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For the umpteenth time, Hiccup found himself staring at the name imprinted on his left forearm; Hiccup still couldn't believe his luck.

Astrid Hofferson

To answer his own questions of disbelief—Yes. Astrid Hofferson was his soul mate, unless, the gods decided to play a cruel prank on him, only to replace the dimly glowing blue runes on his left forearm with Astrid's complete name on it with Mildew the following morning.

It was still Astrid Hofferson.

Ha! Hiccup called it, he always had this sort of indescribable 'Pull' he felt with Astrid. It was like when he would as much as breathe the same air as Astrid—he would feel like oxygen was overrated.

As if Hiccup wasn't lucky enough. He was also going to be a father! By the way, did he mention that Astrid was going to be the mother?

Okay, that sounded all wrong—and please don't tell Astrid! She would murder him.  Also, if you could try not to mention it to her muscle-head boyfriend either—who would soon be her ex once Hiccup had shown Astrid his soul mark.

It was just a stupid economics project. No sexual intercourse; therefore, no one was actually pregnant and definitely nothing was going on between Hiccup and Astrid. After all, he was, well, Hiccup and she was Astrid—you get the idea. She was the same girl who wouldn't approach him even if she were on fire and he was holding the last bucket of water.

Unfortunately for her and luckily for him, this project was not about the worlds' water supply. The project was about being a fake married couple that was to manage a theoretical household and take care of a flour baby. Despite that, Hiccup was a hundred percent sure that he wasn't on the top of Astrid's list of potential fake husbands for a fake happily-ever-after scenario.

But Ma'am Ack's random pairing generator couldn't care less who's holding the last bucket of water on Earth. Unless, you have your soul mark, which he just had now, you were not exempted from the random pairing system as mandated by the law.

The whole soul mate thing didn’t really exist until year 1980s. Apparently, It was a Millennial only thing, even then, not everyone would be fortunate to be 'gifted by the gods' and having a soul mark was still considered to be very new. So the government mandated some laws that encouraged people to have lives beyond soul mates, and the random pairing system for academics was one of them.

But Hiccup was busy staring at his soul mark (for like… the whole day), instead of paying attention to the class. And after he was done staring at it, he would blink his eyes and proceed to stare at it again, and again... and again.

He just heard Ma'am Ack loudly announcing his horrendous name next to Astrid's beautiful one.

He was confused for a moment until he looked forward and saw 'Economics Project - Documentation' and '40% of the grade' in the slideshow. He realized it was the dreaded 'Fake Parent' and 'Flour Baby' thing every senior student had been dreading ever since the beginning of the school year.

He almost jumped on top of his table and cried in victory. Thankfully, he managed to contain himself—he wasn't that bold.

Murmurs and hushed whispers filled the classroom as the other students looked around in confusion. A few "who the heck is Hiccup Haddock"s and mentions of "how lucky he was" echoed as the classmates discussed the announcement among each other.

Their reaction was, basically, a confirmation from everyone how much his non-existent high school life sucked ass. It was not like he didn't have any friends, it was just his social status when compared to Astrid's, it was a matter of Valhalla and Helheim. But he couldn't care less what his classmates thought. After all, it was HIM who was not only paired with the hottest girl in school but, also soul mates with her—not them.

Hiccup waited for far too long for something this cliché to finally happen to him. Eighteen long years of his life, he finally got his soul mark and found his soul mate. And to think that she was always so close to him.

All he had to do now was say hi to her, but when he was about to, there was something about her expression that kept him rooted in place.

There was something about scowl on her beautiful face, trying not to show even the slightest bit of recognition upon hearing his name... or maybe she just didn't care – at least he hoped, which wasn't much better. He didn't know which one he preferred to be honest.

There was no mistaking it, Hiccup recognized that look on her face.

She always knew

—and he didn't dare think what followed the thought: She always knew (and she didn't want it... She didn't want to be your soul mate.)

It didn't matter that Hiccup and Astrid used to be best friends, somewhere in grade school and middle school—back when the world used to be fun before everyone hit their growth spurt and he was plus one leg and one mother.

