When they reached the boat, Hiccup helped to pull Astrid inside. He knew she was mostly capable, but the last thing he wanted was to be the cause of more of her pain. Once inside the boat, he looked at her, taking her shoulders in his hands.
"Are you sure about this? You shouldn't have to run away because of me." But she seemed determined. He just hated that he was taking her away from her parents unannounced. And who knew when they would be coming back?
Hiccup kept an eye on the docks as they sped out. He hoped they could get out of eyesight before anyone might try to follow them. He knew his father had been close to the island before and could probably find it, but he hoped his superstitions and fear of the unknown would keep him away.
Hiccup lowered himself dejectedly into the passenger seat in the cabin next to Astrid. "I feel bad for the others... By the time they know whats happened they won't be able to follow. But... maybe that's for the best right now..." He sighed heavily and buried his face in his hands. "None of this was supposed to happen..."
The ride turned silent and by the time they reached the island it was almost nightfall. Though the sun sent fire into the clouds as it sunk below the water on the horizon, Hiccup could not find the beauty in it. Or much of anything at the moment.
They pulled in and climbed out of the boat, hauling their luggage. Hiccup was emotionally spent and he acted much like a zombie until they reached the glen. He couldn't even muster the energy to greet Toothless with the same enthusiasm as usual. The dragon could tell that something was amiss and and pressed his forehead into Hiccup's chest to comfort him before turning to Astrid and greeting her happily, tail wagging. He made a few gurgling sounds, looking over his shoulder, and through the woods came Stormfly, running full speed once she realized that Astrid was here.
Astrid could do nothing more than offer him a reassuring smile and she kept hold of his hand as the two of them finally entered the house. Even though they both knew that this was coming, it was still something that made her heart race. She didn’t enjoy conflict and she knew what was likely to come of this conversation. Stoick was stubborn and would not see things from their point of view so running away to the island was the only way around this now. At least this time she had made a point of leaving a note on her bed to let her parents know that she was not going to be back, at least for a while.
She shook her head as if to shake the thoughts from her mind as the door closed behind her. At first they could not hear any movement but then the sound came from the kitchen and they both shared a look before they moved towards it. The tension in the air could have been cut with a knife. When father and son locked eyes, Astrid swallowed hard and made sure that she did not interrupt whatever was about to happen. It seemed that they both found the courage to talk at the same time and incoherent speech started to fill the silence before they realised that they could not continue to talk in such a way. Astrid took her place next to Hiccup when he announced that the two of them were ready to talk but she knew that it would be Hiccup to do most of it. After all, this was his father and she had no place talking for him.
Stoick could make anyone feel nervous with the tone of voice that he was using in that moment and it only made her stand closer to Hiccup as she snaked her hand around his once more. She hadn’t expected Stoick to want to hear what happened to his mother and it made her heart ache to know that Hiccup would have to relive it again as she was sure he had hundreds, maybe even thousands of times before. Before Hiccup began to speak, he let go of her hand and played with his fingers nervously as if he needed the distraction to give him the courage to start talking. Now all she could do was listen to Hiccup relay the story to his father. She had been told before what happened but she had never heard the story in quite as much detail and she had to fight back against the tears that were threatening her eyes. Astrid couldn’t imagine ever having to live through something like that.
Soon enough, Astrid was brought into the conversation and she looked over towards him as he tried to explain why she was involved in the first place. All she could do was nod to confirm that what he was saying was true. A change of pace was exactly what she had wanted and back then, it helped her figure out what she wanted out of life. All the time she had wanted to escape Berk and go to college, perhaps if she hadn’t been there that night she would have done and her life would have been so different. Astrid knew that she wouldn’t have changed any of it. Not for anyone.
When he spoke of Astrid’s injury, her hand went to her stomach absently and only looked up again when Stoick announced that the two of them were not to return to the island. She knew this was coming but it didn’t hurt any less. She moved forward to reach for Hiccup before he took hold of his father’s arm. She could almost see everything unfold before it happened and she ran to Hiccup’s side as he was thrust into the table and she tried to catch the vase but was too late.
Before they knew it the two were alone. She wanted to go after Stoick to tell him how wrong he was about everything and how much she [I used] to look up to him but she couldn’t leave Hiccup like this.
