April Showers Bring May Flowers
To think the day started so well.
For some reason, the gods had smiled upon them that morning. Hiccup awoke in a cheerful mood, and as he tightened the gears of his fake leg he found he couldn't wait to be outside. He left his house to find Toothless and start making breakfast, and the light ocean breeze greeted him. The sun shone radiantly and the southern wind was warm. The smell of flowers and fresh leaves kept drifting over his senses.
It was one of those three days a year in Berk where the sky was clear, the sun strong, springtime itself was dazzling in its radiance. It wasn't raining, snowing or hailing. There was no fog off sitting on the horizon or thunderclouds looming over far off waters. The wind was incredibly calm, and the ocean sparkled invitingly. The world seemed bright and happy. The clean, airy sensation of spring uplifted every soul on the island. In a moment of euphoria, Gobber even let Hiccup take a day off from the forge to go and "enjoy his youth".
And so, with most of the village outside enjoying the sunlight, and the dragons sunbathing lazily along the cliff sides, unwilling to move for anything or anyone, Hiccup thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for him to grab Astrid and go for a nice long, very long, walk around the island.
He spent twenty minutes convincing Astrid to take the day off. Her Deadly Nadder was completely uninterested in hunting, and it was way too hot for her usual battleaxe target practice routine. And after all that, Hiccup still had to spend another half hour convincing Astrid to leave her axe, smaller axe, crossbow and bow at home (he tried to get her to leave her dagger behind, but she gave him that scary look of hers and he backed off immediately.) Hiccup was adamant: no hunting, no training, just her and him and the forest and spring. The blonde girl had eyed him questioningly, but finally gave in, asking him to give her time to change into something a little lighter for this kind of heat.
It was one of those precious times a year the gods sent Berk this incredible weather. Hiccup was going to do everything in his power to make sure Astrid enjoyed some time off with him, away from everyone in the village.
He should have convinced Gobber to let him stay in the forge and finish his new design for a catapult.
The storm came out of nowhere.
Right after the sun reached its peak in the sky, the weather became unbearably hot. The pristine skies turned dark, ominous clouds swirling in the skies. Lightning flashed through the trees and thunder rolled off from afar. The wind picked up, and with a roar that put most of the dragons of Berk to shame, the rain fell.
Big fat droplets as cold as ice fell on their warm skin, and of course Astrid and Hiccup were more than a three hours walk from the village.
Astrid was the first to react. Harshly she called out Hiccup's name.
He didn't answer. The auburn-haired boy was staring out through the thin thicket of trees, where dark and gray waters were raging.
Frustrated, she called his name again, her voice a little hoarse. "HICCUP."
The boy snapped to attention.
"Com'on. There's a cave not far from here that hunters use when the weather turns. We need to reach it before the storm gets worse."
The boy nodded, walking towards her on the now wet ground. His metal foot wasn't well suited to wet, hilly terrain. He slipped and staggered down the hill, nearly falling face first into the dark earth.
Ashamed, he cursed loudly when he heard the crack of thunder become louder.
Thin yet strong arms helped him stand. Astrid kept herself focused on the task, and Hiccup was relieved to note there was no disapproval towards his weakness in her eyes. She was in full survival mode, her blue eyes scanning the terrain and looking for the easiest way towards the cave.
All the inhabitants of Berk knew where these little shelters were. The furthest you could walk from the village was perhaps four hours at a leisurely pace – but it was enough to cut you off from safety when a particularly bad storm struck.
Together they climbed the terrain, Hiccup paying proper attention to where he was putting his foot and his contraption. As they came to the top of a little hill Hiccup noticed giant stones that jetted out of the earth next to a very large oak tree. He'd spent his childhood exploring Berk, and yet had never come to this place. The stones seemed to gather on the edge of a small rocky plateau, and Hiccup guess this place had been fashioned by one of the first Vikings on Berk. It looked weathered, vines covering the rock. A great wide plank of wood lay against the rock. Astrid walked towards it quickly, looking over the wooden "door" of the shelter.
"I came here once when my dad first took me hunting. It's up the hill so the rain won't flood it." Astrid said. Hiccup nodded, and he carefully pried the door off the stone, and pushed it to the side.
"Go in." he told her and she nodded, going into the dark, musty place swiftly. She wasn't wearing much, her legs and arm bare under the short blue tunic she'd worn to walk around today. He followed her into the cave-like shelter, and had to duck his head to not hit the rocky ceiling.
