Author's Notes: Well it finally happened. I fell so hard for this movie that I had to write smut for it. Anyone who s seen my fic before knows this is a pretty common occurrence. However, there are a few things about this story that make it stand out from my other offerings.
First off, this was the first fic I wrote that was intentionally novel-length. What that means to me is that I have proven to myself that I can plot and write a novel-length story. Something that is both inspiring and handy in my endeavors as a pro writer. What that means to you guys is smut. Lots and lots of smut. And logical smut at that.
And secondly, the footnotes. Many of the best HTTYD fanfic authors have enhanced their stories by doing hard research on Viking customs and culture, as well as referencing Viking history in asides to their audience. But I ve yet to see any regularly placed, clever footnotes ala Good Omens to show where people can learn more about the topics they're referring to. Loving Good Omens and good academic footnotes, I decided to correct that.
I'm currently trying to use different methods to get around FF . Net's external-link bias, so how you may access the links that go with the footnotes may change as time goes on. If you can't find them on the chapter you're reading check the master list on my profile page.
Disclaimer: While the blood and gore is kept to a minimum, the smut abounds. High levels of sexual content and sensuality, albeit of the giggling, true-love, First Time variety.
Rating: NC-17 after Chapter 6. PG-13 before it. Will update the rating accordingly.
It had started raining an hour ago, but Astrid hadn't noticed.
She didn't even notice when the light mist turned into a thundering storm overhead. She just kept doing what she had been doing since sunset: turning a perfectly good 100 year-old tree to toothpicks with her axe. Each spinning blow the teenager  delivered was accompanied with a scream, a curse to the Gods, or a grunt.
The only reason Astrid hadn't tried to attack the thunderclouds themselves was the fact that she couldn't reach them.
Toothless had been watching her for some time. She had to tire eventually. When she did, it would be the safest time to approach. Just because they couldn't speak each other's languages didn't mean they didn't know what the other was thinking. Or ask each other for answers.
That was one reason why he liked Astrid.
Astrid could change and adapt as a situation called for it. While the rest of the village treated their kind like large, lethal, overly intelligent house pets, Astrid treated them like rest of the tribe. She knew as Hiccup did, that dragons were just as smart, brave, loyal, and stubborn as the average Viking. She listened for their voices, as opposed to trying to plan what they would try next.
And when Hiccup wasn't in the picture, she fought for them as fiercely as he ever could. When Hiccup had to recover after the battle, she did the work of three people as she played diplomat to the dragons, trainer to the Vikings, and sometimes healer to the boy.
In fact when it came to Hiccup and himself, Astrid was there before the rest of the village - always with options, and always ready to help.
What was more, she respected his friendship with Hiccup and knew instinctively that it came first. But despite her attraction to the boy - an attraction anyone could see that was there - she did not resent him for it. She was his friend just as Hiccup was his friend.
It was clear to him that she was their human.
He knew that when the two humans finally selected each other and stopped the mating dance that had gone on for 3 cycles, there might be a few new rules between the three of them. Humans got irritated when they couldn't mate with their chosen partner in private.
But unlike other girls from the village, Toothless knew with Astrid as Hiccup's mate there would still be rides together and joy shared. They would still be family, friends, and companions. It was the way it had been on their first flight together.
It was the way things should have been now.
Hiccup had always been a strange boy. He did things differently from what the others in his village had. And Toothless admired that. Most of the things Hiccup questioned - and why he questioned them - showed a great deal of wisdom and a quiet, undeniable strength. A strength Toothless had come to see was present in a great deal of the facets of Hiccup's life. But his strength could be useless if it ran into frustration, like when he tried to explain an advanced idea to the rest of the village.
Or when he tried to talk to the one girl he was head over heels in love with.
So at first, it didn't seem strange that his dance for Astrid would be long. It didn't matter that their peers had paired up quickly, or that those peer's mating dances had been brief and to-the-point. After all, a Natter may take years to find a mate whose coloring was as brilliant as their own. Even if two Natters had met before, they could never be certain until they tested each other. And Astrid was testing out the boy as much as he was testing her.
But after 2 cycles of nervous laughter, closeness, and anticipation... Hiccup seemed to stop the dance all-together.
During the third cycle his friend began disapearing from Astrid's life. He told her tales of lessons that didn't exist and obligations he didn't have so he could avoid spending time with her.
But when he could have been out with Astrid, he went to his room cradling his head in his hands. As soon as Toothless smelled the tears he would come in, and his boy would scratch him in exactly the right spot on his neck, talking to him.
Hiccup rarely ranted, but he talked here and there. And it would always end the same. He would rub his left knee and say, "She'll be fine."
For the life of him, Toothless didn't know what the boy was talking about.
Astrid had not rejected his dance. And if Hiccup had rejected hers, the dragon suspected bones would be broken.
Astrid had not stopped caring about him. Quite the opposite. Past a point when even the most determined Terror would have long since given up the hunt for an easier meal, Astrid followed him, stalked him, and tried to engage him. Toothless had seen her reverse back flip off a roof and into an alley way to 'accidently' run into him, then bellow helfire when he swore he had other plans.
