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Summary: Three years after the events of the movie, Astrid makes a choice.

Hiccup almost winced when he saw that Astrid was the only one standing at their meeting spot near the edge of the village.  They had more or less been avoiding each other for the past week, and what encounters they had were stilted and awkward.  He hadn't been able to bring himself to tell anyone about the whole breakup thing yet, and apparently she hadn't either, because no one was treating them any differently.  And it wasn't exactly uncommon for Hiccup to spend a few days hiding from Astrid after some blowup or other.  Still, too much more of this and people would start figuring it out on their own.

He supposed it could be worse.  It's not like he collapsed into uncontrollable tears every time he saw her.  True, there was a dull ache in his chest that flared up in her presence, but it wasn't like the epic stories made it out to be.  Astrid wasn't his anymore, but the sun still rose, the chores still needed to be done, the dragons fed, and life went on.  In a way it was almost anticlimactic.  Shouldn't the loss of his first love render him so paralyzed by grief that he couldn't even get out of bed?  Shouldn't he be doing everything in his power to win her back, instead of spending more time at the forge and doing his best to avoid her?  Well, once again real life thwarted the fairy tale.

It helped, probably, that he had kind of been expecting it.  Astrid had been withdrawing for weeks now.  He had just hoped she would come back eventually.  Well, so much for that.  Although if her decision had brought any peace to Astrid, he certainly couldn't see it.  In what time he had spent with her over the last week, he noticed that she seemed subdued and off center.  And Hiccup wasn't the only one she was avoiding.  She seemed to be spending less time with Ruffnut as well, which was pretty much the opposite of what Hiccup had expected.

Hiccup wasn't stupid.  Or maybe he was, because he had let it go on.  But what could you say when your new girlfriend came up to you and essentially said, "We're together now, but just so you know I'm probably going to keep screwing my best friend on the side.  Hope that's cool."  Okay, Astrid had been a lot more tactful than that, but that's what had happened, wasn't it?  And he had believed her when she said Ruffnut wasn't a threat because Ruffnut had at the time seemed more a caricature than an actual person.  She was the Girl Twin whenever she and Tuff were together, the Loud Drunk Girl at parties, and yes, the Wild Thing in bed.  Or at least she did a very good job of giving off that persona, since it wasn't like Hiccup had been able to confirm it for himself.

But then he had gotten to know the girl who diligently cleaned Tuff's wounds (as long as she wasn't the one who caused them).  The girl who loved making her friends laugh almost as much as she loved making herself laugh.  The real girl who really was Astrid's best friend.  And he had become uneasy.  But Astrid never seemed anything less than perfectly devoted, and he hadn't wanted to disturb the delicate balance that he had come to realize existed between the three of them.  Maybe he should've.  Maybe it would have made a difference.  Maybe if he had said something...

No.  Hiccup wasn't stupid.  Once he realized how deep Astrid and Ruffnut's relationship went, he had known that if he forced Astrid to choose, he wouldn't like the choice she made.  But he had stayed anyway, and maybe that made him as culpable as her.  Maybe it was time for him to face that.

Toothless was still carrying him forward to where Astrid, idly twirling a spear in her hands, waited with her Nadder.  She looked up when she heard them, and her expression was of someone bracing for impact.  Even given what had happened, Hiccup didn't want it to be like that between them.  So he tried to school his expression into something open and friendly and said, "Hi."

"Hi," Astrid replied, her hands flexing on the shaft of the spear restlessly, then said, "I guess we're it so far."

"Yeah.  I saw Snotlout and Fishlegs by the supply shop, picking up a few things.  They said they'd be along in a while."

"Ah."

There was a pause, during which Toothless looked back and forth between the two of them curiously, and Hiccup said, "No twins yet?"

"Nope.  But they've never been real good with, you know, time."

There was another pause, and Hiccup realized being friendly was a lot harder than he thought.  "Did you wanna go check on them while I wait here for the guys?"

Astrid quickly shook her head and looked out into the distance.  "No, I'll wait.  You can go check on them if you want."

Hiccup stared at her for a moment, because that was pretty odd in itself.  Astrid had always volunteered to go find Ruff in the past.  He was understanding less of the situation as time when on.  But all he said was, "Okay, be back in a few minutes."

He guided Toothless towards the Thorston house, and muttered, "You got any burning insight, buddy?"  Toothless snorted and twitched his ears.  Hiccup sighed and leaned back in the saddle.  That had been painful.  And that was probably the worst thing.  Not that Hiccup wanted to be alone and girlfriend-less, but it wasn't the kissing he missed, or the sex, which he could admit hadn't been all that great for a while now.  It was like he had lost his best friend.  Well -- he patted Toothless on the head -- one of his best friends.

