Stormfly landed gently on the sand, barely mixing its flapping with the whisper of the waves. Astrid took a deep breath in the smell of saltpetre and felt her body relax―the dinner had certainly been uncomfortable.
Apart from having Dagur and Mala as guests, there was still an apparent competition between couples floating in the air. It was as if she and Hiccup had to be stuck together like two Siamese twins all the time to prove they loved each other. The young woman shook her head in disgust, but also with a slight twinge of amusement―it’s not like it’s a secret among those close to her…
The female dragon gurgled in the direction of the water in that instant, causing her to come down from the clouds and focus its attention on her.
Fish, of course, thought Astrid―what was wrong with her that she was so out of reality? Slowly she approached Stormfly and stroked her nose.
“Go,” she whispered. “I’ll be fine.”
Nader’s female was about to obey, delighted when a flutter behind her made the rider and mount turn, curious. Seeing who the guests were, Stormfly flapped her wings with a squawk as she rushed to greet the dragon, while her best friend waited with her arms folded and a half-smile full of irony for the tallest figure to emerge from the gloom.
“Anyone would say you had a Night Fury,” she commented, amused. “What took you so long?”
The other figure chuckled.
“Blame it on Snoutlout,” said Hiccup, pulling his hair back. Sometimes the locks of hair falling on his forehead could be quite annoying… Or they could end in the “electrocuted” mode after a quick flight like the one he had just executed. He wasn’t conceited, but Astrid loved those details. “It seemed like he’s trying to distract me on purpose.”
“You mean like he knew you were coming to meet me? “continued Astrid. “What a surprise.”
Hiccup arrived closer and with complicit laughter raised his hands to cradle Astrid’s face and kiss her with infinite love.
He hadn’t lied on the dock―he loved her and he would always love her. He was crazy about every detail of her tiny figure and her character. He could hardly believe they were engaged. Which made him look down at his mother’s necklace. His fiancée followed the direction of his gaze, sighed and rested her head on his chest. Hiccup wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his nose in her hair. As always, he gently inhaled that mixture of smoke, herbs and salt he had learned to love in secret over the years. Astrid straightened her head, closing her eyes with delight as he slid his lips to her forehead.
“Hey, Astrid,” he said in a low voice and left some shyness filter through it. “I want you to know that I’m sorry about what happened.”
She smiled slightly and shook her head.
“You don’t have to, Hiccup. Really.”
“No, I gotta,” he denied gently, holding it closer to him. “I realized… I almost lost you. And all because of a stupid thing,” he cursed to himself, “I don’t want it to happen again.”
Astrid looked directly at him, searching for his bewitching green eyes.
“I shouldn’t have been like that either,” she admitted, before looking back at the silver waves lapping the shore. “I know that there are far more important things between you and me than just an engagement pendant, although… I also know that I am not always the lovely, loving bride that I should maybe.”
“You don’t have to change for me, Astrid,” he muttered longingly. “I’ve always loved you as you are, and I wouldn’t ask that to be changed for anything in the world. Perhaps I should tell you more often,” he apologized with a half-smile. “I’m sorry.”
She smiled in turn and leaned against his chest, feeling peace for the first time in a long time. Living in the Edge was not as idyllic or as exciting in a good way as everyone first thought. If the integrity of the dragons was at stake, however, it was clear to both of them that they would defend them to the death.
A squawk above their heads caused them both to look up, curious; but it was only Stormfly and Toothless, who were chasing each other pretending to be in the clouds. Hiccup took Astrid’s hand, interlocking her fingers, and kissed her neck. Astrid raised her hand to bury it in his brown locks and draw him further into her skin, without abruptness. As tenderness made its way between them, dragging away the bad memory of that fateful day, the young woman smiled mischievously and jumped away, causing him to be surprised and to loosen his embrace.
“Hey! “Where are you going?” He wanted to find out with some fun.
Astrid, not playing his game, turned around and started to move towards the water while whispering:
“It’s nice weather, don’t you think?”
Hiccup raised an interested eyebrow.
“You know I’m a bad swimmer…” he said, mockingly, though he could not help himself. “What will become of me if I drown?”
“What will become of Berk? Stoic loses his only son on a shallow beach!” They both laughed as Hiccup accelerated to try and catch Astrid without success. On the contrary, she slipped away, adding, “What a disgrace on the Haddocks, ladies and gentlemen!”
“You, come here!” Hiccup urged her as he finally managed to tie her around the waist with one hand and draw her shaking body to him. He, too, could not contain his laughter. But his gasps became a cry of alarm when Astrid made him her classic key and threw it over the breaking waves on the sand, without warning. “Hey, hey! What was that for?” He wanted to know, somewhere between surprised and amused.
She continued to laugh and knelt beside him.
“Well, I got you in the water, didn’t I?” She asked, bitingly, with a half-smile.
He returned a much less innocent gesture as he lay on the sand.
“Insubordination, Lady Hofferson?” He purred. “That’s not something a good Viking should do.”
She raised a mocking eyebrow.
“Am I doomed, my Lord?” She gave him back the polish, bringing her face closer to his.
Hiccup, for his part, pretended to play along before clutching her waist with both hands, locking her left foot between his legs and turning his hip. Astrid, of course, cried out in astonishment and surprise before falling into an area deep enough to cover her entire silhouette.
“You’ll be…” She chewed, half-angrily.
But Hiccup was faster. Still kneeling at the water’s edge, he drew her to himself and locked her lips in a kiss laden with desire. After a tenth of a second in which the girl tried to resist, her bare arms ended up encircling her boyfriend’s neck and her tongue began to seek his more insistently. They were already soaked and her lips tasted of salt. Hiccup parted for a moment, held out his hand to Astrid, and pulled her gently to the shelter of a nearby rocky parapet.
“It’s a late-night, Hiccup,” she laughed between kisses. “Do you really think any of our dear colleagues and/or guests will be awake at this hour to see us?”
He showed half a sardonic smile.
“I’m sorry, my lady. I don’t want to risk the last time.”
Astrid barely managed to hold back a laugh―how did they manage to get someone to listen to them making love every two or three days? Because, if she wasn’t mistaken, that was going to be the next step of reconciliation.
“So… Are we even?”
He leaned her back against the rock and wrapped one arm around it before caressing her lips with a free hand charged with obvious desire.
“Not yet, honey. Not yet…”
The moon, half hid by the coming and going of the soft evening clouds, made whimsical drawings on the waves. Already in the water, Astrid stroked her boyfriend’s back as he wrapped his fingers around her blonde braid. Their bodies were so connected that they seemed like one. Their movements were like a perfect dance, a choreography, a sweet battle that no one wanted to win easily. The boy’s lips rummaged through the corners of the young warrior’s skin, as she threw back her head with delight. The rock behind her back barely made her feel like she was still in the real world.
When it was all over, the girl stuck her nails in his back, shouted his name and then lowered her lips to find his. They would have eternalized that moment, looking into each other’s eyes, saying as much as possible without words. But they were in a time of war, and a distant noise in the base area, as well as a warning roar from Toothless, indicated that perhaps there was something more important to be done. The two lovebirds, resigned, headed for the beach to collect their clothes and belongings.
However, before they rode their dragons, Astrid held Hiccup’s hand for a moment and lured him towards her to kiss him.
“And this?” He wanted to know, moved.
She ran a lock of hair behind her ear.
“Let’s just say… I forgot to tell you something earlier, on the dock.”
“What was it?”
It was then that Astrid kissed him again; with brevity, but infinite sweetness, and pronounced:
“I love you, too.”
Story set in the universe of “How to Train Your Dragon” during the series “Race to the Edge” (Netflix)