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a broken pot can still hold water

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Damn it, Jaskier! Why is it whenever I find myself in a pile of shit these days, it’s you shovelling it?”

The words were still ringing in his head as he left the mountainside where Geralt sat and brooded as the sun set.

It hurt. It really did. And Jaskier isn’t going to kid himself and try to cover his unfortunate feelings towards the Witcher with false cheer. He is, despite the popular belief of the common folk, very in touch with his emotions. It takes a well-educated, observant, sensible man to make a good poet and an excellent bard. And he fancies himself one of those, after all, and furthermore, by default, he is all of those things. So yes, Jaskier was well aware of his pining woes no matter how much they inconvenienced him daily. He is also well aware that the hurt he feels in the moment will be much worse than it is during his miserable walk to the nearest town, with his lute dangling from his hand and his footsteps dragging through the gravelly dirt, in the morning.

But for now, the keen loss is only a dull pain in his chest – it feels like there is a heavy weight sitting upon his ribcage; like his lungs are constricting but he can still breathe regardless as if it is a mercy. And that is, admittedly, good, because he can’t afford to be distracted on his arduous trek. This distraction he fears due to his unfortunate inclination towards bad decisions. If there was even the slightest chance that a moment of hesitation was to present itself, it might be enough to send him stumbling over his feet back to Geralt’s side. So no acknowledged pain for the time being.

Eventually, he reaches the nearest town. It is a small settlement on the bank of a river that courses furiously around boulders that have separated from the mountain and rolled off its face to live a life of their own years prior. Much like Jaskier – except Jaskier had been removed from his mountain’s side rather forcefully.

No, none of that. He scoffs at himself, entering the town’s inn. He needs a good night’s sleep and some food before he goes about waxing poetic pathetically to himself. He feels drained as he coughs up the last of his coin to the innkeeper, feels like he weighs more than he actually does.

Must be the emotional baggage, he decides as he climbs the rickety stairs to the room he’d rented. He hopes that he doesn’t dream of the Witcher. He hopes that his brain gives him a reprieve for tonight if not any other night.

He drops the lute at the bedside table carelessly and kicks off his boots. He crawls under the flimsy and rough blankets and closes his eyes; curling in on himself he falls asleep, he wishes for a better tomorrow.

Despite what his outward code of conduct would have you thinking, Jaskier knows when he is not wanted.

He allows himself the exact amount of three days of wallowing in that small town before he packs his meagre possessions and hits the road like nothing happened. In those three days he sings and dances for his food and drink, fucks the pretty barmaid and sleeps off the hangover before heading out in the morning of the fourth day. He travels alone for the first time in a while but it’s alright.

It’s not as if he’d been travelling with Geralt for the entirety of his bardic career, no. He knows how to handle himself on his own. Geralt always had everyone believing that Jaskier was inept at keeping his head about him but that wasn’t true. He knows which roads to avoid and which travelling troupes are always looking for an extra set of hands to play an instrument. He can hold a tune and spin a tale and in these dark times, entertainment is a sought-after luxury that many hold dear. It’s just that – well, travelling with the mighty Witcher had allowed him for some time off. He didn’t always have to be vigilant or on the lookout if Geralt was already doing that for the both of them and thus he had gotten sloppy and earned himself Geralt’s disdain. But that’s all over now; he has to make do on his own again.  

So he does so and makes his way down one of the more well-travelled routes, heading towards Novigrad as his final destination where he thinks he might settle down for a while. He’s always wanted to be an author – maybe he writes a scripture of his travels with the Witcher, maybe he doesn’t – depending on how he feels about the whole thing by the time he reaches the city on the coast.

A few weeks into his travels, on the border of Redania, in Tridam to be exact, he runs into Yennefer.

He’s singing at the court of the local Baron, his daughter’s betrothal banquet is in full swing and no matter how much he thinks about it in the recesses of his mind, he won’t admit that it reminds him of his time in Queen Calanthe’s court on that fateful day.

He’s hopping from one table to another, going down the list of the familiar hits he used to play for the noble folk before he’d gotten sidetracked by Geralt and the call to adventure. It’s going swell, not a mishap in sight and really, Jaskier definitely isn’t the one that called forth the shitty luck Geralt’s had for most of their travels – it was the White Wolf himself that was to blame, him and his stubbornness. And he knows that, everyone knows that – everyone except for the Witcher himself.

He’s halfway through the chorus of The Fishmonger’s Daughter when he spots her and her beady little purple eyes staring at him across the hall. He trips over someone’s foot sticking out from the bench they’re sitting on but recovers quickly, playing it off as a change of cords as he improvises a chorus that has the men and women in the court roaring with cheer. He takes a bow as he reaches the middle of the wide room.

“Thank you all, you’ve been lovely and I shall be by in the morning to collect my coin! But the humble bard must retreat for the evening!” He bows again with flourish as some of the people in the hall protest at his sudden and hasty departure. Oh, the fat bastards of the court are never satisfied! He’s been there for the entire night already, it’s about time he packed up and got a good night’s sleep in lest he lose his voice. His retreat has nothing to do with Yennefer leering at him from the corner of the room, surrounded by feeble men attracted to her like flies to a fresh pile of horseshit.

He makes haste towards the exit of the castle, careful not to drop the bottle of wine and his lute on the way down the worn, stone steps. He’s so busy trying to balance his belongings and thinking that he’d gotten away from her vengeful gaze that he doesn’t realize he’s walking right into her until it’s too late and – damn it, he’s dropped the wine!

“Oh, not the wine, mercy please.” He watches the cracked bottle leaking with sad eyes. He should have known better.

“Julian.” She clears her throat like he hadn’t seen her already.

“What do you want, you wretch? I, for one, wanted that bottle of wine and yet here we are – a bottle broken and an uncomfortable encounter on my hands instead. So, what is it?” He picks up his lute before the wine can get to it and slings it over his shoulder. He’s not nearly drunk enough for this confrontation – if he were, well, then he’d preferably be passed out in a ditch somewhere.

She looks at him funny then; one of her impressive eyebrows quirked and her jaw set like she’d expected a warm welcome or something. She stays silent, though, furthering Jaskier into irritation.

“Well?” He waves a hand out impatiently. He’d rather be having this conversation somewhere else – or not at all, really.

“You – you’re doing well for yourself.” She says like it’s a surprise, like she expected something else entirely. Like she expected him to mourn.

