This wasn’t supposed to happen. Astrid had volunteered to head back in the direction of Berk, just to make sure they hadn’t been followed. But, of course, they had. So here she is now, stuck in the training grounds of Berk, the old kill ring.
Across from Astrid is Grimmel, who stands and simply watches her. A single deathgripper is behind him, and she can't help but watch it out of the corner of her eye.
She respects dragons, loves them, as does everyone else on Berk. But there's something about this breed that sets her edge.
Maybe it's the way it’s looking at her, the way dragon's used to look at Berkians back during the war. Or maybe it's just the fact that it’s Grimmel’s dragon, and he clearly won't hesitate to use it to hurt her. Or worse, kill her.
So, Astrid stands in the kill ring, waiting, seething. She refuses to react to anything he does, even when he lets the dragon move closer to her. He, she, it, whatever the gender, comes up to her, growling and hissing.
Acid drips from its mouth onto the floor, but even as it inches closer Astrid does not move. It’s only when it brings its stinger a few inches away from her that she takes a few steps back. Grimmel laughs at her then, and when Astrid looks up at him he’s smirking in her direction.
“What do you want Grimmel?” She sneers. Her eyes are cold, and she forces her heart to remain steady. Astrid isn’t scared, per se, at this point she’s just pissed off. He kidnapped her and her dragon, who is now locked in one of the old dragon cages in the ring.
Stormfly is just a few paces away, and yet Astrid has no way of reaching her.
“Well, you, of course. You are the chiefs betrothed, are you not?” His smirk widens as her eyes narrow. The deathgripper creeps closer, so Astrid steps back further, pressing herself to the stone wall.
“Well, you haven't exactly done much other than kidnap me and force my dragon into a cage.”
He laughs, the noise sounding so wrong regarding the current situation. Astrid looks from the dragon to the man, who observes her fury in amusement.
Astrid pushes off the wall then, making her way around the dragon so she stands a small pace away from Grimmel, staring at him. If only looks could kill.
“Well, are you going to kill me or let me go?” This, Astrid will think later, is her mistake. Despite the situation, Astrid is as reckless and bold as ever, so she can't help but let the words slip from her lips.
Grimmel’s smile turns sharp, and he replies, “I never was one for demands. So I guess I’ll just settle for somewhere in the middle.” Astrid tilts her head to the side as a clicking appears behind her, the deathgripper seemingly making its way towards her again.
Grimmel takes a step back, surveying the girl in front of him. The words he lets out next make Astrid’s blood go from boiling to frozen.
Astrid gasps and the deathgripper shoots forwards from behind her. She turns quick enough, barely able to move out of the way before the dragons stinger lands where she was just standing.
She dodges the attacks as long as she can, but without a weapon, there isn't much she can do. Astrid ignores Grimmel as she moves, as it appears he’s made his way out of the ring sometime between setting his dragon loose and now.
Astrid nearly trips but instead shoots herself backward. She groans as her shoulder collides with a wall and a few feet to her left she can hear Grimmel chuckling. Fuck him.
She pushes away as the dragon charges after her, sprinting towards the opposite side of the ring. The blonde can hear the gripper hissing noisily but doesn't let it distract her. If she can just get to Stormfly, she’ll have a chance of survival.
Astrid is just a few feet away from Stormfly's pen when the deathgripper gets a hold of her, wrapping its tail around her leg and pulling. She flips over onto her back just before landing, and suddenly finds herself face to face with the dragon.
She bites back a cry as acid drips onto her neck and instead brings her knee upwards. She doesn't want to hurt a dragon, hasn't since she was fifteen and Hiccup showed her how gentle dragons really are.
Oh god, Hiccup. As much as Astrid wishes to think of her betrothed, she doesn't have the time for it. Instead, she waits until the dragon above her shifts from being kneed and does it again. It jumps this time, giving her the opportunity to throw a punch across its nose and wiggle out from under it when it moves backward.
Astrid doesn’t dare turn her back on it, so as she pops up from the ground, she simply inches backward towards where she can hear Stormfly squawking.
I’m so close, just a few more feet. Astrid thinks to herself. Out of the corner of her eye, she can see Grimmel pacing from behind the cage entrance. She rolls her eyes at the sight, seething internally.
This is Astrid's second mistake. The distraction causes her to trip over a small rock, making her stumble backward. The deathgripper shoots forwards, and Astrid isn’t able to react quick enough.
The next thing Astrid knows, one of the dragons tusks is buried in her stomach. She can't feel it at first, but then the dragon moves backward, pulling away, and consequently pulling the tusk out and the pain hits.
It’s worse than anything Astrid has ever felt. Sure, she's had her share of injuries. The blonde always enjoyed the small burns she received back from the Dragon War or the occasional arrow wound from Dragon Hunters back when she lived on the Edge.
After all, it's only fun if you get a scar out of it.
But this pain is searing, shooting through her and making her wish she could just pass out. Astrid can feel blood dripping from the wound, and she looks down at it. It looks both better and worse than Astrid thought it would be based upon the level of agony it’s causing her.
