|After Midnight Scrum|
|Topic Started: 13 Jul 2017, 03:45 (4289 Views)|
|hooligan||13 Jul 2017, 03:45 Post #1|
I recently posted this on my tumblr, and thought I would share it on here as well. It's set immediately after Midnight Scrum. Enjoy, my little dragons!
“I’m just glad to have you back. We both are.”
Toothless crooned in agreement. Stoick wrapped his arms around Hiccup, and Hiccup grit his teeth against the pain. His body ached after his encounter with the mysterious bounty hunter – the one who was at Viggo’s dragon auction, but he would think about that later - and his father’s hugs were tight when Hiccup had all his ribs in working order. Hiccup didn’t say anything once Stoick released him, not wanting his voice to betray the pain he was in, ready to blame his watering eyes on the wind.
They were approaching Berk. The other riders were talking in excited voices. Through the whistling of the wind in his ears, Hiccup heard Snotlout brag to a disinterested Fishlegs about the girls he had apparently met last night at the anniversary celebrations, and Astrid was discussing the training they could do at the academy with Heather. Hiccup rode in silence in front of his father, drinking in the sight of the hills and trees that were home. On the ship with the dim-witted bounty hunters, and then with Savage, sailing across the ocean to Thor knows where, Hiccup didn’t think he’d see Berk again. Relief hit him in a wave of emotion that made his bottom lip wobble, and he bit down on it.
Toothless flew lower as they neared the village. Berk’s four hundred year anniversary celebrations were over, but the evidence was still scattered around the village. Flags hung from broken poles, fluttering feebly in the breeze. Upturned tables and chairs from the Great Hall were scattered throughout the plaza. The occasional Nadder and Gronckle were picking at the scraps of food that were left. There were no Vikings about; all were mostly likely sleeping off their drink from last night.
Toothless landed in front of the Haddock house, and Hiccup slowly dismounted. The other riders had disappeared; gone to get some sleep in their own houses. They’d probably been up most of the night looking for him. Hiccup felt a twinge of guilt, but even more overwhelming gratitude for his friends. He would thank them later.
Astrid and Stormfly landed beside them. Hiccup gave her a small smile, raising a hand to his throat in an attempt to hide what he knew must be red and black skin.
Stoick looked between the two of them, and raised an eyebrow pointedly at Hiccup. “You’ll be alright, son? I’ve got a Gobber to find and a village to clean.”
“Yeah,” Hiccup said. “Thanks, Dad.”
Stoick nodded, and gave Toothless a final pat before he strode off down the hill toward the plaza. Astrid slid off Stormfly as Hiccup turned to Toothless. The dragon’s head was tilted in concern, and he crooned.
“I’m okay, bud,” Hiccup said. He started to unbuckle Toothless’ saddle.
“Hiccup, let me do that,” Astrid said, coming up behind him.
“It’s fine.” Hiccup said quietly, the only volume he could manage with the memory of the chain still heavy around his neck. Every swallow made his throat burn as if it were on fire.
Astrid placed her hand over his, stilling it. “It’s not fine. Hiccup, you are not fine. Go inside. I’ll take care of Toothless.”
Hiccup’s throat was tight again, but this time with emotion, and looking up to see the concern in her face only made it worse. He took his hand out from under hers. “Thanks, Astrid.”
She nodded once, and gave him a smile that he knew was meant to be comforting, but did nothing to hide the worry in her eyes.
Hiccup limped into the house. He’d tied his metal leg on haphazardly to fly Toothless home, and it pinched with every step. The house was warm, and he breathed in the familiar smell deeply; smoke and metal. Though Hiccup loved his hut on Dragon’s Edge, there was nothing quite like the comfort of home. Up in his room, sunlight streamed through the hole in the roof he’d made for Toothless to get in. The sun was almost directly over the house; it was around midday – twelve hours since he’d been taken.
He sat down on his bed to remove the leg, relief washing over him as the pressure was released. He held the prosthetic in his hand, running his thumb along the dents in the metal.
