I honestly couldn't remember much of what happened, my mind was in a rush and it was all a blur. Dizzying, blank and unfocused; a splitting headache crept across my skull like a Fireworm crawling across flesh. I vaguely remember the sound of Astrid calling out to me, the feeling of her arms around me, the echo of Toothless's blasts as they exploded above. I have a flash of seeing the others, Snotlout, the Twins and Fishlegs all arriving with a look of pure concern… though that may have been my imagination. My legs, moving, I was moving but not thinking, being guided by Astrid then by Toothless.
The clamoring sounds other villagers before the loud sound of a door shutting; the warmth of a fire as I feel the cool rush of liquid pouring down my throat. Blinking once, twice and turning, I can see Astrid. She's saying something to me, but I can't make it out, it's like I wasn't even there, like my mind had left my body and I was a husk barely able to stand. Through her sheer perseverance, I finally start to make out the words she is saying to me as I squint and concentrate.
"Hiccup. Hiccup? Come on, talk to me." Her voice says gently, softly and riddled with concern. I feel my lip twitch as my eyes narrow from something being in them. Shaking my head, I close my eyes and rest my palm on my forehead as she speaks again. "Hiccup, babe? I'm here. Right here." She reassures me. She saw what I did, what I had to do. Other Vikings revel in the kill and live for bloodshed; raiders and pirates who don't give one more death a second thought. But that wasn't me, I wasn't a killer… or was I?
"A-Astrid? What… happened?" I stammer slowly as I feel her arms slink around my waist. She had been sitting beside me, letting me know she was there. Feeling her warmth made me feel better, more grounded.
"It's okay. It's over. You did the right thing, Hiccup." Astrid reaffirms to me softly as I regain my composure. I had been dazed and unable to get out of it. Now, the calmness and warmth I feel is helping my mind reconnect. I finally can see that we're back in the house sitting by the fire pit. Toothless, who had appeared as nothing more than a dark shadow, is sitting across from us. When I make eye contact with him, he approaches and nuzzles up to me.
"Hey bud…" I whisper, patting him softly as I rest my head against Astrid and close my eyes. "Did I? Do the right thing… What happened after, I can barely think straight."
"It was either you or Krogan. Toothless sent a distress call and the other Riders came quickly. They were, uh, a little unnerved. They took Krogan's, uh, body, to be held by Gothi. I rushed you here before the village swarmed you… Everyone knows and everyone thinks you did the right thing." Astrid spells out the events that took place as I sigh, nodding.
"We, should probably send an air mail to my mother, let her know that one of our promises is gone due to me." I say solemnly as Astrid lets out a deep breath and cups my cheek, pressing her lips to mine and then wiping away what I imagine were tears. I'm still disconnected from it all, but her kiss was welcomed contact.
"Hiccup, don't. Don't blame yourself. Krogan forced your hand, and nearly killed you. He tried too; I saw it in his eyes. For all his talk, he wanted blood. He was a cold-blooded murderer, and almost claimed two of our own people's lives. No one thinks you did the wrong thing." Astrid says, trying to reassure me as I lean back and nod softly along as she speaks.
"I do. I should've tried harder, it didn't need to end that way. We could've overpowered him, bound him." I mutter as she shakes her head.
"He would have likely been put to death anyways. He has paid for his crimes, as Chief, you were within your right to take his life. You did nothing wrong." She says again.
"I saw the light leave his eyes, felt the last breath leave his body. It's one thing to cut through a swath of your enemies in the midst of a great battle, where you can disconnect from the carnage and move on to the next one. It's another to personally drive a blade through their neck and watch their life die. I- I can't not see it when I close my eyes." I state and she nods, resting her hand on my chest.
"And that's okay, Hiccup. We'll deal with this, together, like always." Astrid says softly and her words bring a light smile to my face as she leans back with me. "Is there anything you need?" She asks and I shake my head.
"You just being here is enough. I'm sorry that I'm such a mess." I answer as I take her hand and we sit together looking at the fire. Toothless had since curled up on the ground next to me, close enough that my hand could rest on his back.
"You're not a mess. You're a kind, sensitive and caring person who was put in a challenging situation and came out of it shaken. After all you and I have been through together, if you think that would have any affect on us, well." She pauses and leans up, pecking me lightly on the cheek. "You aren't getting rid of me that easily." She finishes.
"Nor would I ever want too. You bring out the best in me." I say, pulling her chin up to mine so our lips can touch as she smiles. I wasn't really okay yet, but I would be. "So, what did the others say?" I ask and Astrid chuckles.
