Annoyance was the first feeling that struck Astrid as her friends laughed about her leaving. While she was popular amongst her friends and she had a reputation of being a success here, it’s not something she wanted. This island was so far behind the rest of the world and she wanted something more than whatever it was that her home could offer to her. She was surprised that Hiccup jumped to her defence and when he did she couldn’t help but feel the sincerity in his voice before he made his way towards the bar to get their drinks.
Hiccup barely knew her, or at least she thought that was the case, yet he still came to her defence and mentioned that fact that there was very little she failed at and whilst that might have been true, there were times where she felt like one of the biggest failures among them because she wanted to leave and she was yet to find a way to do so. Soon enough Hiccup returned with their order and she smiled towards him with gratitude before he moved away from their table again and that was the last time she saw him in anything but passing. Astrid spent the rest of her time in the pub talking about her friends about anything other than the prospect of college for she knew it was something she would have never been able to make them understand.
As the day passed by pretty quickly she found herself heading towards the library before she went home. She had applied to several colleges and the application process seemed be electronic which made it very difficult considering the only internet access they could get was at the local library but she wanted to check the application progress before she faced her parents for yet another conversation about how she seemed to exist in a dream world.
Astrid found herself a quiet corner in the library and logged herself into one of the old computers. Surely somewhere far away from this island they had to have better technology than this, she thought to herself as she waited for the browser to load. “Come on.” Her voice spoke in a whisper and before long she began typing in the website that would allow her to see whether any colleges had made her any offers. Her eyes scanned the screen and scrolled through the relevant page and when she saw a green box light up on her screen, she knew that there had been some progress whether that meant her application had been accepted or declined.
Her heart beat started to quicken slightly as she clicked the link, waiting for it present whatever future might be awaiting for her. Astrid could hardly believe her eyes when she saw the offer letter staring at her on the screen. She got an offer from her first-choice college and she had no idea how to react. She was scared, excited and sad all at the same time. She might be finally getting off this island and that was both a terrifying and exciting adventure but the sadness came from the fact that she had no one to share the news with; at least no one who would understand her feelings and share the excitement with her. Instead she smiled to herself and stared at the screen for a moment longer. “You did it.” She told herself before a voice came from behind her.
The librarian looked up at the clock and shook her head. “Come on child. It’s time for the library to close. I have a home to be getting to you know.” She said as she moved away from her, urging her to shut down the computer and now that she had seen everything she needed to, she was more than happy to oblige.
She didn’t go home straight away that night, instead she too herself for a walk along the harbour where her parents kept their boat. Sometimes, when she needed time to think this was the destination for her to do so.
Hiccup's eyebrows raised when he heard the news. He hadn't pegged Astrid as the type to want to move. She was hard as they came. Tougher than anyone. If anyone was equipped to live on the cold, wet island that was Berk, it was Astrid.
He could remember how jealous he had been of people like her. Good at everything he wasn't. Like sports and making friends that weren't Fishlegs.
Before he had a chance to reply, Astrid's friends were throwing doubt her way. And they called themselves her friends? Did they even [i know] her? Hiccup hardly did and he knew that she had a better chance of getting out of here than [i he] did.
"I think she can do it," he said bravely towards the other girls.
"There's not a thing I've seen her fail at in all these years." With that, he shrugged, as if saying such was nothing, and walked away to fulfill their drink order.
As smooth as he may have looked in that moment, he was feeling rather woozy. He filled up the glasses, glad to know that his memory was still working. Gobber was still gabbing away with a regular and Hiccup wished he'd stop for even a minute to help out. He rolled his eyes, picked up the glasses expertly, and delivered them to the table.
Glad he didn't manage to fudge things up, he opted for dipping out as quickly as he came. He was having a really good streak of not messing up, so he figured he should quit while he was ahead.
"Do you think I should apply for college?" Hiccup asked Gobber a moment later. They were behind the bar and Gobber had finished his conversation, finally. Things had slowed to a lull.
Gobber nearly choked on the glass he was sneaking a drink from. "College? Boyo, your dad wouldn't be too happy to hear about that. But... I suppose you could. I know you've got the smarts. Just show them one of your thingy majigs you made."
Hiccup shook his head and threw the drying towel onto the counter. "No, f-forget I said anything. And don't tell my dad I said anything, either."
