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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.

Chapter Text

To say that Astrid Hofferson had her most unfortunate, atrocious weekend would be a great understatement. And naturally, followed Monday, which by the way things were going on, was already proving to be worse for her.

And it was all because of one person at the center of it all.

Monday was supposed to be one of those rare bright days, an exceptionally sunny one where the sky was all blue and the clouds were all white not a hint of any possible downpour. Such days were supposed to be the perfect day for training, especially with upcoming Inter High Tennis Championship.

Unfortunately, bright days also meant even hotter sun, and the even hotter sun rays didn't really help clear Astrid's hot head and foul temper. It also didn't help that her muscles were twinging with soreness, her arms were feeling stretched like rubber, and her legs felt so stiff as if they were petrified.

It was nothing she couldn't handle though. Astrid Hofferson wasn't known as 'The Valkyrie' of the Tennis court for nothing.

What Astrid couldn't handle, was not being in control of everything. Especially, when it involved her own thoughts and feeling. She absolutely loathed every second of it.

When was the last time Astrid felt this anxious? Her sweaty palms felt slimy, the pits of her stomach were pure acid, and every part of her felt like screaming colors with dread.

This wasn't like her at all, She thought.

Astrid quickly brushed those thoughts, again. She needed her head on the game. Practice match or not, Astrid Hofferson couldn't lose a Tennis game.

Astrid shook her hands to get rid of the nerves and took a deep breath to gather her focus. She picked up a Tennis ball from her pocket; the green ball felt weirdly out of place in her sweaty palm as she dribbled it a couple of times, but threw it in the air anyway. She stroke her arm forward, swearing as her racket almost slipped from her grip, and messed her perfectly timed serve.

"Double Fault!" A student umpire called, and everyone on the court paused and gave Astrid a double take.

Astrid could perfectly read their thoughts and confusion: Double Fault!? Astrid Hofferson didn't just score a Double Fault, did she?

"Fuck," Astrid swore, slamming her racket on the floor.

What the hell was wrong with her ... except she was perfectly aware of what was wrong, or rather, the culprit behind all of these.

Her soul mark, or rather the name behind it. Astrid had been sure that her soul mark was always covered in layers of skin colored concealer, on top the skin colored permanent tattoo, and always wrapped it on a bandage, or covered it with whatever available accessory with the intention of hiding it from the world, herself included.

For the past two days, ever since Friday, since that economic class, Astrid hadn't got a decent day. Yes, decent—that was all she wanted. All because of her damned soul mark. Why was it acting this way? Her bandage felt heavy on her left forearm as if she had been wearing a cast. And her soul mark had been pulsing all day, which had been getting worse every minute, making it impossible for Astrid to focus on anything.

This morning, Astrid was abruptly awoken when she felt a sudden sharp throbbing pain on her left forearm; the very same spot of her soul mark. She tried to ignore it at the beginning, but the throbbing pain only persisted and worsened, then the throbbing spread to her whole arm, and the pain escalated from throbbing to an arm-ripping sensation.

The pain became unbearable for Astrid. So after many years of trying to deny it's existence, Astrid ripped the tightly wrapped bandage, fully unprepared to see her soul mark fully unconcealed, untattooed. There it was her soul mark, with the dimly glowing runes even greener than she remembered, imprinting the name of her soul mate: Hiccup Haddock.

Hiccup Haddock.

How many years had it been since Astrid saw her soul mark bare? It felt exactly the first time she laid her eyes on it. The throbbing pain vanished, replaced by the comfortable feel of it beating in resonance with her heartbeat.

She glared at it, or at least, tried glaring at it, but she didn't had it in her being to do it whole-heartedly.

(Unconsciously, she felt assured and safe staring at it blankly.)

She almost felt it respond to her: Long time no see. As if her soul mark tried to mock her, Reminded her that no tattoos or concealer would ever get rid of it. Him.

Memories, as bittersweet they were, everything came back to her, accompanied by a tight unwanted feeling in her chest that shook her to her very core.

Hiccup Haddock, her soul mate, was the culprit. The reason Astrid wasn't in control of herself right now.

Astrid had no idea how long had she spaced out, that she forgot being in the middle of a practice match until her partner called her out, breaking her trance.

"What the hell Astrid? Double Fault?" The said raven girl walked over her side of the court, stopped in front of her, and continued speaking." And what's up with you spacing out lately—and don't you dare 'I'm fine me' because I know you're not—and this is not just about Tennis practice."

Heather ... Of course, she'd know. Her best friend would have felt that something was off with Astrid, that fact shouldn't surprise her anymore, but it still did.

Heather like Astrid was a sharp, cunning, woman only with a deceptive side. Deceptive she was, Astrid couldn't really fault her for that; some people were just too stupid to figure Heather out. Mostly men... No—not men. Boys who couldn't get the idea that Heather wasn't flirting, or interested with them. But if they were so stupid and persistent—her best friend might as well make take advantage of it. Unlike Astrid who would gladly just send them off to the infirmary with a black eye and broken nose.

"Really, what's gotten into you," Her best friend asked again.

"Seriously Heather, I'm fine."

"No, you're not-"

"Heather-"

"Astrid."

Astrid raised her arms. "Okay okay... I'm not fine—just thinking about the hellish economics project, that's all okay?" It wasn't a lie, but it wasn't the whole truth either.

Of course, Heather didn't buy it and had to comment. "Unless... It isn't really the economics project you're worried about, but, to whom you got paired with. So what about it? It's not like he's your secret soul mate or—" Astrid's hand instinctively clutched her left forearm.

Shit. Why did Astrid had to like that? Why did she panic and did the most obvious thing trying to physically hide her soul mark which was almost as good as showing it.

