I know this is painful to read. I'm going to say it again, there is a happy ending. Don't give up hope. I hope this chapter helps a little.
I wasn't really sure why I started to write this fic. It was just an idea. Rape has been something I've feared my whole life. (I'm a black belt in tae kwon do because of my paranoia.) But now, looking at the reviews and PM's I've gotten, I think the purpose of the fic is to inspire others. Seeing a favorite character going through the same thing you did makes it seem less of a mountain, I think. You don't have to be a victim. Tell someone. Even if it's just me, I'll listen.
Astrid felt sick. There was no other way to describe it. Fragonard's sick words echoed in her ears and she constantly shook her head to try to physically remove them. She meditated on Hiccup's sounds. Unfortunately, for once in his life, he was speechless. During the whole walk to her home, he said nothing, didn't even look at her. She followed two steps behind.
"Don't you worry your pretty little face." He had said. And she knew he meant it. Still, she figured the more he thought about it, the sooner the implications would sink in. Then he would realize that being friends with her was a bad idea. She was tainted, ruined, and spoiled. All in all, unclean. That was fact. She had literally become Astrid the Untouchable, although for very different reasons then she ever wanted.
Soon they were at the Hofferson household and Hiccup beckoned her to go in first, wiping the dried blood from his skin.
"Hi, dad." Astrid smiled coming inside.
"Hello, Mr. Hofferson." Hiccup said, his voice a bit lower than normal.
"Well, look who it is!" The big man stood. "It's not so often that you grace us with your presence. What brings you here?"
Phlegma Hofferson perked up, waiting for the words, 'I'd like your permission to marry your daughter.' But what she got instead perplexed her.
"Astrid was telling me today she hasn't been able to sleep, because of nightmares. I've found that sometimes if you switch up where you sleep, it helps. I'm just here to ask if she can stay the night at my house." He politely put his hands behind his back.
"Astrid, is this true?" Her father looked at her.
She felt bad for lying, but was grateful that he was keeping the truth a secret. "Yeah, I hope it will help."
"My father will be home, too." He added sheepishly.
"Well…" Phlegma scratched her chin.
"Yes." Axel agreed. His wife gave him a funny look before the teens headed up to the loft to gather Astrid's things.
"What made you so eager to agree? Are you afraid that they'll do something?"
"Hiccup is madly in love with her and would do whatever it takes to make her happy. But, I'm sure he wouldn't attempt anything while Stoick was home. Besides, this will give them bonding time together."
"They've already spent the whole day together. I swear, any day now, he's going to carry her through that door and declare his love for her to us."
"I agree." Axel resumed his spot by the fire. "But we must be patient."
It wasn't long after that the couple came down the stairs, satchel in Hiccup's grasp, since he insisted on carrying it.
"Bye Mom, Dad." Astrid called, smoothly evading hugs and kisses for goodnight.
"Goodnight sweetie!" Phlegma called. The door shut.
The trek up to the Haddock house was painfully silent as well. Astrid tried to study her friend, but the expression he held was of such intense pensiveness, it scared her. He had been so serious when addressing her parents. Never stuttered, and he kept his voice calm and even. He never said how he felt about this, but went directly into chief mode.
Inside the house, Astrid saw that Stoick was gone. "Hiccup…" She started.
"Have you taken a bath since then?" He asked. "Since your tub is outside and all."
"Um, no…I haven't…"
"You can use ours, it's inside." He handed her the satchel. "You can put your stuff up in my room, I'll draw your bath."
"Thanks…" she said meekly.
Toothless was sitting by the fire, watching the humans carefully. He smelled something on the blonde teen, she actually reeked of it. He wasn't sure what it was though. His own human was in a sour mood, more sour then usual, actually. Maybe it was attributed to the blonde? The female was his mate, after all. Supposedly.
Suddenly, Hiccup sighed and rested his hands against the edge of their bathtub. He shook his head in sadness. The dragon approached his human and nudged him in sorrow.
"I don't know what I'm going to do." He whispered.
The time to mourn would come, but now was not the time. Instead, he focused on pumping the water for the bath. Astrid came down not long after, clean clothes in her hands.
He finished pumping. "Toothless." He pointed at the charred floor.
The dragon ignited the wooden planks, warming up the water. A small grin broke out on her face as she realized that it would be a warm bath.
"I'll leave you to it. I need to run a quick errand."
Her eyebrows rose minutely at the thought of being alone, in a bathtub.