Even if he did show some college his inventions, it wouldn't get him anywhere. He barely graduated as it was. Despite being one of the smartest kids in town, his work ethic was always questionable. His problem was that he couldn't force effort. Especially on learning the same thing over and over and over, every year.
He couldn't have been more glad that school was in his past. Which is why he knew he had to find a way out of town that wasn't college.
That night, Hiccup walked home in the drizzle, hands shoved in his pockets, hood over his unruly hair. He slipped off his shoes once inside, eyed his father asleep on the couch, before slowly making his way upstairs.
Before his foot hit the second stair, he heard his father grumble in his sleep. Stoic Haddock. The huge. The mighty. The mayor. If people knew how often he dreamed of the night he lost his wife, they might not think he was so strong.
Hiccup lowered himself back down the stairs and stepped up to his dad. He shook his massive shoulder.
"Dad. Dad, you're dreaming."
Stoic woke with a start, his eyes focusing in on his son's face. A look of relief washed over him.
"You were having the dream, again?" Hiccup asked. His father nodded, sat up, and ran a hand down his face. They shared a knowing silence.
"I-um." Hiccup gestured to the stairs. "I'm gonna-"
"Yeah, yeah. Of course."
Hiccup made his way to his room, closing the door softly. He and his dad didn't talk much. About anything. Sure, they shared conversations, but they rarely actually [i spoke] to one another. When Hiccup was in therapy, Stoic learned to distance himself. And Hiccup didn't want to talk to him about what happened, anyway, since no one would believe him. So all they were left with was small talk and pretending that was enough to make up for ten years without Valka in their life.
Hiccup couldn't sleep. So he sketched. He did this every night, almost. One might call it an obsession. His sketchbook was full of drawings of a winged beast. His first drawings of the animal had been confiscated during therapy.
"Sometimes children do this when they lose a parent, especially when they are a witness to it. Their brain can't comprehend it correctly, so they fabricate something they can understand. In Hiccup's case, instead of seeing the accident at sea, he thinks his mother was attacked by dragons. He thinks his leg was... harmed by dragons."
Hiccup could still remember the voices in the room next door. The door was cracked and they thought he wasn't listening, but he was. Even as he colored the black scales of the beast and it's green eyes.
After a moment they stepped out of the doctor's office. The drawing was taken away from him. "I think it's best to get rid of any notion of dragons. Make sure he understands that they don't exist. Over time, he will start to remember the events properly. No stories, no stuffed animals, no drawings."
He remembered his father's stiff nod in that moment. For all his father knew, he was over this strange obsession with dragons. But page, after page, after page in his notebook was full of sketches. It was always the same dragon. Black. Cat-like. Green eyes.
Astrid always seemed to enjoy the awkwardness of Hiccup for whatever reason there were but he was the only person that seemed to see Berk for what she thought it was too and even though they never really spoke about it much, she remembered his views from their project when they were around fifteen. The memory brought a smile to her face while Hiccup spoke and even though she knew Hiccup was not hypnotised by Berk like the others were, she was still surprised to hear that he was saving to leave. Many others who had mentioned leaving never really did. It was always a big dream that many didn’t seem to follow through but she knew that would be different with Hiccup. He never really seemed to fit it with the crowd here but that wasn’t because he was a misfit, as least not in her eyes. No, he was far too big for a place with such a small mind and she was glad to hear that he was planning on leaving himself one day.
Astrid nodded as though to indicate that she understood how he felt about the place and for a moment there was a silence that had fallen between the two. She smiled when he finally returned the question and laughed politely when he mentioned the fact that he had not seen her around much.
“I know. My friends here have been telling me the same but I have been busy studying.” She wondered about telling Hiccup that she planned to move on from here too. He would be the last person in the world that would judge her for it. “I’m actually trying to get myself into a college. You know, away from the island.” For whatever reason her words seemed to be laced with nerves and that what when he friends seemed to enter the conversation.
“You wouldn’t be the first to say that Astrid but we all know that you will never really leave. Colleges out there don’t want people from this place. They don’t know anything about us and what do you have that they can’t get anywhere else.”
Astrid scowled, “Way to be supportive guys!”
Her initial surprise at seeing him surprised him. He was sure she would just simply pretend she didn't know him and move on with her order. Though, why he thought that he didn't know. She had never proven herself to be mean in any way. Perhaps it's because that's what everyone else did around him. That or they threw things at him. Mostly words.
