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

Gobber hummed cheerfully as he stumped through the village.  His early morning fishing trip had been successful, the water cool and bracing, and it was shaping up to be a good day.

He glanced idly at the Chief's house as it came into view, then stopped and looked more closely.  The door was opening, and he smiled and started towards it.  Maybe he could convince Stoick to catch a bite to eat with him before the day got started.

But no, he saw, and stopped again.  The figure slipping out of the Chief's house was slight, and blond, and female.  Gobber smiled as Astrid hurried away.  "Ah, I know where you were last night, Stoick," he muttered to himself, then turned and headed for the forge.


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


Stoick hefted the axe to his shoulder once again, then sighed and let it drop to the ground.  He was tired, and it was light now anyway.  Time to get on with the day and try to occupy himself with things other than Hiccup and...well, other than Hiccup.

"Mornin'!" Gobber said cheerfully as he opened the back door of the forge into the small training area set up outside.

"Morning," Stoick answered tiredly.

"I thought we'd...oh.  Eh..."  Gobber looked around the area, taking in the demolished training dummies and cracked and scarred targets.  "Feeling a bit energetic last night, were you?"

Stoick grunted.

"Well, that's all right," Gobber said as he began picking up chunks of wood and tossing them into a pile.  He chuckled.  "Can't say I blame you.  If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't have wanted to be home last night either."

Stoick slowly turned to look at Gobber.  "What do you mean?"

"I passed the house this morning, and let's just say I saw a certain someone sneaking out," he said with a wink.

"You saw them?" Stoick asked, any hint of his exhaustion fleeing as he quickly turned Gobber's words over in his head.

"Oh, yes.  I imagine she was trying to get home before her parents woke up."  He passed and looked at the sky speculatively.  "Although I can't imagine why she's bothering after all this time."

Stoick's thoughts were racing in so many different directions that it took a few seconds for Gobber's words to reach him.  "She?"  He paused, then asked, "Who exactly are you talking about?"

Gobber looked at him curiously.  "I'm talking about Astrid, of course.  Who else would I be talking about?"

"Astrid?"  Stoick quickly reviewed everything that had happened since yesterday.  "You're sure it was her?"

"I'm missing a lot of things, Stoick, but I've still got both my eyes so far.  I think I'd recognize the girl after all this time."

"I have to go," he said, then hurried off.

"You sure?  I've got fish!" Gobber called, then shrugged.  "Eh, more for me."


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


Toothless whined and nudged Hiccup's shoulder.

"Not now buddy, I'm pouting," Hiccup said, but he rolled onto his back and looked at Toothless anyway.  Toothless tilted his head curiously.  Hiccup sighed dramatically and said, "Life's too hard.  All these questions of who likes who and who doesn't, and what it means, and even if you can figure it out there are people who don't want you to..."  He sighed again, softly this time, then nodded in resolution.  "That's it, I'm never leaving the bed again.  I'll just lay here forever."  He gave Toothless a little half-smile and rubbed his nose affectionately.  "You'll bring me food and stuff, won't you?"

Toothless looked at him, then ran off and started climbing the rafters.  Hiccup pushed himself up on his arms, and called "Thanks Toothless, I feel really loved!"  Then he smirked and shook his head.  Maybe it was nice after all to see that some things were still normal.

He had attached his prosthetic, pulled on his shirt, and just made it to the kitchen table when the front door flew open.  He jumped, and Toothless was at his side in an instant, growling at the figure in the doorway.

"Hiccup!" Stoick cried as he stepped inside.

"Dad?"

Stoick walked quickly towards him, and Toothless surged forward and bared his teeth.  "Oh, calm down, you great beast," Stoick said cheerfully, and brushed past him.  Toothless looked at Hiccup in surprise and confusion, and Hiccup could only shrug back.

Stoick put his hands on Hiccup's shoulders, smiling brightly.  "You had me worried, son.  I should've known you had better sense than that."  He laughed.  "You'd think I'd know better than to doubt you at this point, wouldn't you?"

"O-one would hope," Hiccup said vaguely.  "Um.  What are we doubting about me?"  Because there was no way this could be related to the incident last night, not with his dad smiling like that.

"Gobber told me what he saw," Stoick said, releasing Hiccup.  When Hiccup gave no indication he understood where this was going, he clarified, "This morning, when he passed the house."

Hiccup thought quickly.  This morning...shit.  "Astrid --"

"Exactly!" Stoick cried, thumping Hiccup on the back.  "I knew it didn't add up!  You and...but that boy's never been quite right in the head as near as I can tell.  I imagine he thought he was having a bit of fun with you."