He could hear familiar voices coming from Ruffnut's window as they approached the house, so he pulled Toothless up next to it and pushed open the shutters.  "Hey guys," he said, poking his head in.  "Are you about wwwwwhat are you doing?"

"What does it look like we're doing?" Tuffnut sneered.

"We're braiding my hair," Ruffnut said.  She as sitting on the ground near the bed, her fingers flying through a thick section of blond hair.  Tuffnut was sitting on the bed behind her, doing the same to the back.

"That takes two of you?"

"Well yeah," Ruffnut said derisively.

"Have you seen this?"  Tuffnut waved an admittedly sizable quarter of Ruff's hair at Hiccup.  "If I had to wait for her to do it on her own, we'd never leave the house."

Hiccup opened his mouth to point out that Tuffnut didn't technically have to wait for Ruff to start the morning, then closed it.  Who was he to interrupt a relatively rare moment of peace between them?  So instead he said, "Are you about done?  Astrid and I are waiting in the square."

"Yeah, almost," said Ruff.

"Five minutes, tops," said Tuff, both of their attention once again focused on the task in front of them.  Hiccup took one last look and withdrew.

"That was a little weird," he whispered to Toothless.  Then he looked up to see twins' Zippleback watching them.  "Did you know about this?" he asked, but Scabber and Dash just looked at each other.  Their mission accomplished, Toothless began walking away from the house.

Well.  Once he got over the oddness of the sight, he had to admit it had been almost...cute.  Which actually made it odder, because Ruff and Tuff?  Not really cut out for cute.  Although to be fair, it's not like they were (completely) violent psychopaths like he had kind of thought before he got to know them.  True, they bickered constantly, and hardly a day went by that one or both weren't bloodied by the other, but he suspected the arguments were usually motivated more by habit than genuine anger.  Still, it was odd to see them  demonstrate...affection?  No, that wasn't right.  Judging by Tuffnut's proficiency, that little morning ritual had been performed enough to become as much an unconscious habit as most of their other interactions.

"Did you know the twins actually get along sometimes?" he mused, still half-lost in this thoughts, to Astrid as Toothless came to a stop next to her.

She looked at him.  "I imagine they'd have to.  You'll notice neither of them are dead yet."  She offered him a cautious smile, and for an instant -- just one instant -- he wondered why she was so nervous.  Then he remembered.  Remembered all over again, because somehow, caught up in examining the strange normalcy of the twins' relationship, he had unthinkingly fallen back on years worth of habit.  But now he remembered the distance that had grown between them, and the terrible conversation that wasn't quite so terrible anymore because he had heard it before.  He remembered spending the last week lonelier than he'd been in years, and the pained, regretful look Astrid had given him before he had walked away.  Astrid, who was now regarding him with something almost like worry, something almost like fear.

Screw that, Hiccup suddenly, sincerely decided.  He had lost his girlfriend, and there wasn't anything he could do about that.  But he didn't have to lose his friend too.  It might not be normal, might not be how he was supposed to behave, but that was pretty much par for the course with him.  And with that decision the knot that had taken up residence in his chest over the past week loosened, and he smiled.  "I don't know," he said, "I think Ruff might just be lulling Tuff into a false sense of security before she springs her death trap."

Astrid almost chuckled.  "I wouldn't put it past her."  She took a good look at him, then the nervousness in her expression melted away, and the smile she gave was genuine, and more than a little grateful.  Hiccup returned it.


**********************


"I like this clearing," Ruffnut said cheerfully, taking a few quick steps ahead to stand in the middle of it.  "We should just bring a mattress out here."

"It'd probably get all gross and moldy when it rains," Astrid pointed out.

"Hm, true.  Maybe we could put up a tent."

"Then what's the point of even being outside?"

"Good point."  Ruffnut sighed, and fell back on the grass, wiggling around to get comfortable before looking up at the sky.  "I wouldn't want to give up this view."  She silently watched the clouds for a few seconds, then glanced at Astrid and gestured to her own body.  "Well?  Have at it."

Astrid ducked her head and bit her lip, a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth.  "Can you stop thinking about sex for two seconds?" she asked, taking a seat near the edge of the clearing.

Ruffnut sat up and shrugged.  "Sure, but that's about all you've got."  She scooted over to Astrid.  "What's up?"