He didn't need to write their order down. Hiccup had always been good with committing things to memory. Once the group ordered, he was ready to make his retreat to grab the drinks, but Astrid's voice stopped him.
"Oh, uh-" he started, hearing the other girls at the table giggle. He knew they weren't laughing at him, but there was a part of him that believed it for a short moment. "You know, just... Trying to get enough money to get out of this hell pit," he admitted, nodding awkwardly with his whole upper body as he did.
There was a short awkward pause before he remembered his etiquette. "Uh... you? I haven't seen you around much." He startled. "N-not that I was looking! Or anything..."
[i File that one under 'Reason 475 To Go Into The Back And Kick Myself,] he thought.
Class projects were something that Astrid hated more than anything and as soon as she got her project out of the way she breathed a sigh of relief as she made her way back to her seat and crossed Hiccup’s path on the way.
“Good luck,” she whispered to him before taking a seat and smiling towards him before he began to present his project. It wasn’t dissimilar to the other projects that had been set already this year. This place was so obsessed with Berk that everything they did revolved around their little island. Everyone who lived here spent their education learning everything there was to know about Berk and it was no secret that Hiccup was growing tired of learning about the same thing over and over again and so when he began to present his project with the attitude he portrayed throughout it, she had to hide her laugh behind her hand.
Hiccup was also no stranger to the mention of dragons and when he talked of dragons she could see the excitement in his eyes and she wanted nothing more than to believe in the same things he did. He spoke of them with such sincerity that she too started to wonder if dragons might have been real at one point but that kind of talk didn’t go down well with their teacher interjected as he continued to present, suggested that it was a fascination that he would have to lose if he wanted to do well in school.
Before she knew it, Hiccup was being heckled by the other students in the class and she shot them a look of disgust just before the teacher announced that he had run out of time and there and then the class were dismissed. Astrid planned to get out of there quickly so she didn’t have to stick around to hear whatever lecture he was about to get from their teacher. Surely there would be nothing more embarrassing than to have such a lecture delivered in front of another student. However, it seemed that fate had other ideas because the strap from her bag broke off, spilling out the contents across the floor.
“Damn.” She whispered to herself as she got down onto her knees to pick up her things as quickly as she could but there was no way that she could avoid listening in now as the teacher laid into Hiccup.
[I Just hurry up and get out of here.] She thought to herself as she picked up the final item that usually belonged in the bag and hurried out of there, sparing Hiccup an apologetic look for baring witness to their conversation.
[I Six years later]
Astrid hadn’t planned to go out but when a few of her friends came banging on her door demanding her presence for a social drink she barely had the chance to turn them down before they were pulling her out of the door. Whilst they laughed she could have sworn they had almost pulled her arm out of its socket but eventually they realised that she was walking of her own accord and they no longer needed to yank her along the street.
“I’ll only stay for one drink. I don’t particular feel like staying out today. I’ve got studying to do.” She said as she neared the pub that her friends demanded that she attended. Astrid, unlike many others planned on getting herself off this island as soon as she could and perhaps that is why she had been avoiding contact with some of her friends and those she would have to leave behind were she ever to be successful. It wasn’t something that the people of Berk did very often and when she told her parents that she wanted to leave they were utterly devastated and for now, those conversations were something that she wanted to avoid.
“You are always studying Astrid. Have a little bit of fun for once in your life.” Her friend said with a laugh and walked through the door to the pub with Astrid not far behind. At first, she hadn’t noticed that Hiccup was working here and it wasn’t something that she would have known either, if she hadn’t walked in there today. She hadn’t really seen him much since they had graduated but it wasn’t as though it was something personal against him, she merely avoided contact with anyone whenever she could because she was different for not wanting to stay here in Berk.
It was his voice that she recognised first and as she turned to look, it only confirmed that it was Hiccup who was greeting her and when she locked eyes with him she couldn’t help but smile. He hadn’t changed all that much and he still seemed to come across as being a little too shy around her. It did take her a minute to realise that he wasn’t merely greeting her, he was asking for her order and she raised her eyebrows in surprise.
“Hiccup! I didn’t realise that you worked here! It’s good to see you.” She said, her voice laced with sincerity as she looked around the table to get everyone’s order before asking for three relatively common drinks. She turned away from her friends for a moment who seemed to lose themselves in a conversation very quickly, giving her the opportunity to speak to him very briefly. “How have you been?”