"It's okay, Toothless will protect you." He looked at the dragon. In response, Toothless lifted his tail to hide her. "Good boy."
Hiccup drew back the curtain for her and then left.
Astrid pulled off the day's clothes and gingerly stepped into the water. Toothless watched her in interest, seeing the still present bruises on her skin. He slunk closer to the tub, just barely resting his nose in the steam.
"I'm glad you're here." She whispered as she scratched the reptile's nose.
Unknown to her, Hiccup's errand took place outside of his house, on the steps. He sat, head in his hands, tearful. This was an unknown feeling coursing through him. Silent rage? Embarrassment? Shame? No, those he knew very well. He felt disgust. First at Astrid, and then at himself because of how he felt about Astrid. She hadn't changed, this incident didn't change the fact that Astrid was still Astrid, and that he loved her very much, it just made things a whole lot more complicated. Ideas ran through his mind, but he discovered that sadly, none of the plans to solve the problem stayed within what Astrid wanted. He would have to betray her, he knew that. He just hoped that she would understand that it was for the best.
"What are you doin' out here all by yourself, son?" Stoick asked.
Startled, Hiccup jerked up and quickly hid his emotional outburst. "Oh, uh, um…Astrid's inside. Er, well, her family's bath tub is outside and I offered ours to her, since the Shivering Shore boys are here and all…"
"It's not Saturday though…" The chief wondered aloud.
"Uh, she likes to bathe more than once a week…" He said lamely.
"Just like you, I see." He shrugged. "Well, did you tell her there was a curtain? You don't just have to sit out here, you know."
"Oh, yeah, I know, I just wanted to give her a bit of privacy, is all." He cleared his throat. "Also, I didn't ask you, but she's sleeping over here tonight."
"Why's that?" The chief crossed his arms.
"Um…I don't want to lie to you, dad…but I've been sworn to secrecy."
"You better not be doing anything you'd regret later." Stoick narrowed his eyes.
Hiccup colored an entertaining shade of red. "No, dad, believe you me, that's the last thing on my mind."
"Well, I'm sure that you're making the right decision with whatever you've got planned."
"I hope so."
Stoick moved to enter the house, and then declined not to, seeing as Hiccup was waiting patiently outside, he could do the same.
"I have a inquiry. Um…what…what do you do in a situation of…rape?"
The chief looked concerned. "Why do you ask?"
"Oh, you know…I'm just curious. We've talked about how to handle domestic disputes, marriages, divorce, and almost every other chiefly duty…but we've never touched the topic of rape."
"Well, I can see what you mean." Stoick nodded. "Truthfully, everything around and pertaining to rape is messy. No one wins in the end."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, it depends on the situation. You know a woman is lawfully considered property, even if she does have equal rights of a man."
Hiccup rolled his eyes. He knew, but he didn't acknowledge it.
"Well, usually if a victim's husband finds out, he's allowed to kill the one responsible for it. And then, since his property is damaged, he can divorce his wife."
"What if the girl wasn't married yet?"
"Well, then her father would kill the responsible party and the daughter would be disowned from her family and never allowed to marry."
Oh. That wasn't good.
"And if she chose to keep it a secret?" He asked.
"Well, eventually, her father would arrange a marriage, and if she's proven to not be a virgin on her wedding night, she could be killed by her husband."
Oh, even worse. "Yikes." It was as he had feared, extremely difficult to figure out a way out. But he was Hiccup, and she was Astrid, they would figure it out.
"Why rape?" Asked Stoick.
"Oh, just a long thought tangent that led me to the topic." He smiled sheepishly.
"Not to worry though, there hasn't been a rape on a Berk since my father was chief."
A silence stretched between them before Stoick said quietly, "Although, if there was, I have recently learned to be more flexible in the ways of tradition."
Hiccup stood up, regarded his father in quiet understanding and went inside.
After the door shut, the chief frowned hard. "Odin, don't let it be true."
Astrid heard the door shut and jumped a bit.
"'s just me, Astrid." Hiccup said calmly. He heard her sigh. "Feeling better?"
She didn't answer him directly, instead she said, "I didn't know Toothless enjoyed baths so much."
"Did he get in there with you?" The dragon had a nasty habit of doing that to him when he bathed.
"As much as he could." She chuckled.
He suddenly envied his dragon very much. "Toothless…" He beckoned, his face red with embarrassment.
He heard water splashing on the floor and then the dragon slunk out from behind the curtain, drenched.