And maybe it is a surprise. It’s not like she knew him from before he’d been travelling with Geralt. She never bothered to know him even then; she was too busy being a powerful sorceress, was too busy sucking co-

“Yes, I was. But then I saw your puckered little face shooting daggers in my direction and my night got progressively worse. And I still don’t have any wine to drown my woes in.” He points a finger at her accusingly. And he knows that he may be coming off as an absolute dick but he’s a little angry. He’s – he’s not bitter with her or the situation, not when he knew he never stood a chance, but he is angry that she’s given herself the liberty to speak to him like she knew him as anything other than Geralt’s faithful puppy.

“No, I mean. All things considered?” She shrinks in on herself then, some of her deeply-rooted insecurity leaking to the surface and Jaskier straightens up his back, crossing his arms over his chest, taking advantage of her lapse in posture.

Which things considered? Considering that I’m travelling on my own again or that Geralt had decided to blame Destiny on me? If it’s both, I’ll have you know, I was doing fine before him and there’s no reason why I should be any worse off without him.” He huffs with a roll of his eyes and tries to move past her but she grabs his wrist, stopping him in place. A shudder goes through him at her cold touch and he looks back, eyes squinted in suspicion at what more she could possibly want.

She’s holding a bottle out for him as if it’s a peace offering and his mind halts, anything vile that wanted to spill from his loosed lips dries up immediately at the tentative offering. There’s something oddly open in her gaze as she implores him to take the wine.

He grabs the bottle reluctantly, popping it open and sniffing before taking a swig. Well, if she’s poisoned him, it’s too late now anyway. He may not be an idiot but his self-preservation instincts are very minimal.

“I’m sorry.”

“For what? The wine? You fixed that. For assuming I’m an incapable buffoon? I don’t blame you; I didn’t give myself the best reputation during our brief ventures together. For the insults hurled at me every time we met? Well, nothing to it, you’re always half right anyway.” He snorts, only slightly ashamed of his rambling – especially the bit about his travels with the Witcher. He’d loved travelling with Geralt, loved the security that came adjacent to travelling with a Witcher despite the messes they’d gotten into. But he was a fool to let himself act the way he did, he was an idiot chasing coin and skirt and Geralt’s shining eyes. He knows better now; knew better back then, too, but was blinded by Geralt’s sheer presence and his striking features.

“I’m sorry about Geralt.” She releases his wrist but he stays. He doesn’t know why because he doesn’t have any reason to, but he does anyway.

“Why? You didn’t send me on my way; you didn’t make him say what he did. You’ve got nothing to be sorry for, Yennefer.” He shakes his head, contemplating downing half of the bottle in his next sip.

“No, but I’d made him angry and he took it out on you when you didn’t deserve it.” She shrugs, bundling up in her coat like she’s trying to stave off something other than the cold.

He scoffs, “Stop – stop whatever this pity party is, Yennefer. You might have made him mad but I’d allowed myself-” He shakes his head and stops speaking before all of his problems become real. “He did what he did and it was for the best. I’d become dependent on him for safety and for my inspiration. It was time for me to move on and he’d just opened my eyes to it. I should be thanking you.” He clears his throat, trying to lighten up his tone. “Besides, Geralt is a grown man who should have respected your wishes to be left alone. He should be apologizing to you for his beastly ways.”

This time, it’s her that laughs – a brittle and bitter little thing as she shakes her head, dark hair falling over her face. “I can’t believe – I envy you, Jaskier. Look at you – you’re doing so well and I’d been worried for nothing all along.”

Bollocks were you worried!” He laughs at the notion; like they’d ever even been more than a weird sort of rivals for Geralt’s attention let alone friends. He was but a speck of dirt on her field of vision, something to make fun of and look down at with pity in her violet eyes as he pined silently when Geralt shared her tent and her bed.

“I was. I know it’s hard to believe but yes, I was. I know now that it was for naught because you certainly are stronger than you seem.” She praises him and this gives him pause.

He feels his cheeks heat a little under the attention and he clears his throat weakly. “Why should you envy me? I’ve nothing to my name except a lute, a bag of coin and a destination in mind. A couple of songs under my belt and the ability to charm the skirt off any maiden. Actually, never mind, that’s quite an impressive list. Especially that last part, let me tell you.

“I envy you because it took me much longer than I’d like to admit to get over what Geralt and I had than it had taken you. I’d heard tales by the fifth day of you already celebrating at some Lord’s hall with a troupe of his local troubadours.” She smiles thinly and Jaskier notices the lines of worry around her eyes that weren’t there the last time they’d met.

He looks away, unsure of how to proceed. It’s not like he’d mourned a lover lost. It’s not like Geralt had given him grief about anything actually possible. Sure it still hurts on some days – like when he turns to say something to the Witcher only to find him not there, but he gets over it quickly. So she’s not entirely correct in her assumption, he’s not over it, not fully. He’s just – better at suppressing feelings than even perhaps the Witcher himself. No sense in crying over spilt wine, as they say.

“What you and he had was a much deeper connection than that of a Witcher and his travelling bard. What you and he had was real.” He says in the calmest voice possible, still not willing to admit how jealousy had cut a path down his chest that scarred him from the inside every time Geralt had gone to her instead of spent a night under the stars by the fire with him. She might know the depths of his plight but he will not outright admit it.

Yennefer tilts her head and places a hand on his chest gently; she closes her eyes and smiles timidly. “I’d underestimated you, Jaskier.” She admits with a lilting tone. “You are much stronger than both I and Geralt combined. Maybe not in a physical sense, but in here, where it matters.” She pats his chest and then steps back.

“Well, that’s good to hear. I think?” He blinks at her, baffled at the sudden genuine turn of phrase coming from her painted lips.

“I hope that despite our differences, you don’t think of me in a bad light. I wish you the best on your travels and that you don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any help.” She procures a small, round, metal box adorned with intricate detailing seemingly out of nowhere and lifts it towards him.

“That’s not going to blow up in my face if I touch it, is it?” He pokes at the box curiously and she chuckles. He startles at the sound and pulls back, much more alarmed now than he was before.

“No, it’s a xenovox. It’s a long-range communication device that’ll give you a direct line of contact to me if you should need it.” She holds it out again insistently and he takes it, still surprised and slightly doubtful.

“I – thank you, Yennefer, you didn’t have to.” He puts the object into the satchel on his hip with care.

“I didn’t, but I wanted to. Be careful out there, Jaskier, it’s a full moon tonight.” She pats his cheek in a friendly manner and turns back, walking up the stone steps and disappearing behind the corner before he can think of an appropriate reply.

“That wasn’t weird at all. I might be losing my mind.” He says out-loud to himself just to check if he still has a voice or if she’d somehow taken it with her.

“If that wasn’t the weirdest thing-” Shaking his head, he makes his way down the cobblestoned path and into the servant’s quarters where he’ll be staying the night.

