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And even if I lived a hundred lives

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Let’s go camping, they said. It will be fun, they said.

Hell no.

Astrid was not having fun. She hadn’t hoped for any fun, from the start, but she definitely didn’t expect being attacked during her sleep and dragged to a mine by a monstrous smelly creature. She had no idea what that thing was, or what it was planning to do with her, but she was sure as hell that wouldn’t stay to find out. She got free by pure luck: her switchblade was on her coat pocket, and she was able to cut the ropes.

Astrid armed herself with a heavy piece of wood and prayed for whatever have got that thing’s attention to keep doing that. She thought about her friends: maybe she should try to find them. But before she could decide, she heard something getting close in the tunnels. It seems too slow to be the monster but, at this point, she wasn’t taking any risks.

If she survived this shit, Astrid was never, EVER, going camping again.

She raised her makeshift weapon as high as she could and prepared to attack.

"What the h… WAIT!"

It was not the monster lurking in the tunnels: it was a man. A handsome man, she thought, when she was able to register his auburn hair and green eyes. Astrid slowly started to lower her club, but then her eyes were attracted to what was behind the guy.

"I’m so-AAARR…!"

Her scream was cut off by him, when he put one hand over her mount, while firmly grabbing her club with the other. She made a mental note to remember that this handsome stranger was stronger than he looked like.

"It’s ok, it’s ok" – he whispered quickly – "Toothless is not going to hurt you".

She stopped struggling to give him an indignant look. The black beast behind him only inclined his head, as if it was curious.

"I will let you go if you promise to stay calm, ok?" – he whispered again, in a friendly tone. – "Or we will attract the Wendigo back".

The unfamiliar word sent a shiver down her spine. Was he talking about the tall, smelly monster? Reluctantly, she put the club down, but her eyes were still fixed in the giant lizard. The guy let go of her arm and took one step back.

"Ok, good. I’m Hiccup, by the way, and this is Toothless. We are here to help you."

Hiccup? Toothless? Was him joking?

"What is him?"

"Well, he’s a dragon. And my best friend" – Hiccup answered, as if he had said the most normal thing in the world.

"Dragons don’t exist".

The black lizard made an indignant sound, or so it seemed.

"He clearly begs to differ".

Before she could answer, they heard noises in the tunnels again, scaring both.

"Can you please, please, tell me what the hell is going on?

"Long story short, that thing is a Wendigo: he was once a man, but the he fed on human meat, and became this creature. He hibernates for years, and then wakes up to feed again. That’s why he brought you and your friends here. But don’t worry" – Hiccup suddenly looked more serious. – "We are not allowing that. Stay close to me and Toothless, and you will be fine. His weakness is fire and Toothless got plenty of it, right buddy?"

At this point, Astrid was just too freaked out to care. She just followed him through the tunnels, her club still in hands.

"Do you hunt Wendigos?" – she whispered.

"I hunt everything that needs to be hunted".

"So, there are others? Other supernatural things?"

He gave her a low giggle.

"Tons of them".

"And do you hunt them for living?"

"Yep. Saving people, hunting things, the family business" – it sounded as if it had been said a thousand times.

Astrid just needed to think a little bit to concluded that it seemed really cool.

"…do you guys take on interns?"

"…What?"

Chapter Text

When you live in a strange, strange universe where the first words your soul mate will ever tell you are printed on your skin since you were born, it’s likely that many things will not work out. You could be born with a simple “yes” or “no”, or worst, “Hi, how can I help you?” and just be confused and paranoid for the rest of your life.

Maybe your soul mate was that kid who said “thank you” when you lend her a pencil in kindergarten, and then you never saw her again – you don’t even remember that that happened. This kind of common thing is the reality of most people, and needless to say, it’s as good as being born with no words at all.

Astrid was one of those unlucky ones. There was a single two letter word written on her wrist, and she was sure that, at this point, he or she had already passed her on the street, maybe talking on the phone, and she would never, ever, find out who it was. Heck, it wasn’t even an actual word, it was a noise . She could only hope that the other person would find her first, and then she already had a plan to make him/her suffer for his/her monosyllabic way that put her in such an unhappy e uncertain position for such a long time.

That said, there was also the infamous cases of people who were born with such specific words that there was no mistake: some even became famous, like that one girl who was born with “Man, I can’t believe Dumbledore died!”, and had the Harry Potter series spoiled to her even before it was written, what led to a furious encounter with her soulmate after a movie session.

Hiccup was one of those really lucky people, who had such an unusual phrase written all over his whole freaking arm that he was sure there would be no mistake once he finally met her or him. But even more important than that, he already had planned a hundred of ways to make that person pay for all the frustration, shame, and long sleeves he had to put up for these long, long, twenty-four years.

He was even luckier than most people, because the first word written on his arm was his cousin’s name. For that reason, he always tried to hang out with Snotlout every time he could, convinced that, one day, his cousin would lead him to his soulmate.

That’s why he accepted the invite to go to that party.

Best decision ever.

When her scream was so freaking loud that startled everyone in the room, his heart stopped, because there was no mistake.

“SNOTLOUT YOU FUCKING SON OF A HALF-TROLL I SWEAR TO GOD IF YOU FUCKING TRY TO TOUCH ME AGAIN I WILL RIP YOUR BALLS OF AND THEN STUFF THEM DOWN YOUR THROAT!”

When a slightly drunk Astrid finally lost her patience with the jerk who was trying to make the moves on her, she expected all kinds of reaction, except this one:

“Oh.”

The guy right behind Snotlout turned to look at her, so much surprise on his face, and she felt her whole body going cold.

Oh. Oh, no.

He didn’t say anything else, only slowly raised his arm to show her the shameless words written all over it.

OH, NO.

But then he smiled sweetly, and she felt her body getting warm again.

“Hey, soulmate. I finally found you”.

Damn. How she wished those were the words on her arm.

“I really wish those were your first words to me”. – that surprised him.

“Aren’t they?”

“Nope.” – she showed her wrist, the tiny “Oh” almost too small to see.

“Oh… I didn’t know that counted. I always had this whole plan about saying something so much less traumatizing than this” – he gestured his arm again. She felt her cheeks flush red.

“I’m really sorry.” – but he only laughed.

“Don’t be, it made it easier to find you. I just had to hang around my cousin a lot.”

“Now I REALLY have to make it up to you.” – she laughed too.

“Hey, I’m still standing right here, you know.” – Snotlout said, divided between being annoyed by them or happy for his cousin. – “You idiots deserve each other. Fuck you both.”

Chapter Text

Astrid needed to get out of the common room.

Tomorrow would be the quidditch finals against Gryffindor, and everyone and their cats and frogs seemed to think that they had a good advice to give to the chaser before the big game. As if the Cup’s top scorer needed any.

Thing is, it was not a good idea to be in the halls as well: the last thing she need was one of those crazy twins or worst, Camicazi, trying to ambush and hurt her before the game. So, she chose to walk to the Forbidden Forest, and stay out of sight. She had already passed Hagrid’s hut when she heard a really specifc sound: almost like a cry. Looking up to the skies, she could see thestrals preparing to land near her.

Astrid had freaked out a lot of people when she started to talk about dead horses pulling the carriages on her second year. Luckily, professor Longbottom had explained all to her before she started to think she was crazy.

Seeing the thestrals always reminded her of uncle Finn.

Just because she didn’t have nothing better to do, she followed the last thestral through the trees, only to find out that she wasn’t the only one who could see them. She didn’t recognize the Hufflepuff boy standing in the clearing. He seemed around her age, a year older or younger, since she was sure no one on her herbology class had auburn hair. He seemed to be really comfortable between the thestrals, petting their fur and offering tiny pieces of meat.

Before she could decide to go back, he noticed her. His eyes just stayed for a moment on her green and silver tie, but he didn’t make any comments about it.

“Just so you know, I’m not crazy and I’m not playing with meat in the middle of the woods.” – he said, but his tone couldn’t be more relaxed: despite of what he just said, he clearly couldn’t care less if she thought he was crazy.

“I know. You are feeding the thestrals."

That surprised him.

“Can you see them?” – she nodded – “Well, that sucks. I’m sorry."

“Yeah, but I could say the same to you.”

“True that”.

He didn’t seem interested in keeping the conversation going, too entertained in petting the thestrals, but wasn’t pushing her away either, and she was feeling a little lost. Astrid was not used to people ignoring her.

“You like them.” – it wasn’t a question.

“Yeah, I love animals, magic or not.” – he seemed uncertain for the first time. – “Do you like them?”

“They are ok, I guess. I’m really not into animals anyway.”

He looked at her for a long time.

“Do you want to pet one?” – she lifted an eyebrow.

“Why?” – he smiled, and it was kind of cute.

“Come on, what is the fun of seem something no one else does, if you are afraid of it?”

“I’m not afraid!” – she exclaimed, taking a step forward, as if was daring him. But his smile only grew.

“Then come here.”

She was so not chicken out of a Hufflepuff challenge.

She took firm steps directly to him, but was careful approaching the thestral, and mimicked his movements over the fur. It was not what she expected.

“It’s surprisingly soft.”

“Isn’t it? It’s a shame it doesn’t help at all when you are flying one – they are really bony and…”

Wait, what?

“Do you FLY them?” – now THAT was something, but he seemed embarrassed.

“I like flying but I’m too clumsy for brooms. This is the next best option. But I would prefer a hippogriff, or a dragon. That would be awesome.”

Astrid shook her head and took some small steps back.

“You know what, I think you are a little crazy, after all.” – he chuckled.

“Yeah, my father says that too. I’m Hiccup, by the way. Hiccup Haddock.”

“That is not your real name!” – his smile only grew.

“Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is my real name.”

Astrid stared at him for a long moment, before turning around and walking away.

“Ok, I’m out of here, you are definitely crazy”.

He laughed.

“Good luck with your game tomorrow.” – She stopped and gave him an inquisitive look - “You are Astrid Hofferson, right? One of Slytherin’s chasers.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be cheering for Gryffindor?”

“I don’t see why.” – he said, turning his attention completely back to the animals. – “Not my house, so I don’t really care. It’s only fair if the best team wins.”

She finally smiled.

“So, do you think our team is better?” – he didn’t turn to answer.

“I didn’t say that. You can’t say that to a Slytherin, you guys don’t need the ego boost.” – but he was smiling, and she decided to take that as a compliment.

“Are you going to be there tomorrow?” – this time he looked at her, and she was surprised by the big, evil, smile on his lips.

“Oh, definitely. I made a bet with my friend Fish that one of the Thorston twins will totally throw Snotlout out of his broom, and I can’t miss that.”

Ok, this guy was cool, Astrid would give him that.

“Then I will see you around, crazy Hufflepuff guy”

“Yeah, see you, Slytherin girl.”

In a castle full of magic, talking paints and ghosts, Astrid was sure that a normal, polite conversation between a Slytherin and a Hufflepuff in the middle of the woods while feeding invisible horses of death, was the stranger thing she ever saw.

Chapter Text

Astrid could work with what she understood.

She was fourteen when all the villagers were gathered to testimony Chief Stoick The Vast dishonoring his only son, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third. Back then, she thought she understood: Hiccup was too weak, too clumsy, too problematic. Back then, she thought that a Chief’s place was in the battlefield: that was NOT Hiccups’ place. So, it made perfectly sense when he was no longer the heir.

In the same way, it made sense when Gobber step in to say that, if Hiccup was no longer Stoick’s son, then he would be his. Hiccup would never become Chief, would never use the Haddock name again, but he would be Gobber’s son, and would be Berk’s Blacksmith. Astrid remembered taking her own axe, recently rebalanced by Hiccup, which was so perfect that fit her hand like a glove, like a part of her arm, and thinking that THAT made way more sense. Hiccup’s place was in the anvil, working with weapons and inventing things.

Her fourteen old self didn’t register the pain in Hiccup’s eyes, when he respectfully accepted his destiny; didn’t see the rage on Gobber’s face, or the surprise in Stoick’s mouth when his old friend took the boy in. Tuffnut, of all people, was the one who would always remember her of those feelings.

Astrid soon realized that a lot of things started to change after that: the chief became more stoic, more serious, never laughed anymore. Snotlout, who at the beginning was feeling smug and proud of being the new heir, quickly discovered that there was so much to learn that he barely had a minute to himself. Fishlegs got closer to Hiccup, maybe feeling that he needed a friend.

But no one changed more than Hiccup: he almost never left the forge, always smiting, always working. His sarcasm got worse, and there was a permanent wrinkle between his eyebrows – he was always by Gobber’s side and started to avoid the Chief in any way he could. Even when all villagers were summoned for something, or there was a festival, he would never show up – and even though it was a transgression, Stoick never said a word about it, neither the other villagers – they just let the boy take his time.

Astrid was fifteen when The Thing happened in Berk, the first since the dishonor, and it was an understatement to say that the other heirs took the news well.

Camicazi from the Bog Buglars didn’t make it past the beach – ignoring her mother (not so insistent) protests, she went straight to the forge, dragging Thuggory with her. They stayed hours locked there with Hiccup, only the three of them, and meanwhile Snotlout was introduced to the other Chiefs as Berk’s new heir. There were some incredulous comments, but the Chiefs knew better than to question that decision – it was not their business, after all.