Hiccup still hadn't figured out what happened to their friendship. Astrid started distancing herself from him. He didn't dare to try and decipher what was going on with the girls' mind. He'd heard enough stories from both Gobber and his father about the horrors of it.

Hiccup was a good friend and Astrid was his best friend (also, not so secretly, a crush). He decided he would just give her some space and in no time they'd get back to hanging out in their clubhouse.

He waited and… waited some more.

It didn't happen.

Now he understood.

She always knew.

But now... Hiccup felt so stupid. Even though he didn't pick the person he fell-in-love with, his heart did; ever since the day they exchanged lollipop rings and made a pinky promise to get married when they grew up. They were Eight then.

Hiccup always had this irrational, unrequited crush on Astrid, him clinging to some semblance of hope that maybe—just maybe—there was a chance, as slim as it was. All he hoped for was that she would at least acknowledge him—even if it was only for old times' sake. He also hoped that fate would take over thing from there for Hiccup. Astrid would realize that she was dating the wrong guy all along. And then he, Hiccup, her soul mate, would come —her one-legged knight with his shiny, metal leg.

She always knew.

Years of watching Astrid Hofferson from the sidelines, like puzzle pieces, flashes of images started flowing in his mind.

(Why she always had a bandage on her left forearm, the very same spot as his soul mark.

Or how venomous she glares at her watch every time she checked the time. It wasn't about the time, after all, it was about his name etched on her skin.)

A mixture of irrational, red emotions erupted inside him, fully burning him. There was a throbbing sensation followed by a sudden sharp hissing pain, on his left forearm, as if he felt lava leaked from his volcanic emotions dripping at his soul mark.

Deeply-rooted in his ever-so-hopeless-hiccupy-heart; a stubborn, dark thought he strongly refused to acknowledge finally crept up on him.

(It was just a stupid childhood friendship, She will never look back at you. She will never love you. Why would she? You're a 'hiccup' after all.)

She always knew

—and he should have known better.

To his surprise, Hiccup just sighed; maybe his father was right, as much as he hated to admit it. His brain was definitely under siege and he needed to stop being ... all that. He mentally gestured all of himself.

Hiccup was eighteen- enough with fantasies and time for him to grow up and face reality. Maybe it was time for him to give up on his quest of asking Astrid Hofferson to be his prom date, and maybe listen to his father's wishes of him enrolling a 'Real Degree Program' in an 'Actual University' for a start.

The bell rang, signaling that the economics class was over. Hiccup didn't feel like talking to Astrid about being paired in the project anymore. He, in his mind, did the two of them a favor and simply left the room unlike the rest of the class who stayed to talk with their partners for the project.

He could work on the project all by himself if he wanted too if allowed to, why not? He was a straight A+ student and graduating as the valedictorian was pretty much in his bag. If anyone would be qualified to finish a pair project alone, it would be him.

If ever, he was sure Astrid probably could do the same without even bothering with his input and opinion. Why wouldn't she? She was Astrid Hofferson, Hiccup thought bitterly. It was probably for the best if that happened.

Of all the possible outcomes that he fantasized, daydreamed for a million times about Astrid being his Soulmate for his whole life, which all of them involved that magical spark and click when their eyes finally met; this certainly was not the outcome he would expect—one where he would be the one to walk away.

Surprisingly, he found the idea very comforting. He actually felt better missing his once in a lifetime chance to talk with Astrid Hofferson. Just before the day started, Hiccup would die a happy knowing Astrid was his soul mate.

But now, He felt like letting go of a half-a-weight he'd always burdened. He may or may not ever feel the completely weightless feeling or 'feels like flying' sensation being with his soul mate. If his other half didn't want anything to do with him, then so be it. He wasn't going to be defined by his stupid attraction to his soul mate anymore.

For the first time in a very long time, Hiccup found himself smiling freely. Not his usual sarcastic self-deprecating smile. A real, genuine one.

It was from that moment that Hiccup's life would finally start to turn around for better or worse.

If he only knew that a certain blonde was watching him that exact moment.