Heather paused, her brows raised assessingly at her before she frowned then shrugged. "Relax, I'm just messing with you, Astrid."

Astrid never felt more relieved that Heather didn't try to push with the topic any further. From her personal experience, Astrid knew very well that Heather had a talent getting people to spill their guts. And after she got you to speak, She will most likely try snooping or get herself involved and try to 'help fix things, which was the reason behind 90% of their fights.

Yet, Astrid's intuition told her that Heather probably knew, or, at the very least, Heather probably got the right idea but not the whole thing—Not yet.

"Really, I'm fine though. It's just that... stuff, I– you know it." Astrid raised her shoulders to complete the sentence.

"I don't know," Heather said. And yet she had that look, it didn't matter if she actually knew or not. Because she definitely knew now, especially, with the way Astrid had just reacted. Heather was pretending to act ignorant.

"What I do know though—" Heather crossed her arms. "—is that you're not really any use practicing with me when you're like that." Heather gestured to all of her. "You might as well skip today's practice–"

Astrid was about to protest, but Heather seemed to read her mind. "–The Inter-High is in two-weeks, not tomorrow. Just take it easy today and, you know... take a hot shower to clear your head."

"You're right," Astrid sighed.

"Of course I am. Now get the hell out of here, and we can have our rematch when you're all better." Heather said, shooing her away.

Astrid didn't argue. She picked up the racket that she threw earlier before she headed to the bleachers to gather her the rest of her things. and finally headed back to the locker room.

"Oh! And Astrid!" Heather called. Astrid turned around to face her. "If you ever need someone to talk to, I'm always available okay?"

Astrid smiled to her best friend, and nodded in thanks before she headed back to the locker room.

Heather was right, again. Astrid thought.

Astrid hadn't really got the time and opportunity to clear her head, and she needed to clear it soon. Her mind would often wander off, but she would quickly catch herself spacing out, and brush it off. The whole mind wandering thing had been getting worse, It was starting to have an effect on her. It already cost her skipping a training session with Heather earlier, and it was just the beginning.

She needed to clear her head... No, She have to clear her head.

Normally, as soon as she stepped on the field, her body and mind will put everything behind her, and focus on winning the game. But for some reason, Tennis didn't seem to work on clearing her head, and if Tennis didn't work, she was just uselessly wasting time and energy tiring herself out. She needed to take a break and a hot shower.

As soon as the hot water touched her skin, her body started showering in auto-pilot, her mind drifted, and her consciousness gone to a memory trip.

Last Friday, economics project. What were the odds that in her last year, the only academic project left for her high school career before she could finally move on to the next part of her life, she got paired with the person she'd tried to avoid whole high school?

Hiccup Haddock.

His hopeful face when he looked at her, then their eyes met, and it all changed, there was something different in it his gaze that pierced her soul, even now Astrid could still feel it, it was still fresh in her mind.

And something about it felt just right.

Nono, she was simply caught off guard. She was not reverting back to her old self—her naive self.

Those were the days, Hiccup and Astrid used to hang out. Come to think of it, they were best friends back then, weren't they?

Another guilty feeling crept up to her.

No. Don't feel guilty. That was before she knew what having a soul mate meant for her future, for herself, for her dreams.

Astrid remembered the first time she got her soul mark. It happened to be the same day she first got her monthly visitor. Astrid couldn't pinpoint the exact moment, time, or date she got her soul mark, but she remembered it being around the vacation just before high school, she was around twelve-thirteen years old.

Just like earlier today, Astrid had woken up to a foreign sensation; that was when she found Hiccup's name, imprinted on her left forearm, which glowed in the most vibrant green colors she ever saw in her life.

God knew how happy she had felt that moment, She somehow managed not to wake up the whole Hofferson household by squealing and screaming at her pillow, knowing that her soul mate was; Of all people, her best friend, who, at that time, happened to be her secret crush—Hiccup Haddock. Not some random stranger, or worse Snotlout.

Astrid felt like she could take on the whole world that moment.

Astrid unconsciously smiled at the bittersweet memory.

For the first couple of days, Astrid managed to keep her soul mark a secret. She had no intentions of keeping it that way for long. It was something new, and she just wanted to enjoy it all for herself.

To her mother though, Astrid knew it was impossible to keep anything from that woman, but she would still try—it was probably worth the shot. The next time her mother and she talked; Astrid had been very subtle on fishing for stories, advice about love and soul mates.

She could remember how her mother had smiled, looked at her knowingly, and said. "My dear lass, already at that age."

Her mother, much to older woman's delight had immediately begun lecturing her about being a woman; its duties, responsibilities, and most of all sacrifices she would have to take for her loved ones.

Sacrifices? Astrid had been confused. Why would she be the one who needed to make sacrifices... It didn't seem fair to her.

Then her mother had asked what were her dreams. Astrid answered without hesitation; A doctor. Astrid always knew what she wanted to be, ever since the day they lost Uncle Finn on an accident, she'd been there to witness it, and never felt more useless being there and not being able to act.

Her mother didn't exactly tell her to stop pursuing it, Her mother would never, but Astrid would never forget how the next words from her mother made her realize things.

The exact words her mother had said to her were:

"Oh dear, I know that you still blame yourself for your Uncle Finn's death. But dear, one day you're going to meet your soul mate, and is it really that important for you? More than your future soul mate, or family. You know how hard it is to be a doctor. It's not just for anybody. I just want you to think of that."

Astrid never felt more suffocated by anything but those words. She understood what her mother tried to tell her; Duties, Responsibilities, and most of all Sacrifices. Sacrifices.

