Absorbed in her own thoughts, Astrid only continues to stroll down the park.
"Down to Earth, Astrid!" Ruffnut waves a hand in front of her face.
"Sorry, What was it again?" Astrid says, awoken from her trance.
Ruffnut rolls her eyes. "Ugh... nevermind, What's gotten into you anyway. You seem out-of-sorts today. Wait a Minute! - Is this about a boy?"
Astrid's eyes widen. "NO! no way, it's not about a boy... It's just about you know... a long day."
Ruffnut grins, madly. "Yeah, sure a long day..."
Astrid glares at her, but she knows it won't work. In fact, it only made it worse when Ruffnut grins more devilishly and she knows that she won't be escaping this one.
"Fine... I admit - it's about a man actually."
Ruffnut beams, victorious. "I knew it! So where is he? How does he look? When do I meet him? Have you had sex-"
"Oops... got carried away," Ruffnut admits.
Astrid sighs. "I don't know... To be honest, I only met him once a few years ago..."
"Wait a minute, a few years ago? How did I not know this!" Ruffnut says, dramatically throwing her arms.
"It's because there's nothing to know about," Astrid says, flat.
Ruffnut looks at her weirdly then shrugs. As expected of her friend for 20 years... Ruffnut knows her too well.
"I'm sure it ain't nothing when you still got that boy running in your mind," Ruffnut says, seriously this time.
"Maybe, you're right..." Astrid shrugs.
"So are you planning on telling me?" Ruffnut asks.
"I see no reason not to tell you... it's not like you're not gonna let me."
"Hel you got that right, there's no way I'm gonna let this one go!" Ruffnut says, back to her usual tone.
"Anyways- It actually happened two years ago to be exact." Astrid starts walking towards a bench, Ruffnut following after her shortly.
"Wow... you even had some sort of Anniversary thing on when you met this mystery guy." Ruffnut jeers. "Oohh... is that why you always spend so much time in the park?" Ruffnut adds.
Astrid glares at her. "Are you gonna let me tell you the story or not?"
Ruffnut raises her arms in fake submissions. "Okay... shutting up now, Geez."
"It was a Friday night, after class-"
Flashback 2 years ago.
Astrid was on her way to the park taking her usual shortcut route. The park was filled with people as always but never ceased to give Astrid that peaceful feeling every time she's here.
The community here was quite safe and respectful where people actually knew manners and decency not to pull pranks and pick up lines with strangers. Thus, making it Astrid's safe haven every Friday wherein no one's going to bother her. No jocks trying to hit on her and invite her to join their Friday night parties.
Apparently, Snotlout was not the community and he proclaimed to 'happens to be passing by the park'.
"Hey Babe, I'm currently hosting an epic party at my basement tonight, you should really come hang out with me." Snotlout winked, flashing her one of his practiced smug grins, flexing his muscles.
"It's nice seeing you, Snotlout. Sorry, but I have to decline." Astrid said flatly, rolling her eyes and continued to walk not really in the mood to deal with Snotlout.
Snotlout obviously not getting the message, quickly followed with not-so-subtle intentions to block her way. "Aww, Come on Babe, Don't be like that. I even went through the trouble coming all the way here to fetch you."
Why was Astrid not surprised?
Astrid glared at him, getting really tired of his shit. "First, don't call me Babe. Second, don't you ever dare follow me again, You hear me Snotlout?"
Astrid turned around to walk away from Snotlout when she felt his arms on top of her shoulders. She violently pushed his arms away twisting her body to give Snotlout a black eye when someone suddenly gave Snotlout a perfect right hook, completely knocking him out.
"Wait a minute! He knocked Snotlout out in a single punch!?" Ruffnut reacts, disbelief spreading on her features before she smirks. "Woah! Even Tuff and I took three punches to knock the shit out of Snotlout and he's drunk at that!—He's dangerous I liked that..."
Astrid gives her a reprimanding look not really appreciating Ruffnut interruption. She herself is getting into the story vividly recalling the memories and Ruffnut just had to ruin it for her.
"Do you want to know the rest of the Story, Ruffnut?"
"Okay... fine—but seriously? How awesome is that-"
Astrid gives her that look again.
"-Shutting up now..."
Astrid sighs, rubbing her chin. "Okay so where was I-"
Back to Flashback.
She was honestly more surprised that someone bothered to interfere than being able to knock Snotlout out with a single punch. Not that it wasn't an impressive feat. It was just that everybody knew that Astrid Hofferson could handle herself and didn’t need any help or saving.
