The way he reacted was sweet. He seemed lost for the right words to say and he ran his hand through his hair awkwardly while trying to think of something. This was the Hiccup she remembered from high school and the sight of it brought a smile to her face. Over the last two days she had seen so many sides of him; parts of his personality that she was sure no one knew even existed. He was a lot stronger than he seemed and she was sure that he barely knew that fact himself. He was caring. Far more caring than any single person in Berk but she already knew that. It was different experiencing it though.
Astrid smiled towards him as he looked away after admitting that he felt the same way about her. Unsure of whether he knew her true meaning she decided to let it sit that way. There was clearly a mutual affection there but perhaps their friendship had a lot further to go yet and admitting that any kind of feelings had been awakened within her was probably not the right thing to do.
As though Stormfly knew, she nudged her forward, almost making her stumble. Astrid looked down at her shaking her head for a moment before looking back towards Hiccup who had found the courage to look into her eyes. “I don’t know perhaps you could bring Snotlout. You know, since you are so obsessed with him.” A laugh escaped her lips and she shook her head knowing that their relationship had reached a point where it was alright to tease.
For a moment, Hiccup couldn't speak and only looked at her with surprise in his eyes. He knew they had bonded over the last couple of days, but he never imagined he would become a part of the reason she wanted to stay. "I- uh..." He stumbled over his words, running a hand through his hair bashfully.
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"I mean... I- I feel the same way." Admitting it was enough to make the heat rise to his face once more. He dropped his hand and bit his lip, shrugging.
It was the truth, though. He couldn't imagine being here without Astrid. And it was strange to think that upon getting to know her, she had gone from being the tough and unbreakable Astrid Hofferson to someone he could relate immensely to. She was far more than who she had been on the playground. She was still as determined as ever, and yet he had found a certain softness within her that he had never met before.
That stupid, silly crush he and all the boys had on her in grade school seemed to sink back in to grasp his heart, yet he refused to admit it.
"If-if you left. Who would I have to explore this place with?" he asked, finally meeting her eyes, a small smile on his lips.
At first it seemed as though Hiccup didn’t quite gather her meaning about the fact that she had two reasons to stay. Perhaps he thought that she was referring to Toothless and Stormfly. She smiled to herself while he continued to talk. Maybe it was better that he misunderstood.
As he rose from where he stood she found herself looking around the glen with him. It truly was amazing and she wasn’t sure that she was going to be able to give all of this up so easily. She would certainly have a long think ahead of her and perhaps her parents wouldn’t be so harsh about her taking the boat if it meant that she was going to stay in Berk after all. Maybe it could have been part of her conditions.
As she looked around she couldn’t imagine never setting food on this island again and it wasn’t as though she could come back every weekend. The college she had chosen was the furthest away on purpose.
It was then that it clicked and Hiccup seemed to process exactly what he said. She laughed and nodded her head. She thought for a moment before continuing to speak. “You Hiccup.”
Hiccup couldn't help a smile from coming to his face. He hadn't truly been friends with Astrids until a day or two ago, but he had started to feel a bit disappointed at the inevitability of her leaving. He couldn't help but feel a strange sense of happiness that she might stay.
"I feel the same way," he told her, standing from where he sat, upsetting Toothless's sleep. The dragon only let out a puff before lowering his head once more to the ground. "I wanted nothing more than to get away... but now... if that means leaving all of this..." He looked around them, from the glen to the dragons.
And it was true. All he had ever wanted was to either get far enough away from Berk to forget everything that happened there... or to find out the truth about what he had seen ten years ago. Now that he had actually found dragons, and now that he had found Toothless, he had no reason to leave. He felt like Toothless needed him. And the strangest part was that Hiccup felt like he needed Toothless just as much.
Hiccup's brows furrowed. "Wait..." he started, breaking out of his reverie and taking in the last words Astrid spoke. "Two reasons?" he asked, turning back to her.
She knew that she was perhaps bringing the mood down a little bit but she didn't want either one of them to go back with unrealistic expectations. Astrid laughed and thought for a moment after Hiccup had finished talking.
"It's strange..." She stopped speaking, hesitating with her words, wondering if he might judge her. "I've always wanted to leave Berk. I've never felt like that place was my home and I could have never thought of one single reason why I should stay." She looked down at her hand where Stormfly had begun to lick in and she laughed inwardly before looking back towards Hiccup. She didn't know whether he would understand her meaning and she didn't know whether he would call her crazy for even suggesting that some things might have changed her mind about leaving.
