The Womping Willow's leaves were reddening, the Scottish breeze was quickly growing colder and harsher, seeping through the cracks in the walls of the old castle. Honestly, Hiccup didn't understand why there wasn't a more advanced heating system at the school. He stood in the courtyard with his robes wrapped securely around his slender frame. He had been standing there for at least ten minutes, not really knowing what to do with his free period. He just wanted the bells to ring so he could go to lunch and listen to Rapunzel banter on about astronomy and how the Sun's allignment with Mars was going to affect the growth of death slings.
Hiccup sighed and turned around. He decided to start walking so he'd be in the Great Hall early. He pulled his scarf tighter around his neck and walked towards the entrance. He hurried inside and almost tripped as he walked through the corridor. Merlin how he hated that stupid leg of his! He'd had it for nearly eight years and he still tripped now and again because of it. He pushed the auburn hair from his face and picked up his pace.
He finally reached the Great Hall. The bell hadn't rung yet so the tables were pretty empty except from some hungry and rowdy Gryffindors. They were wearing dirty Quidditch uniforms. Hiccup frowned; couldn't they have spent the next ten minutes changing out of their uniforms instead of going to lunch early?
"Hiccup hi!" a light female voice chirped from behind him. He turned his head to find Rapunzel walking towards him. Her knee-long blonde hair was tied in a side braid and her neck was hidden behind a fluffy Ravenclaw scarf. She reached Hiccup and linked her arm with his. Together they walked to the Ravenclaw table.
"So where have you been this fine free period?" he asked, he put his elbows on the table and let his chin rest in his hands. Rapunzel sighed dreamily and looked at the Gryffindor table.
"I watched them practice for a few minutes," she replied, her voice low and secretive. "I made sure they didn't see me of course. And you should have seen her Hiccup, she was incredible up there."
Hiccup's eyes moved to the target of Rapunzel's affections. A girl with her head full of orange curls. A pair of big blue eyes dominated her face. She was Merida DunBroch, a fiesty Gryffindor who knew how to hit her bludgers. Hiccup didn't know what Rapunzel saw in her honestly, she was nothing but annoying and pretty obnoxious. But who was he to question Rapunzel's feelings? She was his best friend and she refused to let go of her crush.
Hiccup smirked. "So you just creeped on her from afar. Smooth."
"Shut up," she said. A blush spread across her cheeks and she looked down. "I just … I don't know."
Hiccup placed a comforting hand on her back. "I know. But have you ever considered actually talking to her Rae?" Rapunzel looked up at him. He rarely used that nickname for her. Only when they were alone and he was trying to comfort her. She could feel a small smile tugging at her lips.
"I … yeah," she said, her voice still low. "But she's so out there you know? And I'm just some weirdo and I don't even know why I like her so much because like she's so different from me and like you always say, she's loud and annoying. I just wish it didn't hurt so bad."
Hiccup rubbed her back and gave her an encouraging smile.
"I don't even know if she's … y'know," Rapunzel whispered. "And even if she was, why would she ever be interested in me? I'm so boring Hiccup."
"Shut up," Hiccup said. "You're not boring, everyone who knows you knows that you're the most passionate person on this planet."
"Yeah, but she doesn't know me."
"Because you don't have the courage to go up and talk to her," Hiccup reminded her. "If you want her to like you you'll have to make an effort."
"Oh yes of course you'd know, especially after your very serious relationship with Jane Gregory back in third year." Rapunzel sighed and let her head drop onto the table surface.
"The sarcasm in your voice hurts me Rapunzel." Hiccup pressed a hand to his heart. "But," he began, dropping the joking tone, "you know I'm right."
Rapunzel lifted her head and looked at him. Their eyes locked and she saw the determination and worry in his. She sighed and looked away. Hiccup was right, he was always right. While he wasn't as book smart as she was he was the most perceptive person she'd ever met. He just understood without her ever saying a word.
"I know," she whispered. "I just … I don't think I'm ready yet." She gazed down at the table and let out a deep sigh. Hiccup put his arm around her and gave her a little squeeze.
"Okay," he said. "Let me now when you're ready."
She looked up at him and smiled. "Will do – probably," she said. Hiccup rolled his eyes and removed his arm.
"I don't want to have classes with Gryffindor," Rapunzel whined as she, Hiccup, and Fishlegs made their way to their first afternoon class. The headmistress had finally realised that pairing Slytherin and Gryffindor together was a bad idea. So Gryffindor and Ravenclaw were now paired together for most classes.
"I feel bad for the Hufflepuffs," Fishlegs said.
Hiccup rolled his eyes. "I'm sure it'll be fine. Hufflepuff won the Quidditch cup from Slytherin last year so the snakes should feel humbled. Or they'll be more pissed off than ever and kill every Hufflepuff currently on school grounds."
They reached the grounds by the edge of the forest where the rest of the class was already waiting. Professor Caverly, their Care of Magical Creatures professor, smiled when she saw them arrive. "Well, that's everyone then." She scribbled something on a piece of parchment before turning her attention back to the class.
