A/N: I wrote this short oneshot for Shimy/Bintavivi; she wanted a deathfic that was not antsy nor depressing but beautiful. So just be forewarned you could very well cry.
One can never feel the end of an era or an age approach, it is never recognized until the thin whispers of 'how it used to be' and 'in my day' are threaded through the ears of beings the change has affected.
Astrid knew the moment was upon them though when he called to her. She had been waiting for it, dreading it for her own selfish reasons but went to him anyway.
He lay in their bed, had been for some time. His prosthetic leg was unused and collecting dust as it leaned against the far wall. A crutch was much closer placed for him to maneuver in and out of bed.
"My heart," he said, beckoning her closer. His breathing was hitched and heavy, every word weighed on him.
She didn't know how she had come to call him biscuit. So many years to keep track of, that little tidbit of memory had long since disappeared into the depths of her mind. She just did, she called him 'biscuit' just as she was always known as 'his heart.' Though she knew why he had always addressed her as so.
She put a finger to his lips, they were dry. He was thirsty.
"Don't speak; I know." She fetched a cup and filled it, hating the stark coughs her husband produced. He was dying; Silly thing to say really since as soon as every living thing came to be they began to die. But she felt this was the day he would be taken, and no matter how prepared she made herself it still stung—those thoughts of being without him.
She knelt by the bedside and helped him sit up to not spill the water.
Her hand brushed the strands of russet-grey hair from his eyes, asking herself when he had begun to look so old. A glance to her the skin on her hand betrayed her own age as well. She could make out the splay of wrinkles over her knuckles and a few spots of age that had appeared. Both old souls, yet she still loved him as fresh if not more layered than the winter night she had found him alone in the forge in their youth.
"You're hair line used to be here," she said, moving her finger to slide along his forehead.
He set his water to the side and leaned back, but not without coughing. His body was giving out—failing from all the trials and roughness it had experienced in its prime.
"I'm still me," he managed to say. He smiled in that way of his, half of his lips cinched upward. That was one thing out of many she would miss.
"You still have your freckles, her fingers moved from his forehead to his cheek and they did a hop from each prominent freckle to the next. She couldn't comment though, if Hiccup was still Hiccup. There had been different phases of Hiccup throughout her life. Weakling Hiccup, Hero Hiccup, the short-lived Jerk Hiccup, Chief Hiccup, Hiccup the father—the list went on.
He reached up and took her hand, sliding his own fingers through hers, "and you still have an ocean in your eyes."
Though Astrid's once blonde hair had darkened, and her skin acquired wrinkles and marks of motherhood—her eyes remained crystalline.
He gave a shuddering breath.
"Are you afraid?"
He looked to her, his slowly dimming eyes showed no fear but rather a relief, "I don't fear death."
"Spoken like a true Viking," she let out a laugh which felt nice after so many days of crying.
"It's been a long time coming for me."
She heard the weight of guilt in his voice and knew he was thinking of his dragon.
Was there a place for dragons in the afterlife? Would there be any plane of existence that rider and fire beast could reunite? Astrid knew that if there was not Hiccup would find a way—his spirit would not rest until it found that of the Night Fury's.
When Toothless had fallen, Hiccup's remorse ran deep to his very bones—he was nearly inconsolable—he had even thought of ending his own life.
However, he did not go through with it when he realized it was selfish and he had the responsibility of a family and a duty on his shoulders. After that, he just was never the same. Quieter, more sullen, and contemplative—Mourning Hiccup, the phase he had been in since that day.
"Hush now, don't ruin the peace," she chided, "Not many men can boast they lived to see their grandchildren take their positions."
Hiccup nodded, they had survived battles and raids and yet they had been lucky enough to witness their children's children grow to adulthood.
"Where is our family anyhow?"
"They were here earlier while you were sleeping, whispering wonderful things about you in your ear—they'll return before sundown."
"If you think I'm going to make it that long," Hiccup rasped, clutching his chest. There was a deep scar underneath his tunic where he grasped, Astrid knew. It was nearly a decade old but it still pained Hiccup nonetheless—the memories and reminder of how it came to be.
She sat herself next to him on the bed, letting him lean against her.
"You are the greatest man I have ever known."
"Yes," she left it at that.
"Tell me more."
"No one has ever been so committed to peace in the history of Vikings, I would have scoffed long ago at that notion but seeing you achieve it has changed my mind—everything is much better now."
"I'm glad you think so."
"I love your words, talk to me forever," Hiccup smiled and closed his eyes, breathing more and more heavily as he leaned into her shoulder.
"Now you're just being unreasonable—"
"Nonsense, I am never unreasonable."
She took his face and kissed him fiercely, sending all of her love into him so he knew—forever—even in the afterlife that it was she who would always love him.
He blinked a bit stunned; they were at an age where nothing so passionate had come from her in a long while.
"That is all I do."
She let his head lay back to her shoulder and she began to sing. She didn't often sing, never had—but still quietly recited in tune the old Nordic lullaby every child in the North had heard since infancy.
"In the dark,
In the north
There was not a shine of light.
To the mighty of Asgard,
It did not sit at all right."
Hiccup suddenly gave a jolting cough and his body shook with it. Astrid just kept squeezing his hand and singing—for there was nothing more she could do for him.
"So they opened the clouds with their swords
and the rain bled the sky."
Hiccup was still once more, but her tears came anyway knowing why.
"The light finally shone. The darkness had died."
She sat like so for many quiet moments, fingers still interlocked with his. A tear drug down her cheek and fell into his beard. She wiped at it, letting her touch linger to the silver-brown strands. She remembered when his chin had been hairless, and anyone could see that shallow scar tissue that a Terrible Terror had made. She breathed in a wavering sigh, knowing she would have to call for her family and tell them, tell the village and the many leaders across the Archipelago. Many from near and far would come to pay their respects.
She heard an odd, dull, noise growing from outside. It rose in pitch, in what seemed to be sorrowful sound that mirrored her own.
She reluctantly removed herself from his body, setting him carefully down to lay before opening the door and seeing what was happening.
Hundreds of dragons were perched on housetops and in the tall trees; they all were pointed at the lodge on top of the hill and baying their voices in remorse. Her husband had given their village and not to mention the rest of Viking and dragon kind a gift-a gift of understanding and it could not have been more apparent as she scanned the island-scape. Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the III had been the greatest man any of them had ever known, and with his passing, was the passing of an era.
If you happen to wonder, the 'lullaby' is the same one he had sung to Astrid in 'Newlyweds' and I wrote it to to the tune of 'Nerevar Rising' from the The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. A quick Youtube look up if you'd like to listen to some fitting music.
'How to Train Your Dragon' is (c) Dreamwork's Animation Studios and Ms. Cressida Cowell