"This... is Berk," began a fifteen year old Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third. His skinny finger was pointed at the small map on the wall. The sleeve of his sweatshirt was far too long and his finger barely poked out. But it didn't matter. None of his class was paying attention anyway. "And this is my presentation on it's history, even though we've been learning this since kindergarten and-,"
He didn't spare a look at his teacher. "Okay, okay." He started again, sounding bored. "People from Berk- [i us]- were descended from the vikings that once lived here. They worshiped gods like Odin and Thor and there are even rumors that they worshiped dragons. Like- real dragons-"
"Hiccup, enough with the dragons. We know you like the dragons. Move on."
Hiccup rolled his eyes. "Here on Berk," he began again, the boredom seeping back into his voice. He paced as he walked with a subtle hint at a limp. He would have to get a new prosthetic soon. Which was a happy thought, considering he never thought he'd ever start to grow out of it. Hiccup sighed, and started again. "Here on Berk we cling to the strange traditions of our ancestors. Like naming your kids something really weird to scare off enemies, but like, who are we scaring off?"
"You scare me every time I see your face!" Snotlout cried from the back of the room, his laugh booming. Someone threw a crumpled piece of paper at his head. Hiccup had endured the bullying his whole life. Rarely did he let it get to him.
"Time's up!" the teacher called, standing from his chair. All the students stood up to leave. Hiccup hung his head when Snotloud walked past. And he was overly aware of Astrid's presence while she gathered her things. "Hiccup, your presentation was weak, again. Your grades are sinking. What am I going to tell your father?" Why, oh, why did they have to have this conversation in front of the coolest girl in school?
Hiccup bristled. "If you only let me choose topics I actually [i care] abou-"
"That's not going to strengthen you as a student."
"So what? I'm not going anywhere with my life. You know it. My dad knows it!"
"Your father is the mayor, that's not nowhere. You could even follow in his footsteps."
Hiccup rolled his eyes. How many times had he heard [i that] before?
No. Hiccup wanted more than this. As soon as he was old enough, he would get the hell off of that rock...
[center [pic https://40.media.tumblr.com/968263ce27214a88bf19d1ea8917b787/tumblr_np0scvT5vI1qewgtco1_500.jpg]]
[right [pic https://i.imgur.com/GFRDZ11.jpg]]
[center [i Six years later.]]
Hiccup rushed the door, the chimes calling out his entrance. Both he and Gobber started yelling at each other at the same time.
"You're late! Every day you're-"
"I know, I know, I'm sorry. I-I got caught up in-"
"I don't care what happened, just start pouring drinks, boyo!"
Tinkering. He had lost track of time while messing around with his inventions again.
The pub was hopping. Well, for a small town on a secluded island, it was. Hiccup knew every face that sat at the bar. He also knew their drink of choice, which also means he knew far too many of their secrets. People seemed to open up the drunker they became.
Within seconds, every man and woman had a drink. Hiccup was fast on his feet, despite the fake leg that he had grown even more used to over the years. If it weren't for the story behind it, he was sure most of the people in town would have forgotten about it by now. But a death like that of Valka Haddock wasn't easy to forget. And Hiccup's amputation went hand in hand with the story. Nobody talked about it much anymore. But Hiccup knew that everyone thought about it from time to time. Ever since that day, a dark cloud hung over the village. After the funeral with the empty casket, the therapy, the trips off the island to find a decent doctor help Hiccup learn to walk again... He never wanted to talk about it again...
The door chimed once more and Hiccup looked up to see what drink he'd be preparing next. Astrid. Hiccup had known her all his life. They'd had class projects together, talked to each other when they had to, but since graduation, he rarely saw her anymore. His heart didn't beat quite so hard as it did when he was a kid with a silly crush on the cool girl.
He watched her and her company take a seat at the table by the window. A glance to hid left told him that Gobber was far too into his conversation with a regular to get their order.
Hiccup sucked in a deep breath, held it, then let it loose. "It's okay," he whispered to himself. "It's just Astrid. She's not going to bite."
Of course, he recalled in that instant a few times on the playground when Astrid Hofferson had indeed bitten someone and made them cry. He shoved the memories away and stepped out form behind the counter.
"H-hey," he said, softer than he intended. His stupid stutter came out to say hello as it always did in the worst moments, and he wished, for the millionth time, that his voice wasn't so nasally and more dignified. He locked eyes with Astrid's incredible blue ones and immediately regretted it. "What can I get for you?"
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