Part of her felt guilty for leaving Hiccup with his mother after everything that had transpired. If they started to talk about the wedding they would likely argue and things could get far worse but she had to trust that they would work things out for themselves. Astrid smiled awkwardly as Hiccup told her to enjoy reading with narrowed eyes and nodded. He knew exactly what she was doing and she knew that Valka would too but that didn’t matter. Either way the two needed to talk and that conversation needed to happen without her there. Within a matter of minutes the two had taken to the sky and soon enough they were no longer in sight.
With her hands already placed firmly on her hips, Astrid let out a sigh and turned towards Stormfly and held her hand out to stroke her. “I really hope this doesn’t backfire.” She said softly before starting to make her way towards the room where she would find all of the books. While Astrid had made up an excuse that place was still one of her favourite places to be and she didn’t mind spending her time there while Hiccup and Valka were out flying. In fact, a part of her had already decided what she would read. She remembered that one of the history books had some information in there about the traditions of their ancestors and some of them had been around marriage. Before now she had always flicked past that section because I deep down a part of her expected that she might always be engaged to Hiccup and that a wedding might not happen at all. Yet, a year from now that wedding would take place.
The very thought of it quickened her heart and made her mind race with a thousand thoughts of what their wedding might be like. While there were some things that they really had no choice over, such as the guest list and the catering she found herself wondering what their day would be like as she entered her place of sanctuary on the island. The image of her trying on dresses was perhaps one of the most terrifying thoughts, mostly because the idea of actually wearing one was so alien to her. She was sure that in all of their time together, she had never worn a dress. Their situations never really called for one and it was hardly practical to wear a dress on the Island. Astrid shook her head. “I can’t believe it’s the thought of a dress that terrifies you so much.” She said out loud, almost chastising herself for such a thought. The idea of marrying Hiccup in itself did not worry her at all. They had known for such a long time now that they belonged together and a marriage wasn’t exactly seen as a new level of commitment but rather a promise; a symbol of the love and devotion that the two had shown each other over the years.
Astrid scanned the shelves trying to find the text that she wanted and when her fingers found the skin she ran them over it softly and the corners of her lips turned up into a smile before her hand closed around it and pulled it from the shelf. Astrid had always enjoyed learning about their heritage and for that reason she wanted to try and incorporate elements of that into their own wedding. Even though they would likely go for a more modern wedding, there were certain things that were important to her and they were things that she would talk to Hiccup about eventually when they started to discuss details. One of the things that she had always intended was for their wedding to take place on a Friday. As far as she knew, every marriage within her family throughout time had taken place on that day. It was one of the long standing Viking traditions to honour the Goddess of love and marriage and an array of other things that she wouldn’t even dare to think about, mostly because the idea of having a family had never really occurred to her. She hadn’t really understood the importance of the day until she found herself reading the book once more. Before now it was simply a [i family] tradition but knowing that it was something much more than that made it all the more important to her. What she found equally interesting was that there were also certain colours associated with the Goddess that could easily be incorporated into their wedding in a variety of ways and blue, ivory and gold were not exactly horrific colours either.
Astrid continued to read and make mental notes as she did so, completely unaware of what was going on outside. This room was so far away from the chaos that she wouldn’t have been able to hear the sound of the horn or the response of the Protectors. She would no doubt feel guilty about the matter when she found out what was happening, especially since Hiccup had managed to find himself injured and she had no idea about it. At least not until she was forced to look up from her book due to the sound of the door opening with urgency. One of the Protectors came running through the door and as soon as Astrid heard the tone of his voice she rose to her feet and closed the book.
“You need to come with me.”
She didn’t need to ask why before she was already walking out of the door with him but she was curious about why everything felt rushed now. “What is it? What happened?”
“The island...it was attacked.”
That was all she needed to hear before her feet started to carry her faster towards their destination. A part of her knew that Hiccup had been hurt and she needed to know that he was okay. “Where are they?” She asked with a demanding tone and as soon as she found out she ran even faster until she reached the great hall. He was laid out on a table and he was not conscious, surrounding by several people including Valka all trying to work on perhaps saving his life. She had no real idea of the threat that they faced or how Hiccup had come to be lying on the table but the moment she saw him she was sure her heart stopped. “Valka?” She closed the distance between them now and started to assess just how much damage had been done and she looked towards Valka for answers but without waiting for them she started to help those around him. “You’re going to be alright.” She said with confidence, needing to believe that to be true.