Astrid understood what her mother tried to tell her. The moment she met her soul mate. Everything will change. It wasn't just about her life anymore. Everything. Her actions, decisions wasn't hers alone but will also affect her other half —her soul mate. And when the time comes, Her dreams would be one of those actions and decisions that she would have to talk, and maybe even reconsider with her soul mate, After all, it wasn't just her life anymore.

But what about own her dreams, her plans to become a doctor. Though Astrid hadn't fully grasped the whole idea, she was smart for her age, and she was already aware of how long it would take her to get to her dreams. She would be almost at the age of thirty—if not thirty—before she graduated and get a liscense.

'How about her future soul mate, or her future married life? 'That was what her mother had tried to tell her.

Astrid had tried to voice her opinion, but her mother only hushed her as the older woman continued on her lecture. That was the first time she'd looked with disappointment to the woman she'd admired all her life.

Perhaps, her mother had been right, things did change. Everything changed for her.

Those words were like seeds planted to her heart, that eventually grew, and grew until it changed her heart.

Why couldn't Astrid be just herself? She didn't want her future to be defined by her soul mate. Not Hiccup, not even if it was Brad Pitt or Christopher Hemsworth... or anyone at all.

Astrid was her own person—she didn't need a damned half-shared soul—and she was resolved to fight her own share of it, or throw the other half if it meant being herself.

From that moment, for her dream—not a dream. A Goal, her future. Astrid became even more competitive. She worked even harder, grinded more...

Astrid had felt an urgent need and desire to become independent, that way she didn't need to rely on anyone, not her mother or her soul mate. That way, they couldn't disagree with her choices. Not when Astrid took high school very seriously, and she'd become a scholar not just by playing on the Tennis team, but also from her outstanding academic performance.

Then there was Hiccup, her very soul mate. It was all his fault. Astrid thought, irrationally blamed it all on him.

Astrid didn't plan on telling Hiccup being her soul mate anymore. Why would she? She was her own person, as much as he was his own.

Hiccup at that time had been a walking disaster, causing enough troubles for them. And God knew, how many detentions Astrid had to endure in her whole middle school life, because of how many times she got into fights and stood up for him.

That was when she made a choice, her goals or friendship with him. It was him or her; she chose her. She couldn't risk getting to any more trouble, not when it may affect not only her academic performance or scholarship, but her dreams. Astrid had no choice but avoid him since then. It was difficult, many times she just craved his company, and wanted to drop everything and go back to their clubhouse.

Then everything just sort of fell into a routine, and high school years flew by. And now she was now eighteen, on her senior year. Last year of high school. Over the high school years, Astrid had desensitized herself with the whole idea, the concept of soul mate. In fact, she had completely forgotten about it... Completely forgotten about Hiccup Haddock.

Until now. Last Friday. Eco Project.

Why did it feel like Astrid was resetting; It was like she twelve or thirteen again, except she was eighteen—and she was supposed to be way over all these feelings. But it was back, ramming at her at full force. She just knew it had to be something soul mate related.

A thought struck her head; Could it be possible that Hiccup knew?

Everything would make sense... If Hiccup got his own soul mark...

It didn't matter, She wasn't seriously regretting her decisions, was she? Astrid brushed off the thought before it could fester in her mind.

Astrid didn't need this now. She didn't need all those memories, accompanied by feelings that were starting to resurface, threatening to take control of her. Her soul.

Astrid had multiple offers from several universities that offered medical courses, and she could leave Berk, and finish what she started.

But why was she feeling this... anxious, disturbed, guilt-ridden, or whole lot of foreign feelings she couldn't comprehend. Worse a part of her could also feel... Happiness? Hope? Relief?

Maybe this was her chance for redemption—No... this wasn't going to be any different from any other obstacles. This was going to be just another Hiccup.

By the time her mind regained conscious control of her auto-piloting body, Astrid just got finished getting dressed and was on her way to her locker. Her eyes landed on her soul mark, to make sure it was safely bandaged. As soon as she arrived at her locker, Astrid was surprised to see Heather sitting on the metal bench in front of her locker, already dressed and was braiding her hair.

Had she really been thinking for that long, Astrid mentally questioned.

"Oh look, who's finally here," Her best friend greeted. "I was starting to think you were never leaving the shower, and maybe you fainted or something."

"I do not faint," Astrid snorted.

"Yeah, I know, That's why I'm sitting here, you don't see me dragging an unconscious Astrid Hofferson out of the shower, do you?" Heather jested, then continued braiding. "So feel any better?"

"Maybe," Astrid said, raising her shoulders. "I have to admit, hot shower works wonders—Did I really shower that long? How long?"

"An hour and a half?" Heather shrugged.

"Oh god," Astrid facepalmed, "was I really out for that long?"

"You tell me—better have a brilliant excuse if you're not telling me about what's gotten into that pretty blonde head of yours."

Astrid swallowed. "I will, I promise... just need more time."

"For Frigga's sake, Astrid," Heather swore. "You're telling you haven't had enough time to think. I'm starting to think that maybe this all about your soul mate after all–"

"–It is," Astrid answered.

"Oh."

A pregnant pause followed, Astrid sat down beside her best and proceeded to braid her own hair.

After five minutes, Heather spoke up, broking the silence. " So... I'm guessing it's complicated."

Astrid let out a sigh, "How I wish I could settle for 'complicated'."

Astrid carefully untied the bandage in her left forearm, feeling an unusual lightness spread on her chest as the bandage fell from her forearm, and revealed her soul mark for Heather to see.

Her best friend reaction didn't disappoint. Astrid didn't miss the way Heather's expression darkened as Heather's sharp eyes landed on her soul mark—Astrid felt guilt and shame swallow her whole.

"So what's your plan... obviously it's not Eret."