"I'll get the door." Astrid said, her voice very business like. She didn't have to crouch down as much as he did to move around.
"Wait, let me." Hiccup said, turning around and tugging the wooden plank back.
It took both of them to settle it back into position, and the wind and rain was blocked out completely, the sound of the howling wind muffled. The splattering of water over the rocky walls outside rang through the shelter, and with a huff Astrid found a place to sit where the dirt wasn't too wet.
They didn't speak much after that. Hiccup spent a few moments still, staring out of the corner of his eyes at the blonde girl getting comfortable. Slowly, he took off his fur jacket, shaking the water off carefully. The air inside the cave was cool, the stone had kept the sun's warmth at bay, but Hiccup didn't find it so bad. He didn't know where to sit, and remained standing hunched over, a hand on the ceiling to make sure he didn't forget not to straighten his back.
He listened to the wind and the rain for a bit, regret and guilt seeping into his thoughts, until Astrid spoke again.
"You can sit here. It's pretty dry."
She was near the back of the cave. Hiccup bent down, his fingers searching along the dark walls and floor of their shelter. His eyes hadn't yet fully adjusted to the darkness. He crept up close to the girl, and guilt flooded him when he noticed she was shivering slightly. He should never have convinced her to come with him! "I'm so sorry about thi-"
A fist clenched the neck of his shirt and drew him sharply forward. Hiccup tried not to yell too loudly in surprise when a very talented Astrid pulled him to the ground. She then flipped him over so that he was lying down on his back.
One thing happened then that had never happened to Hiccup in his seventeen years of life.
On top of him Hiccup watched with wide eyes Astrid made herself quite comfortable. He could feel her bones and muscles through the wool tunic she was wearing. Her hips and legs and stomach and chest were warm against him, almost too warm. The heat seeping through his damp clothes to reach his skin from hers gave him goosebumps. Her bare legs (she'd kicked off her leather boots, so her feet were bare as well) slid along his, and she was leaning delicately on his chest, her arms and fingers brushing against his collarbone and neck. Hiccup focused on her crown of blonde hair. Astrid wasn't heavy, but her weight was pressing against him in manner that put his brain in overdrive. He tried to clear his throat, unable to tell if he was even capable of coherent words right now. He was sure his face was as red as Gobber's after a couple pints.
They were completely alone. In a cave. And Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III was currently horizontal (as Tuffnut sometimes liked to say) with Astrid.
"Hiccup, it's alright. I'm just a little cold." her breath was hot against his face. His arms slowly found their way around Astrid's beautiful, firm figure. He wanted to gather her up closer to him. A small part of his brain registered that she was cold and a much larger part of his brain simply wanted to feel more of her skin. Her eyes were fixed upon his with an intensity that made his heart thump wildly in his chest.
Moments like years flew over them, and all they could hear the sound of the rain and their breaths and their heartbeats. Like a spark that sets off a a flame, Hiccup drew Astrid to him and pulled her into a kiss they would both never forget.
It wasn't exactly that they'd been fighting. Not really. But Ruffnut had noticed something was off with Astrid, and the guys had all noticed Hiccup was grumpier than usual. Even Toothless had noticed (a little peeved) that the boy preferred spending all his time in the forge, hammering away to his heart's content. Gobber had not been able to pinpoint the new onslaught of sullenness, but they were catching up on so much work that he was not going to complain.
Maybe it was that Fishlegs had finally gathered the courage to ask a girl to marry him. And that she'd said yes, to everybody's surprise.
And maybe it was the fact, not even a week ago during the spring feast, Ruffnut had stood on a table interrupting a song Snotlout was dancing to with the daughter of the local tavern keeper.
"HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT BEFORE YOU GET YOUR BALLS IN ORDER AND MARRY ME, YOU STUPID FAT PIECE OF LARD!"
Even the music had died as every one awaited Snotlout's response. The entire hall was on the edge of their stools, drinks and dance and music forgotten.
No one was disappointed. The broad-shouldered Snotlout marched right up to the table, and dragged the blonde girl into his arms. "Until right now. Duh." Just like that she kissed him savagely, right there in front of the gods and everybody else. The entire village broke into cheers and applause roared. Another barrel of mead was dragged out from old Olaf's cellar and the party raved on until well after sunrise.
Hiccup hadn't seen Astrid anywhere after that episode. He expected she'd be hanging around Ruffnut to talk about whatever girls talk about when they're about to get married.
