The moment Astrid stepped foot in the vast Haddock residence, she was overcome with a surge of memories flooding back to her head. She wasn't prepared for the wave of nostalgia that would hit her. Suddenly, she was lost to her memories of her childhood, a bittersweet feeling enveloping her, as if she was brought back to the time where she was young and playing games with Hiccup again. She could almost see images of their younger selves tottering around the place.
It started when she spotted that one swing near their garden that was once always maintained shiny by her and Hiccup, now abandoned and rusty. Then Astrid also found herself pausing in front of a now overgrown tree.
On top of the tree was a vine covered tree house. Not just any tree house. It was their clubhouse.
She remembered all the times they escaped there, hundreds of days they got stuck there during rainstorm. Come to think of it, they never let anyone come in there. It was absolutely exclusive for her and Hiccup—not even Stoick and Gobber dared to peak inside. She wondered if the heart shaped carving she secretly made was still there. This place was once sacred for them—supposed to be filled with fond and nostalgic memories.
Now only creeping vines and rotten wood fill the treasured clubhouse.
It was her fault.
Astrid pondered for a moment to enter the clubhouse for moment but willed herself not to delay any longer. Anymore detours would only bring back more memories and weaken her resolve.
Going back to Hiccup's place shouldn't be this daunting. Every step she took felt heavier. She wanted nothing more than to turn around and go back to forgetting everything, but every time she hesitated, she felt her soul mark throb—reminding her that she couldn't escape this.
She was Astrid Hofferson. She was no coward.
As soon as she arrived at the front door, her fingers froze at the doorbell a couple of times before she could finally press it.
Taking a deep breath, Astrid braced herself. Any moment Hiccup would open that door —and god dammit! It was only Hiccup, why was she getting all scared for.
A full minute had passed without any answers. Maybe Hiccup wasn't home, and she should just come back another time-
No, she will not run away from this! Knowing Hiccup, she was almost certain that he'd rather go straight home after school. But then again, she was not so sure anymore if she knew Hiccup at all. It had been a whole high school after all since she had abandoned him.
What if he really did get his soul mark? What exactly would she say to him? How did she expect everything to go on this evening?
It was not like she had any plan to be back to this place. To be fair though, her whole idea of making it up to him was far-fetched to begin with. But for reasons she couldn't explain, she felt it was very important, very urgent that she get herself to talk to him. So her plan was very straight forward and Astrid-like—just like the Honey and the hatchet, or punch first and questions later.
She remembered the look in Hiccup's face earlier in the cafeteria when she was with Eret. The look of betrayal in his eyes... and there was something else that just felt like... it was just... she couldn't bear it.
Suddenly, she felt a 'Pull' so strong to just be with Hiccup that her resolve doubled. She just needed to talk to him, and think about the complicated matters later.
Feeling braver and more herself, Astrid decided to jam her fingers into the doorbell until Hiccup decided to finally show up. She was not leaving this place not until she talked to Hiccup even if she had to break in.
She could feel it... Hiccup was definitely home. Maybe it was the pull. She just knew.
After a few minutes of spamming the doorbell, Astrid was getting impatient and decided to try a new tactic. But as soon as her hand touched the cold metal of the door knob, she suddenly felt her soul mark twinge.
Then the door opened.
In front of her stood this version of Hiccup. Certainly different from the Hiccup in her mind. How could she only notice now how Hiccup had changed —a very good change —from what she was used to. He wasn't giving off the same innocent kid vibe, with his goofy gap-toothed smiles, and his fully-ironed clothes.
The Hiccup who opened the door for her, and was standing right in front of her, had a disheveled hair that made her hands itch to just ruffle it, and his eyes —forest green eyes —almost as if it had a wild look on it, and his messy clothes with the tie hanging loosely, and his half-tucked dress shirt emphasizing his narrow waist... And now the temperature felt hotter, and it gave her a pleasure sort of thrill, that this man standing right in front of her was her soul mate.
And shit! What was she going to say again? She didn't really plan this far ahead... but she quickly needed to think of an excuse for meeting him.
"Economics Project," Astrid sputtered, trying to act casual as she took the opportunity to welcome herself before he could close the door.
"Excuse me?" Hiccup questioned, "Economics Projects?"
"Of course, why else would I be here?" She immediately regret her response as she registered the flash of hurt in Hiccup's eye on the implication but he hid it very good.
"I know you, Astrid. If you really wanted to work on the Economics Project, you could've finished it all by yourself like you always did." Hiccup stood his ground.
The Hiccup she knew would had apologized to her already and just be glad that she was actually here now.
"It is what it is," Astrid shrugged, still maintaining nonchalance even though internally she was cursing herself. Couldn't she at least used a friendlier approach? Or perhaps, an apology would be a good start. But, no. Her pride just wouldn't allow that.
"I don't believe you." Hiccup accused, not moving an inch from his spot.