Astrid remembered lurking around the forge, trying to hear something, but there was no use. Aside from some really loud curses from Cami, no one never found out what the three talked about. But both Cami and Thuggory treated Snotlout with respect and didn’t mention Hiccup during the meetings.

When The Thing ended, for the first time in months, Hiccup was there, int the beach, where Stoick could see him. Cami gave him an affectionate hug and some slaps in his cheek before leaving, and the always so serious and silent Thuggory hold his shoulder like a brother, and departed with a frown in his face and a furious, but silent, look at Stoick.
It was clear then, for everyone, that Hiccup had been able to control the other’s heirs’ personal fury in favor of the Thing and Berk. For the first time, both Astrid and Stoick thought that, maybe, the dishonor had been a mistake.

Hiccup didn’t even look at Stoick before going back to the forge.

After The Thing, she heard her parents talking about the dishonor for the first time – her father was showing her his new axe made by Hiccup, and admiring his fine work. Her mother then said that Stoick was stupid for evicting the boy: he was intelligent and hard working – a Chief should have brains, and not muscles. Her father reprehended her, remembering that it was treason to question the Chief’s decisions. She would never forget her mother next words:

“He is a good chief, but is a terrible father. That kid deserved better.”

Astrid felt really stupid for taking so long to realize something so simple:

Hiccup had lost more than his position – he had lost his entire family.

She decided she would help him. She visited more the forge, always with an excuse or another, and did her best to talk to Hiccup. At first, he didn’t understand the sudden interest in him, and treat her with education but a cold distance that was so not Hiccup. He seemed to have closed himself for everyone, but Astrid was nothing but stubborn: she made sure that he knew he had a friend on her.

After a few weeks, he got used to her presence, treating her a little more like before. It was still different, though, but it was a start. He went back at taking his meals in the hall with everyone else – but always after Stoick had left – and she was always there keeping him company. Sometimes she would even convince him to help her with her chores, and after a couple of months, she could say they were friends.

Astrid was sixteen when she realized that Hiccup was strong. Physically strong.

She was hanging around the forge, as she had been doing in the last months, when she saw him lift a recently done gigantic hammer, made of stone and iron, like it was nothing. For the first time, she asked him how he could not be able to fight when he was clearly so strong, and the answer he gave was: no one never taught me.

It was the only invitation she needed.

For the next weeks, months, even, she pushed him to his limits. Strength, speed, accuracy, Astrid worked all of that, and was rewarded: as everything he did, he poured his heart on it. He became strong: one day he thanked her, saying that maybe he would never be able to kill a dragon, but now he felt able to defend Berk from Outcasts or Berserks.
For some reason, Hiccup as a defender of Berk made perfectly sense.

But something was still missing. Astrid was not a sensible person, she didn’t work with details. And truth be told, before everything happened, they were not close, so it was not surprising that it took her a while to realize what was bothering her:

Hiccup didn’t smile anymore.

He was still hardworking, smart, caring, gentle, even, but he didn’t laugh anymore, and his sarcasm was only getting worse. That bothered her, and anything that bother Astrid Hofferson must to be cut into pieces.

She decided that Hiccup would laugh again.

But even after asking the twins and Fishlegs for help, there was no changes – Hiccup seemed to have closed his heart once for all. Finally, she asked Gobber’s opinion, and his answer couldn’t be simpler: give it time, lass.

Astrid didn’t like when things were not over her control, but she accepted it.

At this point, she didn’t do things just because she felt sorry for him: Hiccup had become a close, important friend, and it was a pleasure being part of his day, his life. Not for the first time, she asked herself how Stoic could had been able to kick out him from home, from his life. And every time that question pop in her head, she only had one answer: maybe, just maybe, the chief had no idea what his decision would cost him.

Astrid was seventeen when she finally saw him laughing again.

After almost a year training together, he was finally able to win against her. She was pinned in the ground, her axe fallen five feet way from her. He was breathing hard, so was she.

And then he smiled, closed his eyes, and slowly lowered his head.

She stopped breathing.

“Hiccup…?”

But he only rested his head on her shoulder and didn’t say a word. Unsure, she petted his hair.

“Are you ok…?”

He took a single deep breath. “After all these years…”. He lifted his head, looking deep into her eyes. The hand that was petting his hair slowly slid to his cheek, and he closed his eyes again, leaning his head into her touch. “Hiccup…?’’ she tried again.

“Thank you.” – was all he said, suddenly getting up and offering his hand to her. She was sure as Hel’s breath that he was hiding something, but she didn’t push: he had smiled again, and it was enough.

It was a beginning.

He slowly started to smile more, even laugh sometimes. Sometimes he would sing together with Gobber in the forge, but would always stop every time she arrived. He still avoided Stoick like he was Hel herself, but that was something Astrid knew she had no right to interfere: and honestly, the more time she spent with him, more she resented Stoick. Hiccup was… Hiccup was special.

Her favorite thing about him was how he poured his heart in everything he did. He was just too precious for words: he made her feel so happy and proud of being his friend. Finally, everything in her life made perfect sense again.

And then her parents had to go and screw everything.

Astrid was eighteen years old when her parents had the nerve to ask her if they should prepare for a visit from Gobber and Hiccup, bringing a marriage propose.

As calmly as she could, she explained they were just friends. That answer did not please them, and her mother talked a lot about her name and her honor and spending too much time alone in the woods with a boy. Astrid knew she was right, but that made her furious anyway.

She never thought about getting married; not with Hiccup, not with anyone.

She couldn’t talk about that with him: it would be just too embarrassing. So, she went to Ruffnut, hoping she could vent about it, but didn’t like what the blond had to say in the matter:

“You do spend a lot of time together. Everyone is expecting you two to get married.” - Astrid denied again, and liked even less what Ruff said next. – “So, can I marry him? ‘Cause he’s hot.”

“Absolutely not!” – her answer only made Ruff’s smile grow.

“Well, he’s probably getting married to someone, if you don’t want to, might as well be me.”

Astrid left the Thorston’s Hall more furious that she thought it was possible. She didn’t stop until she arrived at the Raven Point, where they used to have their training sessions. She walked nervously in circles, kicking rocks and thinking about what Ruff had said. She knew her friend was right: Hiccup would probably want to have a family again, and that didn’t set well with her, somehow.

If, or better, when he got married, she would not be able to occupy the same place in his life anymore. She would miss spending time in the forge, just watching him; she would miss their training sessions, their patrols, their meals together in the Great Hall. He would have another person to do the same things with him: of course, they could still be friends, but there was traditions and costums to follow in the tribe.

Traditions, costums. Astrid took a long, deep breath.

The woman who Hiccup would married would have the right to care for him, to live with him, wake up in his arms, share his bath in washday and…

She was so not going down that path.

But what really, really bothered her, was know that someone else would be the receiving end on his rare smiles, which one a victory, a prove that he was getting over the horrible thing his own Dad did to him. And Astrid was smart enough to know that she was part of that victory. It was not fair that after spending so much time helping him, someone else would just appear and take him away from her. It was infuriating.

That’s it. That was the name of the feeling crushing her heart: fury. She was furious, and when Astrid Hofferson is furious, someone must pay for that.

Gobber wasn’t at the forge when she arrived, her battle axe in hands. Hiccup, shirtless, was smiting a scrap of metal in the anvil. He gave her one of his rare smiles when she arrived.

“Afternoon, milady. What can I do for you today?”

Half of her rage seemed to disappear by merely looking at him. She was still furious, but she knew it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t make the social rules in the tribe, he was not the one pushing her to marry him.

But he would be the jerk who would choose another girl.

She was so furious she could cry.

“My parents don’t want me to spend so much time with you anymore.” – he froze in his spot, before slowly putting down the hammer. He took a rag and started to clean his hands, a thoughtful expression in his face.

“I have been fearing that for some time, actually. They are right, of course – it’s not good to your reputation.” – he shook his head. – “I’m sorry.”

Astrid didn’t know what she expected, but for some reason that answer only made her even more furious. She was fighting her tears back now.

“They said we should get married” – which was a half-lie, but she didn’t care – she wanted to see his reaction. He seemed frozen, a hard, indecipherable expression on his face, so she pushed a little more. – “But I told them you don’t have any reason to want to marry me”.

That was a complete lie but got some effect. He closed his eyes, as if he was in pain. After a long moment in silence, he asked: “Which day is it?”

Surprised, she answered: “Freya’s day.”

“Then, I would marry you today.” – her axe fell from her hands, almost hitting her foot, but she didn’t care. He opened his eyes, and there was something there burning more than the fire in the forge. – “I would marry you any day, Astrid, if you wanted it too.”

She didn’t know what to answer, so she just stopped to try to contain her tears, letting they freely go down her cheeks.

She was so angry.

“I’m sorry, I’m an idiot.” – he said, covering his eyes with his right hand, as if the image of her tears hurt him. – “I know you don’t feel the same way…” – she didn’t know it was possible, but she got even angrier. – “I just… forget, ok? We can pretend I didn’t open my stupid mouth, we can just be friends…”

She was enraged.

She charged over him, and hit his naked torso like a rock. Surprised, Hiccup tried to hold her by her shoulders, while she kept hitting him with her closed fists.

“You… Stupid… Son of… Half-troll…”

“Astrid, I’m really sorry…”

“Would you marry me?” – the question surprised then both, but in the moment she said it, Astrid knew that that was not what she really wanted to ask. What she needed to know. “Would you marry only me?”

She lifted her head to see him, and there was so much surprise in his face, but also hope.

“I wouldn’t marry anyone else, Astrid.” – his answer came as a whisper, and slowly, uncertainly, his hands found her cheeks. – “Only you.”

She was furious.

“Would you have only me by your side?” – she insisted. Astrid didn’t know why she was still crying, why her heart hurt so much, why she feel like she was burning in rage. – “Would you let only me care for you?”

He closed his eyes again, his forehead touching hers.

“Yes.”

She touched his face, mirroring his movements.

“Would you smile at me every day?” – she whispered, blinking away the tears.

“Don’t you know?” – he murmured, his thumbs gently caressing her cheeks. – “You are the only one who can make me smile.”

“Would we still be friends?”

“Forever.” – he answered, kissing her hair.

“A lot of things would change, though.” – he hugged her tightly, his chin resting on the top of her head. - “I’m not sure if I’m ready for it.”

“We have time.” – his fingers were combing her hair. – “I would marry you today or tomorrow, but we can make things right and take our time.”

She didn’t answer, only hugged him more. They stayed in that way for a long time, until he gently pulled her away, wiping her tears.

“Astrid.” – he whispered, smiling. – “Would you marry me? Only me?”

There was only one honest answer.

“I’m so angry right now I could kiss you.”

And she did it.

Chapter Text

Hiccup never believed in love at first sight. His logical mind couldn’t see how that could be possible. Love is not something that happens: love must be built, day by day, with care, respect, companionship. Love is something that you cultivate, that fulfills you. A person couldn’t possible fall in love with a single look.

He was not thinking about love when he saw her: the only thing in his mind was to make his way through the crowd, taking care to not slip with his fake foot. The live house was full, the opening band was amazing, and he wanted to get as close as possible to the stage.

He pushed his way until the stage, looked up, and then the world seemed to stop.

Her eyes were closed, her face was pure bliss: the golden locks of hair were glued to her forehead because of the sweat, but she didn’t care. Her fingers were so fast, they seemed to levitate over the bass strings. Hiccup had never seen something so beautiful.

Love didn’t happen at first sight – it was not possible.

So why had his heart, his brain and his world stopped working just by looking at her?

Chapter Text

When they met, her name was Stormfly and his name was DragonMaster.

Except that they never really met: their encounter occurred thanks to an online game’s random queue system.

And Stormfly and DragonMaster wasn’t their real names.

It was their first game together, they shared the bot lane, they nailed it. It was not easy to find someone who played so well, so “Stormfly” send “DragonMaster” a friendship request.

They played together all night, without saying a single word to each other, not even in the game’s chat.

Neither of them liked to play the same game every day, so their encounters in the MOBA game only happened two times a week. They played together for an entire month before starting to send messages to each other during the game, and it took four months for casual conversations and jokes start to happen.

Astrid was afraid of internet creeps – Hiccup had a lot of social skills limitations.

After almost six months, both concluded that the other wasn’t some kind of maniac, and they started to play other games they liked together. Some had voice chat system, and “DragonMaster” never addressed the fact that she was a girl – he gained a lot of points for that.

Eight months after their first game together, they started the habit of talking through Discord every day.

Sometimes they played together, other times not. He was a silent player, which made the few times he lost his temper and cursed even more funny to her. She liked to talk a lot, and he liked to hear her tantrums and tease her about it.

She lived in America and he lived in Brazil – she discovered later that even though he was Norwegian, his mother was a research biologist, in a mission in the Amazon rainforest. But when he was not with his mom, he was in Norway with his dad. Astrid had no idea how someone could live traveling the world like that – it was not surprise that most of his friends were online friends.