Astrid pursed her lips and tugged at a few nearby grass stalks.  Ruffnut tilted her head and nudged Astrid's hand with her own, because something was obviously on her mind and it calmed her down to have something in her hands to play with.  This time, however, Astrid didn't take the bait.  Instead she glanced up at Ruffnut, took a deep breath, and said, "I broke up with Hiccup."

"What?!" Ruffnut cried, rearing back so quickly she heard her spine pop.  "Why'd you do that?"

Astrid looked about as shocked as Ruff felt.  "What do you mean?" she said quickly, then, "Why not?"

"I just mean -- you --"  Astrid looked about two seconds from seriously freaking out, so Ruffnut forced herself to relax.  "I'm sorry, I'm just surprised."

Astrid didn't look much calmer.  "Why?"

"Well, I didn't even know you guys were having problems.  I mean, you never said anything."

"Well we were," Astrid said, tugging at the grass again.

"Oh," Ruffnut said, and frowned at bit.  She had thought the reason Astrid had been so scarce the past week -- which Ruffnut hadn't exactly been thrilled about anyway -- was because she was spending time with Hiccup, but apparently not.  Now she had to idea what to think.  But this conversation obviously wasn't about her, so she put those thoughts to the side.  Astrid still looked upset, so Ruffnut put a hand on her knee and said, "Hey, I'm sorry.  I'm the last person to judge your relationship.  I guess I just kinda thought if you were having problems, you would have talked about it."  She paused.  "Why didn't you?  Not that I'm all 'I must know everything about you all the time,' but you know you can talk to me about anything, right?"

Astrid finally smiled a bit.  "I know.  But I don't think anyone could have helped me with this."

"All right, as long as you know."  Ruffnut squeezed Astrid's knee, then moved her hand.  "So what happened?  I thought he was like, the perfect boyfriend."

Astrid shrugged.  "He was."

"So...?"

Astrid lifted her head and looked around, staring at the trees without seeming to see anything.  "You remember when you told me you liked boys and girls?"

Ruffnut lifted her eyebrows as her mind flew back to that day and her first stolen kisses with Astrid.  "Yeah, I'd say that one's pretty much burned into the ol' noggin."

"I didn't get it at first."

"You picked it up pretty quickly."

Astrid smiled.  Then her expression grew serious, and she glanced at the ground again before looking at Ruffnut.  "I don't think I like boys.  At all."

Ruffnut blinked, but managed to keep any expression of surprise from her face and lips.  That was a bit of a shocker.  She was well aware of Astrid's enthusiastic response to her when they got under the sheets, but she and Hiccup had been knocking boots since they were sixteen, and Ruffnut had just assumed it was pretty much the same for them.  Not that Astrid would ever tell her about it, the prude.

"Well, that's all right," she said for lack of anything better to say.

Astrid's eyebrows drew together.  "Is it?"

"Of course!  It's good, actually, I mean that you know now.  Now you don't have to spend any extra time messing with 'em.  And I get it.  Hiccup's the perfect boyfriend, but he's a boy, so no dice."  Ruffnut shrugged.  "Makes sense to me."  Mostly.  Kind of.  Because Ruffnut liked Astrid, but she for sure liked boys too.  But to each her own, right now she as all about being supportive.

Astrid relaxed visibly, then gave her a tentative, thankful smile.  Ruffnut scooted closer so that their legs just barely touched.  "So, what's the next step?" she asked.

"Well...this is kinda the next step," Astrid said, motioning between the two of them.

"Tell the best friend.  Done and done," Ruffnut said, shooting Astrid a thumbs up.

"No, I mean..."  Astrid looked flustered, and Ruffnut pursed her lips.  Not that she had never seen Astrid like that before -- Ruffnut could fluster just about anyone -- but there didn't seem to be much reason for it.  They had gotten the hard part out of the way, hadn't they?  "I thought, instead of Hiccup, you and I could..."  She motioned vaguely again.

Ruffnut stared at her.  There was almost a full thought somewhere in there, she just had to find it.  Instead of Hiccup...?  "Astrid, we already do that."

"By the gods, Ruff, I'm not talking about sex," Astrid hissed.

"Then what are you talking about?  Hey," she said when Astrid glared at her, "I'm trying to follow along here.  Cut me some slack."

Astrid looked extremely put out at having to explain.  "I mean like...being in a relationship.  Instead of just fooling around when we're not with other people, we'd be together.  Just the two of us."

"A rela -- a relationship?" Ruffnut cried incredulously.  "Astrid, I've been avoiding those since I was twelve!"