"Welcome to your third year of Care of Magical Creatures! As you all know I'm professor Caverly. This year we will focus on getting closer to the creatures we've dealt with in the past. But since today is our first day back I thought I should show you something new to get you all hyped up for an exciting year!" She clapped her hands together and smiled widely and earnestly at the class.
Hiccup's hand shot into the air.
"Yes Haddock?" professor Caverly asked, her eyes resting fondly on Hiccup.
"Are we going to work with thestrals this year professor?" he asked. Please please please he begged in his mind.
"Yes! Or well, not as intensely as other creatures we've worked with seeing as it's pretty unlikely that any of you are ever going to see any thestrals until you're well past your fifties," she replied.
"What're thestrals?" Merida DunBroch asked. Hiccup rolled his eyes; was it really that hard to be polite and raise your hand?
"Follow me," professor Caverly said. The class followed her into the forest. Rapunzel shuddered as the trees enveloped them. They entered a small clearing. Professor Caverly turned to her class and told them to wait while she worked on getting the thestrals to them. Hiccup could feel the excitement bubbling in his chest, he'd never been close to a thestral in a setting like this before.
"Hey Corona, there's a moth in your hair!" Merida's voice sounded from behind them. Rapunzel let out a high pitched yelp as she started jumping up and down to get it off.
Hiccup reached forward and grabbed her by the shoulders. "There's nothing there, it was just a joke Rae," he said. The blonde breathed heavily as her cheeks turned bright red. Hiccup let go of her shoulders and turned to glare at Merida.
"I'm sorry were you raised in a barn?" he asked. "She's scared of moths, you should try being a bit more considerate," he snapped at her.
"Oh I'm sorry for scaring your girlfriend Haddock," she shot back. Hiccup glared at her.
"What are you, five?" Hiccup sneered.
"I'd say you're the five year old here, you certainly look the part."
"Ladies ladies ladies," a smooth voice spoke from behind them. "You're both equally annoying so can you stop this stupid bickering please?"
Hiccup's eyes shot to the owner of the familiar voice. Of course it belonged to Jack Overland and his stupid face with his stupid hair and his stupidly nice hands.
Hiccup put his hands on his hips and glared at him.
"As soon as little miss bird's nest stops being an inconsiderate brute -"
"Oh how eloquent, is that how Ravenclaws fight?" Merida said, her voice dripping with dry sarcasm.
"- I'll shut up," Hiccup finished, ignoring Merida's words. With that he turned away from Jack Overland's stupid face.
A few minutes later professor Caverly returned. Her left hand seemed to be stroking the air. Hiccup heard a gasp from behind him and he had to restrain himself from turning to see who it had come from.
"Thestrals," Hiccup whispered as professor Caverly led the creatures into the clearing. She turned to the class.
"Raise your hands if you don't see anything," she said. Hiccup raised his hand together with the others. Professor Caverly nodded. "Lower your hands," she said. Then she walked towards them.
"Overland?" she asked, her voice soft. Everyone turned to look at the white hared boy. His blue eyes were wide, locked on the creature behind professor Caverly. She gestured for him to follow her and after a second of hesitation he followed. She led him out into the clearing. The rest of the class watched as she took his hand and placed it on the thestral.
"Why can he see them?" Eugene asked.
"That's a good question, why can only some people see thestrals?" she asked the class.
"You can only see them when you've whitnessed and accepted death," Hiccup said, his voice cautious.
Professor Caverly nodded. "Luckily there haven't been many people who have been able to see thestrals this past decade," she said. Then she cleared her throat. "Thestrals are particularly fond of the people who can see them but it is possible to befriend them without seeing them. Does anyone want to come and say hi?" she asked, a smile tugging at her lips.
Hiccup didn't even have to think twice. He walked up to the invisible creature. Jack was still stood beside it, a hand resting on what Hiccup assumed was its neck.
"They bring peace to the people who see them," professor Caverly informed. Hiccup nodded absent mindedly. He could feel the warmth from the animal, he could sense its presence. He lifted his hand slowly and reached out until his hand hit something solid. It was warm, it felt like a horse's muzzle. His hand travelled downwards until it reached the nostrils. Hot air hit his hand. He pulled his hand away but the thestral pushed its muzzle forward again until it found Hiccup's palm.
Hiccup could feel eyes on him. He turned to look at Jack.
"It likes you," Jack said, his voice small and unsure. Hiccup frowned and turned his attention back to the animal.
"Does anyone else want to touch one? There are four mares and one foul here," professor Caverly said. Some of the other students slowly made their way into the clearing. Caverly smiled and turned to Hiccup and Jack. "You two keep this one in check while I help the others okay," she said before turning away to help Eugene find one of the animals.
Hiccup watched as their professor helped the rest of the class. He smiled when he saw Fishlegs and Rapunzel stroke one of the thestrals. It was weird, touching something invisible. He had seen drawings of thestrals in books so he knew what they looked like. But he knew that those drawings were far from the real thing.