They told each other their real names, but rarely used it. It was always “Stormfly” and “DragonMaster” - and after hearing a girl calling him that every day, he began to wonder if his nick was not as bad as his real name. She was a year older, he had a charming accent. She found his social medias, and damn if she didn’t stalk the hell of it: he was skinny, for sure, but oh boy was he handsome.

He also stalked her until he was convinced that she wasn’t a fake – she was just too beautiful to be true. Then he felt an idiot about it, and told her. She said that she did the same, and they didn’t talk about that anymore.

Slowly, things started to change. They had been playing together for a year and a half when they started to share what had being going in their days, their problems with university, even some childhood memories.

Sometimes she would go to him to list all the reasons why men were stupid, normally after a disastrous date. Sometimes he would ask her for some girl advice, what also would not end well, since she was always strait forward with her advices, and he was just too shy to follow it.

Sometimes she would tell him about how difficult was to attend her parents expectations, and keeping her scholarship; she was just so stressed all the time. Sometimes he would tell her about how lonely he felt and how difficult was to have parents who didn’t want to talk to each other anymore.

There were days when all they could do to keep their sanity was playing with each other, or just talking – more times than less.

They got drunk at the same night by fate, what leaded to tons of online deaths, and later, an awkward flirty conversation, with the nicknames “Milady” and “Babe” replacing the older ones.

He was kind of in panic next night, but since they barely remember what they had said, she just told him to forget about it.

They kept the new nicknames, though.

They talked about almost everything, but never talked about meeting in person: he had no reasons to go to America, and her family didn’t have money to afford extravagant Brazilian or European vacations. They knew that they would never really met, and it was ok.

Until it was not ok anymore.

Until she had a terrible bad day, got home almost crying, and the only thought on her mind was that she needed to talk to Hiccup, because everything would be fine – because Hiccup made everything fine. Because talking to him was the best part of her day.

Because she was in love.

She sat on her chair but didn’t reunite the courage to talk to him, not that day, not when her heart was so exposed, and her feelings were so clear.

For the first time in months, she went straight to bed without talking to him.

Millions of miles way from there, he waited for hours, trying not to think about her. Then he got preoccupied that something, like an accident, could had happened: she always send him a message when she wouldn’t be able to play at night. He asked if everything was ok, and got no answers. He started to freak out a little, but did the best he could to stay calm. There were plenty of reasons for her not being online: maybe she was just really tired and went to bed early; maybe she was at a party, or at a date.

In the moment the word “date” crossed his mind, his forehead hit his keyboard, hard. He took a couple of deep breaths, trying to stay calm. There’s no reason to be mad, he said to himself. It was not his business what Astrid did with her life, she was not his girlfriend…

…Oh.

Trembly, he lifted his head, his mind suddenly clear. He stared at his screen until it went black. Without shutting down the computer, he slowly laid down in bed, making a cocoon of blankets around him.

Deep breaths.

You weren’t supposed to fall in love with her, idiot.

Deep breaths.

No one slept that night.

Next day, they talk normally, as if nothing had happened last time. Their friendship was solid as ever, after all, they could talk about almost anything.

Except of the fact that they were stupidly in love, and that they would never see each other.

Chapter Text

“Kids, today I’m gonna tell you the story about how I met your mother.”

“Are we being punished for some reason or…”

“No. You see, it was 2009, life as single in Berk was great, and then your uncle Fish decide to ruin everything, by proposing to your aunt Ruff.”

“Wait a minute.” Astrid was by the door, drying her hands in a towel. “I know this story. Fish proposed to Ruff nine years before we met… That’s the story about how you met Heather!”

“Wow, thanks Astrid.” – Hiccup said, trying to be annoyed. – “You totally ruined the begging of the story.”

“The beginning… Oh, come on, the kids will go through puberty on that couch before you get in the part where you met me.”

“Give us the short version, mom, please.” – their daughter asked.

“Or no version at all.” – their son completed.

“Well, it was at your uncle Snot and aunt Heather's wedding. I was the band’s bass player.”

“Thanks, Astrid.” – Hiccup said again, definitely annoyed now. – “Do you have any idea of how much time I have been preparing the whole story…”

“I expected more drama.” – their daughter interrupted, what made Astrid laugh.

“Oh, there was plenty of drama from you father side, I can guarantee.”

Astrid and Hiccup stared at each other for a long time, as if remember everything that had led to this point. He decided that if he couldn’t embarrass his kids, he could definitely embarrass his wife.

“But you see, kids… Right at the moment I met your mother I knew – I have to love this woman for as much as I can, for as long as I can, and I can never stop loving her, not even for a second.”

As he expected, Astrid became completely red, biting her lips in a way that said, ‘you are so going to pay for that’.

His response was his ‘bring it on’ wink.

“Oooh that is so sweet!” – their daughter said.

“So disgusting.”

“If you have time to embarrass me in front of the kids, you have time to help me fixing dinner, come on.”

Chapter Text

Astrid was NOT interested, really.

It was only by pure coincidence that the Hufflepuff girls on her Herbology class were talking about him, while they fought Venomous Tentaculas under Professor Longbottom serious look.

“Have you asked Hiccup out yet?”

She was so surprised that the distraction cost her a tentacle’s hit on her face. Astrid wasn’t planning on eavesdrop them, but It wasn’t her fault if they decided to have that conversation right in front of her.

“Not yet.” – the girl was petit and cute, Astrid would give her that.

“Claire, is the last Hogsmeade visit, you are not going to have another chance! He’s graduating, remember?”

Oh, so he was a senior. That explained why she didn’t remember him.

“I know, I know! But I can’t just stop thinking that he will be gone, and I will never see him again. So, what’s the point now?”

She could be cute, but Hufflepuff girl had no backbone.

“You don’t know that. Maybe he will not go back to Norway.” – oh, so he really was from another country. That explained the accent, but not the weird name.

Not that Astrid had been wondering about his charming accent, obviously.

“He’s going to Romania. I heard him telling the boys last week. Hagrid got him a job with dragons.”

Dragons? Real dragons? Oh, he wasn’t talking shite just to impress her; the boy really wanted to pet some extremely dangerous beasts. Bloody hell, she was not interest in liking him, but it was hard to deny that that was amazing.

“That’s hot”. – and that too.

“I know!” – wow, that girl sounded like she was in pain. Damn, she got it bad for crazy dragon boy. Or she was just really horny. – “He’s so cool!”

Well, actually he was more like a crazy animal lover, but whatever floats your boat, horny girl. She heard a giggle and didn’t had to look to her side to know that Heather was also listening, and probably taking the same conclusions.

“You have to ask him, then. That is, if someone didn’t beat you to it already”

“Forget about Hiccup” – other Hufflepuff girl said, her lips bleeding after been hit by one of the tentacles – “I heard one of the seventh-year girls asking him, but he said that already had made plans with his friends”

Petit cute horny girl cursed so loud that Professor Longbottom actually glared at her direction, and the girls decided to focus on the murderer plant. Astrid conclude that Heather and she should do the same.

“Well, that was an interesting conversation” – Heather said later, after they left the greenhouses. – But why were you so invested, Astrid?

Oh Merlin, it was so easy to forget that her best friend was also an unbelievable manipulative human being.

“It was funny. Do you know the guy they were talking about?”

“Not much. I know that he’s a Hufflepuff and that he’s hot” – for some reason, Astrid was sure that her friend was hiding some crucial information, but insisting would only result in more questions.

“Hmm” – was her only answer, but Heather clearly wasn’t being fooled.

“What do YOU think?”

“I think that working with dragons must be incredible” – she answered honestly, but then she saw Hiccup walking by them in the gardens with a chubby Ravenclaw guy . – “And that seventh years got too much free time after the N.E.W.T.s”

Her voice got his attention, and he stopped, smiling politely at her.

“Hey, Slytherin girl. Congratulations on your gaming last week.” – as in the first time they talked, his voice was casual, as if they had known each other for years. His friend stared at them, mouth open, and she didn’t have to look aside to know Heather was probably given her THE look.

“Thank you. And congratulations on wining your bet.” – they both laughed at the memory of Ruffnut Thorston throwing a powerful bludger right on Snotlout’s face that made him hit the ground like a rock.

Astrid knew it was not possible, but she could feel Heather’s eyebrows rising at her. Hiccup’s friend pulled his robes, nervously mumbling something.

“Oh, yeah, you’re right. Well, I would love to stay and praise you for your game, Slythering girl, but we got to go. See you around.”

“See you, crazy Hufflepuff guy.” – and after a polite smile to Heather, he gave her a nod head and a wink, before keeping going his way.

Bloody hell. Crazy dragon boy WAS hot. Good thing he was going to Romania – Astrid was not into drama and Hufflepuff x Slytherin relations were top drama.

“…crazy Hufflepuff guy?”

“Shut up, Heather.”

“You have to tell me, you know.”

“It’s not important. Forget about it.”

Hufflepuff guy was already causing problems to her. Astrid was definitely staying away.

“Hey, let’s stalk him in Hogsmeade – I want to see his fan club making a fool of themselves”

Heather was not fooling her either, but…

“Sure, why not.”

Chapter Text

They took their time.

As Hiccup had promised, their relationship grew little by little. After that first kiss in the forge, they started to learn how to be together: Hiccup told her that he had loved her since he was twelve; Astrid told him that she had no idea of how to be in love. She was nervous at the beginning, not sure of what Hiccup expected of her; him, for the other hand, was so amazed by the fact that he was dating her, he didn’t even think about how to do the actual date thing.

After one week of absolute and complete mess, they concluded that they were both idiots: they set for being friends, plus hand holding and kissing.

It was a new and amazing sensation: learning how to be close, to be intimate. Learning how to care for him more than just as a friend. And getting rewarded for that care, receiving it back, creating a companionship. And the touches.

Oh, the touches.

Hiccup’s hands were rough, as expected for a blacksmith, but always gentle. Astrid didn’t know it was possible to keep falling love day by day, but that was the feeling. The way he adored her hair, her hands, her cheeks: he didn’t dare to touch her in any place other the ones her clothes showed, but she didn’t care – Astrid also didn’t gather the courage to touch him anywhere but his arms, face and hair. And oh, his hair: messing his auburn locks, making tiny braids behind his ears while they sat alone in the woods were quickly becoming and addiction.

Astrid had heard about how the first months of dating felt amazing, but she never thought that would be like that.

But even in the bliss of her first love, Astrid was nothing but practical: she never lost sign of what was going on around her, and, specially, with Hiccup.

Her parents were not pleased – they expected a position more certain than merely “dating” but didn’t insist. Gobber told her that Hiccup’s adoration to her was so damn obvious that her parents would soon realize that there was no chance that he wouldn’t make a proposition eventually.

For the other hand, one day when she was reporting for duty in Stoick’s hut, Snotlout made some comments about her being the next wife of the chief. Boldly, Astrid asked:

“Why, is Hiccup getting his birthright back?”

Snoutlout’s face were full of surprise. He blinked a few times, but soon his smolder was back at his lips.

“Come on baby, I’m sure you would prefer a real man and a better position…”

Astrid stopped him right there. She made perfectly clear that she would marry Hiccup, or not marry at all. If he tried anything behind her back, he would have to tie her up and bring her unconscious to the ceremony, because if she was awake, she would scream “NO” until she lost her voice. And then she would cut his manbits out. That was enough to get the thought out of his head, and he quickly left the hut.

“You two… Are getting married?” – Astrid was surprised by the question. She was so enraged with Snotlout that she honestly forgot she was in front of her chief.

“Well, not now but… yes, one day we will.” – she answered. Her fourteen years old version would probably tremble listening herself talking about marriage after only a month of dating. But she knew her heart was in the right place; she knew that the happiness Hiccup made her feel was not temporary. She wasn’t kidding when she told Snotlout that she would marry Hiccup, or not marry at all.

She didn’t know if she was imaging things, but even with his serious face, she could see regret in Stoick’s eyes.

But honestly, she didn’t care if it was real or not.

She had something more important to think: Hiccup was smiling everyday now.

Smiling at her.

For her.

Because of her.

And she was in love with that smile.

But all good things one day come to an end, and the bliss of their relationship was crushed by the reality of the barbaric archipelago: Hiccup and Astrid had been dating for eight months when the worst raid Berk had ever saw left eleven dead and almost forty injured.

Astrid didn’t remember much of that night, only flashes: the fire, the heat that was almost maddening; fangs and tooth and claws, the smell of Zippleback’s gas, the frightful sound of the Night Fury echoing in the air. She was sure she almost died at least five times; part of her hair was burned, and she was lucky that her face wasn’t too.

But what Astrid remembered clearly was the relief she felt when she heard Hiccups’ voice calling her in the mist of the fires after the dragons had left, seeing him running to her, taking her in his arms and holding her tightly, tighter than in the first time he did, and kissing her senseless. They held each other in the middle of the fire and ashes, glad for being alive, glad they still had each other.

“Astrid…” – he whispered when air became a necessity, still holding her as she was his lighthouse in the sea. – “I know I said we have time but…”

“Marry me.” – She interrupted, her ear firmly anchored in his heart, feeling it pulsing, fast, hard, alive.

“…for Thor woman, you have to let me ask you…”

Marry me.” – she insisted, and he could only sigh.

“Today, tomorrow, any day.” – was the answer.

Astrid was nineteen years old when she started the preparations for her wedding.