"And now...I have two reasons to stay."
Hiccup thought for a moment, his mouth growing into a thin line. Toothless had his head in Hiccup's lap now and was starting to snore softly. "I don't think they'll be able to stop us," he finally answered. "As long as we convince them we're not up to anything. Just... want to get off the island once in a while... If we act like we come clean about everything, they won't have any reason to refuse. The only obstacle would be convincing your parents to let us use the boat."
He pet the top of Toothless's head as he thought about that. "Besides... even if they don't want us to leave again, there's not anything they can really do to stop us..."
Except follow them. But he refused to think about that. He had a feeling that if they told the people on Berk what they wanted to hear, there wouldn't be much of a problem. As long as they weren't forced to face anything they didn't understand, most of the time they were as content as they could be. "Either way," he added, "I'm not going to let them keep me away."
Astrid laughed and shook her head as if to say that she was no better at names than he was and Toothless seemed to tell him the same thing as he started to show him some affection. This was truly unlike anything either of them could have hoped to find when they arrived here. For the first time in months she was beginning to regret her decision to go to college and as the thought crossed her mind, the smile fell from her face. Stormfly seemed to detect that and affectionately rubbed her head against Astrid’s stomach as if to embrace her and the smile returned as she took her hands and placed them either side of her head. It was then that she decided to not allow her thoughts to ruin their moment.
The time passed by quickly then. They didn’t even think about the fact that only a few hours ago they were being chased by the red beast that had already threatened them twice since being here. They played and learned much about the dragons whose affections the two had earned and part way through the day, Astrid helped Hiccup collect some supplies that would help him make something to replace part of the tail that Toothless had lost. He seemed to think that is why Toothless had been unable to fly.
When he addressed her, she found that they were finally discussing the one thing that neither of them wanted to think about. “As much as I hate the idea of going back to Berk, you are right.” She thought for a moment. [I Our spot?] “I don’t know what is going to greet us when we get back Hiccup. What if they don’t let us come back out here?” She shifted her weight slightly and Stormfly lowered her head to the ground and let out a sound that told her she was sad by the prospect, as if she knew what they were talking about. She nudged her leg slightly and she absently began to run her hand along her neck.
Hiccup smiled slowly when she finally decided on a name. He looked from her to Stormfly and then to Toothless. "Wow. You're a lot better with names than I am," he chuckled. Toothless hopped around him, nipping affectionately at his hand as if to say that he loved his name.
Hiccup ran a hand over his head again, taking in the sight of the dragon he had worked so hard to find. "This is amazing," he whispered for the umpteenth time. He couldn't wrap his head around everything that had happened those past few days...
He absentmindedly started scratching Toothless around the neck, which he seemed to love so much that it send him sprawling onto the ground. Hiccup chuckled. He wanted to spend forever here. The four of them stayed in the glen for hours, playing like children and becoming acquainted with each other. Even Stormfly played, which was good news for her wing.
In that time span, Hiccup found several things out about dragons. Like how scratching them in a certain spot under the chin made them roll their eyes back and fall asleep almost instantly. And how a certain plant on that island acted as a kind of dragon nip to them, sending them rolling around on the ground. He recorded everything he discovered in his journal.
The remainder of the day, he spent making his first model of a tail fin. He had to sacrifice his hoodie to do so, but it was worth it in the long run. Shaping something physical helped him understand the anatomy much better than he would have understood from his drawings alone. After recruiting Astrid's help to find some of those thick, leather-like plants they had never seen before, he began stitching the cloth from his hoodie to the back of it in the shape of Toothless's fin, adding in sticks where the ribbed folds would be.
When he was finished, he had something that looked like a lopsided Japanese fan and it worked like one, too. The fabric could have been better, but when he approached Toothless to make sure that he got the proportions right, he realized it wasn't that bad of a job. Toothless sniffed at it when Hiccup held it up, smiling.
"Astrid," he said softly while he was showing it. "I've been thinking... we should go back... To Berk." He turned to meet her gaze from where he sat with Toothless. "What you said earlier might be right. Hopefully they haven't followed us out this way... and if we go back, we can say we found nothing. Maybe we tell them we found a small island but- but there was nothing on it. Just so they don't wonder why we were gone for so long." He stopped, turning back to Toothless. "And that way, maybe we can tell them... it's our spot. Or something. So they don't wonder where we went the next time we come out here. I need to turn this prototype into something that can work. And I don't have the tools or equipment for that out here."