"Remember, you asked for this..." She heard a nasal voice with hints of anger speak from her behind which she assumed to be directed towards Snotlout's unconscious body.
Astrid turned around to face this gutsy stranger, crossing her arms, raising a brow to appear unimpressed, her eyes scanning him head-to-toe.
She had to admit, he was not what she expected him to look like. He didn't strike her as the jocky type and he didn't look particularly like a hipster. He was dressed in a plain black long-sleeved shirt, a green scarf wrapped around his neck, A ragged backpack strapped on his left shoulder, and his blue denim jeans that looked like it seen better days. He was tall, but not too tall just about half an inch taller than Astrid.
He didn't really look perfectly groomed as his clothes looked a little messy and some part of it were smudged with dirt? ink? But somehow it was fitting for him and there is this some sort of wildish aura around him that made Astrid's spine and back hair tingled a bit.
Back to his face, he had a clean-shaven face which was actually nice for someone with a sharp jaw like him... Damn nice jaws. He had a wavy mess of an auburn hair and green eyes that looked at her unimpressed which somehow irked her. Astrid didn't realize she was staring too much on his face when he suddenly turns around from her and started walking away.
She was actually surprised like really surprised when he started walking right away without a word. Most men she knew would definitely take advantage of the situation, or expect things from her like a reward, kiss, or some flirty remarks.
As far as she knew, all men are the same.
She didn't expect that... Not even demanding simple gratitude—Not even saying one of those cliche superhero lines, or the humble public servant only doing the right thing, or ‘You'll probably do the same if you were in my place lines.’
She actually liked that. Nonono! Definitely Unforgivable! How dare he mistook Astrid for some weak girl who needed saving.
"Excuse me!?" Astrid called after the mysteriously attractive stranger, voice with a hint of annoyance.
The stranger stopped, turning to face Astrid, looking at her with a questioning look before he opened his mouth.
"Erm... am I supposed to do something else? Are you expecting like... Like you know some cliche things when the hero saves the day." The stranger commented, sarcastic.
Astrid rolled her eyes, keeping her arms crossed, which somehow only made The Stranger grinned at her—lopsidedly grinned—making her stomach lurch and her face feel hotter.
"W-Why did you interfere? I got it all under control," Astrid questioned, her voice fighting not to stutter. Damn this stranger... Why was she even reacting like this! Did she just almost stutter? In front of a man?
"Yeah... I know." The stranger shrugged his shoulder... Broad shoulder in response.
Astrid tilted her head, slightly abated. Was he playing games with her?
"Then answer me why. Do I look like some weak girl to you?" Astrid pressed on, his fingers poking his chest, taking a step forward.
The stranger sighed, "Erm... not really." Astrid gave him a questioning look that demanded an explanation. "Here's the thing, I didn't really do it because of you looked weak, or needed help. The reason I did it is that I can't stand guys like him. He's a jerk and I just felt like doing it because..."
He paused thinking for a second before he opening his mouth again. "If I offended you or anything—I'm sorry. I've been to a lot of places and there are always guys like him everywhere and ruining someone's bright day because he's so impressed with himself that he can't keep his hand on himself. I couldn't care less if you're a tough girl or anything but I've always been taught to respect girls regardless not because they're weak or strong—but because they deserve it."
Astrid was rendered speechless by this Stranger. No this man's explanation. She did not expect that. She began to see this man in a different light. She knew that what he said was genuine when she looked at his green eyes. His eyes looked at her the whole time not faltering for a moment. Suddenly the temperature felt hotter at the moment.
"I-I... Thank you," Astrid muttered, cheeks flushed. She wanted to say a thousand more things but that was all she could think of the moment.
His expression softened into another lopsided grin showing his gapped teeth. "As I said, There's no need to Thank me." He saluted with two fingers turning around ready to leave. She was not ready for him to leave yet, but her throat went dry and she couldn't say anything.
"HEY!" Both of them turned around to the direction of the voice. And that actually worked well for Astrid as it effectively stopped him from leaving.
It was Snotlout.
Astrid was never thought in her life that she would be actually glad to see Snotlout.
The Man frowned brow knitting together, stepping forward.
"Woahwoahwoah, wait a minute bro... Chill." Snotlout waved his hand in an appeasing manner. "I'm just here to apologize!"
The Man looked at him, confused, not really believing a word Snotlout said.