Out of all the things, he muses as he lies down to sleep, the bottle of wine forgotten next to the low bed.

A few months down the line, several detours and many a night spent well-fed on someone’s court, he finds himself in a small town a day’s worth of ride outside of Vizima. He finds himself there due to necessity because, as it were, he is bleeding out from a nasty gash on his leg and a stab to his side. It was only right that after a few months of peace and quiet on his travels, Yennefer’s well wishes would wear out and he’d get jumped by a group of bandits looking to fuck over anyone that crosses their path. Today, that happened to be none other than Jaskier.

“If I die I want my body buried in Dol Blathanna.” He whines as whoever is taking care of his wounds, digs deep into his side to try and pluck out the broken tip of a sorry excuse for a knife one of the bandits had wielded.

“You’re not going to die,” The gentle voice belonging to the curly-haired woman soothes but it’s no use, he feels like he’s on fire.

“And I never even got to write my memoires! I was going to become famous – ah, fuck!” He almost bites through his lip trying to contain the scream that wants to escape him. “I was going to become rich! Everyone’s always asking me oh, humble bard, for what adventures have you seen in your time! And I – fuck, shit, that’s a lot of blood.” He feels faint as he watches her exchange the soaked rag with a clean one, staunching the blood flow again.

“Hold still, you imp!” She hisses impatiently as he tries to wiggle away from the pain at her touch.

“Can’t you knock me out? Please? It would save the both of us a lot of trouble.” He whines pathetically.

He should be thankful, he knows. He’d be dead already if it weren’t for her. He doesn’t even know her name and she’s got her fingers in his wound because there’s still that pesky bit of knife stuck in there and oh how he wishes he was out cold!

“Oh, Dol Blathanna was beautifully deserted! Fuck!” He yelps as she pulls out the metal tip from his side, this is going to take ages to heal properly! “No bandits! No stupid townsfolk asking me where – only Filavandrel and his merry band of Elves to hear my songs!” He laments sadly, pretty certain that he is shouting. “Oh! Oh, that hurts! Oh, when a humble bard-” He wails to distracts himself from the agony spreading through his entire left side.  

“It’s a miracle you haven’t passed out from the pain yet – wait.” She finally meets his eye, eyebrows raised into her hairline almost. “You’re Jaskier? The Wi-”

“I am no one’s bard!” He grits out with his eyes shut and his fists clenched because he knows what she was going to say – he’s been hearing it for the past few months.

This is precisely why he’d gotten into this situation as well. He’d gotten tired of the safe paths because everyone he’d come across would immediately ask where his Witcher was. ‘Oh, the Butcher of Blaviken! I’d like to see the beast with my own two eyes, where is he, bard?’ they’d ask. Or: ‘The White Wolf of Rivia! My, what an honour it must be to travel with him, where is he?’ they’d implore. And he’d gotten tired of it after the first three times but people just kept assuming and when he’d say that he was on his own they would either look at him with pity in their eyes or try and slander Geralt for leaving him behind. And he was having none of that.

“I’m sorry.” The woman, places a hand over his wound before digging through the bag next to her, clinking vials of something together until she locates the one she apparently needs. “I’ll need you to come back with me to Vizima. This will hold for now but you need to rest before you can continue with your journey.”

He grunts but chooses to keep his mouth shut. He watches her soak a bandage with the sweet-smelling potion and then wrap it around his leg, and around his waist. The pain lessens almost instantly, the whole area becoming numb.

“Come on, up you go.” She helps him stand and then he watches with fascination as she opens up a swirly portal out of thin air and guides them both through it. A sorceress, of course, just his luck. He hopes she’s less mean than the other one he knows. Though, he supposes him and Yennefer are on neutral grounds now.

“What – your name, I need to know who to write my odes to once I am saved.” He tries to grin as she deposits him into a soft bed.

She shakes her head with a small smile, “Triss Merigold, at your service, bard.”

“Just Jaskier will do.” He sighs as he lies down, staring up at the vaulted ceilings. It’s warm in the room but maybe that’s his body protesting the potion she’d dipped into his blood. Either way, his life is now in her hands entirely.

“Well then, Jaskier, it’s time to rest.” She closes a hand over his eyes and just like that, his consciousness is no more.

He doesn’t know how long he’s spent out cold but when he wakes, it’s night time and Triss is sitting by the bed in a cushy armchair reading something from a thick book. He looks at her curiously, at the way she’s poised gracefully in the chair and the blue dress that’s contrasting with her tan skin prettily. If he weren’t sure Geralt had already tried something with her, he would have attempted to at least flirt his way into her bed – but under better circumstances, certainly. If this even is her bed? Where was he again?

“Oh, you’re awake.” She sets the book down and comes to his side, busying herself with checking on his wounds that feel much better at the moment than he last remembers. “Do you know where you are?”

“Hm, somewhere nice, I’m sure.” He tries to grin but coughs as he finds his throat parched.

She chuckles and brings him a cup of water that he downs eagerly. “Easy there, you’ve been out for a while now. Three days, I’m afraid. The knife didn’t nick anything important but it was still a deep wound.”

“Thank you.” He says, hoping that he can somehow repay her for the act of kindness.  

 “Nonsense, all in a day’s work.” She waves him off with a grin.

“No, no. I must repay you somehow. I have no coin on me or my beating would have been worse but perhaps a song to soothe your soul? Maybe a dance if I’m up to it or perhaps a poem to your name? Oh, what shines brighter than silver and gold but the smile of Triss by the name Merigold? No, that was terrible, I’m sure I’ll come up with something better once I’m at my best!” He rambles, pulling himself out of the bed, eager to leave the bed and Vizima altogether but stopping when she waves him back in warning.

“He was right, you do talk a lot.” She stares at him in contemplation for a moment before offering him another cup of water. He drinks this one slower, buying himself time before he has to respond.

“Yes, well, he was always rather adamant about voicing that opinion.” He shrugs and then pokes at the cloth where the wound in his side is. He winces as the tender flesh protests under the bandage.

“He’s an oaf but he usually means well.” She tutts and bats his hand away.

He grunts, a sound very uncharacteristic for him, annoyed at her presumptions. How does she know? Has she spent much time with the Witcher? It’s unlikely. Geralt doesn’t spend much time with anyone – except for Roach but that’s a given. Aside from that, Jaskier was possibly the only one that stuck around for more than a couple of nights with the Witcher. A mighty feat, sure, but what good has it brought him?

She tilts her head at his non-response, studying him much like Yennefer always did. Like he’s something fragile to be looked after and pitied, studied like a rare flower. It furthers his silent anger despite his usually sunny disposition.