Helpless. He was helpless without this thing. Today had proven that. All it took was the removal of this leg and he was defenceless at the hands of Ryker. Ryker, who could pick him up like he was a child’s doll, and would have carried him to Viggo were it not for Stoick and Toothless. Angry tears sprang to Hiccup’s eyes and he wiped them away irritably. He threw the metal leg into the corner of the room, where it bounced off the wall and cluttered noisily to the floor.
Hiccup removed the leather cuffs over his arms. They had taken most of the pressure when his hands were tied with rope, but the skin of his wrists was still red when Hiccup rolled up his sleeves. Ice wrapped in a cloth should bring that down quickly.
A soft knock on the door made him look up. Astrid stood hesitantly in the doorway, a wooden bowl filled with bandages in her hand, the sharp smell of herbs reaching his nostrils.
“Can I come in?” she asked softly.
Hiccup nodded, scooting over to make room for her to sit beside him.
“I thought these might help,” she said, placing the bowl of supplies at her feet.
Hiccup smiled at her. “Thank you.”
Astrid glanced at his missing leg, then looked pointedly at his shirt. “Do you need a hand?”
Hiccup nodded and leaned forward. Astrid hooked her fingers under the hem of his shirt, the tips of them lightly grazing his skin, enough to make him shudder. She gently pulled the shirt over his head, and gave a sharp intake of breath.
“That bad, huh?” he tried to say lightly, but his voice shook.
“You could say that.”
Hiccup gingerly straightened. He looked down at himself, narrowly avoiding a sharp intake of breath himself, if only because it hurt too much. He was covered in bruises. A particularly large one, so dark a purple it was almost black, was just to the side of his stomach, where Ryker had driven his fist into it.
Astrid began gently dabbing at his ribs. They sat in silence. Hiccup rubbed at the end of his leg, trying to ignore her hand at his collarbone to steady him. After a while, she sighed. So quiet it was almost to herself, she said, “Hiccup, what happened to you?”
It didn’t seem to need a response, so he considered the question in silence. What happened to him, indeed. After years of being someone who was always forgotten in the comings and goings of the village, someone who was avoided by everyone, and never missed when he was gone for hours at a time… Suddenly he was wanted by an entire archipelago. Someone – Viggo, specifically – was offering money for his capture.
His back cleaned, Astrid came around to kneel between his legs to better reach his chest. Hiccup stiffened at the proximity, but the movement hurt his chest.
“Stay still,” Astrid said.
Even now, when he was exhausted and his body ached, his pants grew too tight. He shifted, clearing his throat, and hoped Astrid thought it was because of his bruised neck, and not because of how beautiful she looked kneeling between his thighs. He soon relaxed under her touch, and used the opportunity of her distraction to look over her face. Her bottom lip jutted out slightly as she concentrated, and there were dark circles under her eyes that once again gave Hiccup a twinge of guilt. She should be sleeping, and instead she was here, helping him.
Astrid began winding the bandage around his torso, leaning in close to pass the bandage around his back. The strands of her hair come loose from her braid tickled his chest. He hoped she didn’t hear his heart skip a few beats.
Heavy footsteps sounded on the roof just before Toothless dropped in through the hole in the roof. Hiccup felt his mouth stretch into a smile at the dragon’s appearance. Toothless gave a gummy smile of his own, his whole body wiggling with excitement.
“Hey, bud.” Hiccup scratched Toothless’ chin. Toothless closed his eyes, letting his tongue loll out.
“I’ll leave you to get some rest,” Astrid said.
Hiccup caught her hand before she could leave. “Thank you, Astrid,” he said. “For – for everything.”
She smiled, and leaned down to softly kiss his cheek, her lips lingering. He let his eyelids flutter closed. “I’m glad you’re safe,” she said.
Astrid left, closing the door behind her. Hiccup slowly eased himself down onto the bed. Toothless rested his head on Hiccup’s legs, and promptly fell asleep. Hiccup stroked his head, the scales smooth beneath his fingers.
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