So here's a multi-chapter fic that I've been itching to flesh out for goodness knows how long. ;)
Thanks for the encouragements to help me come up with this!
Consider this one the extension of my previous one-shot What Is In A Name?
A/N: This will be a series of one-shots that may or may not follow a plot arc. Do tell me what you think about it all, yeah? Because really, it's the readers, giving the feedback, that tells me what's right and what's not with a story. Any and all comments & criticisms are very much appreciated. =)
What else can I say about Berk?
It snows for nine months, and hails the other three.
Food is adequate at best, and we're at least a week's sailing away from anywhere else.
But it's home, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Stubbornness issues and all that.
-Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III-
"Tales of lands faraway and unknown always thrilled, even if it was mere words and stories in passing. Visiting merchants often talked of wonders, seas faraway where tides after tides of sand replaced the oceans, where carpets could ferry people through the clouds, other lands that built fortresses of stone and mortar, seemingly impenetrable by mere men, of warriors that cover themselves head to toe in armor, doing battle with beasts and saving fair maidens in distress, all in the name of chivalry.
The island of Berk had its own shares of tales and legends for these merchants to carry on to those lands of the unknown. They will talk in awe of the island where humans and dragons could live in peace. They will talk of people flying through the clouds on majestic, powerful wings and deter any foe foolish enough to invade an island where both rider and steed could tear limb from limb, with their teeth.
They will talk of the people who are both proud and passionate. They will talk about the Vikings of Berk, and it will amaze all."
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III finished reading the last line of runes that were marked onto the solid granite of the memorial marker in the village square. The words themselves were first said by the village elder, written down by the village scribe, and carefully etched by the village craftsmen.
Seeing the early morning sun's beam light the tall memorial's tip, Hiccup began his jog back to the Haddock household.
2 months into the end of what was before a 300-year war between humans and dragons, Hiccup began to think that maybe he should take more care about his body.
Partially since a section of it would never return to the boy, no matter how much he trained. Mostly because his girlfriend once told of him "Because I said so."
Still, Astrid Hofferson was not one known to take things to chance. The day that Hiccup was cleared fit to go back to working at the forge, Astrid soundly cleared him a day off from Gobber, to drag him into jogging.
It didn't stop there.
Pushups, pull-ups, sit-ups, weight lifting. Hiccup was put through every physical training regimen that Astrid's father said he once done in the heyday. That even involved swimming in Berk's frigid inner rivers. That was honestly Hiccup's favorite of the bunch, because it involved seeing Astrid in her swimwear, sometimes.
Jogging was, however, Hiccup's least favored. The first time he tried doing it, the prosthetic literally popped out, introducing his face to the beaten pathway that lined the village. With several tweaks, a lot of practice, and a few encouraging kissed from Astrid, Hiccup was able to run properly with the metal contraption that was now his left leg.
Panting audibly by the time he reached his house, Hiccup nearly staggered when he turned the doorknob, his vision just that little bit fuzzy. He'd have to improve his stamina.
Once the door was shut and the warmth of the fireplace enveloped his being, Hiccup tore off the light green tunic that was drenched with his sweat and placed the soiled laundry hamper. Toothless, who was curled in a mass of black Night Fury by the fireplace was snoring lightly, snorting every once in awhile.
Dreaming about chasing sheep, buddy? Hiccup thought, having half the mind to scratch the dragon behind its ear. His better judgment called against it as he poured himself a glass of water, relieving his parched throat. Toothless was grumpy if woken before his time.
The boy of 16 leaned against the kitchen counter, taking in the sounds of the stairs creaking with every thunderous thud that was his father coming down from the upper floors.
"'Mornin', Hiccup. You're up early today," Stoick the Vast said, noting his son's lack of any upper clothes. "I know it's warm in here compared to outside, but don'cha think you're takin' it a little too much?"
"Morning, Dad. What, this?" Hiccup asked, looking at his own state of semi-undress. "Just finished jogging, gotta get into something else."
"Joggin' again, eh?" Stoick echoed, ripping a rather large chunk of the near rock-hard bread on the dining table. The Viking then chuckled. "Where has that Astrid been all these years when I needed her?"