As her parents had predicted, Hiccup came with Gobber, and the marriage contract was agreed and payed. Gobber gave them a piece of land behind the forge, and with the help of Fishlegs and the twins, they started the construction of the hall they would call home.

Hiccup now spent most of his time in the construction, and Astrid would stop by to help anytime she could, since she still had her chores and her duties as a soldier of Berk. It was exciting know that that would be the place where she would build her family with Hiccup.

With that thought in mind, more than one time she saw Stoick watching them from the distance. Actually, she was pretty sure he made that a habit – Tuffnut told her he always seemed utterly destroyed when looking to them working, even though Hiccup would always look away, never meeting his gaze. Astrid was sure that, at this point, Stoick already had realized the real price he would pay for dishonoring Hiccup:

He was no longer his dad, so Hiccup’s children, her children, would not be his grandchildren, and he wouldn’t have any right over them.

Astrid knew it was a cruel thought, but she couldn’t feel sorry for Stoick. He had made his decision.

And she had a marriage to plan.

What came as a surprise, though, was how many people started to get excited about the wedding. Sure, Hiccup had being a nuisance when younger, but now that he spend all his time building their new home, people had finally realized how much of the work the did in the forge: Gobber was getting tired, and would rather train the new generation of dragon slayers – or as Ruff would say, ‘drinking his ass to oblivion while irresponsibly putting kids in danger’ – than do any work. It was ironic that, right when Hiccup decided that he didn’t care or would try, he was acknowledge.

There was no doubt about who was Berks’ best blacksmith now, and who would be the only one very soon.

That new development certainly please Astrid’s parents, and when Hiccup said that both Thuggory from the Meathead tribe and Camicazi from the Bog-Bugglar tribe would be attending the wedding, she thought that they would explode with proud. Brunhilda Hofferson was now planning a wedding like Berk had never seen before.

The wedding fit for a Tribe’s Heir, Astrid thought, not without some bitterness in the corner of her mind.

Hiccup, for the other hand, was as far from bitter as possible. He confessed to her that he was having the time of his life: being accepted by the tribe, inheriting the forge, getting his own hall, marrying the love of his life who also happened to be the most beautiful woman in Midgard.

She gave him a kiss that was not but passionate, and carried a lot of promises for their wedding night.

Astrid Hofferson was twenty years old when she married Hiccup.

It was the closest that Hiccup and Stoick had been in years, at least physically speaking. If being near to the Chief bothered Hiccup, he didn’t show it. He was wearing his biggest smile and his eyes never left hers during the entire ceremony. Astrid was also grinning like an idiot and only had eyes for him. Once more, was Tuffnut who told her later that he thought that Stoick would start to cry at some point while he married them.

And once more, she concluded that she didn’t care.

As her mother had promised, it was a wedding as the archipelago hadn’t see in many years: all Berk was there, as the heirs of their allied clans and their committees. There was no end to the food and mead and dancing; Ruff and Tuff set fire to a building (allegedly incident), Thuggory was so drunk that he couldn’t stop talking of how much he liked Hiccup and haddocks, Cami may or may not have been seen shedding a tear during the ceremony, Gobber was piss drunk and lost both of his fake arm and leg, Ruff and Tuff set fire to another building (confirmedly on purpose) and Snotlout would be found naked in the Ingerman’s hen house in the morning after.

Three people payed no attention to any of this, though.

Hiccup only had eyes to Astrid and couldn’t believe how lucky he was.

Astrid was so nervous thinking about the consummation that she almost combust right there.

And Stoick was alone in a cliff, looking to the sun dying in the ocean, and telling Val that their boy had just married.

He didn’t sleep that night, and his regret was never so strong.

Hiccup also didn’t sleep that night, but nothing was further from his mind than his father, or regret.

Astrid was beautiful under the candlelight, her golden hair spreading over the furs of their bed, and even the many scars and burnings that her clothes usually covered couldn’t make Hiccup think that she was nothing but perfect. She was flushed, and nervous, and her fingers were cold, but she explored him with fearless curiosity and Astrid thought that this skinny, insecure, handsome man was going to be the death of her.

Beyond that, little description is necessary.

They loved each other that night and in every night that followed. They had a blissful pacific honey month, and after he inherit the forge for good and she ascend the post of general, nothing extraordinary happened in their first year as a married couple. Well, there were lots and lots of dragon raids, but that didn’t count as extraordinary in Berk.
But then, other concerns started to craw in her mind.

Astrid was twenty-two years old when she went to Gothi to ask why in Freya’s name she hadn’t got pregnant yet.

Hiccup was not pressuring her or anything, and she never thought of herself as the motherly type, but she wanted a baby. She wanted her own family, and she wanted to give Hiccup a new family. But Gothi said that nothing was wrong with her, and that there was nothing to be done, except for being patient and keep trying.

She was not patient, but she was happy with the keep trying part.

Meanwhile, other interesting things started to happen around her.

Ruff and Fish got engaged, and apparently Tuff had been exchanging letters with Camicazi since her wedding; Snotlout was assuming even more of the Chief’s duties and finally was showing some good results; Hiccup was inventing again and for some reason, the raids were starting to low their frequency.

And exactly when things were becoming better, all hell broke loose when the Outcasts attacked.

Now Hiccup spent day and night at the forge, and took in two apprentices, and even Gobber got back from his retirement: they need more weapons and armors and fast. She couldn’t remember when she last had time to take a bath – when she was not in war councils, she was training teenagers (even though she never really fought enemies that weren’t dragons) or taking meals to the forge (when was the last time Hiccup had slept with her, in their bed?). And when they finally attacked, that was the closer she had been of death.

That madness couldn’t go on forever, could?

Apparently, yes, since there was no end to the number of Outcastes attacking. When, in Hell’s name, they had exiled so many fucking people?

After a whole month of fighting and barely sleeping, even Hiccup, Gobber and the apprentices were called from the forge for a war council that included all Berk. And it was even more maddening than the war.

People were screaming, children and mothers were crying (Berk mothers, that were used to have their children took away by fucking dragons), men were furious with Stoick and Snotlout leadership didn’t inspire trust. Many warriors had died, a bigger number were gravely injured – Tuffnut lost an eye, Astrid had a whole new collection of scars on her back, Fishlegs had being unconscious for days now and Ruff was hysterical, convinced that he would never wake up. Hiccup’s hands were irremediably burned and shaking, beyond their limit to work. But Astrid could see in his eyes (when was the last time that she looked him properly in the eyes?) that his mind was as sharp as ever.

And because of that, she was possible the only one that was not surprised when, after Stoick screamed through his lungs to everybody shut the fuck up unless they had something useful to say, Hiccup raised his hand and spoke, loud and clear.

“I have an idea.”

Silence. And then, Tuffnut:

“Well, I guess that some highly destructive invention is exactly what we need right now.”

Before everything became chaos again, Hiccup explained briefly and simply, that he could modify the old dragon killing catapults to something easier to operate and aim, what would definitely do some ‘highly destructive’ damage. He also had in mind a way to make the catapults more mobile, so the Outcasts couldn’t easily dodge them.

Astrid felt her heart accelerating when she realized that people didn’t seemed skeptical, and there were even some excited murmurs in the hall.

“Can you make one today for demonstration?” – and for her complete disbelieve, it was Snotlout, not Stoick, who asked. Hiccup nodded.

“It will take a couple of hours, and I will need the boys.” – he said, referring to his apprentices.

“Take Tuff, Gustav and Sven too and make it in one.” – Snotlout commanded, but Hiccup seemed more excited than offended. He agreed with the head, gave his wife a peck in the lips and left the Great Hall with his helpers behind.

This time, there was no doubt. It was clearly pride in Stoick’s eyes, and this time, Astrid decided that she cared.

The war didn’t last long after that.

In the end, ‘Highly destructive damage’ was exactly what they needed to win the war. The Outcasts were not prepared for the number of catapults that they were able to build over night, after Hiccup’s prototype was approved. The fight was over, the dead were buried, and Fishlegs finally woke up after two months in a coma. Hiccup ascended to a fix position in the War Council, and Snotlout was very eager of his cousin’s advices. It was time to Berk to rebuild itself, but that had never scared Vikings before.

What did scared Astrid to death was discovering she was pregnant. She was twenty-three years old.

It was a difficult pregnancy. She felt drained sick in the first months, and somedays barely could keep something in her stomach. She was not used to feel so weak and tired, and the pain was a torment: she was constantly alert, imagining that she could lost her child at any moment. Hiccup had more responsibilities now, but was also worried sick and would always find some day to help her with what he could, even if it was only a foot massage or keeping her company.

When she entered the sixth month, Gothi put her at bed rest.

By the end of the seventh month, her water bag broke.

Giving birth was definitively the most difficult battle she ever fought. Ruffnut and her mother helped her to walk around her bed in the first hours, and she never felt so much pain. Her pelvis was not dilatating enough, and she was sure the kid would die soon, but Gothi stayed calm during the whole thing, trying to reassure her with her wise eyes.
It was not working, and at some point, Astrid started to cry.

When she was finally told to lay down in the bed and start to push, her thoughts went to Hiccup, as always did. Was he as scarred as she was? Would he be able to listen to her screams? And then she gave the first push, and the pain was so intense, and her scream was so loud that any thoughts were washed from her mind.

Astrid became a mother when she was twenty-four years old.

She almost passed out by the end of the labor, but reunited her last strengths to hold her daughter. She was so tiny, and her cries were so low, that Astrid started to cry again, convinced that the baby wouldn’t make it through the night. Her mother took the girl to Hiccup, and this time Astrid didn’t fight back when she felt herself blacking out.

She woke up in the next morning with her daughter’s cry, and that was the most beautiful sound she ever heard.

Hiccup was beyond happy, and seemed about to burst with joy. Unlike her, he was convinced that their daughter would make it – himself had been born before time, a scrawny little thing. But then Gothi was back, and Gobber was the one who traduced the bad news she wrote in the ashes of their kitchen fire.

Astrid probably would never be able to give birth again.

She cried a little more that night (when did she start to cry so much?), and Hiccup tried to comfort her. To distract her from the bad news, they discussed baby names. They both agreed that their daughter need a strong name, one that would carry her through the difficult life in Berk.

When Astrid was able to get up again, they announced the newborn’s name in the Great Hall for the entire village, and this time everyone saw the tears in Stoick’s eyes.

Valkaria.

For Hiccup was sure that his mother would protect his daughter from Valhalla, like she had protected him as a baby.

For the first time in years, he looked into Stoick’s eyes and smile, a sad and small smile. But a smile, nonetheless.

In the years that followed, Astrid would observe with interest the interactions between Hiccup and his – former – father. The blacksmith was just too good to hold grudges, but he also didn’t allow himself to think of Stoick as his father again. They were polite and friendly to each other but never close, and Hiccup made perfectly clear that he should never referred to himself as Valkaria’s grandfather – that right belonged to Gobber and Hakkon Hofferson.

As Valkaria grow up to be just like Hiccup (and consequently, his mother Valka), Astrid could see that pained Stoick to be called “Chief” and not “granpa”, but he accepted that as the final price he would pay for dishonoring his brilliant son, all those years ago. Unlike Hiccup, Astrid knew how to hold grudges, but never used it against her former Chief.

Life was finally good, and she didn’t see the point in messing with that. After all, Astrid was nothing but practical.

Chapter Text

Ever since he entered the Tower, Hiccup had learned a lot, to stay alive, and stay climbing. Respect the rules of the Tower. Your life is ALWAYS at risk – do not trust anyone. Never tell other people that you are an Irregular. Only the strong survive. Don’t mess with FUG, or the Ten Great Families. Don’t cross paths with a Princess of Zahard, ‘cause they are all insanely strong, or just plain insane.

All excellent advices.

It’s a shame he didn’t follow a single one of them.

He didn’t remember when he first got in: it was probably a hundred years ago, maybe more. Most people had betrayed him, he had almost died a thousand times, lost a leg, told the wrong person he was an Irregular and now was being hunted by both FUG and The Ten Great Families.

But his worst mistake, by far, was crossing paths with a Zahard Princess. The owner of The Blue August, Astrid Hofferson Zahard. They entered the Tower around the same time, they formed a team and climbed together, until the day she was called to fulfill her duties by the Zahard Family.

He knew that that would eventually happen. He ALWAYS knew that the path of a Zahard Princess was the loneliest. There was not a single person in the Tower who didn’t know the rules that bind a Princess:

NEVER fall in love.

NEVER have any sort of physical relationship.

NEVER, EVER, spread the Blood of Zahard.

Hiccup knew all of that. But either way, he fell in love with her.

When he pushed his way to the Tower, a hundred years ago, he had only one wish to fulfill: become strong enough to climb until the last floor, where God would be waiting to make one single wish to become true: bring back his parents. That was what kept him fighting for so many years, what push him back every time it was easier simple lay down and rest forever. He had come all the way until now imagining his family.

And now he couldn’t stop thinking that his family would never be complete without Astrid.

But even IF he could arrive at the top, what everybody was trying in the last thousands of years without succeeding, he would only got one wish. If he prayed for Astrid to be free of the Zahard Family, he would not get his dad and mom back.

