A deep squawk resonated from the fierce Deadly Nadder, signaling Astrid, who was perched on her back, to grip tightly in preparation for a nose dive. Right next to Astrid's head was a pure white dragon twice the size of a large bat. It squealed one high, keening sound as they rushed towards the heavily armored ship below.
"Blast it, Stormfly!" Astrid shouted. A blaze of hot magnesium fire streamed from the dragon's mouth. Astrid could hear the screams of sailors and their splashes as they dove overboard. But it seemed that not all of the ship had been destroyed before arrows and boluses came speeding towards them. Astrid heard their tell-tell whoosh.
"Excuse me, Snotman to the rescue!" Snotlout shouted as hookfang zoomed by, knocking the projectiles off of their course. Astrid gritted her teeth, but there was no time for her to be as prideful as she normally was.
"We good, Flutterby?" she called to the little white dragon, reaching out a hand to pet its nose. It nuzzled her fingers before stiffening and giving two short screeches. Astrid withdrew her hand and hefted her ax. She heard a dragon approaching and she swung her ax in a wide ark. It made a satisfying clang as it connected with another weapon.
“You’re quite fiery for a lass,” a gruff voice chuckled. Astrid’s face contorted in rage as she twisted her wrist to try and disarm her opponent. He came at her with a pary that sent a painful jolt up her arm. Wincing, she through herself higher onto Stormfly’s neck, putting all the weight and power she possessed behind her ax. A shield, probably metal from the sound of it, met her thrust with such force that Astrid nearly toppled off of Stormfly as the ax came ramming back at her, handle-first. She quickly reoriented herself, listening closely for Flutterby’s screeches. Once she was more securely positioned, she raised her ax for another blow.
"On your left," Hiccup called, diving past on Toothless and seeming to overtake the dragon Hunter. "Plasma blast, Bud!" The hunter, who didn't appear to be all that great at aerial combat, lost his seat and a few moments later his screams were lost in the din of his splashes and the ships going up in flames.
"I had it covered, Hiccup," Astrid called in irritation before steering Stormfly away, Flutterby torpedoing in front of her.
After the last hunter ship was dispatched, the group landed on the shores of Dragon's Edge. They collectively slid off of their dragons, stretching their aching muscles. It had been a long battle and they were all glad they had added another victory to their belts.
"Well done, gang," Hiccup said, looking around at all of the drained faces. "we've definitely put a dent in their plans for now." Ruffnut and Tuffnut banged their helmeted heads together in celebration.
"Hiccup, they're getting stronger," Fishlegs said. "And they don't really know how to ride their dragons now, but once they learn, they'll be pretty powerful."
"That's why we need to free those dragons before they can learn anything," Hiccup said firmly. "They may be getting stronger, but so are we. Now, go rest up, you all deserve it."
The group dispersed and once Astrid heard the fading of Ruffnut's and Tuffnut's argument over who was cooking dinner, she walked over to where Hiccup was and socked him in the shoulder.
"Ow!" He said, and Astrid could hear him rubbing at the sore spot. "how do you manage to still have perfect aim?"
"That's for trying to save me like I'm some kind of damsel in distress," she said. Then, she opened her arms, and once she felt Hiccup enter them, she leaned up and pressed her lips to his. The kiss was gentle, and she lingered for a moment before pulling away.
"And that's for everything else, you noble idiot." Hiccup sighed happily before wrapping his arms around her and pulling her tighter to him.
"How are you doing, Astrid. I know it's been three months but-"
"I'm fine, Hiccup. I'm adapting well, you don't need to worry so much, it causes gray hairs. And just because I can't see, doesn't mean I want my boyfriend to have gray hairs." she said. Hiccup chuckled before tightening his arms.
"Well, I'm glad to have your vote of confidence when I'm old," Hiccup scoffed. "But maybe you should take it easy in our raids. You were about to battle-ax that guy like you could see him."
"Hiccup, I'm still a strong warrior," Astrid said emphatically. "I can take care of myself. I don't need anyone saving me, got that?"