He turned back to her. "We could lie about all of this. And no one would have to know..."
When Hiccup joined her she looked for his approva and when he started to joke with her, she knew he had it. They returned to their playful teasing and he bumped into her with his hip and she stumbled dramatically as thought he had pushed her with all his strength. Astrid laughed before returning to his side and returned her attention to the dragon before her.
She was most certainly a wonderful creature and now that she had helped her, she couldn’t help but feel as though she had a bond with the creature. When Hiccuo reached out she seemed to accept him a little easier this time. Toothless came up behind them and nudges Astrid a little closer to Hiccup and she laughed and pet him on the head.
She found herself blushing when Hiccup referred to her as pretty but decided to try and ignore it. It was silly of her to think that he meant that any other way than in jest. Astrid smiled as he suggested she name her and nodded, taking in her appearance and trying to think of the perfect name for her. There was a moment of silence while she contemplated a name and when one finally came to her, she couldn’t help but smile.
Hiccup sighed with relief when Astrid was finished setting the wing. He stood from the fallen tree, a smile still on his face.
"Turns out I'm not the only 'resourceful' one on this island," he joked with her, remembering how she had called him that earlier. He playfully bumped her with his side like they had done the day before.
He stretched out his own hand, and as if sensing the trust between the two of them, the dragon extended its head to finally rest its nose on his hand. He smiled wider. "See? I'm not bad... Not nearly as pretty as Astrid, but I'm not bad," he joked again before turning to Astrid, herself. "You... you should name her," he offered, looking between the two of them.
Astrid laughed towards Hiccup, "This is amazing." She said, fully believing that it was. She continued to run her hand along the dragon before leaning to her left to look at her wing. "I'm just going to take a look at the wing for you alright?" She said softly moving around so that she could see the injury up close. Astrid gently stretched out her hand to run it along the damaged wing.
The sound of pain escaped the snout of the dragon and she jumped back slightly. "Shhh, it's ok. I want to help but it might hurt a little to begin with. What do you say? Are you going to let me help you?" She asked, holding her hand out. As if to confirm the trust that had already built between the two, she sniffed out and slowly lowered herself to the ground so that she was comfortable while Astrid started to tend to her wing.
She found some strong branches and used the large leaves she found as make shift bandage. She got to work quickly, using the branches to reset the shape the wing and using the leaves to attach them. Every now and then the dragon would let out a short breath that told her to be more careful.
When she was finished she took a step back to admire her work and smiled with satisfaction before moving around to look upon the dragons face. "It's going to hurt for a while but this should help it set back in the right place." She told her, almost as though she could understand her. Almost as though she understood, the dragon look down at her wing, letting out a satisfied growl and turned back to Astrid, rubbing her face against hers. Astrid smiled and placed a hand on the left side of her head. "You're welcome."
Hiccup watched with wide eyes, witnessing the kind of introduction he had performed with Toothless just hours before. A huge smile came to his face. If he could jump with excitement, he would, but he didn't want to startle the dragons.
He just couldn't believe any of this was happening. Who would have thought that dragons would be so friendly? After years of growing up on the horror stories, and then experiencing his own, it was the last thing he expected. It seemed that like people, most of them were good and that there were a few bad apples sprinkled about.
"I think she likes you," he said softly, looking from the scene before him to Toothless. The dragon seemed just as pleased. As if he knew that Astrid could help his friend. After a moment, Hiccup went to sit on an old fallen tree to watch the goings on. He still held his sketchbook and be began to draw what was in front of him. The dragons... and Astrid. She looked like she belonged there. She was in her element looking at the injured wing. Hiccup felt it was a crime to not document this.
As they continued to walk they had fallen into conversation easily. Hiccup was right. If anyone back in Berk had proof of this place and they finally showed them that dragons existed, they would likely try to protect themselves by attacking them. They couldn’t let that happen. Apparent from the red beast, they had not come across one single dragon who seemed remotely dangerous or hostile. They didn’t deserve to have their home destroyed simply because they were scared of what they didn’t know or understand.
“I have no intention of letting anyone know about this place. I just hope that no one has already started to look for us. I’m hoping their fear of the east will keep them on Berk for a little while longer.”
When they made their way into the opening she couldn’t help but shield her eyes for a moment. They had spent so long walking in the dark that the light reacted harshly with her eyes. When they adjusted she was amazed by the sight that greeted them and when Hiccup suggested it must be his home she nodded and laughed at the way that Toothless bounced around excitedly, much like a dog when their owners came home.
