“This is absolutely horrible!”, she hissed, leaning against a pillar in this giant Mead Hall, holding onto a big jug with mead. “I really, really don’t want to marry him! I mean – just look at him! He is so short! And where are his muscles?! And where in Hel is his beard?! And battle scars? Has he ever been in a real fight – man against man?!”
Astrid was absolutely pissed. Outraged. Her father can’t possibly be serious about this marriage with this guy.
“And what is with his leg?! Nobody told me, that he is broken!”
“Astrid…”, her mother sighed, standing before her, as if she was yielding her from any other person. But for now it seemed like there was no real interest in her – or she at least demonstrated enough, what she felt about Berk's chief. At least for now. “…, just stay calm. I know, that this whole situation seems worse, than it already is, but I will get you out of it.”
Her mother was absolutely serious about this, not wanting for Astrid to marry this failure of a chief. After all, she swore this to herself, all those years ago.
Both, mother and daughter looked over to Hakon, sitting among the people of the Hooligan tribe, sharing his childhood stories of Stoick with them. Laughing loudly and hearty, clapping on Gobber’s back, when something was most hilarious, or wiped away a few tears, when he was reminded of the good old times.
How could he do this – betraying them both.
“Astrid, I will talk with him again, before we go to bed. I will try to put some sense back into him. I am sure that he thinks the same way about Hiccup as we do. He must be insane, if he really wants you to marry this cripple of a chief.”
“He is not even a real Viking…”, Astrid snarled, after she had taken a sip from the jug. “…not even a real man. I hate those philanthropic, dragon-loving guys that think, they could change the world just by talking! Can he even hold an axe? A sword? Can he even hold a knife with those tiny hands?!”
“I am not sure about that and I am still wondering, how Stoick could have been proud of his heir… He is not even worthy to be a chief!”
Astrid scanned the room and soon found Hiccup with his eyes, standing on the other side of the Mead Hall, also leaning against a wall, while talking with a few younger Vikings, that also seemed to be around her age.
He doesn’t even bother to look at her, being far to involved in his little discussion with his friends.
That was the moment when she asked herself: Would she consider him handsome?
Astrid did not know, since she had always imagined herself with some other kinds of men. With big, bulky guys, with bushy beards, lots of muscles and tattoos. With scars all over their bodies and faces, always carrying around a weapon or two. Men that had killed at least twenty dragons by the age of 18.
But chief Hiccup... He was too far from this description as could be. Yes – no beard, not as high as she had liked, no scars and tattoos. Just one annoyingly aggressive Night Fury and a prosthetic leg.
Yeah...he was okay looking with his green eyes and tousled brown hair – she guessed. And he was by far more eloquent than her suitors, back at home. Far too eloquent for a Viking...
Was this really the man she was supposed to be with? The man, that would impregnate her and take her away from her home...
Her hand, that was not holding onto the jug was clenching, when he suddenly made eye contact with her. Only for a moment, before he pressed his lips together and looking back to a thin young man with long blonde hair and a exaggerated expression of glee on his face.
“Get me away from him – please! And away from this shit hole! And from these people!“ Astrid pleaded. “Or else I might consider using my axe!“
Her mother nodded, understanding the desperation from her only daughter.
„First of all, try to stay away from Hiccup. I don't want his strange ideas and ideals come to your head.“
„Don't worry about that. I would never consider riding on a dragon! That is just too insane!“
„Nah~ Not as insane, as you think.“ A voice suddenly interrupted their little discussion and both, Astrid and Ljóda, looked at a strange young woman, with some weird blonde braids and a big grin on her face. „Hi, I am Ruffnut. The more intelligent part of the Thorston twins. Nice to meet you.“
“Not interested...“ Astrid murmured, looking back to her mother, who seemed to try to ignore the young woman, too.
„Ah. You are trying to play the one that is hard to get – am I right? So, since you are the one, who will marry my friend Hiccup-“
„I will not marry him!“
„Yeah...since you will marry my friend Hiccup, I guess I should be forthcoming to introduce myself to you. To become your first friend, if you like. I would love to show you around to Berk, and show you a few of our traditions and dragons and stuff.“
„But I don't want to!“
„Don't worry, I, as a member of the Thorston family, won't take any fees for my excellent job, but I will be glad, if-“
„Listen up – my daughter does not want that! She is in no need of a friend!“
Astrid was thankful, that Ljóda has stepped in for her, since she was already annoyed by this woman. Did all Berkians behave like this? And why would she even be her friend in the first place?!
