Dragons could be very dull. Fishlegs had not expected that. The entire idea about dragons was that they were to be exciting, interesting, dangerous. As thrilled as he was to have a dragon he could somewhat refer to as his own (the Gronkle seemed to like him best, anyway) he sometimes missed the days of enemy dragons. Yes, he knew everything there was to know about dragons, but that fascination had originated with the dragon danger. Now dragons had been grafted into the community, which was way cool. But it also revealed a side of dragons he had never before seen.
They sure liked to nap a lot.
Fishlegs sat above the arena next to Hiccup while half a dozen dragons occupied the dusty space, their tails curled around them. Sleeping. The afternoon was coming to a close and Fishlegs' carpentry duties were finished. They didn't always finish early, but today they did and he should have been enjoying a few precious minutes devoted to his own entertainment. But the most interesting things in the village had decided to all simultaneously nap.
Hiccup didn't seem to care. He had out a notebook and was lost in sketching the sleeping creatures. Which was incredibly cool. A great way to appreciate unconscious dragons. Except Fishlegs could not draw.
"Bored?" Hiccup finally asked.
"Yeah. Am I that obvious?"
"Oh, yeah. You keep sighing. It's really annoying."
"Well, I came over here kind of hoping to fly."
"Sorry." Hiccup hadn't looked up from his page once.
Fishlegs resisted a sigh again. But he was bored. He tended to talk when he was bored. "So my dad asked me something really random yesterday."
"He asked me what I thought of Ruffnut."
Hiccup finally looked up, though still without interest. "Why?"
"I don't know."
"Well, what did you say?"
"I said she was kind of weird and scary but still pretty nice. I said she was all right."
"Huh." Hiccup went back to drawing. "Well, you could have been more flattering where she's concerned."
"And say what?"
"Well, she's coming over right now."
Fishlegs was too impressed to even look around. "How do you know?"
"Please. She's loud. I can hear her."
And with that Fishlegs turned around. Sure enough, Ruffnut was heading their way at a very fast pace, braids bouncing up and down. Fishlegs was used to seeing her expression at varying levels of deranged, but he had very rarely seen her truly angry. And she was angry now. Not annoyed, not frustrated. Angry.
"Uh, oh," he breathed.
Ruffnut was wielding a hammer. She stopped about ten feet away.
What was going on? He stood up. Maybe she was mad at Hiccup.
But her eyes flashed right at him as she flung the hammer.
He tried to bolt, but she had excellent aim and the hammer struck clean on the forearm. He collapsed just as Hiccup scrambled up, notebook falling to the ground.
"Yeah, you really should have been more flattering," Hiccup said.
"Why was I even asked that question in the first place?" He rubbed his arm. Already a bruise was forming. A painful bruise. He stared at Ruffnut in bewilderment. "What was that for?"
She didn't speak for a moment as she struggled to catch her breath. There were tears in her eyes. Ruffnut didn't cry. Well, she probably did cry, but he had never seen it before. "Fishlegs, I hate you." She then turned and ran.
Fishlegs picked up the hammer she had thrown with his good arm. "You forgot your hammer!" He had no idea why he had said that.
"Wow," said Hiccup slowly. "Are you sure that was all you said?"
Ruffnut did not slow down until the arena was far, far behind her. She had left her hammer. Her good hammer. At least she had gotten one good last throw out of it. Hooray for that. Stupid hammer hadn't even managed to kill Fishlegs and end this stupid mess. Nothing much could be done when the boy was dead. No plans could be made there.
She stopped to catch her breath. She was in the middle of the village, houses all around her. People, too. No one even bothered to look at her. Good, so she had perfected her reputation for being obnoxious to the point where no one would bat an eye at anything she did. But her eyes were burning with tears. No. She wasn't supposed to cry yet. Crying was not something she did in public. It wasn't as if she had not expected them. In fact, she had wanted to do nothing but cry for the past half-hour. Cry and kill Fishlegs. And she hadn't managed to kill him. Apparently she was about to cross one thing off the list, though.
Not in public. Tears would ruin that reputation. She had to get inside before they came. But she was not going home. No way. She was already sure Tuffnut was out looking for her. She approached a house and pounded on the door.
"Come in," a voice called.
Ruffnut pushed open the door. Normal house, table, hearth, random junk. And Astrid, sitting in the corner, spinning and looking a little too comfortable with the task.
"Yes, Ruff, I'm spinning," she said without looking up. "I will accept my duty to do so and let's face the fact that I am ten times better than you at it."
"You're doing great," Ruffnut muttered. Yes, Astrid of many talents. "Can we talk?"
Astrid glanced up, then jumped up, wool falling to the floor in a tangle. "Did someone die?"
"No, unfortunately." She collapsed into a chair at the table and the tears flowed.
"What do you mean?" Astrid's voice was near shrieking as she sat down next to her. "Ruff, you're crying. What happened?"
Ruff sniffed and attempted to wipe away the tears. "I tried to kill Fishlegs with a hammer."
Silence, followed by "Why?"
She took a deep breath. She had to get the story out to someone. "I walk into my house. My parents are there. Which is perfectly normal. Except for the fact they wanted to talk to me. Not Tuffnut, not me and Tuffnut. Me specifically. And they looked so happy, so thrilled." Right now she hated her parents. "And my mom said, 'Ruff, dear, you're turning seventeen in a couple of months.' Obviously. The woman gave birth to me and my weird brother, I'd assume she'd remember. Why she didn't mention Tuff was turning seventeen as well, I had no idea."
It did feel good to get it out. "And then my dad says that he had been speaking to Fishlegs' father for a few days now."
Astrid gasped. "Oh no. No."
"Oh, yes. Idiots. You would think they'd know me better than that at this point in my life. But no, they don't care. They apparently hate me. But it's all arranged. We're getting married. Apparently Fishlegs' family has a lot of clout in this village that I knew nothing about and my parents want in on that."
"Oh, Freya," came Astrid's whisper.
"I'm really preferring Gefjon right now. Even though she failed me. Watch me make a sacrifice again to that hypocritical harlot. Wait. I never did. Great." Ruffnut pounded her head against the table. "So this is my punishment?"
"I am so sorry." Astrid took her hand and squeezed it. "No offense, but I have never actually pictured you married. I mean, there was that time a few months before dragon training where all these other girls younger than us got married off but while the weddings were really fun we didn't hear anything about it and I assumed…"
"You're not the one who's getting married off!"
For a long time neither of them spoke. Ruffnut just sobbed into the table. Finally, she came up for a breath. "And after they said all that I ran off and threw a hammer at Fishlegs."
"Do you think he knows yet?"
"Probably. I don't know. If he doesn't know he will soon."
"Will it make you feel better if I go punch him?"
Ruff nodded. "Will you?"
"No. Sorry. I think the hammer is quite enough."
Notes: According to the research we found, Viking marriages, like most other European marriages at the time, had absolutely nothing to do with love. Couples were just kind of thrown together for the benefit of families or whatever. The couple itself really had no say in the matter.
Vikings girls were usually married off between ages 12 and 16. We figured Ruff (and Astrid, for that matter) were approaching the old maid stage. One edit was to make Ruffnut a year older, placing this several years after the movie.
Gefjon is a goddess partial to unmarried women.