Oh god, did Heather really had to go there? Astrid thought. She'd been trying to avoid thinking about the topic. Eret. Her boyfriend—who was being unreasonably demanding lately. And not to mention how things weren't going well between them, not for a while now, and got worse ever since she turned eighteen.

And you get the idea what his demand was: Sex. Or her Virginity. Her virginity was something she wasn't ready to give up yet.

It's just sex. It's nothing special. Everyone else in their age was getting there, and they had a reputation to uphold.

(A nagging thought subconsciously entered her brain. It was supposed to be for her soul mate.)

Astrid sighed. "I had a plan. This wasn't supposed to happen–"

"–What do you mean you 'had' a plan... for how long did you know about this—and does Eret even know about this, is he dating you not knowing he's not your soul mat–"

"–It's all fucked up, okay!" Astrid didn't mean to raise her voice. "I told you, that's why I need more time to think—and why are you even taking his sides?"

Astrid stood up and started pacing. She felt her cellphone vibrate in her pocket. She debated on answering or ignoring it but decided on the latter. Astrid immediately regretted that decision as soon as she saw the name on her phone.

Astrid swore under her breathe, "And speaking of the devil..." She flashed Heather her cellphone,"–I need to be in the cafeteria, seems ASAP."

Her best friend read the message, her eyes widening and asked. "So... If he's acting like that then he really has no idea then?" It struck Astrid that there was a bit hopeful tone in Heather's voice.

"It might not even get to that," Astrid deadpanned.

"So... things aren't really good between you two huh." There it was again, the hopeful tone in Heather voice. Something was off... but then again, things had been nothing but off for Astrid.

"Look, I know how this all sounds so wrong. I will tell you everything later. I promise," Astrid said as she picked up her bag, and reluctantly left Heather.

The first thing Astrid registered as soon as she arrived in the cafeteria wasn't Eret—pretty far from him. In fact, she almost forgot about him and his text message.

It was an auburn-haired boy, and she can't help but notice how beautiful he was when his face smiled too bright, like a child in a candy store, only that he was holding a bucket of Gothi's Yak Butter Fries.

And her heart skipped a beat, seeing her soul mat– Hiccup smile like that. Astrid mentally flicked her wrist, she did not just refer to Hiccup as her soul mate.

Her mind involuntary scrambled her memory for images of Hiccup, just fragments—the kind of memory where she as much as glanced at Hiccup direction, and it registered to her, from as far as she knew, that she never actually saw Hiccup smiling. All her images of him in her mind was with him looking small, with his shoulders dropped as if he was carrying the weight of the world.

And it could very well be her fault.

Her soul mat– Hiccup wasn't looking at her direction, and Astrid felt a weird urge or 'Pull' to call out to him and make him look at her. Look at her in the eyes, she wanted to feel those soul-piercing green orbs onto her. And–

And what in the name of hell was she thinking!

She was in a relationship for Freya's sake—sure a falling apart two-year-long relationship, but a relationship nonetheless. What became of them. What was left of them? The things the way they were now. This wasn't what Astrid singed up for when she started dating Eret. This wasn't the Eret she knew when she started liking him.

It was a fact that Astrid Hofferson and Competition go hand in hand. Where there was a competition, you can count Astrid on it, and where Astrid was, you can always count on a good competition.

That was where Eret stepped in. The early high school years, the beginning of sophomore years, when her whole high school career started to pick up.

Astrid Hofferson, a rising student-athlete having just earned her spot on the high school Tennis team – She wasn't the 'Valkyrie' yet, she was just a fresh blood, very hungry for success, and she wasn't going to settle with anything less than the top of the food chain.

And there was Eret, much like her, in all of his cocky tattooed-chin glory. She saw him as a rival—A direct competition for the top spot.

Astrid couldn't stand Eret; the same couldn't be said for Eret though. Astrid was aware of her, to put it on a better word: Physical Advantage(s)—in plural form. She was pretty much used to boys trying to win her over.

Eret wasn't supposed to be any different to any of those boys—hulking shoulders, bulging muscles, and a bit on the brainless side. But Eret had his own way of getting her attention—and managed to do so.

Eret didn't hit on her ... well he did, but it wasn't the usual pick-up lines, accompanied by dashing smiles and flexing muscles. Eret competed with her. He showed to her that he was a threat. Whatever Astrid did, Eret showed he could too if it meant proving himself worthy of her. He matched every single victory, title, and trophy she earned.

Competition. That was how Eret managed to win her over. That was the basis of their relationship:

Competition.

It was thrilling. With him, Astrid couldn't let her guard down—not that she would ever. She wasn't a blushing maiden or a princess to be saved in their relationship. It was her kind of relationship, where they both pushed each other to their limit, they both helped each other improved, while they were both Partners and Rivals at the same time.

But as time passed, Eret seemed to stop trying. It felt like Astrid was dating a different guy. He just let her win, and there goes the thrill of the relationship. And it only got worse, Eret started to demand more from her as his girlfriend. That was when they started having fights.

Now that they were seniors and they were both eighteen, Eret wasn't even trying anymore to win her over—compete with her. He had been even more demanding. He just expected things from her, and Astrid felt like their relationship lost its essence, and become more of an obligation for her.

The way their relationship was now ... It was just pure mess. And now the soul mate thing crawling back to her life was the icing to the cake.

Or maybe, it was the way they were supposed to be. Eret wasn't her 'soul mate' after all. The devil's advocate part of her whispered.

And speaking of the devil, Astrid hadn't been aware how long she'd been spaced out when she felt someone grab her from behind, pulled her on a table to sit on someone's lap. She knew it was Eret when she felt a lip creeping up to the crook of her neck.