Several hours had passed and Hiccup was now on their room resting in bed and Astrid had pretty much banned everyone from the room except for Valka who was sat beside the bed holding his hand and stroking his forehead. All Astrid could do was pace the room and try to keep Toothless calm. He had been so worried and she shared his concerns but at least they had managed to remove the arrow. Valka would have a lot of explaining to do when he woke up.
Hiccup watched as the conversation unfolded and his eyes grew slightly at Astrid's abandonment, through he knew it was for his own good and she was doing it out of love.
When it was finally agreed that Astrid would stay here and read her books, Valka called for Cloudjumper. Hiccup climbed onto Toothless's back, which was a bit difficult since he was wiggling about, excited to go flying with Valka again.
"Enjoy your reading," he told Astrid, knowing she would read between the lines as his small jab before he narrowed his eyes at her with a small smile. In a matter of moments she was out of sight and they had taken to the skies.
"I'm assuming this was Astrid's idea?" Valka asked over the wind with a mischievous smile. Hiccup couldn't help but roll his eyes.
"More or less," he admitted. "She's almost as stubborn as you are."
Valka laughed at that. "Stubborn women make the best of wives!" Hiccup felt the heat rise to his face and his mother's hand ruffle his hair as she rushed by before taking a dive to start a familiar game of tag.
But when he dove after her, Toothless almost dove right into Cloudjumper. He pulled up at the last minute, wondering why on Earth she had stopped so suddenly before following her gaze out to the horizon. Away from their islands. Away from Berk.
Large boats, like those he had only seen out of history books and the small Viking museum back on Berk, were sailing right for them. Large and fast.
"Wh-" Hiccup had so many questions- Who were they? Where were they coming from? What island was out that way? What did they want?- that he couldn't voice any of them.
"Go back underground," came Valka's voice, heavy and stern. And instantly Hiccup knew that she had been hiding something.
The ships were incredibly fast and by the time he looked back down at them they were almost to the shores. Almost underneath where they hovered. And like something out of a movie, Hiccup saw small flecks of light suddenly arch towards the sky at them. Half a dozen of them or so. They managed to avoid them, but Hiccup didn't realize what they were until he saw one whiz past. Arrows. On fire.
"Find Astrid. Go back to your island. They won't follow you," came Valka's demand.
"I'm not leaving you!"
A larger storm of arrows rained down on them and they dove for the ground where they were less visible. Valka reached for a horn at her hip and began to blow into it, alerting all of her Protectors that they were under attack. Hiccup could not wrap his mind around the fact that these battles had been taking place so close to home. Because the way they responded to her call, this had to be something they had dealt with before.
As they hovered over the ground, Hiccup scowled at his mother. "Who are they?"
"I'll tell you everything later."
"Then at least let me help you now."
There was a long silence and she looked around while her Protectors started rained fire down on the closest ships with their dragons. "I have patrols out. Their dragons are able to see these pyres from miles away." She pointed at the large, metal, cagelike braziers scattered across the coast. "We need them back here, but someone has to light the beacons. Toothless is the fastest dragon here. And you're the only one who can ride him."
She looked at him with worried eyes. From Toothless's back he reached out a hand to take hers. "Mom... I got this."
The truth was that he was unsure if he did, in fact, have this. The braziers were a hundred feet tall or higher. If he somehow got knocked off Toothless's back... He pushed that from his mind and thought about Astrid, wondering if she knew what the ruckus was about. He didn't have time to find her explain their situation. He just hoped she would stay safe...
Hiccup took to the sky once more, telling himself that this wasn't really happening. Never in his life did he think that people would be shooting arrows at him. He counted the braziers, taking note that he and Toothless only had to light five of them. Five wasn't so bad.
He gave Toothless a pat. "We got this, bud."