His gaze moved from his friends to Jack who was absent mindedly stroking the thestrals neck. His reaction to the thestrals had been surprisingly calm.
"Why are you so calm?" Hiccup asked, his eyes narrowing on Jack. Jack turned his head to look at him.
"Because I've seen thestrals for nine years now, but this is the first time I've gotten to touch one," he replied. Hiccup nodded and turned his attention back to stroking the thestral's muzzle. Suddenly the thestral moved its head from Hiccup's hand. Hiccup frowned.
"What's it doing?" he asked Jack.
"Looking at your leg," Jack answered, watching curiously as the animal sniffed at Hiccup's left leg.
Hiccup felt the thestral's muzzle against his prosthetic leg. His frown hadn't left his face. Then the pressure disappeared, so did the warmth of the thestral.
"It's walking to professor Caverly," Jack said before Hiccup could ask. "Do you reckon she sees them?" Jack asked, turning his attention to Hiccup.
Hiccup shrugged. "I think you need to see them in order to take care of them. It's not like they're the noisiest creatures in the forest."
Jack didn't say anything else and for a while they both just stood there. The silence wasn't comfortable but it wasn't completely awkward either. Hiccup glanced over at the white haired boy and suppressed a sigh.
Hiccup wouldn't say he had a crush on Jack Overland, now that would be ridiculous. He would be lying if he said he wasn't interested in Jack. But then again, who wasn't? Jack was an intriguing person, he was one of those people everyone knew, yet no one really knew anything about him. Nearly everyone in fifth year and upwards had been at his house, but all everyone could say about him was that he was funny and knew how to make people laugh.
Hiccup was curious. But he knew that his curiosity would never be fed because he was never going to become friends with Jack. Sure, they were aquainted but so was everyone else. They were just two people who sometimes had classes together. And that was okay.
"Okay class!" Professor Caverly had to raise her voice so everyone could hear her. "If you could all just step back out of the clearing, then you can watch as I feed them!"
The Ravenclaw common room was quiet that evening. Only a few students had chosen to stay up instead of going to bed. Their first week back was almost over and most of them were still slightly hung over after summer break.
Rapunzel and Fishlegs had claimed the big blue chairs by the fireplace. Hiccup was lying on his stomach in front of them, his elbows resting on a cushion. His friends were engrossed in a deep discussion about some book about Herbology they had both read. Hiccup wasn't paying them much attention. His eyes were skimming the pages of the Evening Prophet. As always there wasn't really much to read. There was one article about a woman who had been bitten by a loose blast-ended screwt. Stoick Haddock, head of the ministry's Auror department, had put out a statement saying; "The day we get rid of these blasted creatures will be the happiest day of my life."
Hiccup rolled his eyes. His dad was a perfect Auror but he wasn't the best at talking to the wizarding press.
Fishlegs yawned and stood up. "I think I'm gonna head up. G'night guys." And with that he left his two friends.
The common room was mostly silent. Three seventh years were whispering together at one of the tables and a third year had passed out on a couch. If you wanted a quiet place then the Ravenclaw tower at eleven in the evening was an excellent candidate.
"Hey Hic." Rapunzel nudged Hiccup's head with her bare foot.
"Ew Rapunzel, don't put your feet in my hair!" Hiccup exclaimed. He quickly sat up and grimaced at his friend. She rolled her eyes, a fond smile tugging at her lips.
"So you were talking to Jack Overland in Care of Magical Creatures today," she cooed. Hiccup narrowed his eyes. "He's pretty handsome, isn't he?" she said.
Hiccup glared. "I'm going to hide a baby skrewt in your pillowcase."
Rapunzel giggled. "Don't be such a wanker Hic, just admit that you think he's cute."
Hiccup blushed and looked away. "Maybe kinda," he mumbled. A triumphant grin spread across Rapunzel's face.
She leaned forward and rested her elbows on her knees. "So what did you two talk about?" she asked.
"Just like, thestrals and stuff. Does it even matter? I think we should be talking about the act that Merida DunBroch is a twat and while I try to be supportive of you I really don't understand why you like her." Hiccup crossed his arms.
"Don't get all defensive now. She didn't know about my phobia, she was just trying to be funny -"
"Well that's a sick sense of humour."
"- she's not all bad Hiccup okay?" Rapunzel sighed. "You always get so defensive and it's annoying. I really just want to talk to you you know. You're my best friend."
"I know, I'm sorry," Hiccup said. He looked down at his lap. "I know I'm not good at talking about these things."
Rapunzel sighed. She got up from her chair and bent down to hug him. "I'm going to bed. Don't stay up too late ye doof." She stood up and ruffled his hair. "G'night Hic."
"Night Rapunzel." He watched her disappear up the stairs to the girl's dormitories.
He fell backwards onto the floor. He looked at the shimmering stars that illuminated the ceiling in the Ravenclaw commons.
"You're a prick Hiccup," he mumbled to himself.
Author's note: Edited on October 1st 2014. Thanks to GoneRENegade for informing me of a slight continuation error.