"It probably wouldn't have worked so well back then. She'd still have thought I was Hiccup the Useless, like everyone else did," Hiccup saying it like it was a joke.
Stoick cringed internally, nevertheless. Light-hearted or not, self-deprecating humor was still, deprecating.
"Now you know that's not-" his father tried to start.
"No-no, Dad, it's okay. I was just as much like that back then, wasn't I? I mean – I get it all. But now things are better, right? I'm not Hiccup the Useless anymore, right?" Hiccup asked, putting on a small smile. Stoick could tell it was slightly forced.
"Hiccup, son, I don't want you to ever call yourself by that name, ever again. I never called you that, Gobber never did, none of the others in their right mind did," Stoick said in the usual reprimanding tone Hiccup was used to, but for the first time in 16 years, did he feel the loving undertone that only a father could give. He couldn't help but let his heart heat up a few notches at that.
He however, got what his father tried to vaguely disguise with none of the others in their right mind. There were those that called Hiccup by that moniker in the past, and he'd be insulting the boy's intelligence if he said they didn't.
"But now look at 'yeh, boy. The whole village respects you for who you are, what you can do, because you proved yourself to them," Stoick continued. Why did the boy still continue to doubt himself?
Knowing his father's made the point clear, and Hiccup was out of his typhoon of self-esteem issues, the boy held out both hands as his father tried adding in more things.
"I-I do get it now, Dad. Really," Hiccup said, this time giving his father a sincere smile. He needed to get this situation out the window, now. "Must be the…rush of the jog getting to my head and all."
Stoick took awhile to finally decide his son was really telling the truth, and he nodded. He noticed the boy heading up the stairs, possible to clean up, when he decided.
"Hiccup?" he said first, the boy already half-way up the stairs. He didn't answer verbally, but still paused to give Stoick a raised eyebrow. The silence also helped him to consider his next movement.
"Once you're done, son, meet me in the Mead Hall before the meeting starts," the burly Viking said, grabbing several scrolls from the table, making his way out the door.
Hiccup blinked before answering with a question. "Wha-? Wait, why?"
"Trainin'," his father hollered from halfway out the door before shutting it. Toothless woke up with a start, and after scanning the room with lidded eyes, they came to rest on Hiccup as he remained at the middle of the stairs.
Recognizing it couldn't find some obscure way to blame its rude awakening to Hiccup, the Night Fury simple grumbled some unintelligible grunts before going back to sleep.
It was an absurd thing for the younger ones in Berk to be up and ready before the sun even shone on a Saturday. Yet on that day, the village council would meet in the Mead Hall at the break of dawn to discuss how things would go for the following week. How the herds of sheep were to be handled. What problem that needed the most attention. And currently, ways to further strengthen the Viking-dragon alliance.
Astrid Hofferson was understandably nervous.
This was the first time her father invited her along to the weekly meeting, after so many years of her wondering what they were like. She had seen the large, oval table that she knew they would be holding the meeting at. She herself stood at that table on several occasions, not knowing where her father would be placing himself during the meetings.
Now she knew.
Arkin Hofferson was the first few on Stoick's right hand side, and it brought some new sense of pride to her father. She remained still, shoulders high, hands behind her back as the adults discussed matters that were mostly white noise to her.
To force herself not to fall asleep, Astrid began scanning the room for familiar faces. Stoick the Vast was talking from the head of the table, his voice loud enough to drown out any other. His brother –and Snotlout's father- Spitelout, was scratching his stubble. Gobber wasn't doing any better. He was trying to re-secure that odd pebble he used to replace his missing tooth.
The Thornston couple was there and so were the Ingermans. She supposed that Ruffnut, Tuffnut and Fishlegs were still happily sleeping the day away. Lucky scamps.
"…And while we're at it, my son Hiccup has already put in the designs for the new eastern catapult system," she heard Stoick said. It was the only bit so far concerning the only boy that could make her blush and go all giddy, so she listened intently.