The first one was no trouble. Toothless fired at it and instantly it was up in flames. The second one as well. It was when they went to light the third that their enemies were finally catching onto the fact that he was calling for backup and some of them turned their fire onto him. They dodged, hearts thumping, pretending like this was just another fun exercise he had put together. They almost flew right past the fourth one and had to circle around to light it, narrowly avoiding a few arrows. And then there was just one more to go.
They flew as fast as they could straight towards it. When he would think about it later, he would realize that he should have approached it from a different angle. But he was only concerned with speed, not tactics for once. As soon as Toothless opened his mouth and spat fire, two things happened at once. The brazier caught fire and Hiccup was knocked off of Toothless's saddle with a strange force he had never felt before. He let out a grunt, taking a second to even realize what happened. Confused, he called out for Toothless who was falling next to him. He could control himself a little better without a rider since their upgrades over the years, but he was still no flyer. He was letting out worried noises, trying to position his wings to get him closer.
Hiccup knew he didn't have much time to get back in the saddle. He knew Toothless could handle a fall like this with his new gadgets. He really needed to worry about himself. So he reached to deploy his wing suit. It was only when he reached that he felt the pain in his shoulder and remembered he did not wear his armor that day... he had no wing suit to slow his fall...
If the trees weren't there... if Toothless could have only gotten to him in time. If he had an extra three seconds he might have seen the arrow sticking out of his shoulder. But he saw none of this. He didn't have the time. Instead he felt the crack of the tree limbs when he hit. Most of him had faded from consciousness at that point, but somewhere in the back of his mind, he hoped it was just the tree breaking and not any bones. Or legs. He needed that good leg.
He somehow felt every branch on the way down until he finally got stuck a third way up the tree. Bloody, bruised, arrow through his shoulder. That small voice still somehow away inside of him was laughing at his situation even as he felt his unconscious body being untangled from the tree.
From then on things came to him in bits and pieces. They took him to the great hall. Someone made a ruckus clearing off the table there. Valka's voice... Was he muttering something? When he tried to open his eyes one of them was bruised shut from the fall. Toothless sniffed at his face to make sure he was okay.
Even as the sounds of victory came from outside, Hiccup could only wonder about where Astrid was. He tried to muster the strength to ask about her, but the moment he closed his eyes he was gone again, having no memory of who had brought him here or where the people he loved were.
Astrid smiled towards him innocently as he glared back at her and shrugged her shoulders as if she wasn’t responsible for forcing this conversation on him. She knew that this wouldn’t be the last time that they spoke of the matter, especially since it was so important to the both of them, but they had plenty of time left to talk about this. It would have been naive of them to think that one conversation would change her mind about tell Stoick...telling Berk, that she was still alive.
Astrid looked over towards Valka who seemed to watch her son with amusement now and she shook her head. “You could just agree to go flying with him Valka, you don’t have to make him squirm.” She said with humour lacing her tone of voice. Toothless, upon hearing that he might get the chance to fly again seemed to perk up and moved next to Hiccup where he kept looking between Valka and him to gauge if they would indeed be spending some time together.
“Very well.” Valka said finally, raising to her feet. “Are you coming?” She asked towards Astrid who was already shaking her head.
“I think you two should take this one. There is a book that I’ve been meaning to read and...well now seems like a good a time as any.”
“Astrid we all know that you have read every single book we have here.” Valka moved around to the front of her desk now and pet Toothless before looking back towards Hiccup.
“Well, it’s a good book. I want to read it again.”
When it was apparent that he wouldn't be leaving any time soon he became statuesque, especially when Astrid directed him closer and Valka dismissed who she was speaking to before going off again about how they had already been over the matter.
At first, Hiccup thought be might get lucky and Astrid might do all the talking, but when he felt her palm on his back, he knew what he was in for before he was even pushed forward. He turned back and glared at her for a moment before turned back awkwardly to his mother who was watching him with a furrowed brow.
Hiccup scratched his chin and cleared his throat, looking around at anything other than her until he felt the silence crashing down on him.
"I just... wondered if... Well, I mean... It's been a while since we flew together. And I- I didn't want you to think that just because... you know."
Valka looked at her son now with amusement behind her eyes. She knew all too well what this was about.