It wasn't that they were fighting really. It was more like they weren't really talking. Or training together. She even turned down offers to fly with Toothless and him, stating that her Deadly Nadder got really jealous when she flew with another dragon.
And when Astrid would feel guilty and seek out the boy, he was nowhere to be found.
The air inside was hot and muggy now. The teenagers had set out Hiccup's fur jacket beneath them, and were using Hiccup's shirt as a flimsy little pillow. Astrid was gathered against the boy, her head leaning on his shoulder.
"-and then Gobber had to convince my dad not to throw me off the tallest cliff in Berk, and my mother couldn't stop giggling. I remember being surprised that my mother was giggling. She wasn't really the type."
He was silent for a while, and Astrid looked up at him to see a faraway look in the boy's eyes.
"That's really the only memory of your mother?"
She was settled comfortably against him, her hair tumbling softly around her face. At some point her braid had undone itself. Hiccup was glad and as he spoke, his fingers ran absently through her wavy hair.
"Yeah. Well, I remember her in the kitchen a fair bit, or laughing with my dad. Or tucking me to bed. But nothing specific. I don't really know what she sounded like, other than that giggling."
His fingers were still playing in her hair, and despite his sad words Astrid felt like she was floating. Her legs were stretched out, lying between his thicker ones. Hiccup was taller than her now, and had finally started fleshing out a bit. Though nowhere near the hulking masses that Snotloud and Fishlegs were, Hiccup could actually hold his own in a spar against the equally lanky Tuffnut. For a while, he'd competed with Tuffnut over who would be the taller man, but it was clear that Hiccup was starting to lose that battle as well. The blond Viking was starting to reach Fishleg's height, and enjoyed towering over the lot of them. Ruffnut was finally shorter than him now as well, and this was something that infuriated her to no end.
Astrid mulled over his words a little, and they were both lost in the sounds of the incessant rain. Slyly, she ran her short nails along the bare skin of Hiccup's stomach. The boy jumped a bit, grabbing her hands.
"Hey! That tickles!"
"I wanted to see if you giggled too."
Hiccup raised a dark eyebrow at her, and she noted that it disappeared under his fluffy auburn bangs. "Vikings don't giggle, Astrid."
"Your mother was a fierce Viking, everybody always said that. And yet she giggled." she stated, pleased. She was having trouble containing a mischievous grin.
"Oh yeah? Well everybody always says your the fiercest Viking in the village so..." Astrid suddenly realized that she was in the worst position possible to protect herself from the sudden onslaught. He tickled her until she was squirming and breathless and shrieking giggles and no matter how hard she flailed her arms or kicked Hiccup did not relent.
When he stopped he had to wrap his arms firmly around her shoulders to keep her from bolting from him.
"Okay, okay, truce Astrid. I won't tickle you anymore if you swear to do the same."
She huffed proudly, brushing the hair from her face. "You're only saying that because you're trying to hide the fact that you giggle."
He kissed the side of her face, brushing over her ear and jawline. "Whatever you say."
For a while they fell into another silence, and Astrid tried comparing the cadence of the rainfall to the start of the storm. Every once in a while the air was punctuated by the sound of thunder, but the rainfall had stayed constant.
"Looks like we might be spending the night."
"How long have we been in here?" Hiccup asked her, "I've completely lost track."
She sighed, thinking hard. She had also lost track. But she wasn't going to admit that. "A while. The world doesn't yet seem darker, but I don't think sunset is too far off. We were walking a good bit before the storm hit."
"Dad's going to kill me, wandering off like this. Toothless might actually decide to come after us." Hiccup chuckled at the thought of his dragon, half worried to death, scurrying across the island, turning over every root and rock in his path.
He then looked at the girl in his arms, lying against his naked chest. "What am I saying? Your parents are going to be hunting me down with pitchforks!"
Astrid sighed. "My father kind of likes you, you know. Says you have a good head on your shoulders."
Hiccup grimaced a little. "Coming from a Viking father, that sounds a little bit like an insult, Astrid."
She rolled her eyes.
"Well, I for one am glad to be here with you, Hiccup. No matter what any one else thinks." she said the words forcefully, her voice clear across the dark shelter. He listened to her, and considered her words.
"I am an amazing pillow," he said in her ear, "though I imagine Fishlegs would probably be comfier, more muscle..." his voice dropped off, lost in the self-depreciating thought.