"Look, I didn't know you two are on a date or something-" Snotlout still waving his hands cautiously.
"We are not dat-" The Man retorted but Snotlout cuts him off.
"-It's all good bro... nothing to be ashamed. It's just that you know I wasn't aware earlier when I tried to hit on her." Snotlout started explaining walking towards The Man putting his arms around his shoulders acting way too casual.
"I kinda broke a Bro Code there, So I'm just here to say sorry, okay?" Snotlout offers a handshake, The man stared a couple of seconds at Snotlout hands before reluctantly shaking it. "No hard feeling... You two have a good time." Snotlout winks at The Man's back, patting his back and walked out casually leaving the two speechless for a moment.
"Erm... I should probably get going too," He looked suddenly in a hurry, eyes on the floor.
"W-Wait!" Astrid called after him, out of impulse.
He turned around facing him but his eyes still looking down, not meeting her eyes. "Yeah... I'm sorry that you know... people will probably start thinking you are dating. All these." He gestured all himself.
Astrid looked at him, confused. What happened to the confident man earlier now acting all dorky and...cute.
Could it be that... H was embarrassed about all those little misunderstandings with Snotlout. Astrid had to clamp her mouth with her hands to stop herself from giggling. Astrid Hofferson doesn't giggle. But for some reason, she didn't feel the need to appear tough and strong in front of him. This Man was definitely interesting. She wanted to know more about this man and she might just had an idea in her mind that could actually work in her favor.
"Astrid," she started, in a matter-of-fact manner.
He looked at her, confused.
"My name is Astrid. Astrid Hofferson," she repeated. "I just told you mine. So what's yours."
"Do I really have to?" He asked, nervously scratching the back of his neck.
"Of course, Haven’t you heard? Apparently, we are on a date. So I need to call you something."
"Wait...What!? What are you talking about? What do you mean we are going on a date?" He asked, quizzically.
"You remember that guy you just knocked-out? He just invited me to go to his party and I declined it. He probably told the rest of the party that he didn't get dumped. He only got rejected because I am already seeing someone," Astrid answered, acting nonchalantly, pretending to look at her nails as. "Can't have them thinking I was stood up in my date—So you're going on a Date with me," he was about to protest, "and that's final"
Astrid crossed her arms over her chest, just staring at him trying to read his expression. When he seemed to have no further protest, shrugging his shoulder in submission. Astrid started walking gesturing him to come along. She wanted to peek at him, look back intentionally walking slowly to keep a close distance—close enough for her to hear his footsteps to make sure he didn't ditch her.
When she heard the sound of his footsteps accompanying the sound of her own, Astrid felt her chest let go of a breathe she didn't realize she was holding.
"I'm surprised that you actually followed," Astrid started, trying to sound casual even if her mind is already celebrating, really glad about her small victory.
He started walking up beside her, his hands inside his pocket. His head surveying the area, looking around the park. She noticed there was a gleam in his eyes that showed true fascination with the peaceful park. She'd recognize that look because she viewed the park the same way.
"Well to be honest... It's my first time around here and you know... Why not? I could use someone who's more familiar with the place," he answered back, rolling his shoulders while talking. "I don't know I just get the feeling... that you actually might the perfect person for that... I don't know but you seem to love being here in the park."
Astrid felt her stomach flutter, sudden urges to fix her bangs came to her. "You know, you still haven't told me your name," she started fidgeting with her hands. "I can't keep on referring to you as The Man in my head."
He huffed, laughingly. "The Man? Really? I knew no one would be able to resist all these raw manliness contained!" he jested, self-deprecatingly.
Astrid bit her lip to keep her mouth from smiling, looking at him with a raised brow, He seemed to shrink under her gaze.
Was he being serious? He may not be muscular and bulky, but he wasn't bad himself. He had the right amount of muscles which was actually perfect for his lean build and it's quite fitting for his height. She peeked at his biceps, it wasn't completely wet-noodle arms—she actually saw it first hand how much strength those arms could actually produce.
"Hiccup." Astrid heard him mutter. She looked away, cheeks flushed, realizing she might have been caught staring at him too hard.
"You can call me Hiccup." She looked back at him.
"It's not so bad... Quite catchy and cute actually," Astrid shrugged.
"Great from being referred to as a Man to Cute. I'm definitely flattered." Astrid couldn't help but chuckle this time before both of them continued to walk in silence.
This was nice... Walking in the park peacefully. Enjoying the sights as both of them frequently look around to enjoy the scenery.
