Summary: Part 3 of 'Tango of the Norse.' Astrid runs into Hiccup and Ruffnut.
He saw her hair first, swinging gently as she walked through the town square, and immediately a wide grin spread across his face. "Astrid!"
She turned around as he hurried over to her. "Hey Hiccup," she said with a smile.
He stopped in front of her and swung his arms uselessly. "So, uh...how-how're you feeling?"
Astrid frowned a bit and rubbed her forehead. "Better. I just had to get out of the house though. My parents..." She trailed off and rolled her eyes, and Hiccup pressed his lips together and elected not to say anything.
A couple of kids ran by. Astrid watched them, then took Hiccup's arm and gently guided him down a relatively isolated side street.
"I'm sorry about last night," she said when they had put some distance between them and the other villagers.
"Oh. Um, what part are you sorry about exactly?"
"Well, that was really kind of a blanket apology, just in case, because I seem to be missing some things." She pushed her bangs back, then clasped her hands in front of her in a way that he knew meant she was nervous and wanted to talk. "And you had to bring me home, so there's that."
He shrugged. "Eh, that was no big deal. I didn't mind."
She looked at him thoughtfully. "How did you get me home anyway?"
"I got the tanner to help."
"Ah." She suddenly stopped and turned to face him. "Okay, so I don't remember anything past whenever...well, whatever point I stopped dancing. So I don't really remember the end of the night, but my mom..." She took a deep breath, and blurted out, "Did something happen last night?"
Hiccup felt the heat spread across his face. "Something like, like -- w-what would've happened?" Because although he had spent quite a long time thinking about exactly what had happened, actually talking about it was uncharted territory, and for some reason the thought of an angry Astrid intimidated him less than an embarrassed one.
Astrid was studying his face intensely, her eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Well --"
Just then Ruffnut burst out of a nearby building, stopping right next to Hiccup and Astrid, blinking in the sunlight, and said, "Hey guys!" She was for some reason barefoot. Hiccup wasn't sure whether he was irritated at the intrusion or grateful for the interruption.
"Hey Ruff," Astrid said slowly. "Why were you in the smokehouse?"
"Clothes hunting." She held up her vest, then slipped it on. "What're you two up to?"
"We were just talking about last night," Astrid said.
Ruffnut looking from Astrid's perturbed expression to Hiccup's rising blush, and suddenly her eyes got wide. "Oh shit, you remember that?"
Hiccup looked at her in a panic, because that was most definitely not what they had been about to talk about, but it was too late. "Remember what?" Astrid said, her voice low and dangerous.
"Oh, you don't remember it? Then nothing, never mind. Right Hiccup?"
Hiccup let out a high-pitched groan and rolled his eyes heavenward, because now he was most definitely implicated. "I-I don't know what you're talking about," he tried, without much hope.
"Okay," Astrid growled, "one of you had better tell me what's going on right now."
Ruffnut and Hiccup looked at Astrid, then each other. "Oh look!" Ruffnut said, then grabbed a fishing net that was hanging on a nearby building and threw it at Astrid.
Astrid cried out and hit the ground under the unexpected weight. "Run Hiccup!" Ruffnut yelled, shoving him as she took off.
"Gods!" He wheeled around the best he could and took off. Behind him he heard Astrid make a wordless sound of rage. "You know this is only going to make her angrier."
"Yeah, well. It's too late, we already started. And you know what she's going to do if we stop." They both glanced back and saw Astrid struggling to untangle herself from the net. "So just run faster."
"Metal! Leg!" Hiccup gasped.
"Oh, right. I forgot." Ruffnut glanced behind them. "Well, good luck with that."
Hiccup groaned and pressed onward.
"I really hate you," Hiccup called out.
"Good, keep talking like that! It'll throw her off the scent!"