"Both him and Gobber think it'll work better than the old ones did –but I think it'll be better if the lad explained it himself, eh?" Stoick offered, and to Astrid's surprise, said boy emerged from Stoick's left side. It wasn't a wonder that Stoick the Vast could overshadow Hiccup's still small frame, but it was a wonder why the boy was here.
She had half a mind to ask him that herself, but remembering where she was, it could wait. She could, however, make out several people whispering their curiosity as to why the young Haddock was there.
"Uhh..h-hi," Hiccup began sheepishly, reaching into his vest to retrieve a very thickly folded parchment. He proceeded to unfold it until it was fully sprawled on the table, revealing the plans for a very ambitious tower.
"Since the dragons are no longer raiding our village, we've –that's to say, Gobber and I- have been making plans for a catapult system that works better against fast moving drakkars, instead of, you know, anti-air attacks," Hiccup shrugged, his nervousness apparent.
"Drakkars?" one of the other Vikings questioned. Astrid found it rather odd, too. Why would they design a catapult that was meant against their own boats?
"As I've said in the past meeting, when me an' the others travelled to the Meathead Clan, there had been rumors that a hit-and-run clan of Vikings were pillaging the nearby islands. Now the Meatheads 'ave already put up a step up to their own defenses, and I thought it was wise we did the same," Stoick explained.
Another Viking chuckled. "Oh I'd doubt they'd come and pay our village a visit when we've got Monstrous Nightmares for welcome wagons," he said to a good manly cheer from several others.
Stoick ran a hand through his great beard as Hiccup shifted uncomfortably. Astrid just wished she could be next to him.
"That being said, I'd rather be safe than sorry. Winter's comin' up and –eventhough we'll pummel those whelps to the ground, should they decide to show up," Stoick began, more cheers and pounding of armor in agreement chorusing. "We're gonna be runnin' low on supplies. Now those who are comin' with me for the fishing voyage this week, there's no change in plans, but the rest of you are to help Hiccup and Gobber with the catapult. Any questions?"
The murmuring started again, but there were no signs of discontent. Astrid, however, had a sudden spark in her mind.
Raising her hand up and pushing herself slightly forward, she decided to voice herself out, because a raised hand amongst a sea of seven-foot tall Vikings wasn't exactly conspicuous.
"Can the dragons help out with the work?"
All eyes were on her now.
Being brought up to face any challenge straight on, Astrid did not back down. She did not waver from her footing, hand still raised, determination etched on her face.
"I was…thinking they would be able to help with the manual labor, like taking the logs straight from the forests or something."
After a few solid seconds that seemed to last forever, Astrid was beginning to dread that she spoke out of place. What would her father think? She dare not look him in the eyes as she was still looking intently at the village head for an answer.
It took Stoick awhile to think. Even if he was head of the village, the relationship between them and the dragons was not fully delegated by him. Most of that handled by…
The boy in question moved ahead of his father, saying "Dad, I got this one," and looking at Astrid –no, not with the usual lopsided smile he'd give her- but with an expression she'd never seen before. It was calm, neutral, determined, and diplomatic. She'd witnessed it so many times from Stoick. He was definitely his father's son.
"I think they'd have no problem with helping us out, but we do need to work in tandem with them," he addressed Astrid before looking out to the others.
"As you could tell from now, they're willing to help out whenever they can, but they do need guidance. We'll see what they can help out with when the time comes."
With that he stepped back, the determined look still on his face as Stoick stepped up. Astrid could have sworn she saw a smile curve up the older Viking's face, and she couldn't help but mirror it. Hiccup just took his first step into fitting the role as future chief.
After the meeting, the ranks in the Mead Hall thinned out while some stayed behind to grab the first batch of morning porridge. Stoick was hobbled on one of the larger tables with Gobber and Arkin whilst Hiccup and Astrid were eating on the table right next to them.
"That was pretty brave of you to ask that question," Hiccup remarked, earning a beaming smile from his girlfriend. She nudged her shoulder, bumping his in the progress.
"Me? You had a bit of your father in you when you gave your answer. Very chief-like."
Hiccup shrugged. "Hey, one's gotta learn, right? I think I needed that, though. Definitely a boost to my self-esteem after what happened earlier," he lamented. Astrid immediately put down her spoonful of porridge.