"So... A tour date?" Astrid said, stepping forward—spinning uncharacteristically to face Hiccup.
Hiccup scratched the back of his neck, again. It was kinda growing on her. "I mean... you really don't have to. If you have any plans with these 'Sudden Date'. Well, that's what I would like to do." Hiccup flashed her a lopsided grin.
She felt her stomach flutter again for like the hundredth time since she met him.
"Then you just got the right person as your tour guide." She punched his arms playfully before tugging his wrist.
"Since, you get to choose the theme of the date. It's only fair I get to pick where will be going." Astrid declared, dragging Hiccup with her.
Astrid pauses for a while, staring at the fountain enjoying the bright sunlight reflected by the water. Her mind still recalls everything vividly like it was just yesterday. Ruffnut beside her seemed to sense something wrong with Astrid.
"So... this Hiccup, sounds like a great guy," Ruffnut starts, in her unusual serious tone.
Astrid takes a deep breathe letting out a sigh. "I don't know... He supposed to be just some guy, who dared to act all chivalrous... I don't know why I'm so attracted to him during that time."
Ruffnut looks at her softly. "You know what. You don't have to tell me the rest-"
"Nono." Astrid finally smiles. "I can't just leave you hanging besides you haven't even heard the best part.
"So... Hiccup and I, went on to the famous spots on Berk. We went to the Dragon Academy, Sven's Sheep farm, Bucket's art gallery, and basically, he insisted on not missing a single place. He was a curious mind always asking a lot of questions from the history, origins of the place to little things like Troll's existence in Berk. We were having a really good time, It's funny how I've never been more comfortable with someone's company whom I just met... it's like we just clicked, I enjoyed every moment with him, listening to him, talking to him, answering his questions that we didn't notice the sun setting down, so we decided to head back to the park as the final spot."
Back to Flashback.
Astrid and Hiccup were now sitting on a stone bench which she labeled to be her favorite spot. The spot was hidden in plain sight located conveniently behind The Statue of the Dragon Rider who was facing the docks, which was located on the far side of the Park. When it came to the view, there was no better place in the park to enjoy the scenery where you can perfectly see the fountain place in the center of the park, thus, the whole park.
"I had a good time," Astrid started, feeling daring, grabbing Hiccup's hand out-of-the-blue her, lacing her finger with his. She could feel her whole body slightly tremble at the contact. It was like sparks running through her veins.
Hiccup tightened the hold, locking his hands with her. "Yeah... me too."
"I have to admit... the date was amazing..." Astrid rested her head on his shoulders, Hiccup stiffened for a moment before his body relax and wrapped his other arm around her shoulder. "You are amazing..." Astrid said, hiding her flush-faced on his shoulders.
"I-I want to show you something," Hiccup said, hesitantly removed his arms around Astrid's shoulder. He needed it so he could pull out his something from his backpack.
Astrid immediately missed the contact, pouting a little bit when she noticed the way his eyes shone when he wanted to show her something. It had to be something important to him.
Hiccup handed over to Astrid a thick brown leather book. When Astrid took it from his hand, she was surprised at how heavy the leather book was. She ran her fingers through the surface and edge of the book, It was quite old... she can tell it must be something sentimental and valuable to him.
"It's a sketchbook," Hiccup said, there was a certain fondness in his voice.
"It looks important to you." Astrid mused.
"It is my most prized possession. Come on, Open it." Hiccup urged, smiling at her. Damn that smile.
Astrid nodded back, carefully placing the sketchbook in her lap as if it was made of glass. She slowly flipped the leather cover feeling eager to see the contents of Hiccup's Treasured Sketchpad.
The first page was folded into multiple parts. It was a map. A huge detailed sketched of the map of the Barbaric Archipelago. She ran her finger through the map carefully not wanting to smudge the charcoal.
"You made all this?" Astrid asked, her eyes still on the map.
"Not really... My mother started it all and I decided to pick it up half-way from where she stopped."
The contents of the sketchbook were mostly landscape and the majority of it were actually set on a park.
Hiccup told her stories about his sketches as Astrid went further into the sketchbook. Most of it about a funny encounter with guys he fought in every single place he’d been to. Unlike other guys, he didn't really brag he lost some fight and sometimes he looked plain stupid for intervening.
He didn't fake his enthusiasm when Astrid asked a lot of questions. He just smiled at her and patiently explained to her in detail. He had this sort of dorky sense of humor which mostly sarcasm she found herself liking.
