Calling it a Day
Hiccup wiped his palms against his trousers and flexed his stiff fingers. The noises from the next room left him in an uncomfortable state—torn between covering his ears and busting inside.
But Astrid didn't want him in there. She made that quite clear and her wishes were law in this situation. He had no business, no say, in anything regarding childbirth.
Hiccup made sure to swallow the gathered saliva under his tongue before answering his father.
"You look a bit white."
"A bit," Axel scoffed.
The three men had been sitting in the main area of the young Haddock's residence for the better part of the morning. Glüm, Astrid's mother, was allowed in. As were the two midwifes, who now assisted in most births ever since Gothi found the home visits too tiring for her aged body.
"'M fine," Hiccup muttered. But he couldn't seem to take his eyes off of the door. The rafters creaked. Both their dragons paced the roof. Toothless's job was to keep Sturmflae from breaking into the room to investigate her rider's distress. Hiccup and Astrid did their best to make the dragons understand this was all natural and good, but as soon as Astrid went into labor Sturmflae became agitated.
And her agitation made him agitated.
Hiccup tried to focus on something—anything—else. On the correspondences he had yet to reply to. On the Murderous Tribe's increasing activity in the northwest. On Alivia, who would be turning two in a few months. On his father's annoying hints that maybe he was ready to retire (to which Hiccup would promptly find something else to do. He was not ready to be chief).
He thought of Fishlegs, who had become more withdrawn, more obsessed with pinpointing his birth origin. It was exactly the sort of thing Hiccup would have jumped to assist with if he wasn't already bogged down by his workload, and inter-island fiascos, and now with a young family.
The noise stopped, no longer did the groans and gasps of his wife, the encouragements and instructions of her beside handlers, permeate the door, and just as suddenly a cold dread gripped his heart.
Hiccup sat up. Silence. He couldn't breathe. Silence was bad.
He turned to his father, helpless. He couldn't read the expression on the chief's face. It may have mirrored his own: suspended, blank, caught between fright and hope—
A single cry rang out.
Hiccup leapt to his feet.
"Wait," Stoick advised.
Hiccup just managed to keep from touching the door. He let out a breath and glanced over his shoulder. Stoick appeared a large, calm presense next to Axel, who looked just as tense as Hiccup felt. Astrid's father's beard twitched and his face, for once, was left unguarded.
The cries on the other side continued. The cries of a new voice—a blessed omen, to be sure—but still only one voice.
Hiccup bounced on his heels much like when he was a boy. Even after the noise quelled. He wanted it back. He hated the silence.
Finally, the door opened.
Glüm stepped back, a hand to her aproned bosom. Clearly, she wasn't prepared for Hiccup to be standing right there.
Hiccup looked past the dark stains streaked across the lap of her apron and sleeves, and right over the woman's head.
"She's fine," Glüm assured him. She patted a hand to his chest. "They're both—well then!"
Hiccup had squeezed by her and entered the room without any further welcome. 'She's fine' was all he needed to hear.
Astrid was in their bed, propped by shallow pillows and layered in blankets. One midwife knelt at her side, helping set her up for nursing. A second midwife bustled around the room collecting cloths and instruments from the delivery.
Hiccup's gaze fixed on the bundle in Astrid's arms. His hands shook. He stepped closer and Astrid looked up. Rings darkened the thin skin below her eyes and her cheeks were blotched in red. Sweat slicked the loose hair to her forehead and neck, and her lips appeared pale.
"Hey," he said, suddenly breathless.
She managed half a smile and mouthed the greeting back at him. The midwife gently touched her arm and told her she'd given them some privacy. As she passed Hiccup she smiled and said, "Congratulations on your son."
Hiccup nodded at her absently.
His legs carried him across the room, for which he was thankful; he felt too lightheaded move on his own. When he kneeled at the bedside his gaze first went to the child swathed in a dyed blanket. The baby's pink, new flesh was mottled purple and grey and the sparse dark hair atop his head was slick and wispy. Puffy, closed eyes, a double chin and scrunched face… He was beautiful.
Hiccup reached out and gently rested his hand on his child's head. The baby grunted at the warm touch and continued to nose around Astrid's breast.
"You did it," Hiccup uttered numbly. It sounded stupid as soon as he said it but he didn't know what else to say. He was…speechless—a rare and confining state for him to be in—but he was so in awe of his wife at that moment words escaped him.
"How are you feeling?" he managed to ask.
Astrid closed her eyes and let her head fall back.
"Never again," she muttered. "Never. Again."
Hiccup nodded vigorously.
"Yes, yeah—whatever you want."