He didn’t even know she would be able to love him back. The last time he saw her, was ten years ago. Maybe she had changed.

“Why are you looking so depressed? It makes me want to punch your face.”

He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t see her coming. Toothless probably stayed quiet on purpose, that damn lizard. He felt like his heart was being torn apart: ten years, and her voice, her face, her smile – nothing had changed. She was as stunning as ever.

And he was so, so hopelessly in love.

Yes, nothing had changed, he thought. She was a Princess of Zahard, and he was an Irregular.

“How did you find me?” – was his only answer, and she took a step close.

“My sister. Rapelista.”- she answered simply, sending a chill down his spine. It was not good to know that the Geek Princess had an eye on you. No one, aside from other Zahard family members, had seen Rapelista Zahard for centuries, but it was said that the infamous Princess could find anyone or anything in the Tower. Now he knew it was true, and it was not a good thing. – “I heard that you stopped climbing the Tower, that you let the twins and the others go without you and Toothless.”

“How did you…”

“Rapelista.”- she cut, impatient. – “Why, Hiccup? Being able to climb with people you can trust was your dream, remember?”

There was a lot of answers he could give to her. Truths that would make her punch him, or spend the next fifty years without talking to him. Or he could lie.

“That’s because… I’m tired.”- he lied.

Her expression became blank as a paper.

“Tired?” – she whispered, in a tone that he KNEW didn’t signed good things.

“Yep, tired.”

“Tired.”

“Yeah, I…” – a punch in the stomach, strong enough to kill a regular or even some low rankers, made him curve, and completely lost his air.

“THAT was for lying to me”. – she drew out the Blue August, the only axe between the Thirteen Month Series of Weapons. – “Now tell me the truth or the next will be for betraying the fate I have in you.”

Still breathless, Hiccup saw Toothless getting away with his peripherical vision. Traitor lizard. He mumbled an answer.

“What was that?” – Astrid insisted, taking one more step closer.

“Even if I find God at the top at the Tower, he can’t give me what I really want.” – he finally said, still massaging his belly. – “So I don’t see the point in keep going.”

Astrid frowned, confused.

“And what is that? You want your family back, right?”

“Yeah, I want my family. My mom, my dad…” – he took a deep breath. Since she was going to beat the crap out of him either way, might as well tell the truth. Now was as good time as ever. – “And the woman I love.”

She lowed her axe, an indecipherable expression on her face, and stayed quiet for a long time, only staring at him.

“Nothing’s changed then”. – she finally said, in a diplomatic tone that was so NOT Astrid. – “Just ask for your parents and then go after your girl.”

“It’s not possible.” – he said, with a sad smile.

“Why? She doesn’t love you?” – she insisted, still using a blank expression and an emotionless voice.

“Worse.” – he said, taking a step closer. – “She is not allowed to love me. Or anyone.”

“Why?” – she whispered, her eyes not even blinking. He shook his shoulders – was she really going to make him confess?

“Because she is a Princess of Zahard.”

Astrid immediately took a step back.

“That’s too bad.” – she said, calmly. – “But you can love other women.”

Oh for the love of… He was so not in the mood for games.

“Astrid, I have loved you for a hundred years. I will still love you for the next thousand. This whole Tower will fall to the ground before I find any woman who could possibly replace you, Milady.”

She closed her eyes, as if she was in pain, her hand firmly covering her mouth, as if was stopping her from answer.

“Stop.” – she whispered. “Do not say that. You CAN’T say that.”

He gave a humorless chuckle.

“Didn’t you know? I’m an Irregular: the rules of the Tower do not apply to me.”

She only shook her head violently, walking backwards, her hands covering her face.

“I have to go. Before they suspect… Before you became a target.”

“Astrid, I’m an Irregular, I’m already a target, they already want me dead. But if I could choose a reason to die, I would die for you any day.”

“Please, Hiccup.” – she begged, clearly showing signs of extreme distress now. “Don’t to this to me.”

“I won’t.” he said, turning his back to her, and leaned over in the balcony. “I know that the punishment for you is death. I won’t do anything; I’m sorry for saying all that stuff.”

“No… don’t be sorry.” – she whispered, and he trembled. She wasn’t supposed to be giving him hope. “Just… just go back to the gang, keep climbing.”

He moaned.

“I already told you…”

“Hiccup!” – her voice was firm again, but he resisted the will to look at her. “Keep. Going. On.”

He didn’t answered, and she left. God knows when he would see her again now. He cursed himself for open his big mouth. Toothless went back, nudging his head against his torso, while Hiccup replayed her last words on his mind, until he realized what she meant:

There’s a way.

Could it be possible…?

“This Princess is going to be the death of me, buddy.”

Chapter Text

Something was off and Astrid couldn’t tell what.

Of course, it was kind of awkward going to a Convention by herself, but none of her friends liked the same nerd stuff as her. None of her friends would appreciate fighting the crowds for a sneak of her favorite DC colorist, or going to panels with some Marvel’s movies directors, or staying in line to play the new Nintendo games. But she doubted that so much people were staring at her just because she was alone.

She checked herself in a mirror next to a shirt stand. She was wearing a plain white top, a short black skirt and her favorite kickass white and black boots. Her long (too long) hair was in a ponytail, except for her bangs and a few blond strands – she was not extremely self-conscious about her appearance, but she didn’t like her round face enough to let it complete exposed. For the other hand, her various earrings were exposed, but she also doubted that was a problem in a Con where half of the people were wearing some extravagant cosplays.

So, Astrid could not tell why there was so many people staring at her. She was sure some even took photos. She was beautiful and all, but come on, there was some smoking hot Morrigans there, no reason for going full creep with someone who wasn’t even cosplaying. Scratch that, no reason for going full creep with anyone, anytime. But the point remained: why people were interested in her?

“Oh, yo, Winry.” – someone said behind her, and she turned around to see a cosplayer smiling brightly at her. She didn’t understand much of cosplays, but she could tell it was a good one. His clothes were made of good quality leather, his long red coat was nice too. His wig sure was expensive, and he was even wearing golden contact lenses. The fake metal arm seemed almost real.

“Sorry, what?” – she asked. What did he call her?

“Ah, I said ‘yo, Winry’, but I guess my Ed’s impersonation is not that good.” – he said, as if it answered everything. He had a nice smile, too. He scratched the back of his neck, - “Can we take a picture together?”

“Why?” – so it was not her imagination, people were taking photos of her! Nice-smile-cosplayer seemed as lost as her.

“Becaaause I’m Ed, you are Winry, so…”

“Who is Winry?” – he opened his mouth, clearly surprised.

“Are you serious?”

“Look, I have no idea of what are you talking about.” – she said, crossing her arms. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, before taking his phone out of his coat.
“Oh, ok, sorry. I just assumed… This is Winry.” - he offered his phone, and she took a step closer to see. Google was showing her pictures of the same anime character, with long blond hair pinned exactly like hers, blue eyes, white top, black skirt and goddamn it, even the same earrings.

Ok, now everything made sense.

“Oh, oooooohhh… I get it now.” – she was unintentionally cosplaying some anime chick. In a huge nerd Con. It was no surprise she was drawing attention. And from the images, she could tell he was cosplaying someone from the same anime, what explained why he had approached her in the first place. – “I KNEW I should have worn my Alliance t-shirt.”

“Sorry for assuming you were cosplaying… I bet is really creep being asked for a picture by a random stranger.” – he said, blushing a little. She laughed and dismissed the mistake with a gesture of her hand. – “So, not a FullMetal Alchemist fan, I assume?”

“Not an anime fan in general, actually. My anime knowledge is restricted to few Dragon Ball episodes I watched when I was little. I’m here for the games and comic books.”

“You don’t know what you are missing.” – he shook his head, but his smile was cute, not presumptuous. – “I’m Hiccup, by the way.”

“Astrid.” – she shook his hand. Astrid wanted to know how his face really was behind the cosplay stuff, but it was not something polite to ask. He probably took a lot of time to put all that. – “Look, you know that I’m not intentionally cosplaying, but since you were so nice and explained everything to me, and apparently my 'costume' is legit…”

“Really legit.”

“We can take that picture you wanted.” – she concluded and was surprised of how bright his smile was. “So, is there any kind of pose or…”

“Ooohh, I have just the thing!” – he exclaimed, and from one of his coat pockets he summoned a freaking wrench. “Here, take this, and try to look pissed off.”

“Ok…” – Astrid answered, accepting the wrench while Hiccup asked some random people to take the picture with his phone.

Astrid just expected to do something nice for nice-smile-cosplayer. What she didn’t expect was how many people would surround them as soon as they posed for the first picture. As if the gates of hell had been opened, in a few minutes there was so many phones and cameras pointed at them that she had no idea of what to do, or where to look. But Hiccup was really nice, as a veteran cosplayer would be, and helped her with the poses, ignored some unappropriated requests (why so many people wanted them to hug or kiss?), and just generally made the experience kind of fun for her. Finally, he dismissed the crowd and thanked her a lot.

“I really wanted to take some pictures with a Winry cosplayer today. Thank you.”

“Why? Why is this character so important?” – his blush was intense this time, and he scratched the back of his neck again.

“Well, humm… Winry is Ed’s automail mechanic and they kind of get together in the end and…”

“Oooh, so that’s why they wanted us to hug and kiss.” – he confirmed with his head. – “I was surprised of how many people stopped to take pictures.”

“FullMetal is a really popular anime. I know lots of people who would die fighting for its title as the best anime ever. And since I’m telling you the truth… Edward and Winry are kind of big relationship goals in the anime community.”

“Good relationship goals like Tyrand and Malfurion, or bad relationship goals, like Harley and the Joker?”

“Definitively the first. And how come you like comic books and don’t like mangas?”

“I don’t know, its just weird… The lack of colors and the reading order. I tried to read one, once, and I was not impressed.”

“Do you remember the name?”

“Something about a diary that see the future?”

Mirai nikki.” – He said, promptly, and there was some hint of despise in his tone. – “It was really hyped some years ago, but I honestly think it is just a lot of gratuitous violence. You need better recommendations.”

“Like FullMetal?” – his smile could light the world.

“Exactly like FullMetal. So, do you want the pictures we took?”

“Is that a smooth way to ask for my number?” – she teased, and his face became the same color as his cape. This dork was seriously cute. – “Yeah, I want them.”

They exchange numbers, and he sent her a bunch of pictures that she would see calmly later. He also sent her the app he used to read mangas, and made her promise that she would give FullMetal a try.

Since she was alone, he asked her if she would like to join him and his friends, which she accepted. His friend Fish – cosplaying as Obelix, what made him gain a lot of points with her and let her take a bunch of photos – was an infinite fount of nerd trivia, while Cami – cosplaying as Maka Albarn, whoever that was – shared her passion for games, what made everything more fun.

They also took more pictures, since people were losing their shit seen “such perfect cosplays” of their favorite anime couple or something. But every time it was easier and funnier to take the pictures, and she wished she knew more about the anime and the character to make a better performance. Now she understood why people went through all the trouble to make their costumes.

She had never had so much fun in a Con. She couldn’t tell if it was because of the cosplay thing, or the companionship.

In the end of the event, they parted with the promise of keeping touch. But Hiccup wouldn’t receive a single word from her in the days that followed the Con. And since one afternoon was apparently enough to get a huge crush in an unintentional cosplayer, he was too nervous to initiate conversation.

Until four days later, when his phone went off like crazy. And he could not stop laughing when he saw the messages.

OMG SHOU TUCKER IS A FUCKING ASSHOLE
I MEANT IT WTFFFFFFFF
WHO DOS DAT W HIS DOGGO N KID
TIS S SO MOTHERFUCKING WRONG IN SO MANY MOTHERFUNKING LEVELS
IM PISSED
OOOOOHHHH I HOPE HE DIEEEESSS
TELL ME HE DIES
I HATE U FOR SHOWING ME THIS

“What is so funny?” – Cami asked, spread in his bed and reading his Madoka novel for the fifth time.

“Astrid.”- he answered, showing her his phone at the same time a new message arrived.

YEEEEAAAAASSS HES DEEADDD, DIEEE ASSSHOOOOLLEEEE
SCAR IS MY NEW FAVORITE CHAR

Cami blinked a few times.

“She’s converted.” – she claimed, in a matter of fact tone. – “Tell me when she finishes the series, I want her to read Soul Eater next. With the right heels, she would do a good Liz Thompson, and I would be Patty, since my boobs are bigger and my hair shorter. You can use the same golden contacts for your Death the Kid.”

jk mustang s still my favorite
u were right this s awesome
ty

His heart missed a beat. He was sooo screwed.

Told u
U welcome

“Please send me some prints when she gets to the Hughes thing.”

“Oohh that’s just… Evil, Cami.”

“I know.”

Cami s already planning your next cosplay

Sounds fun
u ll b my partner again?

Yep, definitely screwed.

U bet

Chapter Text

Her beloved, manipulative evil best friend was right – his fan club was making a fool of themselves.