"What scent?!" Astrid demanded, and Hiccup flinched as the axehead dug just a little deeper into the tree bark near his neck. With Ruffnut occasionally throwing obstacles in her path, they had managed to say ahead of Astrid until they hit the treeline. Of course, now Astrid looked angry enough to actually kill him, and his stump felt like someone had beaten it with a bag of rocks (which he hadn't noticed when the adrenaline was pumping through him but was becoming more painfully aware of every second), so he probably could've done without this particular introduction to Ruff's skills.
Speaking of which... "How'd you get up there so fast anyway?" he called.
Ruffnut poked her head out of the foliage above his head. "I don't even know. I think it must have been a defense mechanism, because I don't remember doing it."
"Would you two give it a rest?" Astrid said, and where had she even gotten an axe? She hadn't had one when he saw her in the square...oh, that's right, Ruffnut had led them through the smithy. She had managed to get Astrid tangled in an armor stand, but right about now Hiccup was thinking the delay hadn't been worth the trade-off.
Ruffnut fell silent. For about two seconds. Then she said, "Hey, my boot! Oh wow, how'd it get up here? This isn't even the same tree, is it? Wait a minute, I thought I lost my pants in the Great Hall. So why did I still have my boots up here? Hey, do you guys see another boot down there?"
"Why don't you come down here and look?" Astrid said.
"Hah, no. I want to live a while longer, thanks."
"You're coming down here one way or another."
"And how're you going to make me?"
"I have an axe!"
"...you're going lumberjack on me now?"
"SHUT. UP." Astrid turned her attention to Hiccup. "What is going on?"
"Okay, okay! It's just that last night, a little before we left, you were dancing, and Ruffnut ran into me, and she was really drunk. So we got to talking, and did I mention she was really drunk? And I don't know what happened, but she sat in my lap."
"She sat in your lap?" Astrid asked.
"I was totally humping him!"
"Not helping!" Hiccup was glaring upwards, but quickly redirected his attention to Astrid. "Okay she kinda was, but I swear I didn't mean for it to happen. And s-she was drunk. Like I said. So..."
"Oh gods," Astrid said, doubling over and dropping the axehead to the ground.
"Do you have any idea how many people Ruff molests when she's drunk?" Astrid looked up at Hiccup, her eyes burning. She still looked angry, but less like she was going to kill him, so he relaxed just a fraction. "That's like her thing! You're not all that special!"
"Yeah, sorry Hiccup, it wasn't personal. I'm just really easy sometimes."
Astrid lifted the axe and pointed it at Ruffnut. "I'm still kicking your ass!"
"You have principles?"
Astrid glared, and Ruffnut quietly disappeared back into the foliage.
"For the love of..." Astrid turned and walked away, muttering under her breath and swinging the axe haphazardly. Hiccup watched her go, still panting a bit from a combination of exhaustion and fear, and then carefully pushed himself away from the tree. He took one step before the shooting pain reasserted itself, and for just an instant he debated the merits of laying down and not moving ever again. But his girlfriend was upset, and somehow or other it was his fault, so he squared his shoulders and hobbled forward.
When he eventually caught up to her, Astrid rolled her eyes and dropped to the ground. He gratefully sat near her, but not so close she could get her hands around his neck if he did something stupid again.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"You didn't do anything," she said, her voice flat. "It's not your fault Ruff's a slut when she drinks."
"Then I'm sorry you're upset." Her lips thinned, but she didn't try to deny it. Daringly, he slid a little closer. "What's wrong?"
Astrid pursed her lips and idly pulled at the grass at her feet. "My mom said she met you at the door last night."
"She said...she said something must have happened last night, between us, because when you came to my house, you were...frustrated."
"Fr...oh gods." Hiccup covered his eyes with one hand. "She could tell?"
"Believe me, if it's embarrassing, my mom will zero in on it."
"That's handy information to have." Hiccup dropped his hand and let out a deep breath. "Well, she was right."
"Yeah," Astrid said bitterly, "Ruff can have that effect on people."