He didn't know who he wanted to stare at more—Astrid or his son. He wanted to sit back and gaze at him both, and at the same time wanted to gather both into his arms just to feel their heartbeats.
"I'm serious. Next baby, you're carrying."
The infant gave her breast a couple suckles before squirming away with a fuss. Astrid cursed softly.
"He won't take," she muttered. The midwife said it was normal, that it would take practice, but Astrid couldn't help but feel discouraged.
Hiccup brushed back her hair and laid a kiss to her salty forehead. He hadn't noticed the giant grin plastered across his face until he tried to move his lips.
"You're amazing." The sincerity in his voice was enough to make Astrid smile despite her exhaustion.
Still grinning so hard the back of his jaw ached, Hiccup reached out and touched a downy, baby cheek with the back of his finger. The infant bleated and hiccupped. His little, spindly arms fought loose from the swathing and he pumped his fists at them.
"He might have his father's appetite, but at least he's strong like his mother," Astrid cooed. She found the strength to lift the baby and press her lips to his cheek, and then proceeded to nuzzle him.
Hiccup didn't mind the light barb. His heart was soaring. Hours of uncertainty and tension had ebbed away into a euphoric relief. He crossed his arms on the bed and rested his chin on them so he could simply gaze at the mother and child. At his wife and child. Both of whom were okay. Alive and healthy and his.
"So… Finn is it?" he asked.
Astrid shook her head before gesturing to the sword overhanging their bedroom wall. Endeavor. The gleaming refurbished blade with the old, entwined handle was the very same Hiccup had disappeared for two and a half weeks retrieving. The very same he presented to Astrid on their wedding day.
Garik "Grimbeard" the Ghastly. Hiccup's great-great grandfather and the greatest pirate to ever sail the Barbaric Archepelagoes, his untold fortunes hidden with the very same cleverness that Hiccup possessed.
Hiccup stared at her.
"Are-are you sure?"
Astrid focused on getting Garik to take the nipple again.
"I'm sure," she said. Her eyes were tired, but bright as she watched Garik tentatively latch for the second time. "I have high hopes for him."
Higher than Finn's accomplishments, is what she didn't say.
Hiccup chuckled. "Already piling on the expectations?"
Astrid smiled. She had regained some of the color back in her lips.
Hiccup rubbed his son's head again. He couldn't seem to stop. "Don't worry buddy, I won't let her Stoick you."
The look Astrid gave Hiccup didn't quite share his mirth.
"Next time I put him down you're getting walloped for that," she said.
"I don't doubt that." He glanced back at the door, which had been closed by someone. He hardly noticed their privacy before now. "Should we bring our dads in?"
He recalled Axel's tension and his dad's unreadable face. They had seemed inconsequential compared to what he felt not too long ago, but now with his fears quelled Hiccup started to think outside of his own gratification.
A hand to his forearm stopped him from standing.
"Not yet," Astrid said. There was a note of pleading to her voice. "My mother's told them, I'm sure. Just… get in bed with us for a bit."
Hiccup stared at her for a beat. His brow lowered.
"Yeah," he said softly. "Of course. Whatever you want."
And he climbed on top of the blankets. His head went to the same pillow Astrid used, his body pressed against hers, his arm resting across her stomach, fingers capturing the tiny, lifted fist of Garik.
Astrid rested her head against Hiccup's and closed her eyes once more. He was due to leave tonight for another meeting between tribe heirs, but Garik came unexpected, a week early, and Astrid didn't know if Hiccup would still go. What she did know was that this would be the norm. That Hiccup would always be pulled in at least three different directions with his self-imposed responsibilities and that moments like this-together and warm and timeless-would be far and few between.
It wasn't just on Hiccup's end either. Astrid was going to be a chief's wife any year now. She had a Bog step-daughter. She had shieldmaiden responsibilities on top of running her household. He had the most frustrating, lovable housemate in the Barbaric Archipelagoes. They had just gotten comfortable with their marriage, with their routine in living together, and now they had a child.
Astrid was scared-not that she'd ever say it out loud-and she was confident. This would work; this life of dragon riding and war counsels and now children.
"We can make it work," she whispered, breath to Hiccup's chin. She felt him smile against her nose.
"We can," Hiccup agreed.
A/N: And Crossing the Line is over! Thanks for reading and following you guys! This was never meant to be a story in the first place but… accidents happen.
Also, quick promo, The Roman Redress was a detailed fic synopsis I wrote a long time ago, I'm talking meant for the Epic-level of Hitchups type of fic, and is now being written by Cherry Burlesque! It's three chapters in already and I urge you all to go check it out!
Thanks again guys for reading and thank you for your input and reviews!