The contact made her suddenly tremble in annoyance, and she felt hot anger coursed through her.

This was exactly the problem. Astrid clenched her fists in disgust.

Eret couldn't just to that to her. He just manhandled her, and he of all person knew how much she hated being treated as such.

Astrid tried to calm herself, but she suddenly flinched when saw Hiccup, looking at her, his eyes wide, his mouth open, a blank look on his face. Then he blinked, his eyes now felt like razor sharp, and the sweet green color on it turned bitter, as he regarded her.

Astrid was chastised by his look, all the hot anger she felt slipped away, her clenched fist loosened as her palm began sweating. She felt her soul mark throbbed as she watched Hiccup dropped the bucket of fries he was holding, before he dashed off, and left the cafeteria.

Astrid had never felt a 'Pull' this powerful or the impossible urge to chase after him. She tried to stand up but was held back by Eret's hold on her. Being denied from the 'Pull' welled up all the anger that slipped from her renew ten-fold.

"Let go of me!" Astrid growled as she shoved away Eret's arm on her waist, and tried to push herself away from his lap. When she felt him relented, Astrid then drove her elbow behind her with a force that matched her anger, which hit Eret squarely on his gut, and sent him falling off his seat.

Astrid knew she wasn't thinking straight, but she didn't care anymore. She just felt irrationally furious at Eret. And before she knew it the words came out of her mouth.

"I can't take this anymore, Eret. It's over. We're over."

"W-Wait w-what? Why?" Eret asked obviously shocked and confused.

"I'm just done, Eret."

"Is this about me not trying again? Does it always to be competition with you?"

"Yes."

Astrid knew that she wasn't thinking straight. Especially now that she was on a surge of temporary emotions; she shouldn't have made a permanent decision.

Astrid was simply done.

Astrid left the cafeteria, leaving a shocked ex-boyfriend and an equally shocked audience, few of them who were already quietly murmuring among themselves. The rumors were surely going to be a big shitstorm to deal with, but she didn't care.

Astrid knew she was being rash, and maybe she would regret this later, but all of her just wanted to follow Hiccup. It didn't matter for her if she was being influenced by the 'Pull', her soul mark, or whatever 'blessing of the gods' was happening to her. She just needed to go after her soul mate.

As soon as she was out of everyone's sight, Astrid ran at her full speed, determined to go after her soul mate.

Yes, her soul mate.

Astrid wasn't ashamed to admit it anymore; Astrid always regretted her decision.

Maybe, Everything that was happening was her chance for redemption after all.

Everything... her whole high school. Astrid made the wrong choice. Maybe it didn't need to be about him or her. She didn't have to choose. It could had been them. Hiccup and Astrid.

After a few minutes of searching the campus, Astrid finally found Hiccup sitting on one of the benches on near the school entrance.

Astrid was about to approach him, but suddenly froze on spot; all her newfound resolve suddenly diminished at the sight of him.

Hiccup, her soul mate... H-he was nursing his left leg or what was left of it. He was wearing a metal foot. A prosthetic.

Hiccup had lost a leg, and how come she hadn't even known about it. She wasn't even there for him when it happened, and she was supposed to be his soul mate.

 

Chapter Text

It took him all weekend, but Hiccup finally had a plan in mind. A very simple and effective plan; Avoid Astrid Hofferson, in any form or kind (thoughts included), like a plague and eventually move on with the whole Astrid being his soul mate thing, that was it.

In theory, what could possibly go wrong? The less he saw her in his life, the fewer ideas would be getting on his head, that would likely end up with him embarking on another quest for Astrid Hofferson and Highschool Royalty.

With great effort, he managed to do just as he planned. Until Hiccup randomly craved for the cafeteria's infamous 'The Goethi's Soggy Fries' with special yak buttermilk dipping. So Hiccup decided to make a quick stop to the cafeteria before he headed home.

There shouldn't be a problem with that. From what he knew, there was still at least half an hour before Tennis Practice ended.

As soon as he arrived in the cafeteria though, there goes his plan. Astrid Hofferson was there sitting on her boyfriend's lap for all of the cafeteria to see.

That shouldn't be a problem for Hiccup, He simply needed to turn his head around and look the other way. But goddammit! His boyfriend seriously needed some lesson in public display of affection.

Hiccup could clearly see the annoyance showing in her perfect beaut... Astrid's face. He really needed to get a grip. He almost let himself worship her face, and oh my! Look at her freckles they're so– Gah! –and there goes his resolve.

Hiccup reminded himself that She always knew.

Something flared up inside him, the tip of his finger tingling unbearably, his fingers clawing on his palm. He wasn't sure if it was anger or jealousy.

It should have been him.

Astrid must have been feeling so good for herself, having a boyfriend who was a living embodiment of Jon Snow, only with a tattoo on his chin, but a little bit on the brainless side(which he was sure made things easier for her), who, was not a hiccup like him, who was supposedly her soul mate—Soul mate she didn't want. He was Eret son of fucking Eret. Hiccup could tell that Astrid probably... not probably— she definitely wished that the name on her wrist would have been Eret's not him.

Hiccup wondered if Astrid had started dating Eret before or after she got her soul mark. He wished it was the former; not that it mattered.

Hiccup watched as Eret's lips tried to go for Astrid's neck once again, but Astrid just elbowed the muscle-head hard on his ribs. Gods, Eret couldn't get a fucking clue.

Hiccup would have treated Astrid better, but he knew that Astrid was not someone who wanted to be taken care of. She was Astrid Hofferson. She always made clear that she was perfectly capable of herself, and she certainly proved that. In fact, she got hundreds of broken nose, and bones to attest that.