“You’re not what I imagined when he’d talked about you.” She finally says, peeling off the bandage to show a sliver of a still-red scar where the puncture wound used to be. She moves on to his leg and he realizes that he’s very nearly naked in bed – it would be an entirely welcome situation were it not for the swirling pit of emotions opening up in his stomach. Geralt talked about him? No, he probably complained about me. He doesn’t have words of kindness to spare for the likes of me. He doesn’t have words to spare, end of statement.

“Well, people do change all the time.” She finishes for him, saving Jaskier the trouble of responding.

“I don’t suppose you want to hear what he was here to do? You know, for one of your new songs.” She continues idly, tilting his leg to the side to check the deep gash that was once there as well. He hates to admit it but she’s exceptionally good at this whole healing thing and he owes her his life so maybe he should be nicer to her.

And alright, maybe he’s itching to ask her about Geralt, about what he said but he won’t stoop so low. Blindly searching for Geralt’s words of approval is beneath him, he’s decided a while back. He’s moved on from being Geralt’s faithful bardic companion and despite the feelings that still linger – and will probably continue to linger – he refuses to give into the need for praise.

“Curious indeed.” She chuckles lowly and turns around to fetch something. When she turns back, she’s holding a new outfit for him, something not covered in blood and dirtied from days on the road. His eyes widen as he takes in the deep navy of the fine material.

“You know, when I said you talk a lot, I didn’t mean for you to stop.” She hands him the clothes and he sits up slowly. “I feel as though I’m talking to a wall and not the famous Bard that managed to clear up the Butcher of Blaviken’s name!”

“I’ve found that when one has nothing of import to say, one should not say anything at all.” He hates to admit it but that’s one of the rare lessons that’s stuck with him from his time with Geralt. In just a few short months he’s become the silent and resilient type of traveller he’d always scoffed at. He hates to admit it but it has helped keep him out of trouble.

Maybe Geralt was right all along. Oh how he despises to admit that he’d become bitter and lonely. The Witcher might no longer be the Butcher of Blaviken but he certainly is the Butcher of Jaskier’s Spirits.

Gods, he hates how testy he gets whenever Geralt is mentioned. He’s not that bitter – he’s not.  

“Yennefer had some words to say about you as well.” Triss politely turns away as he dresses.

He pauses, hands on his hips and brows arching. “Do you all just gather around a big hearth and gossip like the commoners or do you exchange letters? Perhaps it’s by xenovox?”

She turns around with a smile on her face as if she’s accomplished some great feat. “Now how did you come into possession of one of those?”

“Um, Yennefer gave me one in case I wanted to contact her.” He admits, not sure if he’s supposed to or not but – it’s not like it is some big secret. Or is it?

“Curious, yet again! During our last encounter she’d failed to mention this.” Her eyes twinkle in the firelight and Jaskier wishes he could look into her mind to know what she’s thinking. She seems like a complicated person. Much like any other magical being he’d encountered.

“Maybe she likes people staying out of her business.” He mutters under his breath, shakily doing up the buttons on the silk shirt.

“Don’t worry, unlike Geralt’s complaints, Yennefer had only words of praise for you. Though, the common theme was their uncharacteristic worry. Odd for the both of them but somehow more-so for Yen.” Triss reassures him and yet, this only serves to make him feel worse. To know that the both of them care about his well-being still and that despite it, Geralt had chosen to send him away.

“It’s insulting that they think I can’t take care of myself.” He scoffs and she raises an eyebrow at him, motioning down to his newly-acquired scars. He clears his throat, “This incident notwithstanding.”

“I can see why you’d think that. You seem to have done well for yourself. I do not know you, Jaskier, but why the both of them would ever think you weak is beyond me.” She declares firmly and he gulps down a panicked laugh.

His time away from the Witcher has certainly opened up his eyes to a few things. For one, he’s now more aware that he had acted like a damn fool around the magical fucker. He has no one to blame for his situation but himself. And Geralt. He’s still reasonably sure that he can blame Geralt for at least a few things.

An alarming amount of responses runs through his head and what ends up leaving mortifies him. “Well, love makes us foolish, does it not?”

Her gaze darkens a little at that, straying away from where she’d caught Jaskier’s own. Her shoulders slump and she nods like she knows exactly what he’s talking about. Is it possible? Is she another one of Geralt’s pining beaus that were never anything more to him than a quick fuck? Oh, Jaskier knows just how highly possible this is. After all, he is probably the only fool that fell in love with the man without even getting a taste of him.

“Yes, it certainly does.” Triss agrees and shoots him a feeble smile that he knows far too well. “At least now it makes sense.” She pins on to the end and now, well, now he’s just confused.

“What does?” He asks huffily, cursing the way that everyone skirts around sensitive topics like they’ll get bitten by a basilisk and die if they so much as broach them.

“Why he was so adamant to know if you were doing well.” Her smile is still brittle as she moves closer to the large table in the corner of the room that holds stacks of books and bottles of various colors. “You see, he had me put a tracking spell on you of sorts. Not the kind that shows your location at all times, no. But the kind that lets me know if your blood is being spilt in a violent way. It’s how I found you. The spell leaves much to be desired but it helped in the end. It was what he chose as his payment for his last job here.”

Jaskier’s entire body freezes over, cold dripping down into his stomach from an unknown source. He shivers at the feeling before his body erupts into indignant flames not visible to the human eye because, despite feeling very real, they are but a metaphor. He tightens his fists at his sides.

“He-” Taking a deep breath, he closes his eyes. “Why did he do that?”

“Because he’s worried about you, Jaskier.” Triss leans back against the table, observing him with narrowed eyes again.

“He’s worried that I will cause him trouble or tarnish his name, is what it is.” He scoffs, looking around the room to try and locate his belongings. “He doesn’t have any right to be worried about me because – take the spell off, I don't want it. If I am to die by the age of twenty five then so be it. I don't care.” He rounds on her, stance firm and demanding.

“Jaskier, come on-” She stands, trying to reach out to him but he’s made up his mind.

Geralt doesn’t get to do this.

“No, no. If he were really and truly worried he would have – I don't know. Probably done nothing because it’s Geralt we’re talking about here and we both know he’s thicker than swamp mud!” He waves a hand around frantically, still trying to locate his bag and finally spotting it, along with his muddy cloak, hanging off one of the antlers mounted on the wall. He makes the strides across the large room in record time and plucks his things from the antler-hooks.

“He means well.” She repeats her earlier words and Jaskier bites out a loud laugh, cruel-sounding and unbecoming of him.