Astrid was grateful for the support that Toothless gave her by pushing him towards the door and she squeezed his hand gently. “Come on it won’t be that bad.” She said with a smile and she left the room and made their way to where Valka would be. When they arrived she seemed to be busy talking to a protector and Hiccup thought he would use it as an excuse to leave.
Astrid shook her head and placed her hand in his chest to stop him from walking away. “Not so fast.” She said with a smirk. “You are not getting away with it [i that] easily.” Astrid smiled and took hold of his hand again and moved into the room and stood before the desk and she cleared her throat.
Instantly Valka stopped talking and looked up at the two, looking them over with a stern look. Astrid smiled awkwardly and Valka had no choice but to dismiss who she had been talking to. She may have been stubborn but she couldn’t stay angry for long either.
“We are not having this conversation again. I’ve made my decision and that’s final.” She said, almost predicting what they might be here to talk about that. Astrid shook her head and held up her hand.
“We’re not here for that. Hiccup...” Astrid placed her hand on his back and pushed him forward, waiting for him to talk to his mother.
Hiccup wanted to stay like that forever, but Astrid had other plans. And rightfully so. She was always the head to his heart in moments like these. When she pulled away and mentioned that they should go speak to her, just to clear the air, Hiccup looked away and grumbled incoherently. That's when she told him they couldn't stay angry with each other for a year and eventually he nodded, letting her drag him towards the door.
Even Toothless seemed to be on Astrid's side as he pushed him along with his snout to hurry him up. He had become very close with Valka and he hated any time there was a rift between she and Hiccup.
"Alright, alright! I'm going," he mumbled as they headed out the door and back into the main all to find his mother. She was still talking to one of the Protectors by the map and Hiccup sighed. "Well, she's still busy, too bad, we tried, guess we'll try again later!" He turned on his heel knowing well and good that Astrid was going to reach out for his elbow to stop him from getting away that easily.
Astrid looked down at him as he turned slightly but she did not pull her lips away from his hair until he turned all the way around in his chair. She could have stayed that way forever but Hiccup seemed to have other ideas and as he spoke she was sure that her heart beat quickened the way it always did when Hiccup made her feel this way. She smiled at his words and allowed her arms to wrap around her and she place her arms around his shoulders and allowed her hands to find his head in a comforting way, holding him close to her.
"I know Hiccup. You don't need to say a thing." She said with a sigh and they remained that way for a good few minutes until she eventually broke the silence. "I [i promise] you that we will figure this out. One way or another." Astrid pulled away from him then, as much as she wanted to remain like that for longer.
"We should go and talk to her. Not about telling Stoick but...but to make sure that we fix what just happened. I don't want you two to be angry at each other." Astrid took hold of his hand and walked towards the door, knowing that this was probably the last thing he wanted to do but she knew that it needed to happen. "You can't stay angry at each other for the next year!"
As usual, Astrid's presence always had a way of calming him, her touch even more so. Her lips in his hair made him sigh, even as she spoke. As corny as her sentiment might have been, he didn't think about that. Her words meant a great deal to him in that moment, especially when she brought up their past. He turned his head slightly, just enough to see her in his peripheral, but not enough to disturb her lips in his hair.
"I hope you're right," he said softly, reached up to take one of her hands still on his shoulder. It was in these moments that he felt that familiar welling of his heart. He finally turned further in the chair to face her. "I wish I could tell you how much you mean to me. How... glad I am that you're here..."
He stood and slowly wrapped himself around her. It wasn't in his usual charming or flirtatious way. No, this was almost childlike. He buried his face in her shoulder and sighed deeply.
Astrid smiled to herself as Hiccup reacted to her touch. If the situation had been different his groaning would have been enough to fuel a very different feeling. Instead she simply worked at his muscles and listened to him speak. It was a difficult situation to be in and they both knew that things were unlikely to return to the way they were before but she had faith that they would find their way back to each other.
She couldn’t imagine living apart from Hiccup as long as they had but knowing that their feelings were equally as strong as Astrid’s feelings for a Hiccup, she had no doubt that they would work past any barriers that might have come their way.