"What? What happened?" she asked, those fierce gray-blue eyes fixed with such concern that the auburn-haired boy had to give in.
He explained to her about what he and his dad talked about back home, and when he was done, Astrid placed a hand firmly on his shoulder.
"Hiccup, your dad's right. The circumstances were different back then; people didn't see what you really had to offer. But look at you now. You played a role in today's weekly meeting. You talked and people listened. Isn't that proof enough?" she asked, leaning closer to him.
Hiccup took a deep breath and exhaled audibly, bridging the gap until Astrid was laying her head on his shoulders. Of course she was right. And it took Astrid just a second later to come to that conclusion herself.
He played a role today. All of it was just to reassure the fact that Hiccup was far from being useless.
She stole a glance at the man she knew orchestrated Hiccup's moment of glory, and found him stealing one at them too. Astrid and Stoick locked eyes for the briefest of moments, and he nodded knowingly at her. She parroted the nod, both in gesture and meaning. They would both do whatever it took for him.
"I should apologize to my dad for making him worry this morning," Hiccup guiltily mumbled.
Astrid lifted herself up, a finger almost directly in front of Hiccup's nose.
"Never apologize more than once," she said, meaning business. Hiccup, however, flustered. "But, I never did say sorr-"
"You already did when you spoke up for yourself during the meeting. Now finish your porridge. Ruffnut invited us to go fishing today," Astrid said, Hiccup obeying said order with a smile.
It wouldn't be very Viking-like to admit, but Hiccup loved it when Astrid bossed him around. She was always beautiful, but the commanding tone in her voice was a turn-on of sorts. He didn't dare tell her where exactly he imagined she'd be giving him orders, though.
Finishing the meal in several spoonfuls, he then proceeded to play with Astrid's hair as she was still finishing hers.
"That tickles," she said, wiping her mouth on a clean cloth. He abandoned the act and snaked an arm around her waist, blowing gently into her ear. The act sent shivers down the girl's spine.
"Mmm…" she purred with a mouthful of oats. "Do that again," she said huskily as she swallowed. Hiccup needed no more coaxing.
Gently blowing again, the soft wind and the warmth of Hiccup's breath travelled from her earlobe to her cheek, causing ticklish sensations all over. He was so cute when he was being sweet.
Ignoring the fact that they were still in the Mead Hall, with both their fathers on the next table, Astrid turned her head slightly, willing to greet eager lips.
Instead she was met with a pucker-lipped Hiccup as his eyes were closed, still blowing gently at her face. The wind made her eye twitch when it came in contact, and she tried her best to suppress a giggle.
The blonde then edged her way forward trying to match her head with his, and when both pairs of lips came in contact, Hiccup almost froze. He wasn't expecting a kiss, but then again, kisses with Astrid were never predictable.
A second later he responded in kind, leaning a little more into Astrid as the kiss deepened. He was hoping that maybe, just maybe the adults wouldn't look their way.
The taste of the porridge was mixed into Astrid's lips, and it was a welcome new thing for Hiccup. He dared to go a notch further, prodding his tongue ever so slightly into her. When he felt no resistance or reproach, he ventured more.
"Mmmff, not here. Dads," she breathed as she broke the kiss, Hiccup regaining his ability to think.
"Oh, right," he said, sitting himself upright as he adjusted his tunic. "Oops."
Astrid tentatively tucked several locks of her hair back into place, trying to rid herself of what blush remained.
"You think they saw that?" Hiccup asked, leaning again to Astrid's ear. The girl clicked her teeth when his breath once again tickled her. "You gotta stop doing that," she seethed, getting up.
"Sorry," he admitted sheepishly, trailing behind her as they left the Mead Hall, all 3 adults snickering behind their backs.
"So, do you think we should be movin' the wedding date?"
"Shut it, Gobber."
Even with the large-scale fishing voyage coming along soon to stock food for the winter, Ruffnut insisted they try and have a little fun fishing while the waters weren't frozen, yet.
"Still doesn't explain why we can't just grab the dragons and net those fish," Tuffnut mumbled as his line came back empty, for the fifth time.