“You say that but does he really? I don't think he means anything at all anymore. He goes on his merry way saying things and I'm supposed to fork through them and pick out the ones that mean something? No, I'm done doing that. I’ve been fine so far and I’ll be fine again.” He throws the cloak over his back and heads for the door. “The spell better be lifted by the time I leave the city.” It’s an empty threat and Triss knows this as well but she nods all the same.

The town is bustling even during nightfall and he should have probably waited for the sun to rise but he’s too angry for that. He needs to leave and he needs to leave at once, Vizima’s never done anyone any good and the people here are miserable anyway so why should Jaskier be any different? He could possibly hunker down in a tavern or an inn for the night but they’d take one look at his lute and his face and demand songs of the great White Wolf and then he’d have to sing lest he give himself a bad reputation and – well, not tonight.

His body is still stiff from lying prone for three days but he powers through the pain, looking for the nearest door out of the city. He’s never been more determined to reach the Free City of Novigrad than he is now.    

He fumes on his way out. Fumes all the way down the stone streets and across the muddy puddles as he approaches one of the large gates and crosses the bridge there. Geralt needs to stay out of his business. Jaskier, to a certain extent, understands why Geralt had sent him away – and he has accepted that. His heart may still long for the boorish man’s company but his mind has made peace with the dismissal. He just wishes Geralt would decide if he cares or not before he gets Jaskier’s hopes up again for no good reason.

“And I was so close to Novigrad, too!” He whines as the xenovox starts making noises at him.

Hello? Jaskier?” Yennefer voice comes through the line a little creaky and hushed but he hears it all the same. Sighing, he brings the contraption closer to his face and inspects it.

“How does this thing work? Do I just yell at it?!” He raises his voice, startling his borrowed horse into a protesting neigh.

Don't yell, you idiot, I can hear you fine!” She hisses at him and he pulls his face away from the box.

“Well, if you can hear me fine then answer me this: what do you want?” He huffs, tired from the day’s travels and not in the mood to talk to Yennefer.

She clears her throat very deliberately like she hates to speak the words but she’s going to say them anyway. “I haven’t heard a word from you since Tridam, I'm – as you say – 'checking in' on you.”

“Hm,” He’s well aware that he sounds startlingly like Geralt when he’s tired – another bad habit he’d picked up from the Witcher that he hasn’t been able to shake. “Well, I’ll have you know that I'm still doing well for myself, as you put it. Almost a year on my own and I’ve not died yet.”

Except for that time in Vizima,” She snorts inelegantly, “Where are you now?”

“Somewhere between Rinbe and Oxenfurt.” He shrugs to himself, he’s about a day away from the town where he’d gone to university but he’s sure that he’ll bypass it entirely for a couple of weeks in Novigrad. “Probably closer to La Valette than Rinbe.”

Hold still.” Her voice cuts out and he stares at the box incredulously. Hold still?

He sees a swirling of air and dirt appear in the crisp spring air and the sudden wavering of the horizon before another scene entirely appears and then Yennefer is stepping out the circle and next to his little campfire. He’s sure he looks like a gawking idiot but he’s not seen this type of sorcery be performed before – it serves as a good reminder of how powerful Yennefer really is.

She looks around his campsite and even looks decently impressed by what she finds.

“Where’d you get the horse?” She asks, taking a seat on a fallen log opposite the one he’s leaning against.

“It was a gift.” It was.

“Charmed it out of a young noblewoman’s grasp, I'm sure.” She nods as if in approval.

“Nobleman’s actually. Why are you here, again? And how?” He stows the xenovox into his bag again and leans forward slightly, “I’d offer you refreshments but I'm afraid all I have is water and some oil decidedly not for nutritional purposes.”

She scrunches up her face before giving him a deadpan look. “I told you, I was worried.”      

 “And that’s very kind of you but haven’t we established that you didn’t have to be worried about me?” He plucks at the lute in his lap idly, strumming a near-silent tune.

“It’s hard not to be worried about you when Geralt’s hounding me for information all the time.” She rolls her eyes so hard that Jaskier’s surprised they haven’t vacated her skull yet.

“I hope you haven’t told him anything. Let him stew.” He plucks a particularly bad note and winces, quieting the strings with his palm.

“No, I haven’t. Triss told me about your wishes of remaining unseen by his Witcher-y eyes.” She chuckles and procures for herself a cup of wine out of thin air – now that’s power.

“Thank you, for respecting my wishes.” He nods at her, once again unsure of where the conversation is going.

“It’s just funny how – well, how insistent he is that we keep tabs on you. I tried telling him that you’re doing well on your own and that you don’t need a nursemaid but-” She shakes her head and chuckles. “It’s funny.”

“It’s bloody well annoying, is what it is.” He grunts and bats away the rabbit trying to nibble at the bedroll he’s sitting on.

“Look, Jaskier...”

“Oh, no. Not that tone!” He brandishes the look as a judge would a gavel in her direction.

“I will not have you make excuses for him or in his stead. Triss went on about how he means well but does he really? I'm sure you know what I told her and I stand by it. Meanings and actions are very different in reality, Yen. Actions hurt people and meanings can remain unseen by others. I don't want him to know where I am because I'm tired of him treating me like a child!” He almost smacks the lute into the ground but stops himself short of actually doing it like a petulant sprog would.

Something akin to understanding crosses her features and her entire demeanor goes soft. “Oh, Jaskier.” She croons with a loving smile like a mother looking at a particularly unruly offspring. “Geralt doesn’t know any better. Imagine being told your whole life that you have no feelings, that you don't need anybody and that you never will. And then suddenly that proves to be wrong. How would you feel if someone suddenly took your voice, how did you feel when someone almost did?”

He sits back, looking into her violet eyes and contemplates. The Djinn encounter was terrible. He hated not being able to talk and he hated the fact that he wished he’d die rather than lose his voice. It had been truly one of the lowest, most heart-wrenching moments of his life.

“Terrible, it felt terrible.” He looks away and into the fire. It’s been almost a full year since they’d parted ways and Jaskier had been composing hollowed poems about beautiful men and women that did nothing more than make him feel alone. He’s sure that Geralt’s doing well,though; going about his business of monster hunting but with the occasional detour to ask about Jaskier and his travels – like he cares.

“He doesn’t care. You should tell him to stop pestering unsuspecting sorceresses about me. I don't want him looking out for me anymore.” He tosses a few short branches into the fire – it’s warm enough to sleep without it but it wards off the wolves he’s found so he keeps it lit.