"Fishlegs was genuinely concerned. Snotlout seemed genuinely afraid and the twins were taunting him about a time you supposedly decked Snotlout in the face? I must've missed that." Astrid says and I shake my head, laughing lightly.
"Yeah, remember when Barf and Belch were lifedebted to me? The twins, in all their genius, though it'd be a good idea to have Barf and Belch repay that debt by having Snotlout threaten my life; play acting, of course. Snotlout then dared me to hit him after he punched me in the eye. Tuffnut said it was like watching Thor's mighty hammer hit Snotlout's paper jaw; he lost a couple teeth." I explain as she shakes her head, laughing.
"Where in Thor's name was I for that." She exclaims as we smile. "Well, the twins were taunting him with that saying next time it'd be more than a mighty hammer. Snotlout said something about not making you mad."
"Kidding, hopefully. The last thing I need is for the others to act differently around me." I admit and she shakes her head and pats my shoulder.
"They won't. No one will. You. Did. The. Right. Thing." She emphasizes again. "And now, Summit or not, we can finally close the Krogan chapter of our lives. One less cold-blooded murderer on the loose. Thanks to you not giving up." She adds and I smile. She knew what to say.
"Where do you come up with all this stuff. It's heartwarming, you have a wisdom few can match." I question in admiration of her thinking as she smiles.
"I owe a lot of it to you, honestly. You opened my eyes those years ago, made me re-evaluate so many things I thought I knew to be true. Your actions and decisions have been a feeder to my own. We've grown, together." She explains and smiles, pressing her lips up to mine again.
This time, the kiss lingers longer than the others. My initial shock from the life I had just taken had worn off for the most part and while I would likely see Krogan's face in my sleep for the near future, I could live with it. Astrid kept me grounded, helped to keep me focused and reassured me every time I questioned myself. I was lucky to have her as a friend, and even more lucky to have her as my Betrothed. Whatever else I had planned for the day was moot, right now, I needed to just sit with her and be with her. Where once I wanted to be alone to clear my thoughts, now I wanted to be with her to clear my thoughts. There was something to be said about those that stayed closest to you during your darker times and never left you that said the most about them.
It broke my heart to see Hiccup so devastated by his own actions, especially when they were the only actions he could've taken. He judged himself so harshly, like he wasn't worth being Chief, he never wanted to be a leader or be in a position of power. They were thrust upon him in most cases but in every case, from the Academy, to the Riders and the Edge, to being a Chief, his decisions have saved our lives more times than I can count.
Would a different sort of man have been unaffected by taking Krogan's life, probably. But not Hiccup, and that's why I loved him. He wasn't a brute; he wasn't a killer or an unreasonable loudmouth. He cared, he genuinely cared about others, about dragons, about life. Him taking a life was about as far away from his comfort level as he could possibly be, and even that he took in stride. A couple hours of shock, where he could hardly think, and a couple more still of sitting quietly together in front of the fire. He knew, he had to know, that I was here. I wouldn't leave him, not for this, not for anything. I would always have his back through the challenges that sought him out, and he would always have mine.
We hadn't moved in an hour, hadn't spoken, just rested together. Both Toothless and Stormfly were nestled in different areas of the downstairs area around the fire. They both knew something was off and they were both here if they were needed. They also both instinctively seemed to know that right now, it was Hiccup and I. It was nearing dinner and I heard a knock at our door which forced me to wince slightly. This would be the first time that I answered our door, but it wouldn't be the last. Patting Hiccup on his shoulder, I lightly kiss him before getting up and opening it to reveal Fishlegs, Snotlout and the Twins.
"Astrid! Excellent. We were looking for you. Where is our fearless leader, how is he? It is nearly dinner, and we, as in me, thought it would be an excellent idea to have a Rider's Dinner at our great Chief's house." Tuffnut exclaims, holding up a large basket of yak meat and fish.
"Uh, bro, you're forgetting it was actually MY idea to come over." Ruffnut adds as Tuff shrugs her off, Fishlegs walking up.
"Seriously, how is he?" Fishlegs asks quietly, trying to show actual concern as Snotlout walks past him.
"And as for dinner, I brought the mead." Snotlout adds, adding a disgusted look towards the twins as they hit each other. "To make up for some things I may have said, ya know.." He adds
"Yeah, yeah. Before Thor's mighty hammer meats his paper jaw again in the form of a flying blade!" Tuffnut adds.
"Guys, really?" I exclaim, my palm slapping my head as I feel Hiccup's hand on my shoulder. Turning, I see him smiling.
"It's okay, I'm okay. Come on in, guys, let's eat." Hiccup says and a soft smile forms on my lips as everyone rushes past us.