It’s not particularly large but is thick enough that Astrid knows it isn't exactly something she can walk off. Worse, it isn't shallow either, as the gripper stuck the tusk through her stomach deep enough that it came out her back.
The part that looks the worst is the amount of blood, which definitely isn't a safe amount. Astrid is most likely bleeding out at the moment, so she brings both shaking hands down to press against the wound.
It doesn't do much of anything, only succeeding in coating her fingers in dark red. She’s sure she would be able to see how much her hand is shaking if she could see through the tears. Astrid huffs internally, she’s still a warrior, tears are useless right now. All they're doing is hindering her vision.
Astrid brings one blood coated hand up, wiping away a few tears that slipped from her eyes. Blood smears down her cheek as she does so, but Astrid ignores it.
She stumbles back then, panting and stopping when her back hits the wall. It’s only a second later when she hears Stormfly from behind her that she remembers her dragon is right behind the wall.
Astrid steps back and turns, swallowing heavily when she sees blood trailing down the cage door where her back just was. Her hands reach up to the door, and she pulls the lock open. The door bursts open, Stormfly springing out and squawking in distress at the sight of her bloody rider.
Astrid barely reacts, instead of attempting to clear her spotted vision. When it does, she focuses on her dragon, who stills as the blonde reaches out for her. Her hand lands on the nadders side, her head coming down to rest against her scales as she breathes raggedly.
“It was nice seeing you, Astrid. You certainly put up quite the fight.” Astrid jumps as Grimmel speaks, spinning on her heels to face him.
He stands across the arena, simply watching. The deathgripper who attacked her sits by his side once again, its tail twitching.
“I… I don't under…” Astrid is unable to finish her sentence, instead of doubling over as blood comes up to her mouth. She chokes, coughing and spitting out what she can.
“You asked if I was going to kill you or let you go. So, I’ve done both. You won’t survive the night, but I’ll let you have the rest of the day with the chief. I only regret that I won’t be able to see you again. You could've been quite the dragon killer.”
“Go to Hel.” She coughs, again. Stepping away from his direction, she prepares herself for getting on Stormfly.
As she does, the pull stretches her wound and her grunts. It takes more than a minute but she finally seats herself fully on her nadder. Astrid pats her neck, and they’re off. As they fly towards New Berk, towards Hiccup, she looks down one last time to see Grimmel waving.
Hours later, and they finally make it. Astrid has been slipping in and out of consciousness but is somewhat stable enough when the island finally comes into view. Sure, there's blood all over Stormfly, and she can’t register much pain, and yes, maybe her vision is covered in black spots, but: she’s totally fine.
They land on the closest place possible, a grassy hill. Astrid brings her legs to one side, sliding down and landing on her feet. She stumbles, and falls a bit, but picks herself up. Stormfly hovers anxiously, and eventually, Astrid places her hand on her wing and they walk forwards together.
Her vision blurs again, but she can see someone and something rushing towards her. There's a shape resembling a human and a black blob. As her vision clears she makes it out to be Hiccup and Toothless, but she remains in her spot.
Hiccup is suddenly right next to her, and she can see his mouth moving but is unable to hear what it is. Instead, a ringing has taken over her hearing.
Astrid’s eyes move upwards, locking with his. She thinks she whispers, “I love you”, but she can’t be sure. The next thing she knows, her eyes are rolling into her head, and she collapses into his arms.
Only minutes earlier, Hiccup had seen her before she saw him. He had been working on modifications for Toothless’ tail, making sure it was completely safe for him to fly on his own. Astrid had been gone for a few hours, but he tried to reign in his concern.
She’s Astrid Hofferson, she can take care of herself better than anyone else he knows.
(He ignores the voice in his head that says, Astrid Haddock. Not yet, she isn't.)
But then Hiccup hears the familiar squawk of Stormfly and looks up to see her landing on a nearby cliff side. He makes his way over immediately with Toothless by his side, only pausing when he sees the slow pace Astrid is moving at as she pulls her legs to one side of her dragon.
But then she slips off Stormfly, blood-covered hand landing on her even bloodier stomach, and he’s running.
Hiccup’s yelling by the time he gets to her, screaming for help, for someone to please help them, and he practically collides into her. He reaches his hands up, cradling her cheeks in his shaking hands.
He brushes his thumb against the blood on her cheek, noticing how it's dry. He can feel the remnants of dried tear track on her cheeks as well and looks next at the wound. It's deep and round. When he pops his head over to look at her back, there’s blood coming from there as well.
“Holy shit, Ast.” Hiccup looks into her eyes, as blue as ever, but half-lidded and unfocused. “Hey, you’re gonna be fine, it’s gonna be okay.” His words are choked, and he realizes tears are making their way down his cheeks.
“Just stay with me, please m’lady.”
Hiccup looks behind him quickly, noticing how people are finally coming towards them. He notices his mother and Snotlout as a part of the crowd before he turns back to Astrid, who is slipping further into unconsciousness.