"Then it spoils the fun of the sport. You weren't thinking we'd be catching schools of them, weren't you?" Ruffnut retorted, shaking her head.
The idea of using the dragons to help in fishing was actually Fishleg's. During a normal fly-by of the island, his Gronckle deviated a little to the outer seas, where it dived once, soaking the large Viking in sea water. In its mouth was a giant sardine that would have taken the average Viking some time to fish out of the water.
Trying it again with Hiccup, Toothless and a rather big net, they managed to catch a nice amount of Icelandic cod. That was enough for Stoick to get the plan moving.
It was all quiet until Snotlout whooped when his third fish of the day was reeled. "Man this is easy," he said, admiring his Icelandic cod.
Tuffnut muttered something about where Snotlout could shove his prizes as Ruffnut sniggered. The sun was up and shining now, and the female Thornston was beginning to wonder where Astrid and Hiccup were.
The others were here within minutes of each other, even Snotlout, who was a known late riser.
"They'll be here," Fishleges lazily announced, examining why his catch had a discolored spot of scales.
"See, even Fishlegs has a catch. This is so unfair," Tuffnut groaned, setting his fishing pole down as he got up to stretch. Ruffnut quietly reeled in her second catch –it was bigger than the first- and placed it in her basket when Tuffnut had his back turned to her. She wasn't really in the mood for yet another fight. Not just yet.
That was when the bushes behind them began to rustle for a fraction of a second before a blur of green dashed out of it and slammed straight into the Male Thornston, both of them tumbling to the ground.
"Oh I am hurt, I am very hurt!"
"Ow, don't you ever take off that helmet, Tuff!"
"I'll answer you once you get the Hel off me!"
With that, Hiccup managed to untangle himself from the gangly Tuffnut just as Astrid made her way through the bushes.
For a second the Hofferson girl was greeted to the sight of Hiccup sprawled all over Tuffnut, and it sent shivers down her spine. Not all necessarily bad, though.
"Took you both bloody long enough. What did you do, take the time to make out underneath each tree all the way here?" Ruffnut asked, clearly exasperated. She liked to keep good time.
Astrid wasn't very much pleased at Ruffnut's stab, but she did like the idea of it. Maybe she could drag Hiccup afterwards….
"We were in the weekly meeting 'till just now," Hiccup said as he brushed off several twigs and leaves from his tunic. "We got up earlier than all of you."
That made the earlier group immediately stop what they were doing.
Hiccup noticed this, and immediately felt worried.
"What? It's not exactly impossible for someone to wake up before dawn, rig-"
"You were in the meeting? Both of you?" Tuffnut asked, not even fully up to both his feet yet.
"Yeah," Astrid said absentmindedly as bent over a little to dust some dirt from Hiccup's rear. It was honestly just an excuse to grab a handful of that boy's ass.
"I stand corrected. Now this, this is unfair," Tuffnut ranted, hands up in the air in mock surrender as he trudged back to his fishing spot.
Hiccup really did not understand what was wrong with this whole picture.
"I don't get it. Why is Tuffnut upset?" he asked Astrid, wondering if the Thornston shared the same monthly woes that his twin did.
"Lemme let you in on something, cuz," Snotlout said as he turned his head, smiling at Hiccup. "Ever since we were twelve, we've been dying to attend even one of the weekly meetings. It was almost as bad as us waiting for dragon training to start back then."
"We thought that getting in there would mean we'd mean something to the village, cause like, only the coolest of the cool get to go in. My dad, Tuff and Ruff's folks, Fishlegs' parents, Astrid's dad, your dad, of course. We were bummed as Hel when they'd always just shoo us off."
"Well my dad brought me in 'cause he thought it would be good training for me," Hiccup said with a shrug, accepting a fishing pole from Ruffnut.
"Same here," Astrid muttered as she got her own fishing pole, hooking on a worm.
"Hey, can either of you bring your dads over to my place and let them tell my dad what a good idea that is?" Snotlout asked, earning a none-too-friendly push from Astrid.