"No, no Dad, wait," Hiccup said.  "That's not exactly --"

"I tore up all of Gobber's training dummies for nothing.  Well, I'm not complaining!"

"Look, that was out of context --"

"Although, Hiccup, you really ought to think about --"

"Dad, would you LISTEN?" Hiccup almost yelled, and Stoick stopped and looked at him.  "I thought we were past this."

For an instant Stoick looked uneasy, but then the cavalier expression returned.  "Past what, son?"

"The whole, talking over me and not listening thing.  Dad, Astrid and I aren't...aren't together anymore.  Exactly."  He swallowed and waited for his dad's response.

The uneasy looked appeared again briefly, but was soon gone.  "Come now, Hiccup, you don't have to hide things from your old man.  Why was she here last night then?"

"I mean, we're friends," Hiccup said, wondering why he was being so insistent on telling the truth.  Well, it was the truth, and that was a reason in itself, wasn't it?  "She just came over to talk."

Stoick looked at him doubtfully.  "And stayed all night?"

Hiccup had no good defenses against this line of questioning, and knew it.  Apparently he should have manned up about the whole breakup think sooner -- way sooner.  "Yeah," he said, "believe it or not."  Definitely not, he was guessing.

He was right.  "Well, call it 'talking' or whatever you like," Stoick said, and clapped him on the shoulder again, almost sending him to his knees.  "Just try not to get too loud, eh?  Now I've got a meeting with some of the men.  I'll see you this evening."

"So that's....yeah, okay, that's it, apparently," he muttered as Stoick closed the door behind him.  He sighed, and shrugged.  "Well, I guess that could've gone worse."  Toothless looked at him.  "What?  I'm not saying it couldn't have gone better.  Just..."  He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair.  "...time.  I need a little time.  We'll figure it out eventually."

Toothless warbled and pressed his head to Hiccup's chest.


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


"I said I was sorry," Tuffnut said.

"And I said I don't care what you and the little fishbone do," Ruffnut replied, plucking an apple from the bowl on the counter.

Tuff frowned.  "And I said I don't believe you."

"And I said you can go get mauled by a Nightmare."

"When'd you say that?"

"Just now."  Ruff took a bite of her apple.  "Idiot."

"Seriously."  Tuff snatched the apple and bit into the opposite side.  "Yu uh-kay?" he mumbled around the fruit.

"I already told you I don't care about Hiccup," she said.  "Stop being such a woman about it.  You're already taking a cock, you don't want to push it."

"You're such a bitch," he replied, and tossed the apple at her.  She caught it and looked at it speculatively.  "And I'm not taking it yet."

"Do tell."

"Pass."

"All I'm saying is, be careful.  You don't even know if he really likes men," she said, and took another bite.

Tuff shrugged.  "I didn't really know I did either."

"Ah knew," she mumbled.

"You did?  Why the Hel didn't you tell me?"

Ruff swallowed and smirked.  "I didn't need the competition, bro," she said with a wink and a grin.  It was the cheeriest she'd looked in days, and Tuffnut smiled.

The sound of boots shuffling across the grass alerted the twins to their parents' return from whatever errands they had been on that morning.  Ruff looked at Tuff with an exaggerated expression of horror and silently mouthed, 'Run!'

'Weirdo,' Tuff mouthed back, and she stuck out her tongue.

"That was a chore," they heard their father say through an open window.

"Aren't they always?" their mother replied.  From the sounds of it they had stopped in the small garden.

"Aye, but Stoick was acting especially daft today."

"Oh, dear."

"From the sounds of it he didn't sleep a wink last night.  Kept going on about Astrid spending the night with Hiccup, and him spending it at the forge."

Ruffnut froze with the apple partway to her mouth and looked at Tuff, who stared back with wide eyes.

"I don't understand why it's worth remarking on, anyway," their father said.

"Maybe exhaustion loosens his tongue.  The children are the same way, you know."

"Now there's a scary thought.  Here, do you think we ought to harvest the cabbage today?"

Tuffnut swallowed, and Ruffnut tossed the half-eaten apple out the window.  "Well, there you go," she said.

He bit his lip.  "They're not --"

"You don't know that, remember?"  She headed back towards her bedroom.  "Good luck figuring it out though," she called flippantly behind her.

Tuff furrowed his brow.  "I will figure it out," he muttered.


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


Toothless suddenly hissed and reared, which was to be expected when a tall blond Viking appears in front of him out of freakin' thin air!  "Hey Hiccup," Tuffnut said sullenly.