His breathing felt heavier as he felt something burning red in his chest. He didn't realize how hard his eyes were trained on the couple until his eyes met Astrid's for a split second. She diverted her gaze but Hiccup continued to glare as their eyes met again.

This time, Hiccup's resentment wasn't directed to her boyfriend. It was all on the owner of the name written on his left forearm, his 'so-called' soul mate.

Astrid flinched, she tried to hide it but he noticed and for a moment her eyes showed hints of mortification; He was probably imagining things.

Hiccup closed his eyes, breaking the gaze and breathed a long-drawn sigh to calm his drumming heart. He opened his eyes to meet hers again and suddenly felt his left forearm throbbed sharply, causing him to drop the extra large bucket of fries from his trembling hands.

Hiccup ran away with no particular destination in mind. He just needed to leave, anywhere away from Astrid. He just couldn't stand the sight of her ... It was too painful.

Unfortunately, being a one-legged man, he could only run so much and wasn't supposed to run like that in the first place. Pain, soreness, and cramp overcame his left leg—he needed to sit down, and check on it.

Then Astrid was there, standing near him, watching him with her eyes wide, filled with terror. Hiccup almost cowered at her gaze and wished to vanish without a trace from the universe.

No—He wasn't going to be defined by his stupid attraction to his soul mate anymore.

Hiccup took a deep breath and met Astrid's gaze with as much as courage he could muster. Without breaking the gaze, He stood up straight despite his left leg's protest, squared his shoulders, tucked his chin, and walked away with as much as dignity a one-legged man could.

But it was all an act, his refusal to appear weak in front of his soul mate. As soon as he got home, Hiccup didn't even bother changing his clothes as he went straight to his bed, burying himself in layers of pillows and blanket.

Hiccup found himself screaming in his bedroom, self-destructing for all he cared.

After he was done with his self-destruct sequence. Hiccup felt numb and tired in many ways, that he could do no more than stare at the ceiling of his room, while he contemplated his life.

Hiccup had tendencies to tunnel vision, not that he was a narrow-minded minded person. He was just 'too stubborn for his own good' quoting his father and Gobber. And that specific trait probably got him most of his trouble.

Unlike his father, who loved to remind him that 'When I was a boy... I knew what I was, what I had to become –blah blah blah and rest of the story–' and Oh boy... If Hiccup ever had to hear that story again, he might very well bang his head against the rock, probably and get a skull-crushing headache – but it would be totally worth it if he never had to hear that lecture from his father again.

He was rambling, again, even in his own mind. The point was when Hiccup set his mind on something; an objective, a crazy invention, or a very impossible teenage crush turned into first love. He won't stop at anything to achieve it, but... well, only most of it ended up in failure or trouble.

And for once in his life, Hiccup actually got something right. Astrid Hofferson was indeed his soul mate. It was not just his daydreams or fantasy anymore. It was a fact, with physical evidence etched in his own skin.

But this time, he knew when to stop. In most cases, the reason Hiccup could never stop was all because of his curious mind, and the teenage part of him wanting to prove something.

She always knew.

If Astrid always knew that he was her soul mate. And was very clear that she didn't want him to be her soul mate.

What was there to prove for him? So what now?

The wound was still fresh for him, and the 'Pull' was still there, only that he never felt the 'Pull' this powerful, only in a bad way. If before when he would as much as breathe the same air as Astrid – He would feel like oxygen was overrated. But now that he got his soul mark, it was as if his attraction for Astrid was now oxygen itself. And oxygen was no longer overrated. He was like a moth attracted to a beacon of flame even if he knew that it would burn him.

That was why he needed a plan to avoid Astrid, in any form and kind. Even if he could still manage to walk away from his soul mate every time, he could act dignified and strong in the presence of his soul mate his whole life. But–

But in the end...

Hiccup, with all of his heart, still loved Astrid Hofferson.

The whole realization was painful. It was impossible for him to get over all his feelings for his soul mate over a weekend. Not especially when his feeling, had a very strong legitimate root – thirteen years of friendship, followed by a whole high school of worship.

It was impossible. Hiccup would never get over her.

Hiccup needed to do something, anything at all. He needed to be somebody, someone – For himself. This time it was about his life and his alone.

He tried to visualize a much better version of him. Where Hiccup didn't had the need to prove himself, to his father, his soul mate... or even himself. Where he would have Thor's mighty hammer for his arm instead of his noodle arms, both of his legs, and maybe he could play a ball game, and people would accept him.

Wouldn't that be something, Hiccup thought.

Hiccup sighed, getting tired of staring at the ceiling. He let his head drop to his right, his eyes landing on his favorite flying dragon-rider poster.

The one with a one-legged hero flying with his one-tail-finned black dragon.

Flying...

Fly...

Fly. If only he could fly away from berk, leave the archipelago. And in that way, he was sure to avoid Astrid Hofferson that way.

An idea struck to his mind...

Maybe Hiccup could actually do that...

Didn't his father always wanted him to enroll in a 'Real Program Degree' in an 'Actual University'?

He could do just that by studying abroad, where the top universities in the world were. And maybe, for once in his lifetime, his father would be proud of him... His boy enrolling in an Ivy League, Harvard, Yale... or wherever he wanted—with his academic performance it shouldn't even be an issue. Maybe he could get himself a scholarship in one of those universities, though money wasn't a problem for him. It wasn't like Hiccup will be missed either – he highly doubted that. His father barely came home every week.

This new plan of his was perfect—it would definitely work.

Unfortunately, this plan also involved him giving up on his own plans for college. And there goes one of his dreams. The said that dream involved going to the same college as Astrid Hofferson, he figured that his dreams were nothing less a fantasy.

It was a just stupid pinky promise from childhood. It was not like she remembered any of it.

