He wanted to rest, but only for a couple of minutes. He just wanted to lean against the warm, comfy scales of his dragon and have a power nap. He thought it to be a stupid idea anyway; why on Earth was it so important to clean the pens every month? It's not like a little smell and dirt would kill anyone... His cousin had a tendency to overthink everything, every day and this month he even brought the cleaning day forward because of the upcoming Snoggletog... What a moron, Snotlout thought.
He put the mop and the bucket down and went to Hookfang, who was peacefully slumbering in his pen, unaware of the fact that his master's quick relaxation was indeed a rebellious act. The brawny Viking sat down on the floor, leaned to his dragon and he quickly drifted away to dreamland.
The short nap turned into a long sleep and Snotlout only woke up when he overheard the faint noises of a nearby conversation.
"I really want that hunting knife, you know? I want to help my father skin the wild boars on our hunting trips," sighed Astrid, "I asked Gobber if he could make me one before Snoggletog, but he said only if I had brought him three wild boar pelts. What a joke, right? How am I supposed to skin the beasts without a proper knife?"
"Yeah, you've ended up in the cul-de-sac, sister," agreed Ruffnut, "Aaand, I can totally understand you, a hunting knife would be awesome. I'd probably try it out on Tuffnut first, I've always wanted to scalp him."
Snotlout didn't want to eavesdrop, but he had no choice - judging from the noises, the girls were sweeping and tidying up the Arena. He nestled closer to his dragon and tried to remain unnoticed.
"I guess, I have too high expectations. The boys are immature, they would never give us anything for Snoggletog. I'd totally feel disappointed if I didn't hate them all."
Astrid laughed. "You know that they don't have cooties, right? I don't dislike them, but it'd be weird if someone gave me a Snoggletog present..."
Ruffnut cut her off. "Oh, enough with the BS, I totally saw you kiss Hiccup last Snoggletog."
"That's none of your business. Besides, there's nothing going on between us."
"I think, if he had to choose between kissing me or drinking yaknog, he would choose the latter."
"...said the disappointed girl."
"I'm not disappointed, Ruffnut, I just want a knife."
Ruffnut chortled. "I understand, I really want one too... I just wanted to make sure that you don't hurt yourself. Or anyone else."
"I'll be extra careful."
Snotlout could hardly wait until they finally left. He knew what he had to do. He didn't mind spending the night out in the dark forests now that he had a purpose. And a good sleep.
Even though Hiccup arrived at the forge at the wee hours of the morning, Gobber was already there, busily working on something. The days before Snoggletog were extra hectic at the smithy.
"Yesterday nigh', righ' after ye've left, Snotlout came in," mumbled the older Viking between his teeth, without taking the courtesy to properly greet his apprentice.
"Mmm," answered Hiccup, not paying much attention to him while fiddling with the stubborn strings of his worn-out leather apron, eagerly wanting to start his job.
"He wanted to know whether I'd make 'im a 'unting knife fo' three wild boar pelts before Snoggletog."
"Mmm," said Hiccup again and he didn't understand why he should care about Snotlout's festive needs.
"The day before that, Astrid came in."
"Mmm." That sounded more interesting, but Hiccup didn't want Gobber to notice his growing curiosity.
"She wanted to know if I could make 'er a 'unting knife before Snoggletog."
Hiccup didn't answer. He quietly started to sharpen a sword with a whetstone.
"No more 'mmms'?" inquired the blacksmith after an awkward, heavy silence. "Ye know, it's kind of a big thing to give a lass a Snoggletog present. It's like a confession, really. And Astrid really wanted that 'unting knife..."
"If she wants it, I'm sure she gets it," said Hiccup trying to sound indifferent, but he felt his whole face was burning with embarrassment.
This year's Snoggletog started way better than last year's. The villagers had already known that the dragons would return right before celebrations start, so no tears were shed apart from happy ones that flooded in abundance once the reptiles returned with the new generation.
Hiccup looked proudly at the cheering crowd; Vikings and dragons were celebrating as friends, cheerfully waiting for the party to start. He entertained the thought that it was to his merit that the outcome of befriending their fiery enemies was such a pleasant one...
But then Snotlout entered the Hall with a small package in his trembling hands. His body was covered with ripped clothes and his face in dried blood. Hiccup looked at Gobber, who was standing a few steps away from him, drinking the umpteenth beer of the night. He shrugged in an apologetic way. "Business is business, son," he muttered under his nose.
Meanwhile, Snotlout spotted the unsuspecting Astrid amongst the crowd and he started walking towards her with slow but long strides. The blonde girl was casually talking to Ruffnut, unknowing that her terrible fate was about to be sealed.
Hiccup knew he had to do something. Something stupid. Or if not, something crazy.
He pushed himself through the people as fast as he could, stopping right in front of the dumbfounded girls.
"Astrid, Astrid, please, I'm sorry that I didn't..."
Snotlout was there before he could finish his sentence and punched him hard on the chest.
"Sorry, cuz, I've business to do."
Hiccup was gasping for air.
"Ruffnut, please, accept this little something I got you," said the sturdy teen with an elegant bow and the thing he was holding slipped out of his hands, ending up on the floor with a clatter.
It was a hunting knife with a dragon carved on its handle.
Hiccup looked at Astrid, he seemed frightened. Astrid looked back at him.
"I-I need to be somewhere else," he stuttered and hurried for the door.
When Astrid found him, he was sitting on a bench - not far from the Meade Hall, but far enough to be out of sight. She quietly sat next to him and for a time they were just sitting there without words.
"You know, I don't think it was awkward," said the girl softly.
Hiccup didn't answer, he was absorbed in looking at the patches of snow in front of him.
"It's not a bad thing to have feelings," she added.
The melting snow still seemed very interesting...
"Hiccup, why don't you kiss me?"
He twitched. "Excuse me?" He looked into her eyes, flummoxed as if he hadn't understood the question.
"Why don't you kiss me?"
"But..." He started to say something but stopped when he felt her soft fingers lacing around his.
He didn't take his hand away but looked back at the snow. "Because I'm lame. I'm trying to improve things, but... I'll never be like them."
"Maybe that's what I like about you."
Hiccup couldn't help but let out a bitter laugh. "You like me because I'm the weak one? I'll never be able to compete with Snotlout."
"Snotlout doesn't want anything from me," Astrid said in a stern voice.
"But he did."
"He did, but I told him not to expect anything. But I didn't say that to you."
"What's the problem then? You don't want to kiss me?"
The boy shook his head. "It's not that, but..."
"Do you really want to know?"
"Of course," said Astrid and squeezed his hand for reassurance.
"Ah. I don't want to mess this up. I've messed up so many things in my life, but I survived. Because those things weren't important. But this... This would be."
Astrid didn't want him to give up that easily. She leaned closer to him and tilted her head so she could look into his eyes.
"If you mess it up, you'll try again. But you won't."
The pep talk made Hiccup smile. Is he really just sitting there, like a complete disaster, when Astrid Hofferson is practically begging him to kiss her?
He hesitated. Astrid righted herself.
Hiccup looked at her shyly. "But you won't punch me if I mess up, right?"
"I'll only punch you if you don't even try," she said sounding a little irritated.
"Aaand this is really happening..."
He closed his eyes and then the distance between them.
His lips were trembling on hers first and he didn't know what to do with his sweaty hands.
Then she opened her mouth a little and his tongue somehow slipped inside, stroking her sharp little teeth along the way and then it was all warm, velvety and sweet.
It was undeniably the best four minutes of his life.