The noise drew their attention away from Toothless and almost out of nowhere came another dragon. The colour of the dragon was hypnotic; a wonderful blue colour with specks of yellow throughout into the tail. A single horn, rather like a rhino sat between its nostril and several more ran across the head that was significantly larger than Toothless. Astrid couldn’t help but smile at the sight of the dragon and she wanted nothing more than to reach out to it but she waited this time, deciding against her initial instincts and she was glad she did. The two dragons before them started to play together and she giggled at the sight. When Hiccup started to move forward, Astrid followed and continued to watch as the two played.
“She is beautiful.” She whispered as Hiccup tried to make a move towards her. It seemed that she was a little more nervous than Toothless when it came to human interaction and as she stepped back she looked over her wing. “It’s definitely damaged. I think I might be able to help her.” She said as she started to move forward with her hand stretched out in front of her. At first the dragon stepped back from her and Astrid remained stood still. It appeared that advancing wasn’t going to work and she would have to let the dragon come to her.
“It’s okay. I won’t hurt you. I want to help you.” She softened the tone of her voice, allowing it to earn the dragons trust and after looking to Toothless for conformation, she slowly started to edge towards her. “That’s it girl.” She smiled as the dragon neared her, sticking out her beak-like nose to drag in the scent of her. Exhales of breath could felt on her hand as she continued to sniff and she laughed as the feel of it tickled her hand. After a minute of taking in her scent she slowly started to ease her worries and nudged her hand up towards her head and made a noise that sounded as though she was content.
Hiccup nodded in agreement. "If my father could see this," he said with a sigh. And then a thought crossed his mind. He shook his head and suddenly became serious. "We- we can't let anyone from Berk know about this place. If anyone found out, there's a bigger chance they'd want to kill them all than learn to understand them."
Toothless began to slow. There was a fork in the road and they took the right. As soon as they turned, they could see light pouring in at another opening. They followed through and as soon as their eyes adjusted they could see nothing but green. It was a well forested glen. The trees were tall and provided a roof of sorts over their heads.
Once they were back out in the fresh air, Hiccup turned of his flashlight. Toothless turned around to look at him, his mouth wide, tongue lolling out of the side. "This must be his home," Hiccup thought aloud. "Where he found safety from the other dragons."
Together they all made their way deeper into the glen. Toothless was showing them around with so much excitement that he was bouncing between the trees. He stopped when they heard a noise. A soft clicking pulled his ears towards it. As a group, they all looked to their right where a dragon stepped through the coverage. It was taller than Toothless and stood on two legs instead of four. With sharp teeth, blue skin, and a beak-like mouth, it was very much like a large bird.
"Wow," Hiccup couldn't help but whisper. Toothless was no stranger to this dragon and he leaped forward, greeting his friend. They talked to each other in squawks and roars and Hiccup did not hesitate to close the distance, gesturing to Astrid that she should come along.
As usual, he started to sketch the dragon while it played with Toothless. But he frowned when he went to sketch the wings. "Astrid... does its wing look odd to you? The left one looks... just slightly broken," he observed. He took a step forward, but the dragon hopped away. Toothless made a noise, as if to tell it that it was okay, but it still seemed rather jumpy. "I think it's a girl," Hiccup commented, looking down at his sketch again. "Do you think if you got close enough, you could fix her wing somehow? We could make some kind of cast for her, but..." He took another step forward and it hopped back once again.
There was something about their closeness that allowed her to calm down a lot quicker than she would have expected. He helped the fear she had felt moments before melt away. As he spoke she kept her head resting on his shoulder until it was about time for her to look up towards him. As she lifted her head, she inhaled some of the smoke that had taken to the air and she coughed a little before nodding.
“I’m fine.” She looked over him to make sure that he was also alright. When he pulled away from her she found herself a little disappointed. She didn’t understand it and nor did she have the time to do so. Instead, she simply shook her head and watched as he looked for his flashlight. Everything she had, including her book and her water canteen had been left at the camp they had set up and she kicked herself for not at least picking up the essentials.
They started to follow Toothless, following the bit of light that the flashlight offered. The silence fell between them comfortably until he felt the need to explain why they were following a dragon. As he spoke she couldn’t help but smile. There was so much excitement in his voice and even though she didn’t need and explanation she allowed him to. With his final exclamation, she laughed and looked towards Toothless.
“He saved our lives. I would say that he is pretty amazing.”
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