Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in this story, who belong to Cressida Cowell, Dreamworks, and Disney Pixar.

This first chapter was inspired by a picture Elfpen drew of Merida snogging Hiccup. It's on her tumblr and mine if you'd like to see it. I only meant to write this one-shot, but then it demanded a second bit. I'm pretty sure it's all done now, though.

"I don't remember you being this much taller than me," Merida said, peering up at him, a slight frown twisting her lips.

"I know it's been a while since we've seen each other, but I don't see how you could forget that I've always been tall—well, taller than you," he amended. "Good Viking stock, ya know." He smiled wryly.

Not in DunBroch nor Berk nor any place in between had she ever made the acquaintance of anyone quite like Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III. He was funny and hardworking and kind, by miles the cleverest person she knew, and humbler than he had any right to be. If she'd done all he had—befriending a dragon, saving his tribe and their home from almost certain destruction, risking his life and losing a leg in the process—there'd be no living with her; she'd be absolutely insufferable, puffed up with pride and ready at a moment's notice to remind people of what she'd achieved. And yet here he stood, self-deprecating as ever despite his heroism.

"Good Viking stock is right." Better than the lot of them was more like it, and certainly better than her. She cast a critical eye over him: beside the metal that now replaced flesh and blood he looked healthy and strong, though he squirmed a bit under her scrutiny, a flush rising in his cheeks. It was an unexpected comfort to realize that though he'd grown a bit, become the pride and protector of his island, some things about him still hadn't changed, and likely never would. No matter how much laud and acclamation he earned, no matter how many admired him, he would ever consider himself undeserving of it. A warm rush of affection for the boy flooded her, followed by a just as instinctive impulse to act. She reached out and caught his hand in hers.

"Lean down a bit."

"Huh?" His eyebrows drew together, proof that even the smartest of men could be as thick as two planks. She didn't bother to repeat herself; she merely tugged once on the hand she held. His eyes darted between their hands and her face, and then he obeyed, stooping awkwardly. Steadying herself with her free hand on the side of his face Merida pushed onto her toes and pressed her lips to his. She'd only meant to kiss his cheek, but the angle was all wrong, she told herself; she didn't want to knock him over. Beneath her lips she felt his breath catch, and when she stepped back his eyes were almost comically wide and, she noticed with a tiny gasp of her own, a bit bewitching this close.

"What was that for?" he asked, voice breathless and low.

His hand lay heavy in hers, his fingers slowly curling around her hand; her skin seemed to tingle wherever they touched. Though she suddenly felt shy, she smiled. "You deserved it."

The steady pressure of his grip told her that just maybe he believed it.