"Wh--Ruff? Oh, oh no, no no no no no no," Hiccup said, waving his hands. "I mean, that was a thing that, that happened, but it wasn't the thing that got me all...you know."
She looked up at him. "Something else happened?"
Astrid's eyes widened. "Oh." She waited for a moment, then said, "...well, what happened?"
"Um..." Hiccup rubbed the back of his neck and tried to figure out exactly what to say.
"Oh, come on." Astrid didn't look angry anymore, she looked curious and maybe even a little amused. "You just told me Ruff humped you. You can spit it out."
"Technically, Ruffnut told you she humped me."
"We're talking about humping. What could possibly be taboo at this point?"
"Heh, yeah, okay." Hiccup blew out a nervous breath. "Well, after you kinda threw Ruff out of my lap, you sat down."
"In your lap?"
"Well, go on." Astrid definitely looked amused now.
Hiccup focused on a mountain peak off into the distance, trying to keep cool. "And...you were just pressed up against me, and you were kinda rubbing, and you kept whispering things in my ear..."
"What kind of things?"
"You, um. You said you wanted to...do the horizontal tango."
Astrid started laughing uproariously. "That's what you call it?" she gasped, and laughed some more.
"Hey!" Hiccup crossed his arms. "You started with the dance euphemism. I'm just going with it."
Astrid covered her mouth with her hands and fell backwards, still giggling. "Oh wow. So I climbed on top of you, left you all frustrated, and fell asleep without doing anything about it? We haven't even made it to the bedroom yet and I'm already the worst lover ever."
"Yeah well," Hiccup worked to maintain his calm expression, but internally he was almost giddy with relief, "we'll just have to try again sometime."
"Hmm." Astrid turned her head to look at him. "Next time I promise I won't be drunk." She looked utterly relaxed and carefree, the spare tendrils of hair not held back by the headband framing her face, and Hiccup felt something in his throat tighten. Not below his waist though, because he was never getting frustrated anywhere Mrs. Hofferson could possibly see him ever again.
Astrid lifted her arms. "Help me up."
He struggled to his feet, wincing, and carefully balanced on his good leg. He went to reach for Astrid but found her already on her feet, studying his face then glancing down at his leg.
"Okay, seriously," she asked, "what made you think running away was a good idea?"
"Believe me, there was no thought involved there." He shifted and winced again, and Astrid slipped her arm underneath his.
"Come on," she said gently, "let's get you home."
Ruffnut carefully dropped from the lowest branch on the tree, her boot back in place on her foot. "Well," she muttered, glancing down, "that's all but one of you."
Just then her other boot came flying in a gentle arc towards her head. She snagged in out of the air and bent to put it on. "Aw, sweet!"
"Glad to help," Astrid said dryly, stepping out from the brush. "Finally come out of hiding?"
Ruffnut sighed and stood up. "Figured I should take my punishment like a woman." Astrid raised her eyebrow. "Okay, that and I'm hungry. So let's make this quick, please."
"Gladly." Astrid cracked her knuckles and stepped closer. Ruffnut rolled her eyes and braced herself.
"Whoa, Ruff, what happened to you?"
Hiccup looked up and saw Ruffnut standing at the end of the table with a fresh black eye and a bloody scrape on her cheek.
"Astrid," she said, and sat next to her brother.
"What were you two fighting about this time?" Snotlout asked.
"Principles. Pass the meat."
Hiccup grew concerned. "So wait, she wasn't joking earlier? She was serious?"
"Always," Ruff said, filling her plate. "I gotta warn you, that girl's a total dom. When you finally do get in her bed, she's totally going to break out the whips and chains."
Both Hiccup's and Snotlout's jaws dropped. "Um..." Hiccup started to say, but just then Astrid sat down next to him.
"Hey guys," she said happily. In fact, she was positively glowing. "What's on the menu?" She turned and fixed smoldering eyes on Hiccup.
Hiccup suddenly became very nervous. And not at all frustrated.