, I'll go get them!" she offered, turning to leave. Before she could get far however, her wrist was caught in a large hand. Astrid turned back, resisting the urge to bite her lip nervously.

Hiccup's smile was gone, in its place a look of worry. "Hey, are you sure you're okay?" he asked in a quiet voice.

Astrid had every intention of calmly telling him she was fine, she really did, but the feel of his thumb brushing over the sensitive part of her wrist made her breath hitch and words get lost in her throat. She could feel the warmth of his hand, knew he was barely gripping her, but she couldn't get herself to pull it away.

What was up with that?

Her body seemed to react to the tender touch without her permission, shivering and tingling in places it should not be tingling. Confused and inappropriately flustered, Astrid looked into his expressive eyes questioningly. She watched him glance around then, like he had before, and step closer, placing his hand on her cheek. Astrid felt her heart gallop in her chest and cheeks seemingly burst into flames. To her relief though, Hiccup gently tilted her head aside and placed a soft, slow kiss on her cheek. Even so, this simple act was enough to surprise Astrid beyond her understanding, not used to how bold this Hiccup seemed to be.

Astrid relaxed once more when he pulled away, getting nudged by Toothless, who grumbled and inclined his head toward the baskets. "Hmm, I guess we should probably save that for another time," he smiled, releasing his hold on her wrist.

Astrid tried not to react too obviously caught off guard by him, glad at least her shock muted her so she couldn't squeak embarrassingly. Taking a moment to gather her wits once more, Astrid smiled fleetingly and turned sharply, needing to escape. "Yeah... probably," she agreed, trying not to actually think about what it was she was even agreeing to. "Don't worry about me, Hiccup. I'll be fine."

There was a pause. "So there is something wrong?" Astrid heard him say, and then heard him take a step closer again.

Astrid spared him one more glance before turning away from him again, not able to hold eye contact with him when he was giving her such a concerned look. Again she had tried to speak, but she still couldn't. "It's... It's nothing to worry about, I promise. I'll... let you know if it becomes more than I can handle alone, okay? Just give me a bit of time, okay?" Astrid held her breath, waiting for him to stubbornly insist she tell him what was wrong.

"Okay," Hiccup said simply, his tone subdued but understanding.

Astrid nearly toppled over with relief that he wasn't pushing her, but held herself steadfast and strode out, seeking to call the others for lunch, needing the time away from him to collect her thoughts. It didn't take long to find the others though, but fortunately Hiccup didn't bring it up again. Once everyone was at the clubhouse and humans and dragons alike were happily dining on fresh fish, Astrid finally began to relax and actually enjoy the companionship around her. She sat and listened to them talk and joke, teasing each other and even irritating each other. It was really quite nice. Maybe... maybe this wouldn't be so bad? Even if she found it increasingly alarming that she couldn't actually tell them what was going on with her, everything else seemed fine... aside from the whole situation. Still, maybe she could learn to adapt, to handle this. Astrid was a Viking, she was tough, she could handle this, she was sure of it!

Now if she could just keep her head on straight around the bolder, more confident Hiccup, things would be so much more simple.

But when were things ever that simple?

End A/N: Good evening everyone! Welcome to Astrid's gauntlet, haha. Joking aside, I hope someone out there enjoyed this first chapter. Let me know what you thought of it!