Hiccup dropped his line straight down the short cliff, silently knowing he wasn't going to get anything today. His entire daily dose of luck should have been fully diminished with his spot in the limelight in the meeting and getting a kiss from Astrid in the Mead Hall.
His theory was further confirmed when Astrid sat close to him, leaning her head on his shoulders. How lucky can one guy get?
"You're not still thinking about it, aren't you?" she asked.
"Wha? No!" Hiccup half-chuckled his answer out. "I was just thinking about how lucky I sometimes am."
Tuffnut was busy asking Fishlegs how he got his fish while Snotlout kept bragging about how he captured his sixth fish now. Ruffnut just laid straight on the grass, for Thor knows what reason. For all intents and purposes, Hiccup and Astrid were alone.
"Lucky I even survived the fight with the Green Death, lucky these guys here are even talking to me, lucky that I have you with me…."
It was sweet, really. She couldn't help but smile and give him a peck on the cheek, he deserved as much.
But when she decided it wasn't exactly enough, Astrid placed a gentle hand on his left cheek and motioned his face to hers, smoky blue eyes locking again with those intense green ones.
"You're too cute for your own good," Astrid whispered before Hiccup took hold of her lips. Unlike their previous make out attempts, this kiss was plainly chaste as neither of their arms were snaked around each other, groping certain areas that would even make Loki cringe.
Breaking for air, Hiccup leaned his forehead onto hers, their noses rubbing lightly. Astrid giggled again as it tickled, but more because she liked this. Using her left arm for support, she hooked her hand to the crook of his neck, silently gesturing that "I don't want you to move away, just yet."
Hiccup complied with the gentlest touching of lips that Astrid knew only he could provide.
"That's my boy," she huskily said.
Deciding to take the reins, Hiccup peppered her right cheek with even more of those infernal soft kisses as he travelled inwards, taking her earlobe into his mouth.
She groaned her appeasement at it. Gods it was amazing how much he loved nibbling that spot.
Knowing that since everyone else was to Astrid's left (or his right), he flicked his tongue ever so slightly into her ear, earning a jolt and a sharp gasp from her.
Getting all hot and bothered when they were practically in public like this, was a turn-on for the girl.
Her breathing became shallower as Hiccup left slow, wet licks to the middle of her neck. He loved the impossible smoothness that only that area of her neck –and her thighs…- had.
The boy was sure he heard the faintest whimper from her end, and a rare, evil smirk crept its way up his lips.
He worked his way down to the bony base of her neck, taking in the contours with his tongue, and stopping to suck just a little too hard at one spot.
"Ngaaaaah," she groaned, trying to keep her voice in check. "Hiccup…they're gonna find…"
"Let them," was his deep, husky growl of a reply, and that voice of sheer lust made her abandon all thoughts of why this was a bad idea.
He was daringly tugging at the collar of her tunic, basically trying to get as much skin as possible without having to taking the whole thing off. Because a shirtless Astrid was beyond conspicuous.
Now where had this boy gotten the courage be this daring?
Before she could put anymore thought to it, the kissing and licking stopped.
Eyes still closed, she thought he was readjusting himself or something, but nothing else came.
Opening her eyes, she saw him still at the base of her neck, but looking oddly at the fishing pole that he was still holding onto the entire time.
"I think I got a bite," he said, straightening himself up. Forgetting the fact that the boy just left her high and dry in the middle of his kisses, she sat up right next to him and see as Hiccup began to struggle pulling the line back in.
"It's a big one," he said, trying to stand up and gain more footing.
Knowing he didn't really have the same upper body strength as Fishlegs or Snotlout did, Astrid got up to help him pull, immediately giving enough force to yank the fish right out of the water.
"It's even bigger than the one Snotlout caught," Astrid remarked, Hiccup feeling rather proud of himself.
"Great, just great, they'd been here for what, five minutes and he's already caught one?" Tuffnut said, shaking his head. "This is so not my lucky day."
A/N: Okay, I *may* have gone a little long on this one. Do I need a beta reader?
Aaaaanyway, do tell me what you guys think, or give some suggestion as to what you'd wanna see, 'cause with classes starting again, I don't think I can make a progressive major story arc as of yet without dragging you guys on for months, literally.