"It was stupid," Hiccup muttered to himself.

"Yes, so stupid," Hiccup repeated as if he was trying to convince himself otherwise.

Besides, it was not like he had a choice – the only way his father would agree on this plan was Hiccup had to take a law degree.

But If it meant getting away from all these, where he could start fresh and try to be a better version of him. It was a compromise he was willing to take.

Million ideas started flowing in his mind on how this plan would just work out for him.

Four to Eight years in law school, give or take – even longer if he decided to take law for post-grad. That was a lot of time for himself – to discover himself.

He could get a dog.

He could travel.

He could meet new people who didn't know him as a Hiccup.

He could start fresh, and there was more to life than just his soul mate.

But none of them would be like being with Astrid Hofferson.

Hiccup shook his head, brushing off the thoughts before it festered his mind.

Hiccup let out a long-drawn sigh, sitting up straight, shrugging layer of blanket off him. At least his mood felt brighter with the notion of the freedom he could have soon.

With nothing more to do, Hiccup plopped back down to the bed, scrambled his pockets for his cellphone and fiddled with it for a while, until he started yawning and eventually dozed off.

The next time Hiccup opened his eyes – he was still dreaming.

After all, There was no way Astrid was in his room, sitting on his bed, watching him sleep. To prove his point, Hiccup reached out a hand to hold the said image of Astrid. And just about Hiccup was about to touch her, Astrid reached out for his hand and held on to it tightly.

The sensation of her hands and the feel of their soul marks resonating... It all felt too real... He didn't want it to end–

–Ding! Dong!

The loud doorbell woke him up, the whole vision in his dreams vanishing into smoke, as he jolted up straight, feeling shivery, goosebumps all over his skin, and cold sweat covering his body. Hiccup shook his head, to clear his foggy head, and calm his breathing.

It was just a dream... Astrid hadn't visited him for over four years, not even when he had an accident – She had no better reason to do so now. And yet, Hiccup couldn't help but feel a sinking feeling in his chest.

Ding! Dong! The doorbell rang again.

Hiccup groaned, he didn't really want to step out of his room for the day. He was sure it wasn't his father as his father just sent a message that he won't be back until a week. He contemplated to ignore the doorbell, and try to get back to his sweet dreams–

Ding! Dong! Ding! Dong! Ding! Dong!

Hiccup grumbled, swearing under his breath. Seriously, even in his dreams, he couldn't spend be allowed to be with his soul mate. Urk. Hiccup needed to get hold of his mind, It wasn't going to happen and was never going to happen.

She always knew, Hiccup reminded himself as if it was his mantra.

Whoever the visitor was seemed determined to continue with the barrage of doorbells – and for some reason, Hiccup had a bad feeling about this.

Begrudgingly, Hiccup stood up from his bed and stretched his limbs exaggeratedly as if he was trying to delay the time. The doorbells continued and Hiccup decided that stretching any longer wasn't going to help. Hiccup didn't bother getting himself appear presentable and just headed straight downstairs to 'excitedly' welcome the unwelcome visitor.

Hiccup sighed as finally, he arrived in the entrance of the house, stopping right in front of the gigantic two-door. He debated to grab a weapon for self-defense, but it was not like people in Berk were bold enough to cause trouble in Stoick Haddock's mansion. And if ever someone was planning something against the law, like, if ever someone was going to kidnap him for a ransom... They probably got the wrong household – they should know better how majestic his relationship with his father was.

So Hiccup finally unlocked the door, wincing when felt his left forearm pulsed when his left hand made a contact with the cold metal of the doorknob. When he was about to twist the knobs, the door was opened from the other side, and he was found himself drowning at a too familiar pair of ocean eyes, and dazzled by the ever so radiant golden-blonde hair.

There was Astrid Hofferson standing on the other side of the door. And before Hiccup could delve on another theory that he was still dreaming.

"Economics Project," Astrid said simply, and walked past him, welcoming herself into his home.

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

They haven't really made much progress on the economics project for the past few days. Surprisingly, Astrid still diligently visited his house after school again and again even though—no thanks to him—everything was just stilted, awkward, and just lots of dead airs, really. They weren't even arguing... they were just... nothing. Then when it came to school, everything was mostly same. Well, he did still try his best to avoid her. And judging from the rumors he'd been hearing about Astrid—that would be the for the best too. Hiccup didn't really want to get involved in all the rumors and high school politics. Especially, if he was trying to maintain a clean record for his college plans.

Also, it wasn't like Astrid would suddenly acknowledging him again, wouldn't she?

It's only Economics Project. Don't get your hopes up, Hiccup thought, trying to focus on the laptop in front of him. But to no avail, being alone with his soul mate... erm... Astrid Hofferson in his own room and being in close proximity wasn't helping.

Of course, the tension was still very tight and they try to keep it civil. But for reasons he couldn't explain, Hiccup felt terribly agitated that he'd always snap back at Astrid or be sarcastic with her at every opportunity he got.

But, what if this as a chance for him to be friends with her again? After all he just got his soul mark—and maybe this was the inner working of the gods.

As if he could get that lucky.

Besides, it wasn`t like he was going to stay. He already had plans to leave this life behind. In fact, he already sent emails to multiple universities abroad and some had even already responded, offering tours, or pre-college programs. He was just waiting on his other options.

Hiccup wasn't thinking twice? was he? Of course not.

She always knew, Hiccup reminded himself. Don't get your hopes up.

At the same time, he got nothing to lose. So why not? He was leaving anyway. It wasn't like he was planning on showing Astrid his soul mark.

"So... what about Zabrina?" Astrid suggested, bringing him back from his thoughts.