In every page, there was always two versions of the same art. One made from charcoal and the other a colored painting. Hiccup explained it as the charcoal one made by his mother and the other one he tried to recreate his own version. She recognized most of the places described from the books such as Bog Islands, Freezing-to-Death Island, Hopeless Island and many more. Half-way through the Sketchbook, more distant place she didn't recognize started appearing and the charcoal art stopped appearing. She had a bad feeling about it so she didn't ask.
"I can't help but feel a little jealous that you've been to all these places." Astrid continued to appreciate Hiccup's art.
"Not every Journey is easy though, most of it was hard." Hiccup's voice cracked a little. "But I can't say that it's not worth it." She stole a glance at Hiccup and noticed how his face somehow looks more distant and sad appeared as she went deeper into the Sketchbook.
Astrid didn't miss how his sketches looked more different and different the more pages she flipped. It was still beautiful and well-drawn but for some reason, Astrid could feel that the scenery of the park looked sadder and the atmosphere was different. Maybe it was because she herself loved the scenery that she could see the Park differently more bright and vibrant. She knew that Hiccup might have started to see the Park different, sad that it reflected his drawings.
Seeing all these felt like Astrid saw more than just his drawing. It felt like she was seeing more of Hiccup himself, It was like she was seeing Hiccup to the core, how his emotions changes per drawing, How Hiccup saw the world through his very own eyes translated into his drawing and sketches.
A picture slipped away from the when Astrid closed the sketchbook. She managed to catch it before it fell off the ground. It was a picture of a British Women with a very short golden brown hair and green eyes in her early thirties holding a young boy in her arms.
Hiccup gently took the picture from her hand. "Oh, you found it... I was wondering where it went." Hiccup looked at the picture fondly. "Well, you didn't need to see that... we're not even officially dating and you get to see my baby picture already!" Hiccup joked.
"Lucky me I guess," Astrid said jabbing his arm.
"So did you like it?" Hiccup asked, gesturing to the Sketchbook.
The question felt different for Astrid. It felt more like a confession, It felt more like Hiccup was asking Astrid how she felt.
Astrid only leaned forward to give Hiccup a gentle peck on his cheeks. "I like you..."
Astrid felt her heart trashing at the contact, it was a very tame, gentle kiss. Astrid knows because she was not really new to kissing—but this kiss though. None of the previous contacts could even compare to the warm, tight feeling threatening to explode in her chest.
Hiccup was speechless, a goofy expression in his face, holding his left cheeks, looking at her incredulously.
"So... I noticed you've been a lot of places but I'm curious more about you," Astrid asked, cheeks still furiously red. "Where do you live? I know you've been to a lot of places but you know there's no place like Home."
Hiccup sighed, taking her hand holding on to it tightly, a faint smile on his face. "It would be nice to have a place to call Home."
Astrid's eyes widen. "I... I'm sorry. Forget that I asked-"
"-It's fine really." Hiccup brushed it off, leaning more into the stone bench, reassuring her with a sad but genuine smile.
"Is that your Mother?" Astrid asked cautiously, gesturing the picture in Hiccup's hand. "I-Is she?" Hiccup nodded quietly.
She heard Hiccup took a deep breathe then blowing the air out of his mouth.
"I have to admit," Hiccup said, voice surprisingly bright, sitting up's straight. "It was really tough living alone as a lanky, skinny boy with al dente arms vs the world." Hiccup chuckled. "I would always wish she was still alive every now and then... I still do." Hiccup stretched his arms, Astrid betted he was distracting himself, it was hard for him to tell this and she was glad to be the one who was listening.
Hiccup dropped his stretching arms. "But I know for a fact that the world is not fair and will never be." Hiccup rolled his shoulder, then looks at her eyes. "I just learned to live with it."
Hiccup smiled at her breaking the gaze, "Some would say, that I have my years ahead of me—having lived a harsh, sad, and tragic life. But I learned to look the other way. I would never have the freedom I have today. I would never been to all those places—explored the world. I would never be the person who I am if things didn't happen. She would always tell me things happen for a reason."
"But of course, I still ask myself... question myself how nice would it be to have a place to call home. A family. Maybe one day, who knows?" Hiccup gazed faraway, Astrid could see the wisdom in his green eyes who had seen most of the world. Who would have thought that a boy sitting alone in the park with a sketchbook in his lap would have experienced so much? It opened her eyes in a whole new world but can't help but she had to admit she felt powerless not being able to do anything for him right now but listen.