"Oh shut up you idiot. I don't want Fishlegs. Or anyone else. I want you." She elbowed him, hard.
He spluttered a bit, surprised at the hit. Despite that, her words made him blush.
"Why can't you see that?" she said softly, muttering to herself. "Why can't that be enough?"
His arms, which had been hanging loosely around her figure, tightened their embrace. One of her hands reached back and touched his face.
"I've been acting like an idiot, haven't I?" Hiccup chuckled a little at that, sighing against her fingers. He closed his eyes, his head falling against Astrid's shoulder, nuzzling her neck.
"Yes you have, Hiccup." she said, "but so have I."
He'd done the typical Hiccup thing- he'd over-analyzed everything. For years now, they'd become closer and closer and the path they were on inevitably led to a life together, to what bards sung of most other than battles and gore – love. And so, Hiccup had over-analyzed the one thing that he should not have. Maybe this storm had been exactly what they'd needed: complete and total isolation from the world, and total solace in each other. Nothing to worry about except for the passing of the storm. Nothing to feel but each other. Astrid was doing much too good a job pulling his focus away from his half-leg, from being the chief's son, from life in the spotlight of being the first dragon rider...
Astrid shifted in his lap, placing both her legs over one of his, and wrapping both of her arms around Hiccup's neck. She realized now what she wanted to say, that it was now or never to say it. This was something she should have told him long ago, but had never known the words.
Hiccup smiled at her, his sad beautiful little smile. Astrid spoke, unable to keep the butterflies from wreaking havoc in her gut.
"I never told you this before, because frankly I didn't really know what it meant. Or how to say it. From that first day you took me flying with Toothless, all the way to today, I think I've known. I respect you the most of any of the others. I'd not known fear until I saw you fly into the storm clouds with the Green Death hot on your trail. I'd never known relief until you walked out of your house after the battle and despite having half your leg blown away you were still making the same silly jokes. I love you, Hiccup. And I want you to ask my parents for permission to marry me as soon as possible, because if you don't you'll break my heart and I've never been so afraid of anyone or anything before in my life."
As Astrid neared the end of her tirade she became more and more aware of how breathless and small her voice was, and how ridiculous the words sounded to her ears. But they rang true nonetheless, and she resolved to keep going, unable to read the look on the boy's face. His green eyes were clouded, lips slightly parted as if in shock.
"I love you. And you are the only person I want to be with and I don't care if you're the blacksmith's apprentice or the chief's son or the first dragon rider and I don't care about what my parents will think and-"
He cut her off by kissing her, eyes half lidded and it took a moment or two for Astrid to recover. She kissed him back softly, relief flooding through her. She wasn't the type to launch into long proclamations of her feelings, and was glad he finally decided to shut her up.
"By Odin's eye, I have no idea what miracle put you in my arms, Astrid." he said after a while, his voice a little raw, and Astrid wondered if those weren't tears he was blinking back. "I love you too. I probably always have, even when I was nothing more than Hiccup the Fiasco."
Astrid's lips curled into a stunningly beautiful smile, and her eyes sparkled like the ocean had this morning, bright and inviting.
"Want to get married tomorrow?" Astrid said, laying her head against his chest. Her fingers drew circles over his bare skin lazily. She was bubbling with happiness yet content to stay here, warm against him.
"Well, I guess I've done the stupid thing. Falling in love with the most dangerous Viking in Berk and all. Guess I may as well follow through with something crazy." He leaned down to kiss her, but was stunned by a fist in his stomach that knocked the breath out of his lungs. "Oof. See what I mean?"
"You seriously need to work on your compliments." Astrid rolled her eyes, huffing proudly.
The rain abated the next morning early, and the couple retreated from the cave with red faces and happy grins and messy hair. They wandered back into the village holding hands. After a quick discussion with Astrid's parents where they discussed payments and worthiness, the pair knocked on the elder's door.
By now a significant group had woken up in the village and were eying Hiccup and Astrid curiously. Most had been aware that both teens had disappeared the day before when the storm had struck, and no one had been able to send out a search party after them. Even Toothless and a few of the local dragons were hovering around the crowd, eager to see what was happening. From Astrid's smile and their joined hands, everybody could tell something exciting was going to happen.
"What is it?" the elder said, coming to the door. She was surprised not only to see the smiling faces of Astrid and Hiccup at her doorstep, but also more than half the village trying to look inconspicuous.
"I want you to marry us." Hiccup said into the expectant silence.