“What do you want him to do, Jaskier? I know that he is sorry for what he said without him having to even say it because he looks miserable every time we cross paths. I don't like seeing him hurt and knowing that you’re better off without him seems to make it worse.” She pinches the bridge of her nose. “I told him of our encounter in Tridam, about how well you were doing. I was impressed, I still am, Jaskier, but he was – well. Maybe he’d gotten used to the idea of someone needing him, after all. So – what do you want him to do?

“I want him to grovel.” He sneers. “It’s beneath him to be broken up about what he did. He’s always going on about consequences and whatnot so he should have known better. I'm doing fine, yes, but that doesn’t mean I'm not hurt still. I want him to grovel and beg because it’s his fault.”

She seems taken aback, the wine in the cup sloshing as she flinches. “Huh. I didn’t know you had it in you, little bard.” She tilts her head this way and that, from side to side as she thinks his words over. “If I can talk him into grovelling, will you take him back?”

“I never had him in the first place.” He crosses his arms over his chest.

“Oh, you’ve had more of him than you even realize, buttercup.” She grins, sharp and confident again, back to her old self mostly. “If I can convince him – no underhanded strategies, don't give me that look – where can he find you?”

“I'm not ready to face him yet. I'm going to Novigrad where I’ll – I don't know, loiter around for a few months until I make enough coin or I manage convince some naive nobleman to buy me a cottage on the coast.” He leans back against the log, closing his eyes. “I was thinking about somewhere near Gors Vellen.”

“How long do you think it’ll take? For you to be ready, I mean.” She asks again.

He hums, a smile curling at his lips. “Let him stew.”

Chapter Text

He doesn’t watch the bard walk away to talk to the rest of the people gathered at the side of the mountain. He fumes at the cards he’s been dealt by everyone around him and remains adamant that most things are Jaskier’s fault in the end.

“You’re wrong, you know.” Borch throws on his way down the path, right next to where Geralt is standing silently and stewing in his thoughts.

“Spare me.” He grunts, not deigning to look at the man as he moves to walk in front of him because Geralt had apparently chosen to stand where the most-travelled road is.

“I’ll spare you the suffering, my good Witcher, and tell you that it’s not the bard’s fault.” Borch smiles back at him reassuringly with Téa and Véa staring at him like he’d done something incredibly stupid from behind the dragon.

“Though, he doesn’t help out much but when there’s trouble – he is certainly someone to hold on to.” The man says cryptically and Geralt elects to turn away from him, making his way back to where he’d left Roach.

It’s better like this, he decides. The bard was nothing but trouble and even if he didn’t attract it, he certainly never kept himself out of it either. He was loud, annoying, persistent, talked too much and never shut up. He was the wrong sort to be hanging out around Geralt. It is a miracle he hadn’t snapped at the man sooner – it is a miracle that Jaskier stuck around for as long as he did.

He likes travelling alone. He has his swords, his potions and Roach by his side and that’s all that he needs. He didn’t need another burden, he didn’t need the constant chatter or a pesky bard filling his ears and keeping him distracted more often than he’d like to admit.

His travels are silent for the first time in months, maybe even years. He purposefully avoids the direction that the bard had gone in and sets off towards the town opposite. He travels on horseback for three days before he comes to a small settlement. They seem to have a problem with Drowners – much like all the other villages like this do. There’s a swamp nearby that needs to be rid of them so he takes the job and with silence as his companion sets to slashing and slicing.

Once he is done he comes back to the people that hired him and they offer him bread and cheese for the road that he accepts. The settlement doesn’t have an inn so he rides out, resigning himself to sleeping in a forest somewhere down the road when his eyelids begin closing. It’s nothing new. He’s been doing this for almost the entirety of his life and if Roach grumbles about the lack of a roof over her head, well, he’ll blame Jaskier for getting her used to cushy inns and good grain.

She’ll get used to it, so will Geralt. Things will fall back into place without the bard near him and Geralt will continue doing his job while Jaskier is off somewhere else, alone, possibly in danger and unprotected. Well fuck.

A few months in, near the Kestrel Mountains, in a tavern in the city of Ghelibol, he hears a song being sung. It’s a familiar tune, the words to it even more so and Geralt hates how his ears almost seem to perk up before he realizes it’s someone else singing his song. He goes into the tavern regardless, just to double check that it’s not Jaskier with a sore throat.

He’s an idiot, he realizes, after he lays eyes upon the imposter.

An unreasonable amount of anger rises in him and he fights down the urge to hurl his pint of ale across the establishment into not-Jaskier’s head. The man can’t hold a tune to save his life and the words to the song about the slaying of the mighty dragon are changed from when he’d last heard them. And he has heard this particular song before. This entire situation has happened before as well so he controls his breathing and beats himself up over getting his – what? His hopes up? Why would he hope to come across Jaskier now? Certainly, he should be elated that he’d gone these few months without hearing about the bard much. And yet there he is, the third time in as many weeks that he’d heard one of Jaskier’s songs being sung by someone other than the author.

“Oh, he’s terrible.” He overhears one of the maidens in the corner of the tavern say to two of her friends sitting at the same table.

“Dreadful, really. The author, the real bard, should send his hound after all of the minstrels that try and copy his tune. This is a crime!” The other friend waves a hand around angrily and Geralt shares the sentiment.

“Haven’t you heard?” The third one leans closer to the other two conspiratorially. “He’s travelling alone again. Word has it that he’d gotten bored of the Butcher and left ‘im.”

Geralt squeezes the wrist of the hand holding the ale, preventing it from contracting around the pint forcefully and cracking it. Pointlessly destroying tavern property will do no one any good.

“Just as well,” The first one throws her head back with a haughty laugh. “One can only write so many songs about Drowners and swamp water before the material runs dry!” All three of them descend into a fit of giggles that would be charming were Geralt not fuming silently.

Jaskier? Gotten bored? Of him? Only his self-preservation stops him from going over there and demanding to know where they’d heard such nonsense.

He was the one that sent the bard on his way! He was the one that didn’t need Jaskier depending on him all the time. He’s always been alone and he will be alone again.

“That’s an ugly color on you, Geralt.” A familiar voice says to his right and he knows who it is before she even slides to sit across from him.

He doesn’t – he doesn’t know how he hadn’t heard her enter the tavern, how he hadn’t smelled the familiar scent. He hates to think about why that might be – so he decidedly doesn’t.

“Yen,” He grunts, releasing the pint and flexing his fingers since they’ve gone a little numb from the force of his grip.

“This,” She waves a hand in a circle to indicate his face and the expression he’s presumably making, “The color indignant, it’s unbecoming of you.”

“What do you want, Yen?” He sighs, taking a sip of the piss they’re trying to pass off as ale in this wretched tavern. It had gone warm and slightly stale. How long has he been sitting here, angry that the entertainment tonight isn’t Jaskier? And will probably never again be Jaskier?