Three broomsticks was completely full: all Hogwarts’ students wanted nothing but a butterbeer after the exams. She was sitting with the rest of Slytherin quidditch team, and Hiccup and his friends were in the next table. It was a mixed group: she recognized the chuby Ravenclaw senior, Thuggory, the Hufflepuff goalkeeper, the Thorston Twins and Cami from Gryffindor…

And lots of Hufflepuff girls lurking around his table. Why was he so popular anyway? Sure, he was cute, and nice, and had this beautiful face and… Ok she got it.

“I don’t get why he is so popular” – Snotlout mumbled, as if reading her mind.

“Who? Me? It’s obviously because of my good looks.” – Eret answered, making everyone except Snot laugh.

“No, my stupid cousin Hiccup” – wait, WHAT? Cousin, WHO?

Genetics does works in mysterious ways.

“What is wrong with your family and these weird names?” – Heather asked, receiving some approbation murmurs from the others.

“Not your business.” – was the answer. – “I mean… come on, he’s not that good looking or cool or…”

“Snotlout, I will stop you right there.” – Helen said, shaking her head. – “You are knee-deep in negation, my friend.”

“Not you too!”

“If it makes you feel better, Snot, it’s probably because of the Dagur incident.” – Heather said, giving him a friendly pat in the shoulder.

Astrid almost choked with the beer. Wait a minute.

“It was him?”- Astrid exclaimed, surprised. “The Dagur incident” was said to be the most incredible duel Hogwarts had ever seen between two students in the last years. It had became something like a legend: there were only Dagur, his opponent and their seconds present, so nobody really knew what had happened, but one unused classroom in the third floor was completely trashed next day, and Dagur was in the hospital wing, barely making any sense, and his promises of revenge against someone whose name he never spoke were enough to make people speculated the rest. – “He was the one? The mysterious guy who won against Dagur?”

“No!” – Snotlout exclaimed. He used to hate Dagur… most of the Slytherin did. Dagur were one of the idiots keeping Slytherin with a bad name – he was a bully, and absolutely deranged. – “I didn’t know that! Hiccup never told me that!”

“Are you sure, Heather?” – Eret asked – “I heard it was a Gryffindor”

“I heard it was a Ravenclaw” – Astrid said. – “How can you know? Wait… Why did you never tell me?”

“You seem to forget that Dagur is my stupid older half-brother” – she said, not too happy. – “He was so angry, he couldn’t stop mumbling his name during Christmas. But of course, he made me promise to never speak a word of it, or he would make my life miserable. More miserable, I mean. But he’s out of the country now, gone for Morgana knows where, so I guess I can spill the beans now.”

Astrid gave her a half hug.

“I’m sure he became the Hufflepuff hero then.” – Eret said, scuffing his chin, a thoughtful expression on his face. – “And let me tell you this about Hufflepuffs – those guys are loyal as hell. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole House kept this secret all this time.”

Everyone in the table agreed.

“I suppose it’s just like Hiccup be the hero and not tell anyone.” – Snotlout shook his head. – “Stupid talented cousin. So that’s why the girls like him so much.”

“And because he’s handsome.” – Heather completed. – “Don’t you think so, Astrid?”

Stupid, evil, manipulative best friend.

“I think I will get the next round.” – she responded, getting up. Heather’s smile only grew bigger, but Astrid would only realize why when she realized behind who she ended up in the line.

Smartass, evil, manipulative best friend.

“Oh, hi Slytherin girl.” – Hiccup said, with his always present smile. – “How have you been?”

“I’m fine, crazy Hufflepuff guy. And you?”

“Happy that the term is over, I can guarantee.” – a group of boys left the bar counter, butterbeers safe in their hands, and Hiccup had to get closer to Astrid to allow them passage. – “I guess that everyone feels this way thought… I have never seen this place so full. Looks like all the girls from my House are here today.”

The innocent and clueless way he said that made Astrid roll her eyes.

“And you are telling me you have no idea why all of them are here?” – he raised one of his eyebrows, inviting her to continue – “You are drawing attention.”

“What?”

“Are you serious?”

“I have no idea what you are talking about.”

“Hiccup.” – she said in her serious, matter of fact tone, that she usually reserved for lecturing the idiots in the quidditch team. She didn’t notice that it was the first time she said his name. He did. – “You. Are. Popular.”

What?” – his horrified expression made Astrid burst in to laughs. – “It is not funny.”

“It is, though. And it’s true.” She tried to control herself. – “Hiccup Horrendous… Something. You are popular and all these girls want a piece of you.”

“That is literally the scariest thing I ever heard.”

“Oh, are you telling me you never had a girlfriend?”

“Of course I had.” – was his answer, and Astrid felt her stomach drop. – “But this is another level of… This is insanity.”

“Truer words have never been spoken.” – Astrid said, turning to Madame Rosmerta and hiding her disappointed face from him. – “Most girls are insane.”

“And how about you?” – he asked. She couldn’t see his face, but he sounded somewhat flirting. She tried to not assume much.

“How about you?” – was her only answer.

“I’m not a girl.”

“Nope. But you won against Dagur. That makes you at least a bit insane.” – this time she turned around to take in his expression, and it did not disappoint. His eyes were wide, his jaw, dropped, and there was a slight shade of pink in his cheeks.

“This is not… how could you… How did you… what?” – he gave a nervous chuckle, and it was the only confirmation she needed. He seemed to be hit by a stunning spell, and Rosmerta had to pinch his arm until he gave his order, still a little shaked. – “Please don’t tell anyone.”

“Why not? Are you afraid that the Gryffindor girls will chase you too?”

“Now THAT is the scariest thought that ever crossed my mind…” – he murmured, and Astrid’s heart was at least a little content. – “No, I just… I don’t want anyone asking me anything about that. There are somethings that I would rather not remember.”

“But you won the duel.” – Astrid insisted, taking her own butterbeers.

“Well, yeah…” – he mumbled, like a dork. Astrid never thought she was the type who fancied dorks, but this one was slowly gaining a space in her heart.

“It’s ok.” – she smiled, in a way she expected to be reassuring. – “Thanks for telling me, I will keep your secret.”

“I didn’t tell you… who told you…? Oh!” – his eyes found Heather in her table. – “Of course.” – He took one long, deep breath. – “Well, I guess it doesn’t make any difference now that I’m graduating, but thanks either way.”

They were standing between their tables, hands full of beers, staring each other, nothing else to talk about, but not wanting to part away either. Hiccup’s stare was intense, and he gave her a crooked smile that made fun things with her stomach, but before he could say anything else, Snotloud’s voice overpowered all the noises in the tavern:

“HEY CUZ, YOU NEVER TOLD ME YOU WERE THE ONE WHO DEFEATED DAGUR!”

The tavern became so silent that it was possible to hear the flies zooming around peoples’ food. Open mouthed, Hiccup’s only reaction was to glare at his cousin, who looked smug and proud in a weird kind of way. If her hands were not so full, Astrid would had facepalmed.

“Bloody hell, Snot!” – Heather exclaimed, and that was the starting shot for a turmoil, as everyone in the tavern started to talk at the same time, some people even getting up, clearly to come and ask HIccup some questions.

Feeling lost, Astrid turned around to see the Hufflepuff guy, but he was already being pulled out of the bar by a distressed Thuggory, who was shouting something that sounded suspiciously like “Badger rescue maneuver”. All the Hufflepuffs around attended to that call, and helped to escort Hiccup out of the tavern.

Hiccup still give her an apologetic smile before disappearing between his Hufflepuffs comrades.

What the…

“Well, that was entertaining.” – Eret commented, when she finally brought the beers to the table. – “Badger rescue maneuver… I liked it.”

“That was hilarious.” – Snotlout laughed, what made both Heather and Astrid kick him under the table. “What was that for?”

“For ruining the mood. Right, Astrid?” – Heather responded, given her best friend a wink.

Shameless, evil, manipulative best friend.

“I’m going to get the next round.”

“But you just did…”

“I’m going.”

Chapter Text

She came in first.

He came in second, as a consequence, because one can not be without the other.

She will be gone first, too.

And he will be the last, taking her with him as he closes the doors of the Universe into nothingness.

Her hair was gold as the sunrise, and her eyes were as blue as the ocean where she had manifested first.

His hair was dark as the night, but touched by the colors of a dying sun, and his eyes were forest green, as a reminder of everything that lives eventually decompose and dies.

Every being in the Creation met her first, and him for last. What gave their lives meaning was the time between being dragged to life by her and having their eyes closed by him.

Sometimes, it would take years.

Sometimes, months.

Sometimes, hours or minutes.

In this case, seconds.

Hospitals were a common place for them. People arriving, people departing, and in the middle of all that, he could steal a few seconds by her side.

He was attracted to her as a moth to the flame, as a predator to the prey, as a suicidal for the jump.

“You’re early.” She said, leaning in the delivery’s room wall by his side. She was dressed as a Viking warrior from the IX century – she hadn’t changed at all since then. In the last millennium, everything about her had been modified just a few times – it was difficult for her to change, it was against her own nature.

There was only one way to bring life, after all.

“Sometimes.” Was his answer. He was wearing ripped jeans and a plain white shirt. Cheap clothes made by underpaid workers, dying somewhere in a forgotten country. Work was killing a lot, lately.

He was always changing.

Her eyes drifted to the hospital bed, where the barely conscious mother was receiving a C-section. He could tell she was only half interested in what was happening in that exact location.

She was probably in another places way more interesting.

While he was waiting for that soul, he was also with an elderly woman in a nursing home in Germany, with a middle age man slipping in his bathroom in Chicago, with a teenager overdosing in Guatemala, with an elephant finding his way to a cemetery in Africa.

But his focus was always where he could be with her.

‘Don’t you think it’s sad?’ ‘it’s such a shame’ ‘poor thing’ ‘such a waste’ are the words they don’t speak. There’s no purpose. It’s not the first time they were in this situation, and it will not be the last. They will still encounter each other countless times until the last one.

And then, it will be only the two of them for a few seconds or many eons.

And then, nothingness.

But that was still far away.

They don’t exchange words, and he watches her blowing life in the newborn’s lungs. He was such a small thing, barely moving, even when he cried for the first time.

Silence.

And then the child was already in his arms, and there was nothing that any of those doctors could do about it.

It was just the way things were, since the beginning.

He stopped questioning if there was a purpose for all of that, for him, for her, thousands of years ago.

She’s still there and that’s new, probably the first change in her behavior that he is capable of remember. She’s looking into his eyes, making this moment last, but there was nothing else to say or do.

They would meet again.

There was nothing in the Creation like her, or like him, or like them. They only had each other, and eternity, even with a purpose, sometimes is boring. But there was nothing they could say that the other already didn’t know. They didn’t have a will, or a form of existence that wasn’t a part of these moments, when they were needed.

They were alone together, and he asked himself if she was jealous of the mortals like he was.

She doesn’t say a word before leaving and he only knows that she is not a product of his imagination because if there was something like him, then something like her must exist.
But for now, he will go to everywhere, and wait for their next encounter, the only thing that is certain in his everchanging mission.

Because he is attracted to her like the Earth to the sun, like the worm to a corpse, like a human to his lover.

Chapter Text

Astrid woke up with a strong not-belonging feeling. It took her only a few seconds to understand why: she was not in her bed, and didn’t know that bedroom at all. Her hungover mind was still a bit fuzzy, but she knew exactly what had happened.

“Oh, boy…”

She was mercifully alone in bed, what gave her a few precious minutes to register what was going on around her.

It was a nice bedroom: tidy, for a boy’s room. There were posters of Marvel movies in the walls, and the big desk with the two monitors was crowded with books, figures, drawing reference models, and tons of other stuffs that screamed “nerd artist”. An open door at the left showed her a small bathroom, while the other door was still closed; she could hear the distinct kitchen’s sounds.

Ok, first things first. Why there was not a single piece of her clothes at sight?

Images flashed in her head: her back hitting the closed front door… calloused, eager hands lifting her from the ground… he was walking backwards and they both laughed when he hit the coffee table and they almost fell… she was kneeling in the couch and then…

Oh.

Oh, ok. Her clothes were probably still in the living room, where they had spent hours doing ungodly things. She would have to check if her knees weren’t…

Yep, bruised. Good luck explaining that to Ruff.

“Goddamn…” she mumbled, fighting her sore head (and even more sore body) to stand still. There was a simple black shirt hanging from the computer’s chair and that would have to do; Astrid grabbed it and stumbled to the small bathroom. Avoiding the sink (or more precisely, the mirror), she went straight to the toilet to take care of more urgent biological matters. Sitting there, she massaged her face and tried to remember more things from the last night.

She was in the bar with Ruff. She had chugged too much tequila. There was this cute guy with very nice eyes. Yep, she remembered the eyes – a beautiful green color. She remembered laughing a lot. She remembered falling in the couch. She didn’t remember coming to the room.

Oh, boy.

She was not disappointed with herself because of the one-night stand – she was twenty-five years old, she had graduated college with honors, had a job, she was not drowning in teenager insecurities. She liked sex and fucking no one would slut-shame her, especially herself. No, the problem here was that doing that while being pissed drunk was dangerous – did they even used condoms??

“Fuck.”