"Your Mother... Tell me about her." Astrid grabbed his hand clutching it tightly.
Hiccup sighed, "She's not my biological mom... But I always loved her more than I could have loved my real parents and I'm sure she felt the same for me. Her name was Mala." Hiccup handed her the picture. "She was a Writer and a Doctor who always traveling for her Medical Journals. She also used to volunteer a lot of medical missions until she found me during one of her missions."
"She said I was 4 years old that time, drifting barely hanging in wood debris near the sea. Apparently, I lost most of my memories except my first name, so I don't really remember much how I got there and she decided to take me in since then.
"She would always bring me with her in her travels, accompanying her to all those places." Hiccup opened the sketchbook moving through the pages. "As I grew older though, I had some of my suspicions why we kept traveling more frequently. I figured out, she was trying to find my real parents and I told her I didn't want to find my real parents if they didn't look for me or found me by that time." Hiccup's voice started cracking.
Hiccup's fist suddenly slammed the stone bench. "We got into a big argument. We didn't talk for a while and then there was an emergency medical mission. I couldn't come with her because I was busy being rebellious and boar-headed..." Hiccup paused gathering himself, his grip on her hands tightening. "That was the last time I saw her... one day people knocked in our home and the only thing they brought back is her Brown Leather Sketchbook..."
Astrid didn't know what to say. She could only hold his hands tightly comforting him as long minutes of silence has passed. Astrid never felt this powerless in her life before. She was supposed to be Astrid Hofferson, the favorite girl in the town, the star player for Berk Volleyball Team.
She closed her eyes, shaking her head, taking a deep breath. She was Astrid Hofferson. It just happened that one of her talents was getting someone to talk. She liked Hiccup—sure, she may not love him yet... Love is a strong word but everything they shared has to be something special.
"Hiccup. I've noticed that in your drawing... that you're tired, frustrated and I dare say even desperate. Why do you keep on traveling? I know we just met and this is not really my business." The last words felt like a bitter pill in Astrid's mouth, she paused, swallowing a lump in her throat. "But why?"
Hiccup took a long intake through his nose, along blowing breath escaping his mouth. "I believe that there is a reason all these happened, and I'm still searching for it. Who am I? What do I want? What is my purpose? Why?"
Astrid placed a hand in his heart, warm sensation in her palm as she felt Hiccup's heart rhythm. "What you're searching for isn't out there, Hiccup. What you're searching for is in here. Maybe you just don't see it yet."
"Maybe," Hiccup mused. "Maybe you are right. But I can't stop now—I know that I'm doing all these as some sort of repentance to my Mom. I've made it this far and I want to see it to the end. I know it's almost there. I can feel it."
Another long silence occurred between them, seconds, minutes, hours they both lost count as they stared at the once crowded scenery of the park now weirdly empty. Both of them yawned at the same time, they look at each other and laughed at themselves.
Hiccup stood up, stretching his limbs and back. "I know this sounds crazy but for some reason, I feel like I've known you my whole life and I trust you. It was a fun night, possibly the best night I ever had. But it's getting late. I reckon you should be heading home right now. Shall we call it a night?"
Astrid falls silent for a few minutes, wrapping her arms around her body feeling the warm air in her skin, staring at the scenery of the park just like she and Hiccup did two years ago. Ruffnut stares at her for a few minutes. Of course, Ruffnut could only stay quiet for so long before she opened her mouth again.
"So what happened after that? Did he just go leave you—and boom!—you never saw him again. And now you're stuck-up with him and no wonder your standards for boys skyrocketed and you still haven't dated for two years."
Astrid smiles at her friend's back to usual no-shit tone. "Well, the night was far from over."
Ruffnut smirks just as Astrid expected.
"I asked Hiccup if he has a place to stay for the night. He told me that he's planning on just sleeping in the park like he always does. Of course, there's no way I'm letting him sleep out in the cold no matter how used he is to that. So I offered him a night at my house, well conveniently my parents aren't really at home most of the time. Well, as expected it took a bit of convincing before he finally agreed."
"Now I like where this is going," Ruffnut comments, a devilish grin on her face, rubbing her palms vigorously.
Astrid rolls her eyes at Ruffnut's enthusiasm when it comes to what she refers to as Juicy Stories.
"Hiccup slept in my room and we had a magical night, that's all you're getting from me. No Juicy Details, So don't even ask."