It was Astrid's turn to pull away, a look of shock spreading across her face.  "But I thought...I mean we're..."

"We're best friends," Ruffnut said.  "And okay, yeah, if I had to pick anyone right now it'd be you --" Astrid did not look much happier at this declaration, "-- but that's not something I want."

"Not something you want?" Astrid repeated, her voice strained.  "Why not?"

"It's..."  She already knew this was something she wasn't going to be able to explain to Astrid, because Astrid could be wild in bed, and was conservative anywhere else.  As far as Ruffnut could tell, the only people she had ever expressed any attraction to were herself and Hiccup -- which was another thing, because really, how did you know you didn't like boys if you'd only ever tried the one?  Ruffnut, on the other hand, knew she was more than a little easy, and knew she wouldn't be able to get away with it forever, so she wanted to have her fun while she had the chance.  But how to explain that there was plenty of time for commitment and stuff like that when they were older, when Astrid was sitting across from her with wide eyes and thin lips right now?  Ruffnut raised her hands somewhat helplessly and gestured widely at the space around them.  "It's a big world out there, Astrid.  Why limit yourself?"

Astrid clenched her fists and gritted her teeth.  "I can't believe you," she said, her voice low and dangerous.  "You want to keep fooling around with other people that badly?  Haven't you had enough of that yet?"

"Apparently not!" Ruffnut said flippantly, more than a little annoyed herself.

Astrid suddenly stood up, and Ruffnut joined her, her body tense with something like but not quite anger.  "I don't want to do this anymore," Astrid said.  "If we're going to keep doing this, I want it to be just us."

"Why?" Ruffnut demanded.  "Up until this morning you seemed fine with the way things were.  Why the big about face?"

"It's not what I want!"

"Do you even know what you want?  You said you and Hiccup were having problems, but you never gave me one damn clue.  I'm not the most sensitive person, Astrid, but I know you better than that.  If you didn't let on, it's because you didn't want me to know.  Why?"

"I was trying to figure things out!"

"Then why didn't you let me help you, instead of just dropping a fucking ultimatum in my lap?"  Astrid set her jaw and glared at Ruffnut, but the other girl continued regardless.  "You don't get to just up and decide after five years that you want things to change.  Why are you doing this?  And why now?"

Both girls stared at each other, hands fisted, bodies quivering with barely contained energy.  Astrid looked ready to attack.  A large part of Ruffnut wanted her too, because anything would be easier, and less painful, than this.

"I don't know," Astrid said slowly.  "I don't know why I suddenly want this, and I don't know why now.  I think I'm just...growing up."  And in front of Ruffnut's eyes, she deflated.

Ruffnut took a deep breath, then released it, and with it her anger and frustration, because this was still her best friend, after all.  "Okay, just...what do you want?  Lay it out for me."

Astrid stared at her.  "I don't want to have sex with you," she said, "if you're having sex with other people.  Period.  If that's something you're going to do, I don't want us to have sex at all."

Ruffnut glanced at the ground and said, "Okay."

"Okay, what?"

"Okay.  We'll stop doing...that," Ruffnut said, and frowned at how awkward the words felt in her mouth.

Astrid's face went completely blank.  "Fine."

"I mean you said --"

"I said it was fine."  Astrid took one more long look at her, then turned and walked quickly away.

Ruffnut tangled her hands in her own hair, leaned back against a tree, and sighed.
Well dang Astrid, what are you going to do now?

For anyone who wasn't expecting this, sorry. Sometimes things just aren't that easy. I actually side with both girls here (although I have no idea if it comes across). Astrid's isn't wrong to want what she wants, but Ruffnut was totally blindsided, and it's within her right to reject any changes Astrid's trying to make to the relationship.

That's far and away the most I've ever given Ruffnut to say, so I would guess her voice is a little different from some of my other fics. It was fun using her voice in the situation though. I like the interplay between both characters and the reader that comes when the reader understands character A's motivations, but character B doesn't, and that's whose eyes we're looking through.

In other news, this was a bitch to write. Only about a quarter of the dialogue I thought up for Astrid and Ruffnut made it into the fic.

