This is the last chapter, so I'd to thank everyone who read, reviewed, followed and/or favorited this, especially dov5e, hcsp1 and cilone. Thanks, guys! I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.
Another rainy evening in Edinburgh and she was behind the bar, wiping down glasses and putting them away. Custom was slow, but she didn't mind. The term had started; she hadn't talked to Hiccup in a few days because he'd been busy getting back to school as well. Even Jamie hadn't been in in a while. A week ago he'd led a girl in by the hand and stood up straight instead of leaning against the bar like he usually did.
"Lexie, this is my friend Merida. Merida, this is Lexie." His eyes had been locked on the girl as they shook hands and Merida hid her grin. In all the time she'd known Jamie she'd never seen him look at anyone or anything the way he was looking at Lexie. It was really sweet, and not just because maybe it meant he would be lurking around and annoying her less.
"It's very nice to meet you," Merida had said earnestly as Lexie smiled shyly, glancing up at Jamie. She'd give it a week or two before she told her mum, though.
Since then she'd hardly seen him. It had made things quieter, but it was also strangely lonely not having the tosser around. When the door opened she didn't turn; she just hoped that whoever it was coming in wasn't tracking dirty water all over the floor.
From behind her the customer asked, "Can I have a snakebite and black, please?"
She had to be hallucinating. The voice sounded familiar, from hours spent talking on the phone into the night. Merida turned, a pint glass in her hand, and nearly dropped it. "What are you doing here?"
Hiccup shrugged nonchalantly. "Well, Edinburgh's just an hour train ride from Glasgow, so I thought I'd come check it out."
That made no sense. He was meant to be in Berk. "What were you doing in Glasgow? What about university?"
He smiled easily as he leaned forward, his elbows on the bar, droplets of water dripping from his hair. "Remember how I told you they have a really good architecture school at the Glasgow School of Art? I transferred there, so I'll be studying there for the next two years, maybe three. You have to come see the campus. Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed the main building and it's really beauti—"
He was cut off by her lips crashing against his.
High five, Augustus Waters.
It was her turn to visit him. He'd led her on a tour of Glasgow, pointing out all of the buildings he already loved, his face bright and happy and his hand warm around hers. The buildings were nice and all, but for her the best part was just being with him, watching him go on about the different styles and architects.
And much to her delight she finally got to be that obnoxious girl kissing her boyfriend in the pub.
They took Toothless to the park in the afternoon, where they played fetch and Merida raced him over the grass, losing every time and laughing all the same. He leaped around her, then stood and rested his paws on her chest, and she scratched his ears and threatened to kidnap him back to Edinburgh. "And just wait 'til my dad meets you," she said, and Hiccup's heart soared.
Back at his flat she fished through her bag and held up a DVD case. "I brought a video," she said, grinning.
He shook his head adamantly. "No. Those guys on the cover have guns. I can tell what it's going to be like."
"You said you would!"
"I said I might."
"Oh, please, Hiccup," she pleaded. "Jensen shoots a crossbow in it." She pouted at him, lower lip stuck out as she offered the DVD with both hands. There was no way he could resist that, her lips and her big sad eyes, though he tried for as long as he could. Finally he sighed and took it and she grinned and clapped.
When the DVD was playing he settled down next to her on the couch. She pulled his arm around her shoulders and snuggled against him, then kissed his cheek lightly. "You won't regret it, I promise," she said.
He did, though. "Aw, come on," he complained a few minutes in. "This guy, with the stubble, and the dimples?"
"You have stubble," she said, nuzzling her cheek against his. His heart started to pound and his arm tightened around her, almost involuntarily. She lifted a hand and stroked his other cheek with light fingertips.
"No dimples, though." He turned his head and smiled to show her. Her hand left his cheek for the back of his neck, her fingers curling into his hair, pulling him closer.
"I don't mind," she breathed. She couldn't mind. Some guy with dimples, some other guy with a crossbow, actual Jeremy Renner, none of them were anything compared to him. His expression changed from a big goofy smile to a softer one as he brushed a curl from her face. Her eyes were wide, her lips parted slightly; he heard her breath hitch in a little gasp when he stroked his thumb over her lower lip. She dipped her head and kissed the pad of his thumb, warm and calloused and perfect.
Without meaning to he held his breath. Even though she was unmistakably real in his arms he sometimes still thought she'd disappear, like a dream. But she wasn't like any dream he'd ever had before—his imagination wasn't good enough to come up with anything like her, not her long neck or her rose-gold eyelashes, her sense of humor or her fire, the fire that seemed to crackle along her curls when she was riled and that flowed out of her and into him, melting his bones, when she felt amorous. Like now, as she glanced up at him, looking almost shy but for the burning in her eyes. He brushed his lips against hers gently, and then again, and a third time, her eyes fluttering closed; then he dropped his forehead to hers and stared. She was gorgeous like this, her skin flushed, her lips puckered slightly. She opened her eyes to figure out why he'd stopped and met his gaze, nearly shivering at the open adoration she saw there.
"Well, if you're sure you don't mind…" he murmured. She smiled brilliantly and kissed him, lightly at first, teasingly, but his hand tangling in her hair soon encouraged her to kiss him in earnest.
They completely missed the part with the crossbow.
"See you next weekend," she said, leaning in close for a kiss.
It wasn't a question, but he answered it like it had been, shrugging carelessly. "I'll be around."
"Ugh," she groaned as he smirked and pulled her close. "Remind me again why I'm in love with you?"
He would never, ever get tired of hearing her say that she loved him. "Your guess is as good as mine. You could definitely do better."
She shook her head solemnly. "No, I couldn't. No one could." She cuddled against him, burying her nose in the wool of his coat, feeling him kiss the top of her head. His heart beat strong and steady under her cheek and she closed her eyes.
From his spot by the bench Toothless woofed once and Hiccup looked up at the clock. "You'd better go," he said quietly, arms still tight around her. One day he just wouldn't say it and she wouldn't get on the train. She'd stay another night. Or maybe one day he'd pull her onto a train going who knew where and they'd ride until the tracks ran out, just to see what was out there.
"Damn." It was the same every time: she told herself they'd have a proper goodbye in private to spare everyone else at the station having to see their obnoxious displays of affection, and every time she had to tear herself from his arms and give him one more kiss that would make a priest blush. How was she supposed to help herself when he stood there, smiling at her, nose pink with the late autumn chill, the cleverest, kindest, wittiest, loveliest man in two countries, and him somehow in love with her?
She sighed and picked up her bag. "Bye, Toothless," she said from the door, and his tail thumped against the pavement. "Bye, you."
Letting her go wasn't the hardest thing he'd ever done, but it was the hardest part of every week. "Call me when you get there." He bit his lip and took a step closer to the train, his face pink all over as he said, "Love you, Merida."
Her face lit up, the way it did every time he'd said it so far. It was hard to believe that anything he said could make a person look so happy. His own heart swelled as her eyes went intense and she swore, "I love you, too."
The doors finally slid shut between them and he watched the train pull away, heading east. When it was gone he picked up Toothless' lead for the walk back to their building. They hadn't even made it to the street outside the station before his phone buzzed in his pocket.
I hope you're saving your money for the summer. I've got big plans for us xx
Next weekend, next summer, it couldn't come soon enough.
Can't wait. Xxxx