I do not own How to Train Your Dragon.
The day was hot, and if one thing never changed it was that a hot day made an unbearable forge. Hiccup wiped the sweat from his brow, glancing out the window at his friends.
Friends. He pondered the word for a moment. Even after a year, he still wasn't quite used to it. Not that it was bad—he greatly preferred his new status to his old one, just that he sometimes had a hard time wrapping his mind around it. Mockery had been replaced with respect for his opinion, cruel nicknames with deep admiration. And although it often left him scratching his head, it was really nice to have the others fight for the seat next to him, rather than refusing to let him sit. Friends, he considered again. His friends. He really wanted to be out there with them, but he had work to do and time was running short.
He turned back to the fire, squinting as a frown crept across his face. He'd been fully immersed in this project for the past two weeks. It had to be perfect. Anyone else would say it was, but somehow, Hiccup kept finding the tiniest flaws, the most miniscule imperfections. His face set with determination, he inspected the mandrel again. He was meeting his girlfriend at dusk and he was not going to be held up. And he'd really like time to wash up first. He tapped lightly at the metal.
"You still fiddlin' wit tha' thing?"
Hiccup jumped, smacking his hand on the vise. "Could you, I don't know, not do that?" His irritation grew at the sound of his mentor's hearty laugh. "Oh, good. I was worried my misfortune had stopped being amusing."
"O'course not," Gobber insisted whacking him on the back, "But ye are done wit it. Tidy up an' git outta 'ere."
"I- I- I know, but…" Hiccup sputtered. Did Gobber just not get it?
"Hiccup, no. I been watchin' ye mess wit it all week an' it's done. Yer over thinkin' again."
"Would you just—"
Gobber rolled his eyes. "Look, ye done good this year. Ye handle yerself 'round here, but it's still my forge. Yer done 'ere an' tha's final. Unless ye wan' me to put ye to work washin' me undies?"
"Fine," Hiccup grumbled, shelving his tools. He headed toward the door.
"Hiccup! I think ye forgot somethin'…"
"Oh… Oh! Thanks Gobber!" He ran back, pocketing the tiny, still imperfect source of his recent frustrations.
"Yeah, yeah," the man said with a shake of the head and a smug smile.
Before Hiccup could even close the door to the forge, Toothless pounced, clearly happy to see his best friend. This was the daily routine and one thing Hiccup was happy had not changed. Sometimes he worried about Toothless being bored during his longer days at the forge or when he was out with Astrid or his dad. More dragons continued to settle on the island, some taking up with local residents, others finding their own patch of land in the lush forests. For the most part, Toothless got along well with them (as long as they stayed clear of his fish) and the children of Berk absolutely adored him. Still, he was there every afternoon, eagerly awaiting Hiccup's departure for the day.
"Hey, bud," he grinned, rubbing that spot Toothless loved best. No matter what, the dragon always brought out the best in him.
The dragons had been well accepted by most. Some individuals had been more hesitant than others, but even they came around sooner rather than later. Now, most families had at least one. Hiccup smiled and followed his dragon home.
He was disappointed to find his dad was still gone. Without the need to find the dragons' nest, Stoick was home a lot more and when he did go on chiefly expeditions, he often took Hiccup with him. Hiccup was, after all, training to eventually replace him. This week, however, Stoick was leading a hunting party. Hiccup wasn't much for hunting, and besides, the reason he had given his father for wanting to stay behind brought so much elation to the man's face Hiccup had worried he would explode. The following morning, Stoick had taken care of the arrangements, even offering to postpone the hunt. When Hiccup insisted that wasn't necessary, he clapped him on the back and let him know this was the best decision he would ever make. Then he hugged him.
Hiccup wasn't sure how he felt about being chief someday. He felt more suited to a nice, quiet life as a blacksmith, but he knew it was his duty, and when the time came, he would accept it and do the best he could. With a little luck, it wouldn't be a concern for many, many years and by then, he'd have more confidence. And with even more luck, a feisty wife to kick him when need be.
But yeah, the successor thing… Well, it was the sum of a lot of changes between them. They no longer ate in awkward silence. And although he'd been one of the last in Berk, and he'd tried to act disinterested, Stoick had finally asked Hiccup to help him procure a dragon of his own. Hiccup's father was proud—proud —of him, and that made him proud of himself.
Now, he regretted his resolution that the hunt continue. He could really use his father's reassurance. He tossed Toothless a whole salmon and went to clean himself up. Work had been so hot, and the last thing he needed was to stink.
Halfway to clean, he heard his name.
"Hiccup?" He scrambled to pull his shirt back on, heading toward the sound.
"Astrid! Hi, hi Astrid, hi…" Even after a year, something about her made him nervous. He was pretty sure something always would. In any case, he hoped for the chance to find out.
"Hi Hiccup," she playfully mocked.
Gods, she was beautiful. And his. And he loved her and somehow, she loved him back. That was something he couldn't understand at all.
"Hi Astrid," he repeated, unable to shake the feeling that the last year was really just some absurd dream and he was going to wake up to a dragon raid at any moment.
"We established that." A sly hand crept along his side, up his back, and she pulled him into a kiss. Their kisses had certainly come a long way. Most notably, she no longer considered domestic violence a necessary precursor, something his arms were eternally grateful for. The kisses themselves were different too, the awkward shyness gone, replaced with passion and love and sometimes lust, but somehow every one still felt new and left him with the same dizzying breathlessness of the first. That was something he hoped time would never touch.
Proper greeting out of the way, she asked, "So what's the plan?"
"You'll see…" He hoped his grin covered his nervousness, as he pulled her out the door, hoped she couldn't feel his shaking hands as he helped her onto Toothless, hoped she would be surprised, hoped she would be happy. Hoped he made her happy. Hoped he could make her happy forever.
Hiccup took a deep breath, as Toothless flew the familiar course to the cove. Reaching into his pocket, he fingered the delicate silver circle nestled deep inside and wondered what the next year would bring.