ETA: Links!
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Epilogue

Also, for the interested, Into the Forest is another fic of mine that's pretty much a direct prequel to this.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconthislifesend:
Thislifesend Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
I just love all of yor ideas!
Reply
:iconstmemmerson121:
stmemmerson121 Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2011
Wow, Astrid just seems to be screwing up one relationship at a time, doesn't she?
Reply
:icongeneralzoi:
generalzoi Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2011
She really is. Poor girl.
Reply
:iconperchling:
Perchling Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2010  Student Artisan Crafter
Please have my children, you person of epic proportions. XD
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:icongeneralzoi:
generalzoi Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2010
I don't carry the children in my relationships, hon. ;)
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:iconperchling:
Perchling Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2010  Student Artisan Crafter
Touche.

XD
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:iconflamehead23a:
flamehead23a Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2010
Oh astrid. you can pin the wings of a fly with an axe at a distance of a hundred feet, but you can't figure relationships for the life of you.

I feel for ya.
Reply
:icongeneralzoi:
generalzoi Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2010
She tries, but it's just SO HARD. Killing things is way easier. Which makes her the perfect Viking, really.
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:iconflamehead23a:
flamehead23a Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2010
trufax
Reply
:iconjenkristo:
JenKristo Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2010
I really love how hiccup thinks about the way his friends have changed, how astrid is his best friend and how ruff and tuff are not just psychos, that all of them have grown up in their own way.
Gosh, this is so realistic, relationship wise and how complicated things can be.
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:iconblackmoonlilly:
BlackMoonLilly Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010  Student Filmographer
ohooo the drama!! :wow:
Reply
:icongeneralzoi:
generalzoi Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010
Drama: it makes for sad lesbians, but excellent writings.
Reply
:iconkinokarutta-chan:
Kinokarutta-chan Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2010   Traditional Artist
OMG, can I quote you?? XD

(I would leave a real comment, too, but 1st I haven't watched the movie yet and 2nd it's too late (or too early) and I am too tired to read it right now. Anyway I read a little part through to the end of this chapter, so I can tell you that you are a good writer in my eyes.)
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:icongeneralzoi:
generalzoi Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2010
I suppose so, although I'd like to see where exactly I'm being quoted. :P

Go get some sleep, then come back and read the whole thing! It should be worth it. :D
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:iconkinokarutta-chan:
Kinokarutta-chan Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2010   Traditional Artist
Just in some random forum. No worry I will say that it is by you ;D

Now I did had some sleep, but not the time yet to read it now :0 But don't worry, I will ;3
Reply
:iconaerlias:
Aerlias Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010
Ruff and Tuff are so cute that it's epic:)

Ruff might have to right to reject Astrid's attempt, but still... Poor Astrid :(
Reply
:icongeneralzoi:
generalzoi Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010
Many, many artists have done their rendition of a joint twin braiding session. I always wanted to write a fic version of it for some reason.

Yeah, kind of a bad situation all around. But what can you do?
Reply
:iconilikehats:
ilikehats Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2010
yay realistic emotional responses in fanfic!
I'm a bit confused about chronology though from a couple of things you said in there. But apart from that I got it.
satisfying! You have a very "toothy" writing style :)
Reply
:icongeneralzoi:
generalzoi Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2010
If you tell me what you're confused about, I'll be happy to clear it up.
Reply
:iconilikehats:
ilikehats Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2010
Hiccup and Astrid knocking boots since they were 16, and also fooling around with Ruffnut for five years. Not so much confused as trying to figure out the timeline...everyone is 19 right now?
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:icongeneralzoi:
generalzoi Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2010
Yeah, I kinda made it so you had to do the math, but that's right. I decided they were about 16 in the movie, and in this universe Ruffnut and Astrid shared their first kiss at 14 (which actually references one of my other stories I meant to link to, here: [link]). That's about it, really.
Reply
:iconfallenazarathangel:
FallenAzarathAngel Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I think your message comes across easily enough, but I'm a horrible bookworm and writer myself so maybe it's easier for me. :P Besides, who wants easy? It's no fun if they just go 'Ok, we're together' with no if's, and's, or but's and no trouble at all. No fun and not realistic at all. So just keep it up the way you are! :thumbsup::thumbsup:
Reply
:icongeneralzoi:
generalzoi Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2010
If I just did that, it wouldn't be a multi-parter, it'd just be a two-parter. There is more drama to be had. I think with a lot of fics it tends to be either much too easy, or the author seems to throw needless complications at them for the hell of it. I'm trying to strike a realistic balance.
Reply
:iconfallenazarathangel:
FallenAzarathAngel Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I like balance. Ones that are far too easy bug me. And I loved how Ruffnut reacted. It was a prime example of someone who didn't like to be tied down being confronted by someone they cared about (in one way or another) with the idea of being true to a single person and kind of having a mini freak out. Loved it, you really make the characters real with real events and emotions and reactions.
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