And there had not been the strange madness that comes over humans soon after they mate, and suddenly feel they must separate. He had never smelled one on the other as he sometimes did with the rest of mated pairs in the village.
Hiccup had simply stopped the dance. Had given up his best chance at a loving mate. And Toothless did not know why.
There was a loud, wet thwack as Astrid's battle-axe sunk itself into the remains of the tree. Astrid tried to pull her axe free, but it would not budge. Her muscles had either finally given out, or she had finally driven the metal too deep in.
She didn't immediately believe it though, and using all of her arms and legs she tried to pull wood from metal in a number of different positions.
Finally, with a scream of rage, Astrid began thrashing the tree with her bare hands and feet.
When her knees hit the muddy ground underneath her, Toothless wrapped his tail around her waist and pulled her into the shelter he had created under his wing.
Astrid didn't know she was sheltered from the rain at first. Careless to the world she had wrapped her arms around her knees and loudly breathed as she stared out into space. But when Astrid finally pulled herself out of whatever agony was going on in her mind and saw where she was, she fiercely grabbed Toothless' nearest leg.
She was shivering in the warm rain as if she was lying in the middle of a blizzard. Toothless wrapped his wing around her like a mother to her fledgling.
"Is it true? What they're saying in the village?"
The two of them had not been the only ones to notice the change in his boy. After defeating the Green Terror and all but guaranteeing his place at his father's side, much was speculated about Hiccup and Astrid becoming the next generation. But when things didn't move forward, talk began to start.
To a Viking s mind, there was nothing worse than being a 'sansor inn,' a vulgar term for a man who serviced other men. But what else could you call a boy who seemed to play 'fu flogi', a marriage-dodger, when offered a girl like Astrid? 
It certainly wasn't said in front of the Chief or Hiccup, but it was said. The day previous Astrid had overheard the word and soundly thrashed a grown Viking man unconscious by presuming it. 
But Toothless was with Hiccup more than anyone else. He knew the boy had only had eyes for the soaked and sullen girl weeping next to him. So he shook his head.
"Then WHY?" Astrid was growing more upset than sad now, starting to build herself up into an honest rage. "Why won't he see me? Why doesn't he talk to me as much as we used to? What happened? What went wrong?" She was waving her hands now. "What, did he finally realize that I'm not going to be a house woman for him?"
Toothless let out a snort that couldn't be interpreted as anything but 'ridiculous'.
Astrid looked up, smiling bitterly. "You're right. He spends far too much time watching me practice. He acts like I'm not supposed to see him ogling me from the stands, but I see him. He still watches me with that goofy grin for hours. At least before he disappears. No. Something else happened. Something else is going on."
Toothless subtly nudged her in the direction of the village.
"I'd go if he was there. I checked everywhere before I came out here. He's hiding somewhere."
Toothless snorted. As if Hiccup could hide from him for more than an hour. And even then, he'd be bubbling with excitement to tell him where he'd been. The only time they'd spent apart since they became friends was a night when Hiccup was trying to design a better foot and Toothless was in the mood to do anything but work. Hiccup had managed to slip away with his notes, but Toothless found the boy hiding in a cavern in the side of the canyon where they'd... first practiced... flying.
Astrid was suddenly watching him, intently.
"Do you know where he is?"
Toothless gave the same shrug that Hiccup did when a project was technically done, if you discounted the real possibility that it would send somebody into the side of a cliff.
Astrid was suddenly triumphant.
"You know where he is."
The mouth of the cavern could have been tricky to get into with the rain. 
There was a ledge, if you could call it that. But the thick moss that grew on the spot where the lip jutted out tried to trip anyone - or any dragon, in Toothless's case - that dared to walk on it. Thankfully there was thick rope and holders that were drilled into the side of the rock.
She remembered Hiccup working on something that looked like these holders, and the way they adjusted when girl and beast put their weight on them made it clear who had attached the things to the solid rock face.
"If he doesn't already take his life in his hands..." Astrid found herself muttering as she hauled herself inside.
As she rung out her hair - and rung it out again after Toothless shook the water off him like an overgrown dog, she looked around the cave Toothless had brought her to.
The mouth extended for a good 20 feet directly into the rock face. The shelf was fairly flat, although just round enough on the outside edge to encourage a fatal fall onto the floor of the canyon below. But as you traveled further inward, things became interesting.
Then it started to quickly descend into a dark pit. It looked just steep enough to be dangerous, but strangely tempting in the way the lip smoothly curled into the darkness. To the right, the familiar rope and holders followed a raised, natural ledge down into the darkness. Someone had decided to go down there to explore.
And Astrid knew there was someone down there. The wet walls reflected the faint flickering shimmer of a campfire. And Astrid could smell smoke. She could faintly hear an echo of a voice that might have been familiar.
"Is that Hiccup?"
Toothless, who had followed her footsteps to the peak of the drop, sniffed the air. He gave Astrid a satisfied nod.
"Who else is down there?"
Another sniff, but then a look of understanding. Toothless shook his head and Astrid got it too.
"Talking to himself again. He must be frustrated about something."
