Being away from Astrid reminded Hiccup of losing his leg. At first it was painful but after a while the pain was replaced by an overwhelming feeling that something vital was missing.
His mind played their goodbye over and over again, each time focusing on a different detail; the colour of her hair in the soft morning light, her fond smile, the gentle curve of her belly. These thoughts were preferable to listening to the Meathead chief ramble on about their new method of grainery dispersion.
The gathering of the chieftains was a monumental affair, the most important men and women of the archipelago coming together to form new alliances for their villages. Berk’s dragons were still something of an oddity and from the moment Hiccup’s feet touched the earth he’d been bombarded with questions. As much as he hated to admit it, Hiccup knew he could do more as a dragon advocate here than at home with his pregnant wife, but it didn’t make the loneliness easier to bear.
A week after he’d arrived and the gathering had become less about politics and more about drinking. The hall stunk of smoke and charred meat but there was an ease in the air; grudges settled and tension done away with. Hiccup laughed along as a large Berserker told crude joke after crude joke.
“Chief Hiccup!” The sound of someone shouting his name cut through the noise and brought Hiccup to his feet. It was one of the children who’d been camped around Toothless since their arrival. The little girl crossed the room full of drunken vikings with a determination that reminded him of Astrid, ducking and dodging any obstacle that appeared in her path.
She reached him and grinned excitedly. “We were playing with Toothless and a Terrible Terror flew down and it had this letter so I thought I should bring it to you.” He thanked her and took the letter. The little girl scampered off, probably back to her friends.
One look at the handwriting and he knew the letter was from Astrid. Not trusting himself in public, he quietly slipped from the room and made his way back to his quarters. He wasted no time opening the letter as soon as he was alone in his room.
You’ve only been gone a day and there are already so many things I wish I could talk to you about. The twins filled Gothi’s hut full of rotten fish and the smell is so strong I can smell it as I sit by the fire. Snotlout and Fishlegs are butting heads again over who should teach the academy’s class on Nightmares. Your mother, Gobber and I have kept Berk in one piece so far. I wish you were here so we could laugh about everything as we eat our dinner. Eating in the Great Hall just isn’t the same.
It’s not always easy for me to put into words how important you are to me. You’re my husband and I love you but I don’t think I’ve ever said how much I need you. It’s only been a day and yet I feel like my heart’s been carved out of my chest. I miss you so much and I need you to hurry back to me, as quickly as you can.
I’m not sure I’ll be able to send this letter, if I’ll be able to let you see it. But I felt the baby moving for the first time today and I needed you to know how I feel.
Your Loving Wife Astrid.
He barely finished reading the last word before he was shoving his possessions in his bag and getting ready to go back home.