"I don't doubt you're strong. And you, Stormfly, and Flutterby make a great team. I'm just saying, be careful, ok?"
"When am I not?" Astrid asked before wincing. "Don't answer that." She stepped away, and reached into her thigh holster. She pulled out a collapsible metal cane that Hiccup had made for her. "Stormfly, Flutterby, time for some chow," she called before disappearing with the two dragons hot on her heels.
Hiccup stood looking out to sea long after Astrid had left. Toothless stood next to him, nudging him every few minutes, but he was deep in thought. It had been three months since Astrid had woken up to her world changing forever; three months since Hiccup had looked into those twin sapphires and they were looking back at him. Of course he didn't care that she couldn't see him. What he said to her that day was true; they would make it through this together, and no matter what there would always be a Hiccup and Astrid. But he couldn't understand how she was ok, and not just a surface ok, because he knew how that was. He had lost his left leg, and he had put up a convincing front about not being upset about it. It took him at least a year to be as ok as Astrid was in a matter of two weeks. He had watched her smile bravely at the other riders the day Gothi's cures didn't work. He saw her gingerly walk away, trip on a loose board and collapse. He helped her to her feet and held her as she was overcome with sobs. He sat with her and gestured silently for the others to walk around them and ignore the spectacle in the middle of the pathway. He held her without saying a word, just rocking her back and forth as the sun set and rose again. And as morning crept across the sky, she lifted her head, swiped her hand across her sightless eyes, and closed up. Hiccup saw a part of her die that very moment and she stood to her feet and insisted on learning how to walk around on her own.
Hiccup sighed as Toothless nudged him again, more forcefully this time.
"I'm sorry, Bud. I just got a lot on my mind, that's all," Hiccup said. Then, he stopped and a smile slowly crept across his face as he remembered the night after Astrid had cried in his arms. She had managed to learn how to get to her hut, the stables, and the clubhouse, and she had the bruises and cuts to prove it. She literally ran into Hiccup as she was practicing her routes and he was finishing up the training with the Tripple Strike.
"Whoah, Astrid," he said, catching her before they both tumbled. Astrid froze, and Hiccup could see her turning pink.
"Sorry," she mumbled, adjusting herself.
"Oh, you know it’s okay," Hiccup said.
"Hey, hiccup? Can I ask you something?"
"Uh, sure," he said, feeling a seed of nervousness sprouting.
"Um, back in the forest when we were-well, you know,"
"Yeah?" he said, definitely feeling the blooms of panic setting in.
"Were you about to?"
"Oh, you-you felt that, huh? I thought maybe I'd gotten away with it."
"Well," she pressed "Why didn't you?"
"Oh, oh well," Hiccup began, rubbing the back of his neck uncomfortably. "I-it wasn't perfect. And I always thought that if it ever happened-uh and yes, I've thought about it a lot, that it had to be just perfect."
"I guess this isn't really your idea of perfect, is it?" Astrid said with a sad little smile that didn’t reach her eyes. Hiccup looked at her, at the rays of the setting sun shining in her golden braid and the way her lips curved so softly. He looked at those fidgeting hands that were the deadliest things he’d ever laid eyes on but were so gentle when they were holding his hands or patting Stormfly and Flutterby. He looked into those blue sapphires that were just as beautiful as they were before. He leaned forward and took her in his arms.
"There's nothing that could be more perfect than this," and he pressed his lips to hers and pulled her tighter against his chest as her arms snaked around him and she kissed back.
An irritated roar broke Hiccup out of his thoughts again and he saw Toothless batting at a brown Terror who was annoyingly fluttering around\\ the Night Fury's head. Attached to its leg was a roll of what looked like parchment.
"Whatcha got there little guy?" Hiccup asked, reaching up to untie the roll. As the little dragon flew towards the other end of the island, Hiccup unrolled the letter and froze at the two short sentences scrawled in a hasty hand.
She can be cured, but you have to trust me. Meet me at half past midnight on the morrow.