Hopefully, Astrid thought uncharitably, it was because he was stuck down there and couldn't get out. It had been hard enough lately tracking Hiccup down so he could give her some flimsy excuse as to why he couldn't be with her that day. If he saw her coming, he usually had an escape route in mind. And fairly effective ones for a boy who wasn't as fast as he used to be.
If she had to go back out into the rain to chase him down, she would not be happy.
"Is there anyway out besides the front?"
The head-shake Toothless gave was smugly sinister.
Toothless blasted the rock below him into a fire bed, and settled himself with his back to the open air and his face to the guts of the cave. His eyes were watching as Astrid carefully made her way down the shaft.
And as Astrid went further and further down, she started to pick up bits and pieces of a conversation.
"... I know I sound like a... no, that's not the best way to... can't get her alone like that..."
The floor of the cave was a mass of gravel, dead leaves, a few branches of various sizes, all of which made it difficult to sneak up on a person. Difficult, but not impossible. Somewhere along the line a group of boulders had fallen in. They were scattered here and there, more or less dividing the large cave floor in half.
The boulders had been worn into smooth stones by some strange combination of internal and external elements. The little camp Hiccup had set up was on the other side of the biggest of the boulders. A good way to protect yourself from the worst of the weather above, but no help hearing someone sneaking up on you if you were talking to yourself. It was child's play for Astrid to run, ducking between boulders to spy on whatever Hiccup was doing.
But when Astrid had positioned herself on the other side of the person-sized boulder he was leaning against, she heard him quietly whimper something she hadn't heard him say is ages.
Astrid cautiously peered around the boulder.
It looked like Hiccup was planning to be here for a while. Either that or he had been here a few times before and been foresighted enough to keep a stash of supplies. There was a small stack of firewood off to the side, through the small pile of kindling next to it looked as though it had been mostly collected from the cave floor. A small fire pit had been dug and a collection of smaller round stones had been carefully placed around them. A small, hardy fire was currently cooking a fish that had just started to burn. An open pack was sitting on it's side on the other side of the fire, just far away enough not to scorch the contents. And a half-dozen notebooks - some filled with words, some filled with schematics for inventions, some filled with sketches - lay scattered across the small blanket Hiccup was sitting on.
Hiccup was hunched over in despair. One of his hands was clamped over his eyes, as if holding them would force the tears to stop coming.
"...Oh Gods," he was muttering, "Astrid."
His voice was desperate, as if he was asking forgiveness for something horrible he didn't intend to do. Astrid wondered for a brief, nervous moment if he had heard her sneaking up on him.
But after some time had passed, he picked up his notebook and opened it up to a page that looked like it had been well worn.
Hiccup was never the best with drawing people. Or landscapes. Or anything that he couldn't build. But it was clear that the sketch he was looking at, one he had clearly put some time into, was of her.
There had been a time when she could often catch him staring at her while doing something in a notebook. It hadn't been for years, though. But so many things between them had been delayed for years.
Cradling the book in his hands, Hiccup tried to steel his face. Trying to wipe the tears off his face, the boy stared at the picture. "Right. After she gets out of class, you're going to walk up to her. You're just going to look her straight in the face, and say... 'Astrid. We need to talk.'"
"Yes. We. Do."
NEXT SATURDAY: Hiccup figures out the consequences for breaking the heart of a female Viking.
 I'm writing our two lovers just before their 17th birthdays. This gives them historical accuracy (which I'll go into in detail in other footnotes) and makes them old enough to prevent that creepy, filmy, jail-bait feeling from settling on me. (...Well, almost.)
 Actually, according to Gunnora Hallakarva AKA "The Viking Answer Lady," the actual translations are as follows: "a man who shunned marriage was termed fu flogi (man who flees the female sex organ) while a woman who tried to avoid marriage was flannfluga (she who flees the male sex organ)" As for Viking style insults in regard to someone's sexual orientation: "N was part of a family of concepts which all have connotations of passive male homosexuality, such as: ergi or regi (nouns) and argr or ragr (the adjective form of ergi) ("willing or inclined to play or interested in playing the female part in sexual relations with another man, unmanly, effeminate, cowardly"); ergjask ("to become argr"); rassragr ("arse-ragr"); stro inn and sor inn ("sexually used by a man") and sansor inn ("demonstrably sexually used by another man")" Check out the links on my profile.
 Astrid's not just taking out her considerable build-up of frustration. Viking society - at least when it came to sex- was a lot like a frat house. The worst slur you could lay on a man was a lack of interest in the feminine sex due to the fact that he preferred to take it like a member of the female sex. Not only was it seen as a weakness, it flew in the face of a society that needed fertility and a surplus of little Vikings running around to survive. And even a rumor could damage a hero's reputation. Sorry HTTYD slashers... Check out the links on my profile.
 Based on an actual piece of scenery from the movie. When Hiccup is first trying to track Toothless down, he finds some black scales littered on a rock ledge overlooking the canyon where Toothless learns to fly again. As they pan around as Hiccup looks for Toothless, just before the dragon shoots up trying to get over the wall of the canyon, you can see a definite depression or deep indentation in the side of the wall.