Hiccup snorted. "Just couldn't help yourself, could you bud? Go on outside and dry off."
At the same time he moved to the door, Stoick came in and had just a few seconds to move before a black blur whizzed passed him. "Got in the bathtub again, ey?" He acknowledged that the curtain was still closed. "Hello Astrid, Hiccup says you'll be staying the night. I apologize for my snoring in advance."
"Oh, my dad snores too." She chuckled. "Thank you for your hospitality."
"Anytime, dear." Then he corrected himself. "Well, not any time, I mean—…just don't go making this a habit."
"I'll try not to." Her voice was soft.
Stoick went over to the fire, slowly crackling in it's place, and threw a few logs on it. Hiccup joined him and waited. He heard Astrid get out, but said nothing.
Many minutes passed before the blonde peeked her head out. Her state of dress was immodest, but it was bed clothes, nothing odd to see. She only wore a long light blue tunic that reached down to her knees, no leggings or any armor to speak of. Her hair was flat to her head, and left little water marks on her shoulders where it hung. Stoick barely glanced her way, but Hiccup was prone to indiscreet gawking.
"Upstairs then?" She asked.
He nodded, swallowing hard. Once he got walking, he began to berate himself for thinking unholy thoughts about her, especially with what happened just yesterday. He followed behind dutifully, just getting a glimpse of bruises that had been hiding by her arm bands and other clothes. Feeling a bit more somber and angry, he met her in his room, as she sat on his bed.
"So…" she said quietly. "What are the sleeping arrangements?"
He smiled to put her at ease. "You'll have my bed, and I'll sleep here on the floor by the door."
"Okay…you don't mind?"
"Psh, nah." He waved her off.
She smiled back in gratitude, idly playing with her hair that was now beginning to crimp as it dried.
"I don't think I've ever seen you with your hair down before. You look, uh, really pretty."
His sudden shyness made her grin. "I like to keep it back. It just suits me. Better for fighting, you know."
He couldn't argue with that. "May I…uh…gods, this is going to sound creepy...um, play with your hair?"
Her eyebrows shot up.
"I mean, if you don't want me to, I understand, I mean, you said you didn't like it when people touched you and oh Thor I'm rambling again…"
She laughed. "It's fine, Hiccup. I don't mind if you do my hair. I just wasn't expecting it, is all."
"Well, I do know how to braid you know." He said, sitting next to her.
She turned her back to him. "Oh, really?" Finally, he was starting to act like himself. At least he had calmed down from his anger enough to at least pretend everything was normal.
"Yeah, I braided my dad's hair for years after my mom disappeared." He gathered a few tendrils and began to work. "That's my handy work in his beard, you see."
"I thought you had a…strained relationship with your dad."
"Oh, yes. But the braids held it together." There was a cheekiness in his voice as she felt the tiniest of tugs on her hair.
"Don't worry about hurting me, after years of my mom yanking on my hair, my scalp has no feeling anymore."
He chuckled. "Okay." A few minutes passed before he sighed. "Astrid, are you comfortable here? With me? Because I just assumed this would be a good idea, and I didn't get your say on it."
"I enjoy being with you, Hiccup. I've just been on edge since...the incident. I'm sorry if I come off at all tense." She took a deep breath, consciously trying to calm herself down. "I actually feel much better here then I did at home."
"And, are you okay with me knowing? You didn't willingly tell me what was wrong."
She was silent for far too long.
"I understand. It's embarrassing, and you wanted to hide it, I know. But there's not much we can do about it now."
"Hiccup?" Her voice was gravelly. "what's going to happen to me?"
He tied off the braid and then let go of her hair. "Don't worry—..."
"I am worrying!" She turned to face him, eyes full of tears. She wanted to shout her fears, but she remembered Stoick downstairs and whispered instead. "There is a possibility that I could be pregnant from this. I can't just hide! What am I going to do Hiccup?!" She blubbered as tears ran rampant.
Ever so gently, he touched her face with just his fingertips. "Astrid, look at me."
"You are a strong, proud viking warrior. You aren't going to let these…pigs ruin your life. I'm not going to let them ruin your life. I will take care of this, I have your best interest at heart, and I promise that you will not be harmed."
"I'm scared, Hiccup."
"I know your afraid, I'm as scared as you are, but if you're willing to be brave enough for me, things will be alright. Please trust me Astrid, I won't let you down."