“Why does everyone assume I want something from them?” She huffs, arms crossed over her ample bosom. She looks – well, she looks good. She always looks good and her eyes are as captivating as ever but if she’s here for a roll in the hay – he’s afraid that he’ll have to decline.

“Because you do?” He looks away as she frowns at him. “Who’s everyone?”

“I ran into your little bard a few weeks ago.” She grins sharply as Geralt’s gaze snaps back to her, like she’d won some prize playing a game unknown to him.

“Where?” His hand spasms against the table, he’s already counting the coin in his purse mentally and preparing to push Roach to whatever town Jaskier was seen last just to – he pauses. Just to what? Just to rush back to him and demand an explanation? Why haven’t our paths crossed yet after so many years of them constantly interlacing? To demand an apology? What for? Jaskier hasn’t done anything wrong and loathe as he is to admit it, he’d been wrong on that cursed mountain.

“He’s doing well.” She continues like he hasn’t spoken at all. “He was singing at a betrothal banquet. His coin purse was fat and the wine plentiful and flowing into his cup from every pretty maiden that offered it.” Her words are deliberate knives like she knows where all of his weak spots are. And she probably does. It’s just odd that she knows to target all of the ones with Jaskier’s name on them.

“He’s doing ... well?” He slumps back against the wall, shrinking away from her vigilant gaze.

“Oh, yes. He’s a right hit with everyone! I always hear stories about how he livens up any place that he enters. He’s positively radiant. We had a nice chat, too. He says he’s been in high demand lately. He’s finally making it out there as the famous bard that he’s always wanted to be. On his own.” She hums, inspecting her nails and then calling over the barmaid to request a cup of wine. “You seem shocked?”

He grunts, at a loss for words – not like that’s something new. He expected... well, not this. He didn’t expect for Yennefer to come back into his life with words about Jaskier and just how well he was doing – on his own, without Geralt, without his company or his protection.

“You can’t be that surprised. He was fine before you showed up, Geralt, of course he’s going to be fine on his own once again.” She chuckles and thanks the barmaid as her wine is brought to her. “I’ll admit, I was a little worried about him after his hasty departure post the whole Dragon Mountains adventure. But it seems that my fears were entirely unfounded. He doesn’t need me, nor you, worrying about him. Imagine that!”

Ah, so Jaskier doesn’t need him after all.

Realistically, he knows that what she is saying makes sense. The information is logical and the facts given to him all check out but somehow, something inside him doesn’t want to reconcile with the notion that Jaskier is doing fine without him.

“Where?” He demands again, face contorting and making Yennefer’s grin even wider. He hates that smile. It makes him feel like – like she’d somehow won over him. He doesn’t know how or what, but something in that grin is very off-putting.

“Oh, come now, Geralt. Why would you want to know that? You’ve done so well avoiding him so far, I'm sure you’ll do just as fine without knowing his location or final destination.” She tips the cup and drinks the rest of her wine in one go. Standing up, she dusts off her coat and picks up the bag she’s carrying. “He’s healthy as a horse. He’s fed and watered, well fucked and taken care of. What more could you want for him? I’ll see you around, Geralt. Take care and safe travels.” She waves lightly, her dark hair bouncing as she exits the dingy establishment.

Was she – was she here with a purpose? Was that purpose to stir Geralt up? How did she know to do this with information about Jaskier? Is he really that transparent? What is there to be transparent about? Is he going to continue down this river of denial and for how long? Oh, mercy please, someone knock him out cold! So many questions and none of the answers!

Angrier than he has been in a while, he drops a coin onto the table and shoves his way out of the tavern. As a self-imposed punishment, he decides to camp out in the nearby forest and hunt for that pack of pesky wild dogs a day early.

In the few months that he’d been on his own, Geralt had come to a startling realization. It was one that he didn’t like thinking about but had to every time that the silence of the night air became almost unbearable and the feeling of being alone consumed him. But it was his own fault, wasn’t it?

He’d complained, he’d pushed and shoved and he was mean and nasty towards the bard and Jaskier had stuck around regardless. And now that he’s gone and Geralt is left to his own thoughts and memories, he loathes admitting that he misses the bard dearly. And that’s the realization that he wants to avoid admitting to himself – and anyone else – at all costs. Because Geralt is rarely wrong. He hates being wrong. And admitting that he misses Jaskier’s company (his chatter, his presence) would mean admitting that he had been wrong to send the bard on his way. But most importantly, it would mean that he was wrong in his assumption that life was better without the loudmouthed nuisance by his side.

Because Jaskier wasn’t just loudmouthed and annoying. He was, apparently, much more than that – and Geralt had denied the man opportunity to express everything that he is and can be. In his yellow eyes, Jaskier was a womanizer, a soft-hearted poet that fell in love with anyone and anything deemed beautiful. He chased inspiration, traded muse for muse, undertook travels just to write his next greatest poem – just to find the one that will make him rich enough. And Geralt understood this. He understood the need to run towards the next job, to go from one town to the next in search of coin and food. He understood this all too well. But he’d apparently misunderstood Jaskier’s willingness to accompany him anywhere he went. And now that they’re no longer travelling together, he won’t get to know Jaskier as anything other than what he’s perceived him as already.

Because Jaskier is doing fine without him now.

Which in turn means that Geralt had been holding the bard back all this time. That Jaskier could have been rich and fat, nestled in someone’s court by now already had he not dedicated his time and talent to the Witcher. And yet he’d still elected to follow Geralt across the map and into danger. And this confuses him enough to make his head ache. Was the bard not in it for the coin? Jaskier did always insist that they were friends. It seems that Geralt had greatly overestimated Jaskier’s need for protection and inspiration that he found with the Witcher. He’d greatly overestimated Jaskier’s need for him. And that stung. It hurt more than he’d realized and his slow-beating heart twinges with it.

Roach whinnies as danger approaches and Geralt grips his sword, dragging the end through the dirt idly as his mind whirrs with this new information.

He takes a sick sort of satisfaction in dispatching the pack of feral beasts – the kind he doesn’t experience often. It’s never anything personal, it’s just a job. But he cuts down each of the dogs with a brutality belonging to the feral beast that lies inside him. And luckily, there’s a dog for each one of tonight’s realizations that he can take his frustrations and rage out on.

Jaskier doesn’t need him.

Jaskier doesn’t want him around.

He’s the one that finds himself wanting the bard’s company.

Jaskier had been willing to put up with him for so long because of something that still escapes him.

He misses the bard greatly.

He wants the bard back at his side.

He’s possibly never going to have that again and it serves him right.