“And they will babe.” She said softly as she pressed her lips to the top of his head. “I’d like to think that if you love someone enough, no matter what they will always find their way back to you.” She smiled to herself for a moment and kept his lips close to his head, almost talking into his hair. “I found my way back to you didn’t I? I should have died that day but I like to think... I [i know] that it was my love for you that kept me alive. They will find their way back to each other and this will figure itself out.”
Hiccup listened closely, knowing Astrid well enough by now that some of what she said came from her ability to see the bigger pictures, some from her frustration. A part of him wanted to laugh when she told him he would tell Stoick herself. The image was rather hilarious when taken out of context.
When her hands found his shoulders it was enough to make him melt and she hadn't even started massaging yet. When she finally starting working the muscles there, he closed his eyes and groaned softly before nodding at her statement.
He hoped she was right. He wished he could easily write this problem off. But if anything, he was using their wedding as a catalyst for telling his father the truth. If not now, when? What better time would they have to tell him that his wife was still alive? He didn't want to wait until the next best time... he wanted it to happen now.
He was so tired of hiding it... so tired of seeing his eyes hover over Valka's face in the pictures that Astrid had given him over the years. So tired of keeping quiet when he could so easily have made his father's day...
"I know... even if we do tell my dad... that things will never be the same. They'll never go back to how they were before she left. Too many things have changed. So- So many things are... different now. And I'm not asking for things to be the same... I just... want them to be whole again."
Astrid looked over to Hiccup for a moment to make sure that it was okay that she spoke on their behalf and when he seemed alright with it she squeezed his hand gently and looked towards Valka who was clearly trying to process this new demand. She knew that it would not be easy and she expected to have to fight for their side but they had a bit of time to try to convince her. It seemed that she had an excuse and a barrier for every suggestion he made, even when he suggested that they have the wedding on the island.
Eventually his mother retired from the conversation much like she did every other time the two had suggested that they should tell Stoick she was still alive and after a minute in silence as they watched her leave, Astrid followed Hiccup to their room here. She grit her teeth and rose her shoulders slightly as the slamming of the door echoed through the room and she watched as Hiccup’s frustration left him.
“I know this isn’t exactly what you were hoping for but we do still have some time. It’s not like we are getting married tomorrow. One thing is for sure though Hiccup, she is [i not] going to be watching from the sky. If it comes down to it, [i I] will tell Stoick she is alive.” Astrid had far too much respect for Valka to go against her wishes but the anger she felt at her complete disregard for their feelings fuelled her now.
Astrid let out a sigh and moved towards Hiccuo and stood behind him so that she could rest her hands in his shoulders. Gently she put pressure on them and massaged at the tension she felt. “Hey, we’ll figure this out. I promise.”
Hiccup wasn't quite sure how to carry on the conversation. He was so easily set back when it came to his mother. Yet Astrid wasn't going to have it. She had always been able to confront Valka much easier than he had, no matter the subject.
Valka sighed softly at her words before looking at Hiccup as if asking if his opinion was the same. He nodded slowly. She heaved a heavy sigh.
"We've talked about this... To tell Berk I'm alive..."
"Then- then we could have the wedding here!" Hiccup was overcome with a tremendous idea. "We could bring Dad here after we tell him you're... you know. And have the wedding on the island with the gang."
"And what about Astrid's parents?" Valka asked, hands on her hips.
Hiccup's eyes fell. "We could... tell them too...?"
"No. No one else knows about me, do you understand?"
"I said no! As much as I want to be there, it's not going to happen. I'll watch from the skies. And it will hurt me as much as it will hurt you."
At that moment Valka called to a nearby Protector and they moved over to her large map. Hiccup's hand balled into a fist and he turned abruptly to move to the room that was always made up for them now. Once they were inside and he had practically slammed the door behind them, he groaned and punched the air. "She's so stubborn!"
Toothless made a small mumbling noise. [i Explains a thing or two.]
Hiccup gave him a look as he sat down at one of the wooden chairs at the table, running a hand through his hair.