“Hiccup I…” She could see the tears as she placed her hand on his shoulder but she didn’t stay there for long as he was turning to the door and running towards it. A part of her wanted to take the broken pieces of vase and fix it for him but they did not have time. He was running towards the harbour in an attempt to get there before anyone could stop them and Astrid did the same.
By the time they reached the boat she was out of breath and she was sure that she would regret it later but for now, the two were climbing onto the boat and sailing away from Berk, unsure of what might happen now. She allowed the silence to sit between them for some time, simply taking her place next to Hiccup and offering him whatever comfort he needed in the moment.
Hiccup nodded as he reached for the door handle. As always, Astrid served as some extra conscience. He knew he had a tendency to get heated when he talked to his father. They were both so passionate, just about different things, and sometimes their passions bumped heads.
"I'll try," he told her, looking at her with a sigh. He couldn't promise any more than that out of fear he might break it.
Finally, he turned the knob and stepped into the entryway. After Astrid stepped inside, he closed the door behind her. For a moment he just stood there and listened, hoping that his father might be out. Hoping that he might get more time to prepare, even though it was his idea to do this now in the first place.
But then he heard the clinking of dishes in the kitchen and he inhaled deeply before sighing, hoping to gather some courage. He moved through the entryway and the dining room to find himself in the kitchen. His father was finishing up washing some dishes and he turned around to look at them when he heard them enter. For a moment, neither father nor son said anything. Then they both opened their mouths, words came pouring out of both of them, and then they abruptly stopped.
"Uh- you-u go first, Dad."
"No, you- you go first."
Hiccup's hand grabbed at the back of his neck and he shrugged. "I was just- I was- [i we] were- ready to talk... about the island."
Stoick nodded stiffly and pointed with a massive finger. "I want you to tell me everything. From start to finish. Don't leave anything out. [i Everything]." His tone was the same one he used when he had caught Hiccup drawing on the walls as a kid.
"Well... the day you... tore up my sketchbook... Astrid and I-"
Stoick held up his hand and Hiccup stopped. "I said from the [i beginning]."
Hiccup swallowed hard. He knew what his father wanted. "I-I told you hundreds of times after it happened."
"I want to hear it again."
"You never want to talk about what happened to Mom!" Hiccup was already getting heated, but Astrid's presence beside him reminded him to stay calm. The look on his father's face convinced him to start his story. His eyes moved about the room, too nervous to look into his father's eyes. His fingers toyed with each other nervously. He didn't want to relive this. Again.
"I'd been reading those- those stupid books," he started. "About Viking dragon lore. And I told Mom that I wanted to go looking for them. She suggested we go east because that's where they would be hiding."
"Why? She knew how dangerous it could be out there," Stoick interrupted.
"I don't [i know]. She just did! She didn't believe the wives tails, you know that!" Hiccup frowned and continued. "I don't think she expected us to go so far, but I was having so much fun watching the sky... Before we knew it, Berk was just a small dot on the horizon..."
Hiccup continued to relay the story to his father. He didn't leave anything out. He told him about the red dragon and about how Toothless, the dragon he had been riding when he brought Astrid to the boat, saved him even if it meant sacrificing his leg. The Red Dragon had carried his mother off to become dinner. The last thing Hiccup remembered about the night was Toothless dropping him gently into the water when he saw that help was on the way, as if he knew he had to stay out of sight.
His father was looking at the linoleum floor, thinking for a moment. "You have no idea what it was like to find you... like that. Valka gone... your leg... hardly looked like a leg anymore."
"He- he [i saved] me, Dad. I could do with one less limb... Toothless was also hurt that night... when mom... He fought the other dragon and got his tail fin torn off... I crafted him a new one. He- he can't fly without me. He needs me. I need him. He's given me everything I never knew I needed to be happy, Dad."
"What happened next... After all these years. I tried to train you out of your obsession."
"But it was real... All of it was real. That's why you couldn't make me stop believing. So that day you tore up my sketchbook... Astrid decided she would lend me her boat." He gave her a quick glance. "She wanted to come, too. I- I don't really know why. A change of pace? But... what we found... it's a dragon's paradise." There was a long silence before Hiccup started to speak again.
"We've been... training them. Seeing what they can do. Making them as used to our presence as they can be so that we can become a part of their lives..."
"Is that how Astrid was wounded?" Stoick asked, his mouth growing thin. Hiccup's eyes darted away, but he nodded.
