The dirty, scrawny, rotten cheater…
Word after disparaging word churned through Astrid’s mind and fueled the senselessness in stalking her prey. She occasionally would try to focus on stealth, on clearing her mind and composing a controlled confrontation to execute upon trapping him, but the humiliation of earlier—the rage and confusion—overpowered logic.
Fortunately for her, Hiccup lumbered through the forest loud enough to cover her own footfalls. Astrid was able to close the distance between them as the smaller boy stumbled over roots trying to balance the weight of an oversized basket on his shoulder.
Astrid’s nostril’s flared at the little weirdo. There was simply too much she couldn’t understand. How had Hiccup beaten her? She trained, day after day, and he cracked jokes and built (admittedly brilliant) contraptions that did more harm than good. Until dragon training, every dragon Hiccup encountered was met with his screams and retreat until someone rescued him.
There’s no way Hiccup was this good the whole time — holding out on skills like that when they could have used them was close to treason.
Something had happened that allowed him inside knowledge of dragons… but why would he hide his source of skill? That’s what truly got Astrid’s goat. They could all be this good if he had just told them. If Hiccup was this talented with this secret power, imagine what she could accomplish against dragons…
Her knuckles tightened around the hilt of her axe. Hiccup lived an easy life, a silly life, using his time for antics and personal past-times when he had so much birthright at his disposal.
And Astrid, since a small girl, broke blisters on her hands training and shed a tear for every warrior that never came home. Everything she did was for the village.
Hiccup cost the village dozens of livestock and months worth of repairs in his short lifetime, and became the hero in the span of a couple weeks. All because he had his secrets.
All of the damage he’d done, forgiven and forgotten. He was nothing compared to her, and no one would ever realize that because of his secrets.
He was a useless, selfish fraud. Suddenly, Astrid couldn’t wait.
She drew back her axe and hurtled it at his back. Hiccup suspected nothing; he didn’t even hear the slice of a blade through air. The axe lodged into the basket hard enough to send him shrieking to the ground.
The whicker split and clothes spilled out. A blanket. Parchment. Coin purse. Water bladder.
Astrid’s ire transformed into cold, unforgiving rage.
He was leaving.
Hiccup coughed out a mouthful of leaves and turned. His eyes widened upon spotting her. Fearful, like a doe’s. She wanted to hurt him.
He could save them… with whatever knowledge he’s gained… and he was leaving.
"You— you dirty—!"
His hands came up. “Astrid, just let me—”
She tackled him back to the ground and cracked his cheekbone with one swing. The blow snapped his jaw shut on his tongue. Blood bubbled from his mouth.
Astrid sat on his chest and swung again and again, snapping his head from left to right. Her knees pinned his struggling arms, his legs kicked at her back.
"You’re leaving?" she shouted down at him.
"I—" his eyes darted to the broken basket.
Yes. He couldn’t deny it.
"You’re leaving and never telling us anything?" she shouted down at him. "Well, you’re tellingme!”
"Telling you what?" he croaked. He was acting like a victim and it made her want to hurt him all the more.
"The dragons, Hiccup! Tell me the secret!"
Hiccup looked desperate. “There isn’t—”
"No one suddenly gets as good as you do! Especially you! So start talking!”
"I—" he couldn’t move. Fear and Astrid left him paralyzed. The coppery liquid from his split tongue pooled in his throat. "I can’t."
Astrid screamed and punched down on his nose. Blood spurted back at her.
"Gah!" Hiccup cried. "N-no! Lishten—"
"You’re taking it away with you? This grand secret?"
"Yes! To pro—pro—tect—"
Astrid hadn’t realized she was crushing his windpipe until his words petered out. She eased up, but not out of sympathy.
"But you won’t protect your own village?" she thundered back. "Why are you holding out on us, you selfish troll!"
If Astrid wasn’t so gone in her rage, she would have been taken aback by the defiance he leveled at her. In a show of sudden strength he tried to sit up.
“Da village doeshn’t deed protection like they do!”
Astrid grabbed his shoulders and slammed him back on the ground hard enough for his head to thud against the packed dirt.
"They?!" she spat down at him. "The dragons you mean?!"
Hiccup’s eyes were screwed against the pain. “Yeh-yes—”
Astrid lost it. She didn’t remember deciding to hit him, she didn’t know what it would accomplish, she just hit him. She hit him and hit him. Her arms felt like jelly and her fists felt like iron. Bones and skin broke, his howls fell to wails, and soon were entirely drowned in her own cries.
"It was supposed to be me!" she screamed as she struck again and again and again. “Me! You didn’t deserve any of it!”
Her knuckles split open on teeth and bone until she didn’t know who’s blood speckled her cheeks.
A sob gurgled in the back of Hiccup’s still working throat. The bottom of his jaw was unhinged and angled to the side.
She couldn’t feel anything. She couldn’t get enough air. She was gasping, choking, over the moaning, grisly, collapsed face of the chief’s son.
A roar silenced everything. The birds, the leaves, her own shouting. Even the twitching of Hiccup’s feet. Everything about Hiccup was silenced.
Horrified—by so many things—Astrid looked up……into a blast of white-blue fire.