Oh yeah, baby names. They were working on their fake future family profile. Back to working on economics project. Astrid wanted to jump straight to the main part of the project, so they were naming babies already. If it was Hiccup, he'd do the background story first before jumping on the fake family stuff right ahead. But it was Astrid. Always straight to the point.

"Oh come on, really? Why the boring basic names. I mean this is our one and only chance to make up some absurb names without consequences. And you're going with Sabrina?"

"Zabrina. With a Z," Astrid corrected. "Not Sabrina. And they're not boring."

"Blah Blah. if they're not going to be real. Why don't we give them awesome names like Zephyr!"

"We're naming kids here, Hiccup. Not dragons."

Hiccup. He felt that. Why did it feel so good when she just called him by his name. There was something on her tone. Was this because of his soul mark?

"They're flour babies, Astrid. Not human babies." He decided to try calling her in the same tone to see if it had any effect on her too.

Astrid paused.

This was bad. She had that look on her face again. Similar to the look she had when she saw him tending to his leg. He must stop this. He was playing with fire here. No good will come out of it.

"Hiccup... I-"

He needed to change the subject fast. "Fine! Zabrina is fine for me! But I get to name the second child's name... and gender!"

Astrid sighed, dropping whatever it was she wanted to say. Then she looked at him right in the eyes. "No, you're right. They're not going to be our real children anyway."

Why did he get the feeling of being struck in the gut when she said that. Our children.

She had that gleam in her eyes as if she just won. So she knew what was happening here. He wasn't the only one. She wanted to play a dangerous game here. Then fine! He wasn't going to lose to her.

"How many children do you think we should have then if we get married. I mean if we are to be 'theoritically' wed. And when do you think we will have Zephyr? Right after our honeymoon? Where are we even going to have our honeymoon?"

Somehow, Astrid only grinned as if she was enjoying this. "What about Maldives, I've always dreamed of going there and we're going to have awesome beach sex-"

Now he was blushing. He definitely didn't nees that image in his head right now. Astrid Hofferson in a bikini and they were...

Hiccup swallowed. "I-I didn't mean... It's for finances purposes only. No need to go in details. We just need to be able to factor it in our household budget," Hiccup sputtered.

"Oh, I see. Is that so?" Astrid looked smug, leaning forward on her left elbow.

He noticed that she had her forearm bandaged heavily. She always knew.

"What happened to your arm?" He commented.

She looked absolutely mortified as she immediately pulled back her left arm, and sat straighter.

Somehow, he didn't feel like winning. So he quickly changed the subject instead.

"Why are jumping to naming the flour baby anyway, shouldn't we focus first on establishing the background story. It makes more sense before we start planning everything else."

"Yeah, yeah... umm. You're right."

"Did the Astrid Hofferson just admit I'm correct?"

Astrid glared at him. "Background story," she said.

Hiccup raised his hand in mocking defeat. "Alright, so how do you suppose we met in the economics projectverse. Sounds pretty cool, huh? We're like a making our own alternate timeline here."

"There you go again with your fantasies," Astrid scoffed, trying to sound annoyed, but he could see her fighting her smile. Without a thought, Hiccup placed his hand on top of hers like their younger selves always did.

Then there was a pause, Hiccup stared at their hands. He could both feel their soul mark resonate before he yelped, taking back his hand. "I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking!"

Hiccup expected Astrid to be livid, and would probably break his arm, instead she just seemed lost in her own melancholy, still staring at her hand. Astrid then sighed. "It's no big deal. So... how do we do this economics project universe thingy?"

"I guess we just make most things up the way we want," Hiccup answered, "For example, our case would be a married couple met in college, married after graduation and had four kids. Then some more details."

"Oh, I get it now... so how about us then?" There was a gleam in her eyes as she asked him.

"I don't know... to be honest. Never really thought about it."

"You never thought about us being together? Really, Hiccup?"

"I didn't mean that, Astrid. I always thought about us as kids-" Hiccup paused- "And you are messing with me again, aren't you?" Hiccup accused. "Fine! How about this. Why don't we pretend to be soul mates in the project."

Astrid froze, then looked way. "I... sure... yeah. Soul mates, huh? Is that what you want?"

"For the project—just to be clear. Then yes. I want us to be soul mates." Hiccup laid back and placed his arms to his head, acting casual even though he felt his forearm burning. "What about you? what is it that you want?"

"I don't know... I guess I'll just stick to being a doctor for the project."

"Really that's it. No more additional details?"

"I'm sure we could work it out more later," Astrid shrugged, still looking away... and she had that melancholic look again.

Hiccup sighed, feeling a bit guilty. She always knew. He tried to remind himself to get rid of the guilt. But what if she didn't?

"Are you sure you're okay with the premise? We can change it if you're not comfortable with it," Hiccup offered.

"Yeah, I'm fine with it." Astrid looked at him in the eyes. "Why would I be uncomfortable with it? Are you?"

Hiccup didn't answer the question. "Okay so far... we have a future doctor and soul mates-"

"Answer the question, Hiccup." Astrid pushed forward.

"I... I don't know. Maybe?" This time, Hiccup was the one averting his gaze.

"Why?" Astrid pressed on.

It's because you're my soul mate, Hiccup wanted to answer, instead he said. "It's personal... you know what? We could just ask Ma'am Ack to reassign us to different partners-"

"NO!" Astrid cut him off.

Hiccup didn't expect her to react so violently.

"I want this with you... I mean... look, you have good grades and I really can't afford to screw up this major project with another partner. I really need this, Hiccup."

Hiccup knew she wasn't telling the truth, but why did the mere thought of her needing him made his forearm tingle, making his heartbeat faster.

"Fine... let's get to work then. So you want to be a doctor and we're soul mates. How do we make this work?"