"Well, I don't care if you believe me or not. Come on, I don't have all day." Astrid felt her soul mark throb as she said that. This wasn't what she had in mind when she resolved herself to fix things. But the way things were going on—maybe she didn't feel fixing things anymore. (Of course, she wanted to – she was just being impulsive again.)
"Well, if you're that busy, the door is still open." Hiccup gestured to the door. "I'm pretty sure I can work on the economic project while you go hangout somewhere else. I won't mind."
Astrid narrowed her eyes. "Excuse me?! Is that what you think I do? Getting away with others doing all the work for me? Just because I'm a girl, and pretty?"
"I never said that-"
"And now you think I'm ugly,"
"That's not what I meant! You're not ugly, you're the prettiest girl I know aliv-"
Astrid smirked a bit. Gotcha.
It was short lived though, as Hiccup expression darkened. "And now you're just messing with me. Is that what you came here for?"
"No- I was only trying to... that's not what I'm here for..."
"You know what, I don't care... you can do whatever you want." Just like that Hiccup turned around and began stomping his way to the stairs.
But before Hiccup could get faraway from her, Hiccup steps faltered. Her eyes went to his left leg prosthetic. In a split second, image of him sitting on the bench tending ot his blistered stump flashed to her head. But before the feeling of guilt caught up to her, Astrid reflexively rushed forward, catching him by his side. And as soon as they touch, there was the feeling of warmth in her left forearm that quickly shoot to her chest. Astrid wondered if their soul mark had anything to do with the feeling when they touched.
They stayed like that for a moment too long, too short when-
"I... I don't need your help!" Hiccup tried to push her away, but only unbalanced him more, causing him to cling at her more.
"Look, I was only trying to lighten the mood earlier, okay? And if I offended you I'm sorry. But I'm serious that I really want to work on the economics project with you." It wasn't a lie. But not the complete truth either. Perhaps, the Economics Project might have been a blessing in disguise. That way she really got to work with him... or at least test the waters. That much was true. It was a good start. It gave her an opportunity to actually spend time with him.
Hiccup opened his mouth then closed it. He looked like he still had words to throw to her, but just bit his retort back. His stump must had been really hurting and he really needed help because there was absolutely no way the she knew Hiccup had it him to shut in mouth even in the most inappropriate situations.
But then again, did she really knew him still?
One step at a time, she told herself.
Astrid was almost glad that Hiccup had stayed quiet as they made their way back to his room slowly. She didn't really want to ruin the wierd, warm feeling pooling in her chest as she looked around and absorbed everything. Everything still stayed mostly same. She remembered all the good corners of the house she always opted when they played hide and seek as kids. It felt just like yesterday that this house was a second home to her.
Gods, she was stupid. How could she ever just decide to dump all these memories away like they were nothing. And now she just dumped Eret too.
The warm feeling in her chest immediately fizzled at the thought of Eret .
"I can handle myself here now," Hiccup finally spoke as he broke away from her. His voice awaked her from her thoughts —and now the feeling chest now completely dull as she lost the physical contact with her soul mat- Hiccup. She could feel the tension immediately return along with Hiccup's hostility.
And they were in his room. Two teenagers. Alone. Together. No supervision.
Normally that would had been the sentiment. Well, It was not like their current relationship would lead anywhere to that-
Astrid felt her left forearm flare for a second as if disagreeing with her. What was wrong with her head today and all this thoughts constantly flowing in her head. Gods, she was really reverting back to her old self, wasn't she?
Astrid shook her head. Get a grip Astrid Hofferson, she thought. You can make this work with Hiccup. You've done this a million times before.
"I don't know what you are planning, but are you just gonna stand there or help me out here set up the work table?" Hiccup called out, his voice still edging in that dry tone. "Or you could just let me handle the project alone, and you can go back to Eret's lap," Hiccup said.
His words hurt more than anything in the world—Astrid could almost feel it sharply piercing her chest. Even if they don't really have any familiarity left between the two of them or any lingering feelings from their past friendship.
"Fuck you," She spat. "Just fuck you, and for your information I just broke up with him... Eret and I are over."
A shocked looked crossed his features, appearing to be really taken aback. That somehow shut him up. He opened his mouth a couple of times, before he finally spoke again. "I-I... look I'm sorry... I didn't mean to say that, it's just that..."
"Just 'that' what Hiccup?" Astrid pushed forward, her slight anger making her feel more aggresive—more like herself.
"What are you doing here? You are Astrid and I'm Hiccup, I've always..." Hiccup hesitated, closing his mouth. "And it is already hard enough for me to–" Hiccup sighed, hesitating again. "–And now your getting my hopes... nevermind." Hiccup looked down, shaking his head.
"What do you mean its hard for you, and nevermind what?" Astrid felt like she already knew that answer. Probably because she felt the same. Hopeful that they could perhaps rekindle their friendship.
"Let's just work on the economics project and be done with it," Hiccup said.
One step at a time, Astrid willed herself to be patient. As much as Astrid would love to bite back with her own temper. that would only serve to worsen everything—and she really wanted to mend things with Hiccup.
Hopefully it wasn't too late for that.