"You're so boring! Fine whatever, I'm sure it's just Vanilla anyways." Astrid cheeks flushes, glaring at Ruffnut who only rolls her eyes in response.
"I-it was my first time... W-what do you expect!" Astrid stutters, immediately regretting it when Ruffnut beams. She knows what's coming next so she had to shut Ruffnut's loud mouth with both her hands before she can speak. Ruffnut struggles to get free of Astrid hold on her mouth but eventually threw her arms in surrender.
"What did you do in the morning though?" Ruffnut asks, eyebrows raised suggestively.
Astrid sighs half-dreamily, half-resignation. "The next morning though, we both knew that we have to part ways eventually. I didn't want things to end just yet. It was the same for him. It’s funny how both of us tried to stay on the bed as long as we can, letting our alarms snooze go on. But we both had things to do with our lives. He had his own searching to do and I don't really have anything to offer him even if I wanted to help. I was just a graduating student that time..."
Astrid laughs, self-deprecatingly. "I sound so pathetic... Astrid Hofferson stuck up with a guy and can't even control her own girly feelings. We've only known each other for a day—and yet here I am like some princess stuck in her tower waiting for her knight in shining armor named Hiccup."
"I couldn't agree more, You do sound pathetic." Astrid rolls her eyes at Ruffnut usual nonchalance, but she really appreciates her more when she's like that.
"What? you expect me to go on throw a pity party. You should know me by now, I'm not really the perfect love expect, guru or whatever attraction shits you're dealing with." Ruffnut says, casually. "But if you're looking for something here's my piece of advice—but don't take my word for it."
Ruffnut's face softens and her voice now serious. "You know Astrid, the things is you can't wait for him forever. Just don't lock yourself up you know... be more open. He's just some man who popped your cherry big deal!"
"I'm not telling you to get over him. What trying to say is don't stop yourself give yourself a chance to you know... there are a million of yummy boys in the sea and more than 90% would be willing."
Astrid sighs, her friend has a point. Ruffnut is right but it didn't really change her mind, maybe for now.
"And speaking of... Ooooh! I think I found some answers just right now. Look! There's some hottie with Snotlout that is eyeing you right now." Ruffnut excitedly taps shakes her shoulders pointing at some random guy."
Astrid sighs but obliges anyway, Astrid lets her disinterested eyes lazily wander to the direction of this guy Ruffnut told her.
"Not interested-" Astrid chokes halfway the sentence, her heart in her throat not expecting what she just saw.
Everything was in slow motion the moment her eyes lands on him. She has to double take, close her eyes and look again just to make sure she was not seeing things. She closes her eyes again, breathing deeply to calm her heart threatening to explode violently trashing inside her chest.
She recognizes him immediately even though she hadn't seen him for two years. The tall young man leaning on Snotlout's shoulders. He somehow had a different aura surrounding him but she's sure it him.
It's gotta be him.
"Hiccup," She mutters, standing up from her seat her eyes not leaving him. She is sure it's Hiccup, even with his leaner chest stretching his black long-sleeves shirt, Wavier hair that cannot be possibly tamed, shoulders that got broader, his clean-shaven jaw now with a bit of stubble defining it's sharpness even more. And now she's having a hard time keeping her balance with her knees suddenly feeling weak.
And when their eyes meet. His green eyes had a different light—it’s brighter and like its color—it represented life. From that moment she knew that he found what he was looking for. Astrid and the butterflies that hid in her stomach meet again after two years and she has to avert her gaze to gain her composure.
It's like she fell in love at first sight. Too bad she has to settle with Falling in love at Second Sight. If she felt attracted with Hiccup before... Oh my! She's definitely in love with this version of Hiccup. It was a weird feeling... falling in love. The way her insides turning into a mess, stomach clenching into knots and heart violently reacts. Her feet start kicking the ground on its own accord rushing towards Hiccup then Astrid suddenly finds herself frozen just a few steps in front of him.
Astrid wants to wrap her arms around him and capture his lips until Ragnarok—she really wanted to. But her feet suddenly felt heavy, frozen in place and she couldn't do anything but stare at her feet.
She looks back at Ruffnut who's giving her a thumbs up. She can already read her mind saying. Oh, shut it, Astrid! Woman up! You've been waiting for him for two years and now he's just a few feet away from you. What are you waiting for just go make-out with him!
Astrid smiles back, inhales deeply before she faces Hiccup again. Hiccup seems to be struggling with words himself, his lips pressed together tight opening his mouth a couple of times before it shut again. What are they even supposed to say to each other after two years of not seeing each other?