She sniffed hard and leaned into his burning touch ever so slightly. "I trust you."
He smiled back at her. "We should get to sleep. You've had a stressful day."
She nodded empathically and climbed under the covers. She watched him as he took out his shark pillow from the storage rafters, along with a couple blankets.
"Are you warm enough?" He asked.
"I could use one more blanket…"
Tenderly, he draped it over her and just barely tucked her in. Then, he settled himself on the floor, removing his prosthetic. Finally, he snuffed out the candle on the bedside table.
A few silent moments passed before Astrid heard the stairs creaking. Unconsciously, she clenched the blankets tighter and held her breath.
"It's just Toothless." Hiccup responded from the floor.
As he was summoned, the black dragon peered up. He finished his ascent and made his way to his bed in the corner, whacking Hiccup in the face in the process.
"Hey, mister!" He snarled back.
The dragon ignored him as he heated his wood and then curled up to sleep.
Astrid smiled at the exchange, then she finally allowed herself to calm down. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she could more clearly see her friend. He faced away from her for awhile, but then turned over to face her, where he settled and then finally fell asleep. Astrid spent many long glances admiring his face, how it was changing as he got older. He looked so calm as he slept. His long eyelashes laying against his cheek. His thick eyebrows unknotted, completely relaxed.
She worried about him. If this whole ordeal had given her tremendous nightmares, what he would have? He had been pleasant about the whole thing, trying to comfort her and put her ease as much as possible, but he was obviously bothered. As she began to give herself a headache, she decided to close her eyes to sleep.
She dreamt of Hiccup. Returning the kisses she owed him for the flowers, holding his hand, and giving him a backbreaking hug, just because. They were small things, hardly considered romantic, but it was what she was longing to do.
His fingers left her palm. His feet carried him away, as he dared not to glance back.
Hands of accusing vikings pointed behind her, where Fragonard was waiting.
It wasn't my fault.
A wall was built, keeping her back, as words and whispers of 'unclean' hit her ears.
Hiccup! She cried, begging for his protection.
He couldn't hear her.
Burning hands clutched her and dragged her back. Good girl…Don't fight it.
She screamed and cried as the poison he had spoke punctured her ears.
You want this.
I can't enjoy it if you keep fighting.
Don't tell anyone.
You were asking for it.
Astrid shot up in bed, alarmed and awake. Instantly her hand went to her mouth to stifle her sobs. She then noticed that Hiccup was sitting on the edge of the bed, eyes wide with a frozen hand stretched out.
"Hiccup?" She croaked.
"You were shouting in your sleep, and I was about to wake you up. Was it a nightmare?"
Her hand still covering her mouth, she nodded as silent tears began to run down her cheeks.
"Oh! Oh gods, Astrid, please don't cry!" He reached for her, and then stopped, and battled with himself on what to do.
"Hiccup, I swear to Odin, if you tell anyone about what I'm about to do, I'll…I'll…" Her threat fell flat as she gripped the front of his tunic and pulled him closer so she could rest her forehead on his chest.
Hiccup felt her trembling. Seeming like a good idea, he took up the two blankets and wrapped them snuggly around her, like a cocoon, and then enveloped her into a hug.
"Is this okay?" He whispered.
She nodded silently.
"Just let it out, I'm here."
She refused to. Her eyes stung with tears as they continued to leak out. She stared at the hands that gripped his tunic, turning white from how tight she coiled.
As she breathed, an occasional sob spilled out. She could feel the muffled heat from Hiccup's hands as he soothed her.
"Hiccup...I'm so sorry..." She hiccuped.
"There's no reason to be."
"Yes, yes there is!" She pulled away from him, but still gripped his tunic. "You care about me deeply! I know that, even if you haven't told me! And now...I'm afraid I've corrupted something beautiful, your regards toward me." She sniffed.
He didn't respond initially, as he was embarrassed. She thought of his affections as something pure. His hands rested on her covered shoulders.
"Nothing could ruin the way I see you." He smiled in the dark. Then he slowly pulled her closer, his actions weak in case she wanted to break free.
She didn't though, just resumed her spot on his chest.
He had lied to her. He did view her differently, she was now broken. Not useless, not disgusting, and definitely not worthless. She was hurt, as was obvious, and needed to be fixed, or put back together. Hiccup knew that his kind nature could heal her wounds, and soon he would have the old, aggressive, tearless Astrid he loved so much.
He just hoped she would forgive him for what he was going to do.