She took one deep breath before deciding to confront the mirror. Her hair was a mess and so was her make up from last night, but aside from her flushed cheeks, there was nothing wrong with her face. She started a careful exam in her body: no hickeys, no hand marks or any sign of violence or a rough treatment. Her knees were bruised but well, that was a leather couch if she remembered correctly, and the soreness between her legs were also expected after a nigh like that. In conclusion, nice eyes cutie was apparently a nice, respectful guy.

Who was also incredibly good in bed.

Oh, boy.

She washed her face, combed her hair the best she could with her fingers, put on the stolen t-shirt and prepared herself to face her last night mistake.
Astrid found him in the kitchen, fixing breakfast. His back was turned to her, and he was using only his boxers. He was tall and lean, but he had strong muscles and a beautifully messed auburn hair. She tried not stare too much at his butt.

Damn.

“Morning.” Great, her voice was hoarse too.

He jerked for a moment, before slowly turning back: beautiful green eyes full of uncertainty, freckles, a small scar in the corner of his chin. Damn, he was handsome. Astrid bit her lip.

“Morning.” He mumbled. His eyes scanned her, head to toe, and he blushed. He turned back to the stove quickly, but she could see the red in the tips of his ears. “I’m making breakfast. I hope you like pancakes.”

“Sounds good. Can I have some water…?”

“Yeah, sure, sure, in the fridge.” He pointed with the spatula, even though it was pretty obvious where a refrigerator stood in a kitchen. He started to open the cabinets randomly, as if he was lost in his own place. “Let me grab you a glass…”

“Like this one?” she pointed the cups neatly organized in the table top, one of her eyebrows arched in amusement.

He opened and shut his mouth a few times. “Yeah, yeah, sure, that will do. I’ll just…” he directed his focus back to the abandoned pancake, the back of his neck as red as his ears.
Trying really hard not to laugh, Astrid poured a glass of water and stood by the refrigerator observing him cooking. He was clearly so nervous that was adorable. God bless the nerds with nice butts.

“Look, I…” he suddenly burst, after flipping the (slightly burned) pancake on a plate. His eyes were still fixed in the stove. “I feel like I should apologize to you.”

For what, mind blowing sex?

“What for?” she asked, amused.

“I was… really, stupidly drunk, last night so… If I… If I did anything that I shouldn’t… I know it’s no excuse but…”

“Did we used condoms?”

“Yes!” he screamed, finally meeting her eyes. He was surprised to see the playfulness in her face. “Yes, yes, I checked this morning, they were… there.”

“We are good then.” She dismissed his worries with gesture of her hand. “I was also very drunk…”

“Oh, now I just feel worse.”

“Shut it, it was good.” More like earth-shattering good, but he was already so red and so nervous she thought his heart would probably not be able to handle that truth. “Can I have that pancake?”

“Yeah, of course, but I can cook you another…”

“This is fine.” She took the plate and started to search for a fork in his drawers. Nice butt guy mumbled something about crazy blondies, but she let it slide; he was probably still processing this whole situation.

What reminded her of an important thing: she had no idea what his name was.

She sat on a bar stool at the island – now, seriously, how rich this dude was to afford a nice apartment like that? – with her burned pancake and glass of water. Now that the awkwardness had being solved (more or less), he was moving with more certainty around the kitchen, flipping pancakes in the air and bringing her maple syrup, fruits and juice.
Astrid was finishing her third pancake when he finally sat by her side. He was no longer blushing, but was still clearly avoiding her eyes.

“You don’t remember my name.” she affirmed, making her choke with the food. She hit him in the back, laughing. “It’s Astrid, by the way, and I don’t remember your name either.”
He swallowed painfully. “Hiccup.”

“Is it your nickname?”

“Unfortunately, no.” he mumbled, mournfully.

Oh.

She had a one-night stand with a guy named Hiccup. She was totally telling her grandkids that story, as the modern, embarrassing granny she intended to be.

“My best friend’s name is Ruffnut, if that makes you feel any better.”

He gave her a self-depressing smile.

“My middle name is Horrendous.”

Her grandkids would love that, too. Probably.

“Ok, let’s talk about literally anything else.”

He laughed and they passed breakfast doing small talk about their jobs and their friends. He was easy to talk and had sort of a self-depreciative humor she found adorable; his green eyes glowed when he talked about his art and he stumbled with his words every time he tried to compliment her. She could see how she had ended up in his apartment in the first place.

“So… do you want to take a shower?” he asked, after they finished cleaning the breakfast crokery.

“Yeah, that would be good.”

“There’s towels in the bathroom cabinet, I will… search… for your clothes.” He mumbled the last part, like a cute dork, and that was enough for Astrid to make up her mind.

“Ok.” She took of his black shirt and threw it at his face. His jaw dropped and his eyes widened, gawking at the naked blonde in his kitchen. “Or you could come take a shower with me.”

Without waiting for an answer, she walked with confidence to his room, purposely shaking her hips in the process.

He caught up with her when she turned the shower on.

Chapter Text

“Honestly, Astrid, you are the most stubborn and complicated technician this school ever saw. I doubted that someone could possibly be worse than Kid or Black*Star, but congratulations: you are officially the worst.”

“Thank you, professor Maka.”

“That was not a compliment.”

The professor reclined in her chair; her clever eyes were fixed in Astrid’s face, while her fingers drummed in the table. Maka Albarn-Evans was a living legend and her hero, but either way, Astrid was not giving in.

“Do you know how difficult it is to find a soul that can resound with yours?”

“I do.”

“Then accept Snotlout.”

“No, thank you.”

“Astrid…” – Maka signed.

“He’s a hammer! I don’t want a hammer, I want an axe!”

“Astrid, the form doesn’t matter…”

“Save that for someone who believes, miss ‘I-wanna-be-a-sypher-technician-just-like-mommy’.”

Astrid almost had a heart attack: standing by her teacher’s office door was the Soul Eater, The Last Death Scythe, hands in his pockets, and an expression on his face the was both lazy and mischievous. He had this “cool” vibe going for him, and even though she had heard the rumors, it was the first time she was seeing how handsome he was.
Maka-sensei’s twins had their father’s red eyes.

The mentioned teacher pretended to not be annoyed, but Astrid could see a vein popping in her forehead.

“First of all, that’s totally not true and you know it. Second, Soul, I’m working here, can you just…”

“The weird one is an axe, isn’t he? Why don’t you introduce them? Maybe it will work.”

‘Weird one’ didn’t sound promising, but at this point, she couldn’t care less. Maka’s expression became dark.

“Soul…”

“Who is this weird one?”

Professor Maka took a deep breath to collect her thoughts, and it was enough for Soul to step in. “He’s a student here too… although he had some problems with his last partner… Now he’s working with Stein and I honestly don’t know if he’s still sane…” the demon weapon explained.

“Hiccup” – Maka intervened. – “is a smart kid and a bright student. Stein-hakase is very pleased with his help…”

“Admit Maka, you also want to take him out of that lab before Stein misplace his fingers or some shit like tha’.” – the professor bit her lip, as if stopping herself from agreeing, but Soul assumed a more serious expression, and proceeded to sit on his wife’s table, his red eyes fixed in Astrid. “Tha’ kid deserves a second shot, if you are willing to make an effort.”

“What happened with his first partner?” – Astrid asked, and the couple exchanged some serious glances. She could swear that they were having some sort of mental conversation, and she felt her stomach drop.

That was what she wanted, ever since she was little. She wanted a partner to stay by her side, to be her best friend, to understand her with a single look. She wanted someone who she could trust her own life, to fight to their last strength, to build a bond that could not be broke. As a Death Child, she had grown up listening to stories about partnerships like Stein and Spirit, Black*Star and Nakatsukasa Tsubaki, Death the Kid and the Thompson Sisters. And of course, Soul Eater and Maka Albarn, the duo who had saved the world, got married and had the most adorable kids.

She wanted a partner for life.

And if they fell in love too, well… she was not the most romantic person, but who would say no to an epic love story?

“Astrid… Hiccups’ meister, Toothless… Well, he died in their last mission. And Hiccup lost one leg.” – Maka’s voice was gentle, and Soul looked tense, his jaw clenched. – “Actually, Hiccup lost his leg when the pre-Kishin made a surprise attack before he could transform… And then Toothless put himself between the two of them…” – Maka took one more long, deep breath. “He was able to half transform and finish the PK, but it was already too late to save his meister or his leg. He’s retired since that day.”

“What you need to understand” – Soul complemented. – “is that for a weapon, nothing in more important than protect your meister. I know, I know” – he cut, raising a hand, because the sensei clearly wanted to correct him. “Meister and Weapon protect each other, make the other strong, and are equals. It’s true. But it is different for a weapon, you can ask anyone… or at least, any good weapon. The feeling that you belong to your meister and that you must protect them at any cost is practically written in your DNA, it’s an urge that is impossible to fight back. To a weapon, watching your meister die because you didn’t do your job right…” – his eyes became even more red and sharp, and he stroke his chest absently.

“What Soul is trying to say is that Hiccup went through a lot. Maybe he will not be able to go back to action.” – Maka got up, circling her desk and stopping beside her husband. Her gentle smile seemed enough to bring him back from his sulking, and he grinned while they enlaced their fingers. “And I will not lie, it would be nice if you two could get along and he was able to gain back his confidence… Ok, let’s go find him.”

Astrid thought better not to comment in her teacher’s suddenly change of heart – the only thing that matter to her was to find an axe she could use to hunt as many pre-kishin as she could. It was true that after the alliance with the witches it was no long possible to craft a Death Scythe, but the Black Moon was still spreading madness in the world, and Shibusen was in desperate need of good EAT! Students.

She followed the teacher and her weapon to the low levels of the school – it was Astrid’s first time in the school’s basement, so she didn’t know what to expect. She took care to not pay attention to whatever the couple in front of her were mumbling to each other – she had eavesdropped the words “babysitter” “Black*Star” and “Lion King” earlier, and the subject seemed domestic enough to make her feel bad for eavesdropping.

They stopped by a door who had no signal whatsoever to apart it from the others in the hallway, but Maka knocked on the door with confidence, while calling for Doctor Stein, before entering.

Astrid waited with Soul in the hallway, almost dying with curiosity but didn’t try to peek what was going on inside. For some reason, the demon weapon seemed to find that hilarious, and was openly grinning at her expense.

“Astrid?” Maka finally called her. The professor appeared by the door, and gave her a reassuring smile. “Hiccup is here. Go meet him.”

Without losing a second, she entered the room with her head held high, her clever eyes immediately searching for him.

Among a mess of half-finished weird equipment, blueprints and old books, there was a tall, lean boy with wide auburn hair. He was curved over his desk, steampunk specs covering half of his face and grease covering the other half, while he examined a colorful orb. He didn’t lift his head, to occupied in tinkering the invention.

“Hey, sorry for making you waste your time, but I’m not going back to the field.” He deadpanned, not at all interested in making conversation.

If Soul hadn’t warned her about his past, she would probably had punched him in the guts for that.

“That’s quitters’ talk.”

“I’m a quitter.” He didn’t sound embarrassed at all. His left hand fumbled over the table, searching for a tool, his eyes never leaving the orb. – “I’m happy helping Stein-hakase, there’s no reason for…”

“Why did you come to Shibusen?”

With a resigned sigh, he finally raised his head, taking a step away from the table. His steampunk specs didn’t seem too keen to leave his head and they stuck to his hair when he tried to pull them off. He rubbed his face, painting it with the grease, and glared at her with half-lidded eyes.

“What do you want from me?” his voice was tired and resentful, and Astrid felt bad for him. She couldn’t imagine how much bury your partner must hurt.

“I want you to tell me why you came to Shibusen.” She tried again, her voice gentler this time.

But it only made his expression grew bitter.

“Do you think they didn’t try that? Maka-sensei and the others? I know why I came here, and I know why I can’t go back there.” He struggled with his specs, trying to free them from his hair. “You are not really good with the pep talk thing, so I suggest you leave now.”

Astrid bitted her lip: he was not wrong, after all. She was not good at cheering people, and she had no idea how to deal with grief. Ironic, she knew, since she lived in Death City.

“You are right, I’m not good with people. But my guess is that you aren’t, either. You choose to hide here, and work with the most antisocial teacher in Shibusen.” Her eyes scanned the room. “Did you make all of this?”

“Yes…” he answered, still eyeing her with suspicion. “It’s gadgets to help the weapons and meisters, to improve their chance of success in mission.”

“Impressive.” And she meant it. She crossed her arms and gave her an ironic smile. “So, you are not a quitter, after all.”

Even with the grease covering his face, she could see him turning red.

“Now you know there’s no reason for me to go back to the field. I have a purpose here…”

“I don’t care.”

That threw him back a little. He opened and closed his mouth a few times. “What?”

“I don’t care.” She repeated, bypassing his work table to stand in front of him, head held high, her sharp blue eyes challenging him to question her. “I want an axe. You are an axe. So be my partner. You can still invent your stuff in our free time.”

“Did I… you… Did you just ignore everything I said to you?” he mussed his hair, and she wanted to punch him for spreading grease all over that perfect auburn hair. “I don’t want to fight pre Kishins anymore…”

“Look, let me make it easy for you.” She sat on the table, her legs swinging, the perfect image of mischief. “I will keep bothering you until you say yes, so let’s skip that part and just become partners already.”