He moves his arms so one is wrapped around her waist, the other remaining on her cheek. Her hands move up as well, settling on his waist. She squeezes it once, and a soft smile makes its way onto her lips.
She whispers, “I love you.”, and collapses. Hiccup registers someone screaming her name, and he thinks it’s him. Someone is taking Astrid out of Hiccup’s arms, and she isn't moving but he is, he’s yelling and thrashing and he just wants Astrid to wake up.
But she isn’t. He thinks his mom is behind him, her arms wrapped around him. He pays her no mind, instead of letting sobs overcome him. Hiccup collapses to his knees then, remaining there as the healers take his soon to be wife. He passes out at some point and welcomes the darkness.
When he wakes, he’s on a blanket in his tent and everything is fine for a few moments. Toothless is a curled around him, his tail twitching as he sleeps. Hiccup stretches, sitting up, and that’s when it hits him.
“Oh gods, oh gods.” Hiccup jumps up, waking Toothless, who jumps up as well, clearly remembering Astrid just as Hiccup does. Hiccup can’t help but ignore him, opting instead to run out of his tent. He sees Fishlegs first and makes his way towards him.
“Fishlegs, where’s Astrid?!”
“She’s resting, over there.” Fishlegs barely has time to point to the tent before Hiccup is sprinting off in its direction. He runs, almost tripping as he enters the tent. The chief pauses as soon as he sees her, tears welling instantly.
The blood from her cheek has been cleaned, and bandages are wrapped around her middle. Astrid is asleep at the moment and looks peaceful.
Hiccup steps forward, sinking down so he sits next to her on the bed. His hand finds her, and he doesn’t hesitate to intertwine their fingers. He can hear her breathing steadily, so allows his breathing to calm. She’s gonna be okay.
Toothless crawls in behind him, slinking up to Astrid’s side and warbling. He drops his head onto the other side of the bed and closes his eyes.
Hours pass and Hiccup stays next to her. Valka and others come to visit trying to persuade him to at least eat something. He doesn’t listen, instead of staying right where he is. Hiccup doesn’t register falling asleep but does eventually.
Night falls just as Astrid wakes up. She blinks slowly, looking around the room and taking in her surroundings. She notices Hiccup almost immediately, as he sits next to her with his head on her bed.
He’s fast asleep, thankfully. Astrid can only imagine he hasn’t gotten much sleep lately. Toothless is behind Hiccup, curled up on the ground. Stormfly wakes from her position to Astrid's left as her rider nudges her, squawking and hopping around.
“Hey, girl! How are you?” Astrid’s voice is sleepy but excited. It effectively rouses Hiccup as well, who sits up and rubs a hand over his face, still out of it from sleep. Astrid continues to scratch Stormfly’s neck, earning a happy trill in response.
“Hey, babe, how’d you sleep?” Hiccup comes back to himself then, staring at her before throwing his arms around her, She hugs back as best as she can in her position, although she does groan as her stitches are pulled.
“Sorry, sorry.” Astrid's shrugs off his apologies, simply smiling as he pulls back. Hiccup brings a hand up, cupping her face and using his thumb to stroke her cheek. She leans into it, pressing a kiss to his palm. “How do you feel?”
“I’ve been better, but not terrible.” Astrid grins at her betrothed, who matches her look with a soft but worried smile. “I mean, it’s only fun if you get a scar out of it, right?”
Hiccup groans, scrunching up his nose in fake annoyance, which makes Astrid throw her head back in laughter. Her giggles subside into a large grin, and she looks back to Hiccup to see him grinning as well.
It drops a second later, so she reaches for his hand, lacing their fingers together and squeezing soothingly.
“God, Ast, I was terrified when I saw you. I didn’t even know if you were going to make it. I mean, what happened?” She sighs at the question, but answers nonetheless.
“Grimmel. He got me on the way to Berk and threw me in the training center. He set his deathgripper on me, and it impaled me with its tusk. Hurt like Hel, but I’m alright now.” Hiccup’s brow furrows in anger, breathing becoming harsh, so Astrid squeezes his hand once again and uses her other one to cup the hand still on her cheek, trying to comfort him.
“This is all my fault, I mean I sent you back there…” Astrid cuts him off, shaking her head at him.
“Hey, hey, no. None of this is your fault. I mean, I volunteered to go back, someone had to. No matter what happens, it is not your fault, okay?” He nods once, and Astrid grins again. “Besides, don’t worry, I put up a fight.”
He laughs softly, saying, “Oh, of course, you did.”
They both lean forwards, touching foreheads and simply enjoying being near each other. Hiccup leans up to kiss her forehead first, then her nose (which she scrunches up as he does), before he finally leans in and kisses her lips. It’s soft, full of love and sorrow and I almost lost you. Never again.
The two pull apart eventually, and Hiccup slips into the bed, by Astrid's side. She sticks her head into his shoulder, and the two eventually fall asleep again. No matter what happens, it’ll always be Hiccup and Astrid.