Thank you for starting this story! If you're a new reader who has just finished Unexpected, I welcome you! And if you're a re-reader, I especially welcome you! I feel like I should warn my new readers that this story is the first one I've ever written that has made anyone cry. However, it was well received regardless of some of the angsty situations. After careful consideration, I think this is my favorite of the series so far. As always, leave a review if you can! I read every review, even on completed stories, and I appreciate them greatly! Enjoy!
Chapter One: Bonding Time
This is Berk.
It's home to dragon racing, snowball fights, and it has a charming view of the ocean. The best parts of it all are the kids. You see while most parents only have one at a time, Astrid and I have twins.
Toddlers: in a word? Adorable. Once Astrid and I survived the terrible twos, I thought my troubles were over. Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come. But then again, aren't surprises what parenthood is all about?
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III was concentrating on his stitching. His saddle had a tendency to wear a bit after each use and it was only a matter of time before a few stitches snapped open. He'd had less time for flying over the past three years but he didn't mind in the slightest. Even Toothless had grown fond of the tiny people running around his human's house.
And speaking of tiny people…
"Gotcha!" came a voice just below Hiccup's chair.
Hiccup looked down and was greeted by two bright blue eyes and a mop of vivid red hair. Tiny little arms wound around his prosthetic and came dangerously close to the mechanism that would pop it off and keep him from chasing his little boy.
"Yes you did!" Hiccup exclaimed, grinning down at his son. "And now I'm going to get you!"
Fearless Finn Haddock shrieked with glee and began running away from his father as fast as his little feet would take him. The saddle lay forgotten on the desk as Hiccup pursued the child, his laughter joining his son's as they ran through the village. People jumped out of the tiny boy's way as he ran, occasionally looking back and giggling at the sight of his father slowly gaining on him. At long last, Hiccup reached out and grabbed the child around the middle, lifting him off the ground.
"Told you I'd get you!" he laughed as he held the squirming boy aloft. "Now prepare for a heck of a tickling!"
Finn screamed with laughter as his father tickled his sides. Hiccup was careful to lower his son so that if he did manage to slip away from him, at least he wouldn't face a two foot drop.
"Daddy!" shouted another voice.
Hiccup looked up and immediately spotted Adrianna Miracle Haddock racing toward him, her green eyes sparkling and her wispy blonde hair flowing out behind her. Astrid followed, watching their daughter bolt toward her father and wrap her arms around his leg.
"Addie!" Hiccup exclaimed and, holding his struggling son with one arm, reached down and scooped up his daughter with the other.
The twins shrieked with delight as their father spun them around several times. When he placed them down, they were a little disoriented at first but then, exchanging mischievous glances, they began to push their father over. He fell backward dramatically and the toddlers wasted no time in jumping on him and pinning him down.
"Ahh! Help!" Hiccup shouted, grinning the whole time. "I'm trapped! Help me, mommy!"
But Astrid shook her head, laughing as she watched the spectacle right in the middle of the village square. Several people stopped to watch Hiccup roughhousing with his children, including Stoick and Gobber.
"You know, if there's one man who loves his kids more than anything, it's Hiccup." Gobber said, causing Stoick to smile.
Hiccup, beginning to feel exhausted, finally shouted out, "okay, it's Poppy's turn now!"
The twins gleefully hurried toward their grandfather, who was now walking away in the opposite direction. Panting heavily, Hiccup got up, dusted himself off, and sauntered over to Astrid, who was watching him with a smile.
"I love them so much. I'd be happy playing with them all day." He said cheerfully, kissing his wife on the cheek.
"Good, they're all yours. I'll take the night off." Astrid quipped, nudging him with her elbow.
Hiccup and Astrid watched as the toddlers finally caught up to Stoick and began yanking on his cape. The larger man looked down and picked up Finn, who was giggling so loudly, they could hear it from that distance. Adrianna was still tugging on his cape but she wasn't as strong as her brother and it seemed that Stoick hadn't noticed her at all. Fortunately, she was still smiling and didn't seem to mind that she'd been ignored. Hiccup took a deep sigh and jogged up to his father.
"That's it." he said when he was in earshot. "You're watching Addie today."
Stoick turned to him, his eyebrows raised. "What?"
Hiccup pointed behind his father's shoulder. Stoick looked behind him, finally noticing his granddaughter tugging at his cape, her bright eyes alight with laughter
"Oh. Didn't even see her there…"
"My point exactly!" Hiccup growled crossing his arms. "So you're going to spend some quality time with her."
Stoick sighed, looking at his struggling grandson who was already growing quite a bit of muscle for a small boy. "Hiccup, are you sure about-"
Hiccup nodded with a smirk. "Yep. Come on, Finn. Let's go home. See you this evening, dad!" he took the little boy out of Stoick's hands. "If you can give her up!" he added with a knowing smile.
But Hiccup had already walked away with Finn struggling in his arms. Stoick looked down at Adrianna sitting in the dirt, trying to pull her shoe off.