Astrid rolled her eyes when Valka commented on her eating habits. It was so typical of the two of them to chastise her for something like this but she knew that it wouldn’t be the last time either. “Do we really have to talk about my eating habits?” Astrid asked with a laugh before the conversation moved on to their normal updates. Astrid paid close attention to what she was saying but glanced over towards Hiccup when Valka took note of how distant Hiccup was.
She was right. The look on his face was enough to cause anyone worry but Astrid knew what was causing his distance. When he started to talk Astrid moved to his side and took hold of his hand to offer him the support that he sought out when he looked over to her. Even though they discussed the fact they would be setting a date, it made it all the more real now that they were telling his mother, especially since there was more to it.
As expected, Valka was delighted that they had finally decided that it was time to set a date but Hiccup didn’t seem to have Be courage to say anymore than that. Astrid swallowed hard and decided to speak up then.
“We want you there Valka. Not just hiding in the shadows or watching from a distance. We want you to be a part of our wedding. You [i should] be a part of it and it wouldn’t be right for us to get married without you there.”
It took only a short while to get to the other island and before they knew it they were diving down through the large openings in the earth. They climbed off their dragons backs and Valka was already there, arms open to take Astrid into her arms.
Astrid updated her on the news about Gyda and as they embraced Hiccup watched fondly. He had never stopped being grateful that the two had found friendship years ago.
Upon her remark to Astrid's diet, Hiccup nodded before Valka turned to hug him as well. "I tried to get her to eat more, but... She's stubborn as always." When they pulled away, she offered him a kiss on his forehead, moving the hair away for a moment. He offered her a soft smile.
He thought about telling her just how they had come to cure Gyda. How Hiccup's hours in the library copying everything he could get his hands on for Fishlegs turned into the key for her survival. But he knew that she might take issue with them having taken something they couldn't explain away back to Berk, even though he knew she wouldn't have complained for long since it meant Gyda was alive. He chose to stay silent, however. What she didn't know wouldn't hurt her. Words she had said over and over about his father not knowing she was alive even though he saw him hurt every day he was back on Berk.
"Anything happen while we were away?" he asked her and together they stepped up to the drop off to look at the sea of dragons there. He was trying to work up his courage to tell her that they were going to set a date. In about a year... they would be married. God, why didn't they set the date first?
He realized that Valka was talking and he tuned in too late, but it seemed like she was just giving him the normal updates anyway.
"Hiccup?" She was suddenly concerned. "You look... distracted. What's wrong?"
Hiccup swallowed and his mouth became a thin line as he thought for a moment.
"I-um... Astrid and I-" He looked over to her for support. "We... we're going to set a date. We're giving it a year."
At first she didn't seem to understand what he was talking about. And then it all clicked. Her eyes went wide and a huge smile came to her face. "Well, that's wonderful! It's about time!"
Hiccup had to avert his eyes. He didn't know what he was expecting or hoping for. But this... He nodded and tried to seem pleased with her response.
The four of them took to the skies as soon as they were able to and Hiccup ensured that the rest of the group new exactly where they were going. It was a common occurrence for them to go to the island where Valka resided but none of them had been. They had all decided that the island where The Protectors were, remained protected. Even from their friends.
Astrid was sure that Valka would be happy to learn that Gyda was no longer sick and that she was recovering well thanks to some of their ancient history but she felt nervous about telling her that they had finally decided they were going to set a date. Hiccup was right, she knew that Valka never really expected to be at the wedding, even though she had spent a lot of time talking about it with them and it saddened her to think that there was still the potential that she might not be there. However, even though Hiccup [I said] they would get married with or without her, a small part of her felt as though they never would if she wasn’t there.
When they arrived on the island, Valka was already waiting for them after seeing them in the sky and as she jumped off Stormfly’s back Valka moved towards her, embracing her as though she were offering her emotional support.
“She’s okay Valka. She’s better now.” She said with a smile but leaning into her. Astrid enjoyed their relationship now. Once they had gotten passed her anger they really bonded. She was a good friend and a second mother to her and she knew that Hiccup also appreciated that. When their embrace came to an end she placed her hands on her shoulder and stepped back slightly, looking her over.
“You’ve not been eating properly.” She said simply before moving towards Hiccup and pulling him into an embrace now.
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