Wow. Long time, no update!

It was so dark. Astrid squeezed her arms tighter around herself and shivered. She should have brought blankets. Why had she not thought of bringing blankets? She who had always prided herself on being prepared, had not thought of something as simple as blankets. Blankets kept people warm. That was the reason they were invented. That, and as protection against the encroaching darkness of the night. Normally the night and the dark were not things she feared, but on this island it was different. Even the fire she and Fishlegs had made did not seem to blot out the inky blackness. It barely warmed her. She stared into it as if it were a thousand miles away on some completely different island and could do not a thing for her. Between her and this island of the mine was countless waves of freezing ocean and not a single other light.

There were no stars. Astrid loved the stars. But a measure of clouds covered them, and except for an occasional glimpse of the moon as the clouds trudged westward there was nothing. She could have been anywhere and not have been able to tell, only this island had a feel, one that she could not explain. She toyed with the words to describe it. Death. Destruction. Slavery. Monster. Flesh. Blood. Death.


That image returned to overpower any other word for this island. This was the island Hiccup had conquered when he had defeated that dragon. It was his island. And it was the island that had taken his life.

Somewhere near her Fishlegs lay. She could hear his breathing, but could not judge whether he were truly asleep or just pretending to be. She didn't care, nor did she blame him either way. She couldn't sleep here if her life depended on it. She had come here for Toothless, for Hiccup's dragon. The island was merely a step in rescuing Toothless.

And still Toothless regarded in her suspicion. Poor thing. He lay not far from the fire, asleep. Perfect. The dragon could actually manage to fall asleep. Firelight flickered across his body. He was a beautiful creature, she realized. No wonder Hiccup had been so taken with him.

Hiccup had been a surprising person. How could she for so many of years thought so little of a boy who was brave enough not to kill a dragon but to tame it, to put himself in danger's way every single day? Being near a dragon however tame could not be a safe thing.

She suddenly wanted to touch Toothless. She had touched him before, of course, when she had ridden him. He had liked her then. Sort of. Or so she had thought.

She rose to her feet, fought back another wave of shivers, and slowly made her way to Toothless. He did not stir at her approach, but even so she kept her footsteps to the barest of tiptoes. At last she was close enough to touch. Her skin seemed to tingle, and her heart caught in her throat. Oh, gods, she felt that she was about to choke on her own heart, were such a thing possible! Yet she liked the way it felt, the way it sent adrenaline-laden blood through every part of her body. It was like being in the center of battle.

Her fingers brushed the scales of his tail, so close to the missing fin.

She squeezed her eyes shut, half-expecting Toothless to attack. But he continued to sleep.

Her hand pushed against those scales. They were cool, but protected a burning heat of the dragon body.

Suddenly his yellow-green eyes snapped open. They were far brighter than any possible fire.

Astrid found she could not move. Her hand was trapped on his tail.

No, both hands.

Time was impossible to describe. She was holding onto him. She didn't know how that had happened or when. It were as if her memory had been snatched, scrambled, and returned to her in the very moment Toothless' great wings beat at the air.

He flew.

Not true flying. Nothing as graceful or powerful as what she had seen from dragons her entire life. It was awkward and clumsy, but the strength was there. Power.

Everything a dragon should be.

Her feet were yanked from the rocks of the island as his tail whipped through the chill air. She choked back a scream. She did not imagine Toothless could climb very high into the air, so any fall couldn't cause too much damage.

Hiccup had died from a fall.

No. No. No. Never. She could not think that. She was alive and she were here and she was going to take care of this dragon!

She whirled through the air. It was like rolling down a hill while holding onto something warm and strong that probably wanted to kill her.

"Astrid?" It was Fishlegs' voice, loud and powerful in the darkness. "What do you think you are doing?"

He had not even finished his sentence when Toothless once again hit the ground. Her grasp snapped away from his tail, and she landed on the ground, barely thinking to safely roll as she hit.

Fishlegs helped her to her feet and dusted the dirt from her. He wasn't very good at dusting gently.

Toothless shook himself off, too. His gaze was still on her. Not angry. Just… confused.

But there was something else.

"Good thing he can't fly very high," Fishlegs said.

Astrid nodded. Yes, she had just put herself at risk. She had touched a dragon without weighing the possible results and consequences. But she had an idea.