"Then that dragon of yours is going to have to learn how to fly on his own, because I'm not letting you two go back there. It's proven too dangerous. And you will speak to [i no one] about these dragons. You and the rest of your friends are going to pretend none of this ever happened."
Hiccup's eyes grew. "No. Dad. We have to go back. We've built a [i home] there!"
Stoick shook his head and started to head for the door. "I'm going to tell Gobber and anyone else I can that you and the other's are not to leave the island. I don't care if I have to pay someone to stand sentry at the docks to make sure you don't slip away, but I will."
"Dad! No!" Hiccup followed after and reached for his dad's arm. "Stop! Dad, we can't just leave them. They'll expect us back."
"Then they'll just have to be disappointed!" Stoick shook his arm back just as he was opening the door with his free one as if to remove Hiccup's grip. His large elbow came crashing into Hiccup's chest instead and the force of it sent him into the nearby entry table. One of his mother's small vases wobbled... then toppled to the floor.
Still leaning over the table and feeling a bruise come on, Hiccup looked at the broken vase. Though his side hurt from the impact, his heart hurt worse in that moment. Stoick looked from Hiccup to the broken pieces.
"Look what you've done," the man mumbled, fighting tears. He turned for the door again and slammed it behind him, shaking the walls. Hiccup fell to his knees finally and reached for the broken pieces of ceramic, tears rimming his eyes.
"This was my moms..." he whispered, as if he might break it further by talking to loud. "She put fresh flowers in it every other day..."
He gathered the pieces in his hand and moved them to the top of the table again. After laying them out respectfully, his eyes grew dark. He didn't look at Astrid as he spoke, but his words were directed at her.
"We still have time. We can make it to the docks before he tells Gobber. We can take the shortcut behind the houses."
Finally, Hiccup snapped out of his grief and turned to the door as well. He broke into a run, fueled by his anger. He knew Astrid shouldn't really be running yet, but he could hear her behind him all the way...
Soon enough the two we close enough to his house that they could see it and it was apparent that Hiccup was growing more anxious about the pending conversation with his father. If Astrid hadn’t been there with him she was sure that he would have continued to avoid his father and even now he joked about the potential of the two of them simply running away together.
“Hiccup, you know that I will follow you anywhere but we both know that wouldn’t be the right thing for us to do. We have to give him the chance to have his say and then we can have ours.” She said softly as she squeezed his hand. They were standing in front of the door soon and she stopped and turned towards him.
“You have to remember to keep your cool okay. No matter what he says, please don’t fly off the handle.” She knew that it would be easier said than done when the two of them were so passionate about their island.
Hiccup didn't mind carrying everything to the boat. As long as they managed to avoid his dad while doing it, he didn't care about the extra work. Especially if it meant that Astrid would't strain herself carrying things.
When he was done and it was time to go face the music he couldn't be more happy that he had Astrid in his life to help him through. They walked hand in hand towards his house. It felt so strange. He had hardly stayed a night in it since Astrid had been injured.
His mouth was a thin line as he was trying to think of what could possibly be said. Fake conversations were passing through his mind, trying to predict what his father might say once they allow him to talk about what he saw. He kicked at a rock for half the trip, trying to get his nerves under control.
When his house was finally in view, Hiccup swallowed. "Are we sure we have to do this?" he half-joked. "I mean. We-we could just run away to the island forever." He let out a strained laugh. He knew better, but it was nice to think about. He took a deep breath and approached the door.
Astrid was surprised that he didn’t seem to think that it was too soon for her to return to the island but he was right. The only difference between being on Berk or the island was that Stormfly was on the island and she could hardly wait to see her again. She had spent the last week resting and only doing as she was told in hopes of healing quickly. Now all she needed to do was make sure that she didn’t do too much. Perhaps even flying would be off the table for a little while longer.
By the time he finished talking, he was getting to his feet and offering his hand to her. She smiled towards him and took his hand, pulling on it gently so that he could pull her to her feet. “Whatever you say.” She said with a laugh and kept her hand in his as the two made their way down the side of the hill.
It took them longer than usual to pack up the boat, especially since she was not allowed to help him carry anything but the time it took to back the boat gave them both time to try and clear their minds. When Hiccup put the last thing on the boat, Astrid took both of his hands in hers and looked towards him with adoration. “Whatever happens…we’ll figure it out.” She leaned forward and kissed him gently and let out a sigh, hiding the nerves that she felt so that she could be strong for Hiccup.