"Hey! Hey!" Snotlout being Snotlout, steps in front of Astrid. "Nobody gets to talk to my long lost cousin without going through me!"
Astrid glares at him. Snotlout gets the message and cowers a little, stepping back. Ruffnut though comes to her rescue dragging Snotlout by his ear leaving her and Hiccup alone.
She's actually grateful to her for that. Feeling a bit more of herself after managing to scare Snotlout away. She steps forwards only a foot away from Hiccup now.
"Erm... Hey, Astrid. Hi, Astrid-" Hiccup greets, Astrid punches him in the gut, hard.
"Don't you have something to say?" Astrid asks, crossing her arms over her chest.
Hiccup still struggling to breathe, one hand on his gut—the other scratching the back of his neck. He still has that nervous habit. Astrid bit her lip to keep herself from smiling.
"How have you bee-" Astrid punches Hiccup harder, again, but only in the arm this time.
Hiccup seems to get the message, taking a deep breathe closing his eyes before flashing his lop-sided grin. "I'm Back. Just like I promised."
Astrid smiles, her heart melting feeling warm and light—she punches him in the arm again, for a completely different reason though.
"Wha-" Astrid dashes forward tackling Hiccup into an embrace, cutting him off. She could feel Hiccup stiffen at her suddenness before she heard him sigh and return the embrace.
"What took you so long..." Astrid mutters into his chest.
Hiccup breaks the embrace, putting his hands on top of her shoulders looking at her in the eyes. "A lot has happened in the past two years..." Hiccup looks down at his feet. Astrid follows his gaze and noticed how he's wearing a prosthetic leg.
"Hiccup!" Astrid gasps, worry and anxiety bubbling her chest. "What happened?"
"Short story. Fire accident and I happen to be passing by so I decided to be a hero—but it was all worth it. Because it turned out, the people who I just saved happened to be my real parents."
"That's great, Hiccup! I'm really happy that you found them." Astrid smiles fondly at him. "But if you found them, what are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be with them," Astrid asks looking away, a small twinge in her heart at the thought of Hiccup probably leaving again soon.
Hiccup sighs, "Remember what you said to me before? About what I'm searching for." Astrid nods back.
Hiccup holds her chin, tilting her head to meet him in the eyes. "It turns out, I already found her a long time ago.
"All those times, you were always running in my head. I couldn't get you out of my mind no matter how I try to convince myself." Hiccup takes one of her hand placing it on his heart.
"During the fire accident. When I thought I was gonna die, you were the last thing I was thinking about... Regretting the fact that I couldn't be with you."
"I-I don't know what to say," Astrid mutters. "But... what about your parents. you've already missed a lot of time-"
Hiccup cuts her off by capturing mouth, all logic and reason completely forgotten. The feeling his lips on hers moves with a slow and soft rhythm made her mind go blank that she almost forgot to kiss back. Slowly the kiss began moving more passionate as her hands rested on the back of his neck and she felt his arm on her back.
It's good while it lasted, eventually they needed to breathe and hesitantly breaks the kiss. "Hiccup." Astrid looks at him sadly, knowing how she can't have him, She can't allow Hiccup to live away from his parents because of her, even if every fiber of her wanted him.
Hiccup was about to lean forward for another kiss but Astrid stops him, Hiccup looks at her eyes filled with insecurity and anxiety. "What's wrong, Astrid?" Hiccup asks, worriedly.
"This is really great, Hiccup. But I can't allow you to stay away from your parents because..." Astrid pauses, composing herself. "I-I... as much as I want you. I can't allow it that you're choosing me over your family when you finally have a Home to return to."
"—Remember when you said how nice it would be to have a place to call home," Astrid continues to reason, unable to look at Hiccup's eyes or she won't be able to stop herself.
"Astrid please just listen to me." Hiccup holds her head gently, "The reason I'm exactly here is-" Hiccup pauses, sighing. "Allow me to reintroduce myself."
"My name is Hiccup Haddock the Third." Astrid eyes him weirdly before realization dawned on her.
"Haddock?" Hiccup just smiles back at her. "A-As in The Haddock? You mean the rich Haddock family of Berk."
Hiccup shrugs then nod, "I came looking for you because I wanted to invite you over for a dinner. To introduce you to my parents. If you would—"
Astrid pulls him down, capturing his lips once again, giving him the answer in the best possible way.