"Ah no, no, dear, keep that on." Stoick bent down and shoved it back on.
She smiled at him with wide eyes. He gulped. How does one spend time with a three year old girl? He'd never done it before.
Adrianna seemed to sense his uncertainty. She stood up and grinned at him, pointing to the sky. "See da cwouds?" she asked in an almost melodic voice.
Stoick looked up at the clouds and furrowed his brow. Of course he could see them. Why was she asking him that?
"Dere's daddy's foot!" Adrianna shrieked suddenly, hopping up and down and pointing skyward.
Stoick looked up, wondering what on earth she was talking about, and then he spotted it. One of the clouds did look a bit like Hiccup's prosthetic foot. He would never have noticed if it hadn't been pointed out to him. He smiled down at his granddaughter.
"Well so it is." He said, finally glad he knew what she was talking about. "Don't you think that one looks a little like a fish?"
He pointed to the cloud to which he was referring and was pleased to see his little granddaughter brighten up at the sight.
"Uh huh. And dat's a dwagon eating it up!" she pointed to a cloud that looked a bit like a Terrible Terror which was passing over the fish cloud. "It doesn't fit in his mouf!" Adrianna giggled.
Stoick chuckled. "No it doesn't."
Apparently the little girl decided that they had done enough cloud watching because she fixed her gaze on the ground and immediately bolted toward a patch of flowers.
"Dat one's lellow!" she shrieked, pointing to a yellow flower.
Had Hiccup pointed out the obvious when he was this age? Stoick couldn't remember. But the sight of his granddaughter, excited over such tiny things, was beginning to make him feel warm inside.
"Dat one's red!" she pointed to a blue flower that time.
"No, dear, that one is blue." Stoick corrected. He gently took her hand and led it to a red flower. "That one is red."
"Oh." said Adrianna. She suddenly turned to look at her grandfather, her eyebrows furrowed together in intense concentration. She suddenly brightened up and pointed at him. "You're red!"
For a moment Stoick was completely confused but then he realized that his beard was red and that it wasn't a random outburst at all.
He let out a booming laugh. "Yes, I guess I am."
"Finn is red too. Mommy's lellow and daddy is brown." Adrianna informed him, looking quite serious.
"Of course. What color is Toothless?" Stoick asked, getting on his knees next to the child.
Adrianna thought very hard for a moment. "Purple?"
"No. Toothless is black." Stoick corrected, trying to keep his laughter minimal.
Adrianna giggled. "Oh yeah. And Stormfly is blue!"
"That's right!" Stoick exclaimed, quickly grabbing her around the middle and lifting her off the ground.
She giggled harder as he carried her over his shoulder, her head dangling down his back. Several villagers laughed at the sight but Stoick suddenly realized that he didn't care if the entire village saw him carrying his granddaughter on his back like a sack of flour. He hadn't spent nearly as much time with Hiccup when he was small. And if Finn and Adrianna were the gods' way of giving him a second chance, he was going to make sure he did it right this time.
"I knew they'd be late." Hiccup said to Astrid as the sun finally disappeared over the horizon.
"You think something happened?" Astrid asked, turning to face her husband.
"Nah, someone would have told us. She's fine." He replied. "But I should probably go looking for them. Who knows how long he'll keep her."
"Ca-I tome, daddy?" Finn piped up through a mouthful of chicken.
"Not this time, sweetheart." Astrid said, gently ruffling his hair. "You need your bath."
"No I don't!" the little boy protested, scrunching up his face and crossing his arms defiantly.
"Yes you do, little man. You've got dirt all over you." she said patiently.
"I can yick it off yike Toofwess!"
"Absolutely not!" Hiccup chortled. "Listen to your mother. I'll have Addie home in a bit."
It was a nice day for a stroll through the village. A bit nippy perhaps but then again, it was always cold on Berk. This weather was almost warm. A light breeze tousled Hiccup's hair and he took a deep breath, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of his home. When he got to his father's house, he was a little surprised to find it empty. So where was his little girl?
The answer came a moment later when he saw a light on in the Great Hall. It was a bit early for the older Vikings to congregate around a wine barrel so Hiccup thought that perhaps Stoick had taken Adrianna into the Hall to stay warm. He walked up to it and heard voices coming from inside. He pushed open the doors.
And then he stopped and stared.
There was a large table set up in the middle. Seated at the table were Stoick, Gobber, Mulch, Bucket, Lotus, Spitelout, Snotlout, and Heather. It took him a moment to locate his tiny daughter sitting between Snotlout and Gobber. She looked dwarfed by the two men's size, however she had absolute command of their attention. In fact, the word picture she was painting for them was so vivid that he could almost see the entire story taking place above her little blonde head. As soon as their eyes met, she dropped the cup she was holding with a clatter.
"Daddy!" she shrieked, getting up and running into his arms. "We had a tea party!"
"I'm Mrs. Nesbitt!" Bucket shouted, causing some of the Vikings to laugh and others to groan in embarrassment.