"Gah!" Hiccup cried, trying to hold on as Toothless pranced restlessly.  "Thor almighty, Tuff!  H-how do you do that?  What're you, like magical or something?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Just...nothing."  Toothless finally called down, and Hiccup fixed his eyes on the other boy.  "Is there something I can help you with?"

"Maybe."  Tuffnut rubbed the back of his neck self-consciously, and Hiccup waited.  "My dad heard your dad saying' that Astrid spent the night last night."

"Aw...dammit," Hiccup said with a sigh.  "He's gonna spread that around the whole village now."

"So she did?" he asked flatly.

"Yeah."  Hiccup's eyes widened, and he quickly added, "But just because we were talking, and it was late, and she's still upset, you know this whole thing with Ruff..."

"Okay," Tuff said, looking at the ground

"I mean, we didn't do anything --"

"Whatever, man, I don't care what you do," he said, and stubbed his toe into the ground.

Hiccup paused, then shared a look with Toothless.  "We -- me and Toothless -- were thinking about going to Helheim's Gate later, maybe playing with the Terrors.  You want to come?"

"Really?"  Tuffnut beamed.  "Hel yeah!  Are we going right now?"

Hiccup shrugged.  "Might as well.  And...I'm really not doing anything with Astrid.  She's just my friend, and I don't like to see her upset."

"It's cool, I understand," Tuff said happily, and Hiccup considered not for the first time that he had a very short attention span.  "Ruff's been all pissy too."

"I may have noticed that."  Hiccup considered it for a moment.  "I haven't even thought about it, really, but I get why she would be upset too."  He frowned, then shrugged helplessly.  "But I guess it's not her fault she doesn't feel the same way."

Tuff opened his mouth to say something, then looked off to the side.  "I guess not," he said.

"Tuff?"

"So, like, should I go get Scabberdash?" he asked, and Hiccup allowed the topic change.

"You could," he said, "or you can just..."  He made to gesture to the space behind him on the saddle, and Tuffnut suddenly appeared there, grinning widely and wrapping his arms around Hiccup's waist.  "...do that."

Tuff bounced in excitement, and Hiccup smiled.  He patted Toothless's head and said, "Let's go, buddy."  Toothless crooned happily, and took flight.
Good news, everybody! I've finally broken my habit of obsessively writing fic!

...what? I didn't say it was good news for you.

Bleugh. Not a big fan of this chapter. We're at the awkward place where certain have to happen to get to what happens at the end, but it's not really resonating for me, which is one reason this took so long. The next chapters should be snappier.

I made up about half this chapter on the spot because I apparently can't pick good chapter breaks, and it was originally very, very short. Guess which parts I made up!

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

Into the Forest - a Ruffstrid prequel
Add a Comment:
 
:iconstmemmerson121:
stmemmerson121 Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2011
Wow, tuffnut and his ninja skills are really starting to make me feel trippy.
Reply
:icongeneralzoi:
generalzoi Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2011
Ninja Tuffnut is a fun Tuffnut to write.
Reply
:iconstmemmerson121:
stmemmerson121 Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2011
I know, but given the context, he's started to genuinely scare me...
Reply
:iconfortheloveofpizza:
fortheloveofpizza Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2010
Sad for chapters that make it a chore to write instead of how fun it should be.

But I do want to say that I really enjoyed the reaction of both twins to the news that Hiccup and Astrid might be sleeping together again. I could feel their confusion and surprise, so good job! :D
Reply
:icongeneralzoi:
generalzoi Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2010
I get through the hard parts by telling myself I'm developing discipline, which is something I sorely lack in writing.

What's funny is that little subplot about people thinking Astrid and Hiccup are still sleeping together was never planned. I'd just write chapters I thought were too short, so I'd think up some more scenes to increase the length, and I eventually realized all these scenes had a similar theme.
Reply
:iconilikehats:
ilikehats Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2010
I am a fan of this chapter because it has snuggly toothless. That resonates for me :D
Enhhh, I know how it with the progression thing but you handled it well, it wasn't a chore to read :P
Reply
:icongeneralzoi:
generalzoi Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2010
I neglect Toothless entirely so much, so I'm actively trying to get him in there. And as long as the chapter isn't chasing anyone away, it works.
Reply
:icontiny-ruffian:
tiny-ruffian Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2010
awww
but its more tuff cuteness!
its a needed chapter
Reply
:icongeneralzoi:
generalzoi Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2010
J'adore Tuff, naturally. It's everything else that gave me a bit of trouble. :P
Reply
:icontiny-ruffian:
tiny-ruffian Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2010
well its working if it makes you feel better. its all part of storytelling and youre good at it!
Reply
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