Her mother has always told her, that friends were only ballast on the battlefield. Some weak burden she needed to leave behind, before facing an opponent. She did not need friends, especially not those, belonging to the Hooligan tribe. She got along well for twenty years without such, after all!
“Ah okay. So you also want a sightseeing tour of Berk? Well, then I announce you, that I have a good price for you two. It's including dragon-riding – two rounds for the price of three! Also, I might be talk active enough to share a few secrets about your future husband – including his favorite food and most hated color – it's a bright orange.“
Why couldn't this woman take a 'No' for an answer (especially now since she changed her mind in putting a fee on her little sightseeing tour)?
This was far too annoying – especially since this Ruffnut really tried hard to be nice to her – in her own strange ways.
“Listen, Ruffnut? How about you go back to Hiccup and your other little friends and stop to annoy me and my mother. Really – we don't need and want any help from you or any other Berkian. I am not interested in this marriage or your friendship. All I want to do now is to go to bed and leave this island as fast as possible. And-“
Astrid leaned towards the other young woman, to whisper into her ear:
“And get your dragons away from me. I know that my father does want this alliance to live in peace with dragons, but I am not interested in it! I like to kill dragons and if you or one of your little Hooligan-friends turns his back on me, I might try to get my hands on one of them. I sharpened my axe in preparation this morning. Now go back and tell chief Hiccup to call of this wedding!“
Ruffnut blinked her eyes when she heard Astrid's voice, unsure of what to think about it.
“Well, you are one disturbed individual, my dear. I will leave you now...“
Turning on her heels, Ruffnut left without looking back at Astrid and her mother, stepping back up to Hiccup and his friends.
“So...you want to take the psychopathic path, I guess?“ Ljóda asked, amused by her daughter’s words.
The young woman only shrugged her shoulders, smugly grinning because of the way she had turned down Ruffnut's assistance.
“You know me, I am not some woman to befriend with another girl. Or anybody at all!“
“That's my girl. Looks like all the training has finally paid off. Now we only need to convince your father otherwise.”
“If it won't help, I will try to convince Hiccup, that this could be the worst decision he had ever made. Hope to get my hands on this Night Fury in this process...“
“And you will...“
Astrid smiled widely at her plan, before she stepped away from the pillar she was leaning on, setting down the jug with mead on the first table she passed and she had only emptied halfway, before casually walking towards were her father and Gobber, among a few other Vikings, were sitting, her mother following close behind.
“Father.“ She addressed him, holding her head high to show her pride and determination. “I am tiered. I want to be brought to my quarters.“
“Ah, sure. But have you already spoken to your hus-“
“No. I want to sleep.“
Hakon looked at her for a few minutes, sadness and anger mixing in his eyes, before he slowly nodded and turned for the last time to Gobber.
“Sorry to leave the little celebration, but my two favorite women want to go to bed. We will return to our ship, if you mind.“
“It's okay. Must be tiered for being on the sea for so long. But don't forget to come towards the chief's house tomorrow. Still need to discuss about the upcoming wedding and the marriage. I will bring the groom and Valka – or at least try to get them to stay...“
Hakon nodded, while Astrid's chest tightened when she heard that.
“Do I need to come, too?“ She asked, before she could have stopped herself.
“Sure. Ya are the bride, after all. Don't want to decide on the dress and stuff on my own. Or you can send your little friend to do so.“
The older man pointed at Ruffnut with a movement of his head, at what Astrid only growled dangerously.
“I don't have friends! Father! Come now! I need to get to bed!“
Gobber hissed at her words, before Astrid and her mother turned and left them, to get to the door of the Great Hall. The guards already followed.
“Got a feisty daughter there, if I am allowed to say so.“
Hakon shrugged, but stood up and laughed a little at that.
“She got that from her mother. But don't worry – from what I have heard about Hiccup, they will fit perfectly together.“
With that, that big man hit Gobber one last time on the shoulder, before wishing him a good night and left with his guards and the two women.
Gobber on the other hand only watched for a few moments and when the door closed behind the Hunter's, he looked over to Hiccup, who had watched them for some time, gulping.
„We will see if they fit together so well...“ He mumbled under his breath, unsure of what to do with these two young Vikings that can't stand each other.