The two walked side-by-side towards Hiccup’s house, finally preparing to face his father after avoiding him for so long. Occasionally she would look over to Hiccup, trying to read his expression but she could do no more to try and make things better. They would simply have to let the events unfold.
Hiccup let her cradle his head in her lap and nodded along with her words. She was right. As usual.
"I don't think it's too soon," he told her, looking up at her from under his lashes. "As long as you're not doing any labor, you should be fine. You'll be doing all the same things you're doing now..." he trailed off, thinking about her next words, his eyes moving to the clouds above. "I hope it doesn't come to that, but... if we have to."
There was no way Hiccup was going to let his father ruin the best thing in his life. Even if he [i was] the mayor, he couldn't force them to stay.
Abruptly, Hiccup sat up, then slowly got to his feet, dusting himself off. "Alright. Let's go pack up the boat and go get this over with." He offered her his hand to help her up and helped brush the dirt from her. "You're not carrying a thing, okay?"
And with that they headed back down the hill, ready to face whatever may come.
Astrid kept her hand in his hair and moved so that his head was now in her lap, hoping that the contact would keep him calm. At least he knew that he did not have to face his father alone this time. Although, she wasn’t sure she knew how she would handle Stoick if things were to get s little heated.
“I don’t see how he [i can] stop us. We are adults Hiccup. It’s not like he can ground us or anything.” She let out a sigh, knowing that the last thing Hiccup wanted was to bring his father to their island. “Maybe...maybe we should have the boat packed up just in case. I know that you probably think it’s too soon for me to go back to the island but if we talk to your father and he tries to stop us from going back...we just need to go.” Astid looked down at him, wondering how he would feel about potentially running away against his father’s wishes. It’s not like they had not done it before. The only difference is, he knew where they would be going this time.
Hiccup groaned and rolled his eyes when she spoke of how his father might react and how they couldn't know. "I can make a pretty good guess." Hiccup raised his hand into the air and pointed at the clouds like a father would to his son. He lowered his voice and spoke like his father. "'I won't have any more of this dragon nonsense whether they're real or not! I asked for a strong son to carry on my legacy! Not a scrawny zookeeper!'"
As soon as her felt her touch he lowered his hand, letting it fall back into the grass and he sighed, looking up at her. She always had a way to bring him back down to earth. She leaned over to kiss him and he happily accepted the gesture, even if he was sure it was just to get him to stop fretting.
He reached up once more and rested his fingertips on her cheek and offered her a smile. "I know," he whispered. He would never feel alone again. That much he knew. Not if he could help it. Not if he could protect Astrid next time something went wrong...
"I just know he's not going to let us go back to the island this time. Last time he had no choice because I sprung it on him so quickly. N-now... he'll be expecting it. That or- or he'll want to see the dragons himself which I am [i not] allowing."
As the next week passed by, Hiccup seemed to accept that she was getting better and they spent some of their time outside, breathing the much-needed fresh air that her body had craved. If anyone saw her moving around now, they wouldn’t even know that she had been in any kind of accident at all. She had gained back the weight she had lost and her bandages were only there as a precaution now.
On this particular day, she had managed to convince Hiccup to go up for a walk and she had proven that she was fit enough to make it up her hill. Of course, she hadn’t admitted that this is where she had been sitting the day she saw Hiccup coming back from the Island. She was rather surprised that he had not asked her about that but she was grateful to avoid the scolding.
As they sat together on the hill they had fallen into the conversation that Hiccup had been avoiding throughout the week. Astrid shrugged slightly as he spoke, not really knowing what to say in this moment. Usually she was the one to have the right words and calm him or even help him organise his thoughts.
Astrid sighed and watched him as he lay back into the grass. “I don’t think that it’s going to make a difference trying to rehearse what you are going to say to him babe. We can’t predict how he is going to react.” Astrid almost shifted toward him and sat behind him, blocking his view of the clouds. She ran her hand through his hair and leaned over to kiss him gently.
“You’re not alone in this. I’ll be right there with you.”