He had the strangest look in his eyes, and his face was a mask of sadness.

“I can’t.”

“You can, and you will. If you need time, I can wait.”

With a resigned sigh, he sat at her side in the table top.

“Why is an axe so important to you?”

Her thoughts immediately went to uncle Fin.

“I have my reasons. I’ll tell you when you become my partner.”

“Not gonna happen.”

“Oohh, trust me, it will.” She smiled widely at him, making him turn his face away, blushing again. “Now tell me more about this invention of yours.”

“You’re completely out of your mind.”

“Get used to it.”

With a resigned sigh, he took the colorful orb and brought it to her face, explaining how he expected it to work. Her eyes were fixed in the object, her furrowed brow denouncing her focus, but his own eyes were analyzing her expression, mentally asking himself if he deserved another chance.

Meanwhile, in the hallway, the two old partners observed their interactions with melancholic smiles.

“Come on, tell me.” Soul whispered in his wife ear, his arm gently embracing her by the waist. “I know you are peeking…”

“I’m absolutely not!”

“…so tell me, how are their souls?” he finished with his signature grin, and Maka huffed, blushing.

“I only looked because I was preoccupied.” She murmured, her eyes still fixed in the two students inside the room. “But I guess there is nothing to worry about.” She gave a small smile. “His soul is strong and brave, and he has a need to achieve, to protect and to lead. And she is fierce and courageous, a disciplined soul who will listen to her weapon’s strategies.”

Maka’s fingers closed around her husband hands.

“They are going to resound so loud everyone will listen.”

Chapter Text

Hiccup didn’t understand the homecoming thing.

You see, it’s not that he didn’t know what it was, what he didn’t get was why it appeared to be so important. It was just a party, right? A dance or something, so why was everyone freaking the fuck out?

One of the perks of having an activist as a mother, as a consequence of traveling all around the world, was the opportunity of learning other languages. Hiccup could speak Norwegian (mother language) and English fluently, and also a little of Swahili and French (from when he lived in Africa) and Portuguese and Spanish from when they spent some years in the Amazon Rain Forest. The low side of living like that, though, aside from leaving friends behind every time they moved out, was the difficulty of understanding some subtle things, things that only made sense to someone who lived in the same place they entire life.

And now, as a senior in an America high school (since his parents wanted him to go to college and – finally – had a normal student life) he had absolutely no idea why everyone was so hyped (and even psychotic) about the Homecoming thing.

Why was so important to have a date? Why couldn’t you just go there, and dance with whoever you wanted? Why was considered social suicide to show up without a date?

Why there was so many random girls staring at him in the hallways?

And what was that with “the guy has to ask” thing? Isn’t that sexist?

Oh, you know what? Fuck that shit. He didn’t own a suit, he knew more about tribal dances than ball dances and sure as hell he wouldn’t show up at a girl’s house, meet her parents and take photos.

He didn’t even want to know what a corsage was.

One of the things he learned after moving so many times was how to make the experience less humiliating. First, do not believe in everything people tell you (especially if your contact is your cousin known as Snotlout – he was sure that “has to end up in sex” was not an actual rule for the Homecoming thing), and second, don’t ask obvious questions. In fact, observe, listen and learn, are the best ways to not make a fool of yourself.

So, after he observed everyone in the school, he decided it was an excellent idea to stay home studying (he was so behind everyone else in American literature, story and geography – good thing he wanted to go to engineering school). If he was honest to himself, there was a girl he would like to invite to go with him but a) he knew that at least fifteen guys better than him had already asked her and b) since he didn’t really understand what asking a girl to be your date meant, it was better if he didn’t even try. The face Astrid had made when Snotlout asked her had been terrifying.

The only flaw in his perfect plan was that everyone in school were barking mad.

Everyone wanted to talk about the Homecoming, there was girls he had never saw before saying hi to him in the hallways and Fish and Snotlout had been given detention for literally fighting in the bathroom because of Ruffnutt Torston.

“This is insane.” He said to himself, after watching a girl starting to cry in the hallway because her girlfriend had broken up with her to ask out another girl who also go dumped by her boyfriend, who wanted to go to the Homecoming with this other dude, or something like that.

“I agree.” Astrid said, suddenly appearing next to him. “Everyone knew Stuart was totally gay, I don’t know what took Mary so long to figure that out.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about, Astrid, I don’t know everyone like you do.”

“I don’t know everyone…” – in the time spam that the cheerleader said that, at least ten people greeted her in the hallway. – “…ok, I know a lot of people. But that is not a bad thing. At least I will have a couple of votes for homecoming queen…”

Wait, waitwaitwaitwaitwait, WAIT. Homecoming Queen? Was that an actual thing?

For the first time in his life, Hiccup felt that he had missed something for not having watched silly teenager movies while growing up.

He had no idea of what to say, and didn’t want Astrid to think he was the lost social cause he actually was, so he just mumbled “good for you” and turned his attention back to his locker. He missed Astrid’s watchful gaze upon him.

“So, are you excited for the Homecoming?” – she asked, paying close attention to his expression. He just gave a humorless chuckle.

“Nah, not really.” Excited? No. Terrified that he could be kidnapped for someone desperate for a date any minute? Hell yeah.

Astrid’s perfect eyebrows raised at that statement.

“Whoa, I’m sorry for your poor date.” It was supposed to be a joke, he guessed, but her expression was as far as possible from amused. Crap, what have he done this time?

“You definitely don’t have to worry about that.” he mumbled, closing his locker, but she heard either way. She was frowning, so it was not his imagination – she was not amused at all. What have he done this time?

“Ooohh, is that so? Good to know.” was her cold answer, and without any more words, she turned around and left, stomping. And Hiccup was left alone to reflect if the homecoming madness had infected Astrid somehow.

“I should have stayed in the jungle with my mom.”

Chapter Text

Her sixth year in Hogwarts was ending and, honestly, it was about time. Astrid was feeling happy – after all, she had had fun with her friends, had won a couple of duels, Slytherin was quidditch champion and she was the top scorer of the Cup – but she was also very tired. She couldn’t even start to imagine how hard the next year would be, with the N.E.W.Ts and everything else.

She was in no hurry to get to the Great Hall. Even after winning the Quidditch Cup, Slytherin still ended up in second for the House Cup – damn those Ravenclaw nerds and all the points they got in the classes. Hufflepuff was third and Gryffindor was finishing in last: there was not much hope for that house since the Thorston Twins decided to live up to the names of the legendary Weasley Twins.

Astrid had just left the library, after a very delayed book checked out by a pissed off Madam Pincey, when she saw him again. As always, he didn’t look like he had a single worry in his life, lazily putting some warnings of some kind in the stone walls.

She didn’t even try to pretend she didn’t want to talk to him.

“What are you up to, crazy Hufflepuff boy?” she tried to sound as playful as she could, and felt really stupid about it. But then he looked at her with those shinning green eyes, a gentle smile on his lips, and she felt a little better.

“Hey, Slytherin girl,” she would die before admitting that she was growing fond of that pet name. “Nothing much… Just helping Fish to find some things.”

“Please, tell me that is not his real name too,” she said, walking until she was by his side. He made no comments, only observed while she took one of the pamphlets. “Did he lose his things?”

“More like people took his things,” it was the first time she ever saw him angry: his jaw was clenched, he was frowning, and his eyes were sharp. It was different and, for some reason, she liked it. “There are a bunch of idiots that like to make fun of him for no reason.”

“Humm,” that was all she felt comfortable to said. Astrid wasn’t a bully herself, but was never the victim of it either. “What do you intent to do when you find out the culprits?”

“I will politely ask them to give me his things back.”

She lifted one unimpressed eyebrow.

“And when that doesn’t work?”

“I will kick their sorry arses.” Astrid thought about the Dagur incident, and didn’t doubt it for a minute.

“Big words – you have to live up to them,” she winked, and surprising Hiccup, she took a few of the pamphlets to herself and start to put then in the opposite wall.

Hiccup stood there for a minute, looking at that beautiful, strange Slytherin girl, and asking himself, for the first time, why he liked her without really knowing her.

Astrid decided to pretend she hadn’t stalked him for a while.

“So, what are you going to do after your graduation, crazy Hufflepuff boy?”

“Well, I decided to live up to the name you gave me and I’m going to study dragons in Romania with Charlie Weasley.”

“That’s really cool… “ and then that name rang a bell. “Wait: Charlie Weasley? Is him…?”

“One of the Weasley brothers that helped Harry Potter? Yep, that’s him,” He was beaming, and his excitement was so palpable that made her smile too.

“Well, actually I was going to say, ‘the seeker Charlie Weasley from Gryffindor’, but that’s cool too.”

He looked confused for a moment.

“I didn’t know that. Was he famous?” Astrid automatically entered in full quidditch mode.

“He was considered the best seeker Gryffindor ever had for a long time - he was called ‘the legendary Charlie Weasley’, until Harry Potter became the youngest seeker of all time and…” seeing that Hiccup was openly grinning, she stopped. “What is that?”

He shook his head.

“Sorry, it’s just that you become a totally different person when you are talking about quidditch. It’s endearing”

She blushed.

“You are making fun of me!” Astrid had to make an effort to not pout.

“Sorry, sorry. It’s cute, too, if that makes you feel better,” he winked, and she ignored the butterflies on her stomach.

“It doesn’t!” she lied.

Hiccup shrugged, his lips still slightly curved, and continued his task of putting up the pamphlets. “Change of subject then: what are you going to do after next year?”

“Auror training.” Astrid answered, walking with him.

“That’s impressive.” she knew he was being sincere, but either way, that didn’t sound right coming from someone who was going to study dragons.

“Not as impressive as dragons, though,” she said honestly. “When are you leaving?”

“In two weeks, actually. There’s so much to do before I go that I think I’m going insane. And!” – the most amazing smile lighted his face, and Astrid felt her heart skip a beat.

“Professor Longbottom arranged a meeting with Newt Scamander! I’m so excited I could explode!”

“Newt Scamander? The author of “Fantastic Beasts”? I didn’t know he was still alive!” Professor Longbottom was the best. She wished Slughurn wasn’t so useless. “How did he do that?”

“Professor Longbottom is bests friends with Luna Scamander – Luna Lovegood, you know? She is married to mr. Scamander’s grandson. I know he’s really old and all, but he’s one of my heroes.”

“It would be amazing if you got to meet Luna too… She’s a war hero!” Astrid frowned “You know, sometimes I forget that Professor Longbottom is a war hero too.”

“He’s the coolest. Did he ever tell you the story about how he cut of Voldemort’s snake’s head with the Sword of Gryffindor?”

“NO! Please tell me!”

Before he could answer, however, they heard a loud laughter behind them in the hallway. Turning back, they saw three Ravenclaw seventh-years taking the pamphlets out of the walls, stupid grins of their lips. Astrid saw recognition spreading on Hiccup’s face, and she became incredulous: Fish’s bullies were from his own house? That was messed up.

Well, at least Slytherin wasn’t the culprit this time. She was happy to see the “villain” tag slowly being take off them.

“Hey, guys,” Hiccup said out lout, and Astrid also saw recognition and hesitation in their faces. “You didn’t happen to know anything about it, do you?”

“What if we do?” one of the guys said, and the others laughed again. Astrid was starting to be annoyed by them, but Hiccup kept his composed face.

“I would appreciate if you return his things.” Hiccup tried, a polite expression on his face, but Astrid could see that his eyes were colder than ice.

“And we would appreciate if you mind your own business.”

 

That does it. Astrid was going to…

“Astrid.” wait, did he just call her by her name? “Would you be so kind and hold this for me for a moment?” He offered her the pamphlets he was still holding

“Sure, but…” in the moment her fingers closed in the papers, he drew his wand so fast that the three guys didn’t even stand a chance. With only two precise movements and without a single word said, in five seconds there was three wands in his right hand (was he left-handed?), and the bullies were cursing, hanging in the air by their ankles.

Bloody. Hell.

For a single, crazy moment, the thought ‘I’m going to marry this guy’ crossed her mind. And as fast as it came, it was replaced for a more reasonable one: ‘I have to duel with this guy’.

“I do not say this very often… but you got me impressed, Hufflepuff guy,” she winked at him. “And you fulfilled your words.”

“Thank you, Slytherin girl,” he winked in return. “But you forgot the ‘crazy’ part”.

She grinned. “No, I didn’t. You just got promoted.”

He also grinned, taking the pamphlets back.

“I’m honored, but now I will have to think of a better nickname for you”.

She blushed just a little, looking away from him. “Slytherin girl is fine.”

“Hey! Are you just going to keep us here while you flirt with a Slytherin?” there was so much despise in the way he said those words, like Astrid had never heard.

And then there was no words in the English language to describe the expression on Hiccups’ face.

“You will have to excuse me, Astrid,” he didn’t look at her, his furious glare locked on the bullies. “I will fetch Fish’s things now. See you at the banquet?”

“Yeah, see you”.

There was so much confidence in the way he walked the halls with the three bullies floating behind him, that Astrid only could conclude two things:

Hufflepuffs were NOT to be messed up with.

Next year was not going to be so great, because Astrid was going to miss this crazy, gentle, kind e amazing Hufflepuff guy