"Awesome! Party at the Chief's place!" Tuffnut exclaims running inside as I quickly close the door before anymore passerby try to join in the fun.
Everyone quickly finds a spot around the table as Hiccup takes the food to the small broiler and I pour the mead in everyone's cups. It was certainly a night for mead considering what we had all had to deal with that day, and I had a feeling that some people present weren't going to be delicate with their words.
"You two should have seen Snotlout's face when we reminded him of the teeth he lost. He did that puckering thing with his lips and started asking if he should apologize to Hiccup." Tuffnut exclaims as everyone laughs except Snotlout.
"HEY! It's a twitch! I told Fishlegs. A Twitch! When I get ready to fight! Absolutely manly." Snotlout shouts before turning to Hiccup as he sits next to me with a large plate of yakchops and smoked fish. "Oh, dinner." He adds and grabs a couple of each as Fishlegs raises his cup of mead.
"A toast, for the closure of a chapter in our lives. It didn't end the way we wanted it too, but it ended the only way it could've. Hiccup did what was best for all of us.
"Hear, Hear!" Everyone, including me, at the table return as Hiccup nods somberly with a light smile.
"Thanks, guys, I appreciate it." Hiccup adds, scooting an inch closer to me so I can feel his leg pressing against mine as I smile, glancing at him. He notices and returns my smile and gaze as everyone drinks. He may not be okay yet, but he would be, and that made me feel better as well.
"So, is anyone going to address the Rumblehorn in the room?" Tuffnut asks as we all glance around. Tuff's eyes level squarely on me. "What are you doing here before all of us?" He asks in his usual accusatorily joking way. I sigh, palming my head again as Hiccup laughs.
"Obviously I brought Hiccup back here." I state and he nods.
"Likely story." Tuffnut retorts
"Uh, yeah, not to agree at all with Tuffnut, but if I can be so bold. When are you two making it official?" Fishlegs asks as Snotlout gags.
"Oh, come on! Is this dinner table talk?" Snotlout complains as we all laugh.
"No, no it isn't." I retort and glance to Hiccup. "Are you going to jump in on this at all?" I ask as he shakes his head with a smile.
"No, no. I think you're doing fine." He says teasingly as I smile, shaking my head and groaning.
"Same thing we've been saying. Once the trappers are dealt with, we'll make it official. Now can we please drop it entirely?" I plead as Fishlegs nods.
"That's fair. By the way, this is really good. I had no idea you could cook?" Fishlegs adds, looking to Hiccup who shrugs.
"I picked up a few things from Heather on the Edge and having to cook for myself made me experiment. Glad you like it." He says as Snotlout is still gorging himself along with everyone else. I may be the only one who noticed that Hiccup hadn't actually eaten anything, though he was drinking the mead. Bumping my elbow into his side softly, I put a yakchop and smoked fish on his plate and lock eyes with him briefly. No words were exchanged, but he caught my message and nodded with a soft smile, taking the yakchop and eating it. He wasn't hungry, his mind was elsewhere, but his body still needed it.
We spent a solid couple hours sitting around that table, talking about past adventures at the Edge and all the times we beaten the odds together. Downing several cups of mead each before it was well into the evening and getting near the time for bed. Slowly but surely, everyone filtered out as I walked them to the door while Hiccup tended to the plates and mugs left behind. No one even questioned it at the time when I shut the door and stayed with Hiccup, and soon after, we found ourselves heading up the stairs to the bed.
Shredding our clothing and climbing into the warm bed as the firepit still radiated down below, I felt Hiccup's arms wrap around me and pull me closer to him, my back to his chest as he lightly kisses my neck. My eyes closing and my hands finding and resting on his as they rest on my waist.
"Thank you, for everything." Hiccup whispers, his warm breath carrying across my bare neckline as I smile and nod.
"Always." I answer softly, rolling over to look him in the eyes as he smiles. "I'm not going to sleep without this." I whisper, pressing my lips to his, feeling his lips curl into a smile as our tongues meet again and dance for several seconds. The taste of passion, and the feeling of fatigue was heavy on both fronts as our tongues and lips part and I smile at him, resting my forehead to his.
"I love you, Hiccup Haddock." I say softly and he smiles.
"I love you, Astrid Hofferson." He says, pecking me on the lips briefly before adding. "Soon to be Haddock." His words making me smile even wider.
Soon thereafter, we both drifted off into what I can only hope was a comfortable sleep. It was for me, though I wouldn't be surprised if Hiccup had nightmares about the day's events. And if he did, I would be here, right here, ready and waiting to be there for him.