Another week passed by. Hiccup managed to avoid his father, cutting their conversations off short so the man couldn't bring up the subject Hiccup dreaded talking to him about. He spent most of his time at Astrid's, despite the fact that she was feeling almost completely like herself. She still couldn't bend over very far, but other than that she was acting better than ever.
He felt rather guilty forcing his presence on her parents like that, but they didn't seem to mind. Still, he was sure to thank them just about every day for housing him under the pretense that he was there for Astrid, not mentioning that it was because he was avoiding Stoick.
But he couldn't hide forever. He knew that. Astrid knew that. No matter how much he tried he knew his father would find a way to talk to him one way or another.
"What would I even say to him?" he asked Astrid one day as they were talking about it. He put on a fake voice and bobbed his head as he spoke his next words. "'[i I told you so?"] His hands found his face.
The weather was starting to warm up. Well- warm for Berk. And they sat up on Astrid's hill overlooking the ocean. They knew they could talk privately here and both of them had had enough of being cooped up in her house.
He fiddled with some of the grass, breaking them into little pieces and tossing them like sad bits of confetti. He looked dejected. Discouraged. He heaved a deep sigh and let himself fall onto his back in the grass, arms spread wide.
"'Hey, Dad! I know Mom got killed by one of these things, but the rest are nice! I promise!'" He spoke to the clouds, imagining how the conversation with his father might go.
Astrid attempted to hold a conversation with him while she showered but after a while he stopped replying and she could only assume that he had fallen asleep. That much was confirmed when she emerged from the bathroom and she couldn't help but smile down at him as she neared the bed.
She wouldn't disturb him, even if it was a little early so she changed into the sweats she had stolen from him all those months ago and climbed into the bed next to him, careful not to disturb him as he slept and she pulled out the notebook that she had been keeping this last week.
With nothing else for her to do, Astrid had taken to playing her guitar and writing lyrics and a melody had stuck in her head while she had showered so for some time she played around with words until her eyes started to grow heavy themselves. When it was time for her to sleep too, she comfortably slipped her arm over Hiccup and lay her head on his chest and breathed in the scent of him. It did not take long for her to fall asleep next to him and the slept right through to the next morning. Not even the sound of her parents returning home, or checking on them seemed to disturb them.
Hiccup kisses her back, feeling like he somehow scored the jack pot when it came to Astrid. He didn't think he could be so comfortably himself with anyone else. An hour or two slipped by, entertained only by their conversations and cuddles and Astrid decided that she needed to move.
Hiccup rolled over onto the new free space on her bed, stretching himself out and shrugging. "Where else would I go?" He asked her, mostly as a joke, but he half believed it. There was no way he was going to allow that much time for his dad to talk to him. Not yet anyway.
He listened to her step into the shower and thought about joining her. But the bed was too comfy and he couldn't convince himself to move. He closed his eyes and despite knowing it was still a bit too soon for sleep he couldn't help but relax into the bed. He vaguely heard Astrid talking to him over the sound of the shower. He replied once or twice before the sound of the water pulled him into a half sleep.
Astrid smiled as he brought her hand to his lips and she nodded. “I promise.” She loved just laying here with him close to her. Just having him near her brought a sense of calm over her and she could not stop herself from smiling. “No, it’s fine. I have everything I need right here.” She leaned in to kiss him gently and leaned her forehead against his.
They stayed there talking and holding each other for a couple of hours until Astrid needed to move to use the bathroom. “I might shower while I’m in there.” She said as she reluctantly moved herself from the bed. “Are you staying tonight?” Astrid called from the bathroom as she started to run the water and tinkered around for a moment, waiting for it to warm up.
She assumed that he would want to avoid seeing his Dad straight away considering they were not currently seeing eye-to-eye with things but soon enough they would both have to talk to him about the island and what he saw.
Hiccup laced his fingers through hers and smiled at her words. He shook his head like he didn't quite believe he could be that important to her, no matter the amount of corny words. But he didn't want to ruin the moment by saying so. Instead he just chuckled softly and brought her hand to his lips.
"Just... no bouncing off the walls yet, alright?" He smiled and let their hands drop together back into her lap so that he could lean in and kiss the corner of her mouth instead. "Can I get you anything?" It was more out of habit that he asked. That first week she was awake had ingrained in him to ask every so often. Except now it was less because he didn't want her to move because of her wound and more because he simply felt like treating her like a princess.
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