The elder blinked.
Hiccup looked at Astrid.
Astrid smiled. "Sounds perfect."
Hiccup grinned his familiar lop-sided smile.
"Yes please, elder. Right now."
The entire village was staring on with surprised stares and open jaws. There wasn't even a celebration prepared, there was no mead! What about the customary marriage feast?
Gobber, who had been walking down towards the forge, arrived just in time to see the elder take Hiccup and Astrid's joined hand.
"Well it's about time!" he slurred. "But I'm sure Stoic the Vast would have everyone's neck if we married off his only son without him."
Without wasting a moment, he cried out, "Here here, somebody with swifter legs than I should go wake up the chief!"
A group of Vikings left quickly, and there was animated, happy chatter. This was an interesting turn of things!
Hiccup gathered Astrid close to him, and stared at the girl's bright face. She looked like she'd spent the night in a cave, and yet she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. And she was going to be his.
"I hope dad hurries up."
Astrid laughed. She stood on her the tip of her toes, and their noses touched as she kissed him swiftly on the lips.
The elder rubbed her tired eyes, cursing the fact that nobody had any respect for tradition anymore. Girls asking boys to marry them, marriages without feasts...
Stoic the Vast arrived, eyes wide and sparkling and looking positively more delighted than Hiccup had ever seen him. It rather unnerved him, but he let out a relieved breath when his father spoke.
"Alright, I'm here, and as village chief I officially proclaim that this ceremony has begun."
The elder muttered to herself. "Alright children, give me your joined hands."
Without letting Astrid out from his arms, Hiccup pulled her hand out with his, and their fingers joined.
The elder placed her hands above and below the intertwined fingers, and recited a few poems. When that was done, she called out to them and the audience.
"In the name of the goddess Frigg, I invoke the blessing of the gods upon this marriage. The deed is done. You are both married to each other."
She released their hand, and Astrid and Hiccup stared at each other. He kissed her on the forehead, and whispered to her. "I never want to be apart from you from this day."
"I love you." she whispered back, and they both turned to look at the crowd. Gobber's intact hand was on Stoic's shoulder, and Stoic looked like he was holding back tears.
"Toothless!" Hiccup called, and the dragon leaped forward, eager to be in the limelight himself. He nudged both his human and his second favourite human, and seemed to purr like a very pleased cat.
"Alright everybody! I think it's time to put a feast together!" Roared out Gobber, turning to the audience. Someone yelled for mead, and the entire party of Vikings marched through the village to wake up anyone still asleep. Some where singing, others were cheering.
Stoic came to his son and his new daughter.
"I'm proud of you, my boy. Though you should have woken me up this morning when you got back. I was scared sick for you both."
"Sorry dad." but Hiccup wasn't, not really. His dad patted his shoulder and Hiccup smiled. The newlywed then turned towards his dragon. "Well, Toothless, I feel like flying. Astrid?"
"I'd like that." she smiled at him, her cheeks a happy pink.
"Whaddya say, buddy?"
Toothless cried out a happy, rumbling cheer. He seemed to realize what was going on. He'd known Astrid and Hiccup would end up together from the very beginning. After years of letting them steal away from the village for a little privacy, it was good to see them acknowledge each other like this in front of everyone.
Astrid was the first to climb on the dragon's back. She scratched Toothless behind the ears and the dragon purred again. At the sight of his dragon and Astrid together, waiting for him, Hiccup felt his heart would hammer straight out of his chest. He had never been so happy. In a few swift movements he was perched on Toothless behind Astrid, his wife leaning against his chest and it was a familiar yet thrilling feeling. With a strong cry, Toothless jumped off the ground, and took off into the clear skies.
Stoic watched the kids fly off and yelled after them: "YOU BETTER BE BACK IN TIME FOR YOUR CELEBRATION!"
This is probably as close to a crackfic as I'll ever get. I mean, sheesh, I was able to rope in a marriage proposal fic with a blanket scenario fic. And I have serious issues with marriage. I find it icky. And I totally wasn't expecting to marry them off like that. Haha. This one shot totally ran away from me.
You guys should review. Like, duh.
Edit May 29, 2010:
According to what little I know of Viking marriages, kids married young. Like 14-16 young. So that might explain why I thought marriage made sense...sort of. Also, from what I've read, Viking women had a lot of power over their households in Norse societies in the Middle Ages. More than in most other places in the world. This makes me really happy.