"She… she got hungry." Stoick said in a slightly sheepish voice.
"Ach, admit it! It was your idea!" Gobber piped up.
Stoick smiled, admitting defeat, as several of the Vikings chuckled at him.
"I wanned a biiiiig tea party!" Adrianna squealed, holding her hands far apart.. "And Unca Dobbew helped me i-vite evewyone."
"I just came for the food." Snotlout said sharply.
"Sure you did." Hiccup chortled, trying not to burst out laughing and startle his daughter. "Gods, I hope your baby is a girl" he added, looking over at Heather, who was sitting next to Snotlout. The two had married the previous year and were now expecting a child.
"He's a Jorgenson. It's a boy!" Spitelout exclaimed, smacking his son on the back.
"Well you never know. For what it's worth, I think it's a girl." Hiccup shrugged.
"You always think it's a girl." Snotlout chortled.
"That's not true. I told Ruff and Fish that Gunnar would be a boy and he was. I'm just that good." Hiccup turned to his father. "How was she today?"
"She was all right. You've got a very special girl there, son." Stoick said, finally taking his head out of his hands.
"Yeah." Hiccup smiled at his little girl and kissed her on the cheek. "I know."
"You don't have to take her right away." Lotus beckoned to her son-in-law and granddaughter. "Come join us."
"It's almost her bedtime, mom." Adrianna scrunched up her face in disgust. "But I would love to have a tea party with you, Addie. How about this weekend?"
"Can Finn and mommy come too?" asked the child, her eyes bright with excitement.
"It wouldn't be a good tea party without mommy and Finn, now would it?" Hiccup asked, tapping Adrianna on the nose.
"Ugh, too much cute." Snotlout stuck his tongue out in disgust. "Why do you have to get all cutesy in front of everyone?"
"You just wait until your daughter is born." Hiccup said, not bothering to turn and look at Snotlout.
"It's a boy!"
"You keep believing that, sweetie." Heather said, patting her husband on the back.
"And I believe it's time to go. Say goodbye to everyone, Addie!" Hiccup enthusiastically waved to the group and Adrianna followed suit.
Astrid collapsed onto the couch, completely worn out. The entire front of her body was soaking wet but she was simply too tired to change. Finn had made his displeasure at being given a bath astoundingly clear. And now that he was finally tucked into his bed upstairs, she had a few minutes to relax. A few minutes of solitude.
Well, she might have gotten them had Hiccup not showed up. Her husband tiptoed downstairs, having successfully put Adrianna to bed. He spotted Astrid on the couch, looking completely exhausted, and smiled fondly.
"You look like you've had a full day." He said, sitting down next to her and slipping his arm around her shoulders.
"Gobber was watching the kids this morning for a bit so I could do some drills with Stormfly." Astrid sighed, leaning on her husband. "And then I caught him trying to show Finn how to use a dagger. A real dagger. Thank the gods I spotted them before anyone got hurt."
Hiccup laughed and Astrid gave him a quizzical expression. "I'm sorry, it's not funny but what did you expect, leaving them with the blacksmith?"
"I was expecting a few minutes with my dragon. And you were busy with that meeting and then Toothless' saddle so I couldn't ask you." Astrid took a deep breath. "They're so much work!"
"I know. But worth it." Hiccup gently nudged his wife.
"Completely worth it." she agreed. "Even when I want to strangle them."
"Especially when you want to strangle them. You learn patience that way."
"I'll have you know that I am extremely patient!" Astrid said, elbowing her husband in the ribs.
Hiccup leaned forward, noting the fact that the front of her clothes were soaking wet. "Yeah. I guess you are."
The house seemed to be ringing with silence. With the children sleeping peacefully, Hiccup and Astrid sighed in relief, enjoying the lack of noise. There wasn't enough silence in their lives now. Most nights, they collapsed in bed after the children were asleep. But not this night. Hiccup gently lowered his head and placed a kiss on his wife's golden locks, taking a moment to thank the gods that he was lucky enough to find someone this amazing to with whom to share his life. Unbeknownst to him, Astrid was thanking the gods for the same thing.
All right! How is the first chapter? Does it make you want to come back for more? I have a huge plan for this story but first, I want you to get to know the characters first. So bear with me as I set up a few things before the really epic stuff happens. It's going to be an exciting ride!
Special thanks to EmmerzK for helping me write "toddler" and giving me an idea or two. Special thanks to my friend Bob. That's the name she chose for herself when I asked how to credit her. She helped as well.
This is rather important, actually: as this is the first story I've written that contains a lot of visual things that might be tricky to describe, I've made a deviantart profile. Just look up this username and take a look. I'll let you know when there's an illustration in the chapter. I'll do my best to describe but I do want you all to know exactly what I'm talking about as well. Right now, I just uploaded random things so check it out!
P.S. To those of you who are confused about the little edits I made, yes I made them. All I did was fix a few clunky sentences and adjust the age of the twins since this obviously takes place in summer so they wouldn't be three and a half, they'd just be three.