Because he was wrong – about Jaskier and about what he thought he’s always known.

As it turns out, Witchers do have emotions.

Vizima calls for his help. Well, specifically, Triss Merigold calls for his help. A Gryttie has been terrorizing the waters around the city for the past few weeks and they have had enough of the monster’s madness. He takes the job because he’s apparently the only Witcher around that Triss trusts and because it’s strange to see a Gryttie’s so far inland and away from the open seas so something must be amiss. The last one he’d encountered was in the Gulf of Praxeda years ago and that had earned him a nasty scar on his leg.

And well, he owes Triss a fair bit so that only adds to the list of reasons stating why he should accept the job. The list of cons however states: very big, three times your size, rows of sharp teeth, aquatic.

Well, it’s not like this is the first time in his life that he’d faced troubles that could swallow him whole. So he sets his course to Vizima and arrives there within a few days worth of travel from Carreras where he’d been purging the local forest of a nasty Kikimore infestation.

Triss welcomes him at the main gates of the city. Sitting poised on her white steed, she looks every bit as regal as any Queen would. She’s beautiful and kind and if Geralt were the sort of man that that settles down – well. He shakes his head, feeling stupid at the sentiment. He knows who he’d settle down with even if he has to actively avoid thinking about it - him.

“Triss,” He nods his head in greeting and she smiles at him bashfully.

“It’s been a while, Geralt.” Triss nods her head in the direction of the castle and they set off on a slow gallop through the bustling streets of Vizima. The looming structure looks imposing in the dying sunlight – he’s never liked large buildings like this one.

“You look well.” He tells her, remembering the last time they’d met and how sad and drained she had looked.

“It’s been a peaceful couple of years,” She nods, looking away from him and waving to some of the children that are looking up at her in awe from the side of the road.

“That’s good.” And well, he’s not much of a conversationalist. So he doesn’t speak again until they reach the castle.

“This Gryttie, do you know how big? Is it an adult or a juvenile?” He asks as they enter one of the man drawing rooms.

“Right down to business as usual, Geralt?” She chuckles and walks over to the shelf in the corner, procuring a glass chalice of something. “It’s almost reached adulthood, one row of teeth lacking.”

“Hm.” Fuck, this was going to be exceptionally difficult and will probably fetch him a pretty coin, too. He’ll be able to take low-risk jobs for at least a month before the Temerian copper runs out.

“I assume you’ll be going in for the kill it from the inside approach?” She takes a sip of her drink but doesn’t offer him any. It’s for the better, he needs a clear head for this and witches' brew is notoriously potent.

“Unfortunately.” He sighs, rubbing a hand over his face. This is going to be very unpleasant and he’s not sure if it’ll be worth it but – it is the job and the contract must be fulfilled.

“Oh, right.” She rummages through the bag thrown over her shoulder briefly before she offers him up a small vial of something. “For your sword, oil it up before you go in. Once it enters the Gryttie’s bloodstream it will slow it down – digestion and all.”

He takes the offered potion and puts it into his bag; this will definitely help. He nods at her. “I will see you when the job is done.”

“Oh! You’re leaving already? Well, er, yes. Be careful, Geralt.” She nods back at him, her hands fiddling with the edges of her sleeves. She seems uncharacteristically nervous this time around and he wonders why that is briefly before deciding that there’s no sense in dwelling on it.

“I’ll try.” He promises, turning around and leaving the castle.

He hopes that he doesn’t die. He still has unfinished business in this world that he’d like to eventually attend to. Most of it relates to Jaskier, thought, so maybe he’d be better off being eaten. Now, it’s not his place to be dramatic but he would rather get eaten than swallow his words and apologize. Acknowledging that he was wrong is one thing but admitting so out loud is another entirely.

“Stay here, Roach.” He pats the horse’s neck and the mare nudges him with her head. “Triss’ll take care of you if I don’t come back.”

With a heavy heart and a heavier sword, he heads for the waters surrounding the city.

“Fucking – fuck.” He grunts, shrugging off the heavy leather soaked in blood and water.

It had taken an obnoxious amount of time for the thing to show up. For a monster that has apparently been sinking ships as frequently as twice a week, it had chosen a fine time to take a break. So he’d sat in the little boat that was provided for him, waited, slicked up his sword with the oil Triss had provided and then waited some more. Until the thing struck at last

The little boat he’d was utterly destroyed in the mess and in the end, he’d been swallowed up by the large beast. Triss had definitely been wrong; it was a fully grown Gryttie. The teeth that had nicked and scraped against him and his armour were all there and the row that was missing appeared to be knocked out forcefully by something – a battle perhaps. The sea beast were notoriously famous for swallowing parts of ships whole without chewing so maybe that was why. And much like a small ship, he’d slid down the monster’s gullet but unlike the men before him, he was there with his sword up, slicing wherever he could. It was nasty business, trying to cut his way from inside the beast and he hadn’t enjoyed it at all. The stench was almost unbearable and the sounds – Gods, the sounds were grating and had him wincing with every screech that the monster let out.

But he’d done it. He’d located the Gryttie’s beating heart and dispatched of the beast quickly, cutting his way out of the carcass shortly after. He was, of course, covered in guts but thankfully he’d managed to clean off in the lake. He’d made his way to shore, a little worse for wear but alive none the less and that was that.

The people still out and about in the city avoid him in a wide arch. It might be because he still reeks of Gryttie innards or maybe because he looks disgruntled enough to send them all scattering away with the force of his glare alone. Either way, he’s glad to be able to pass through the town undisturbed.

It takes a while for him to make it up the stairs to where Triss had notified him that his room would be set up. He must be more tired than he’d originally thought. Well, it should be of no surprise to him – the last time he’d slept properly was months ago. Another plight that he’s brought onto himself, surely.

The guards in the castle give him a wide berth as well and maybe being covered in guts isn’t such a bad thing after all. He hopes that either the stench or the knock to the head he’d received allow for a good night’s rest at last.

Once he reaches his allotted sleeping quarters he opens up the door and is faced with a large bath in the middle of the room, dug into a stone slab that serves as the tub itself. His chest rumbles with a pleased hum and he starts dropping things, making haste towards the steaming and fragrant water and getting naked fast.

“Oh, Geralt! You’re back!” Triss’ voice echoes through the chamber and he startles.

It’s shameful to be caught so off guard yet again. He blames his distraction on the bath and his constant tiredness. He winces and turns to look at her, one foot already in the bathwater.

“I - the job is done.” He settles on saying, lowering himself into the bath carefully. The wounds he’d sustained protest at the heat but he ignores the pains and aches and indulges himself by leaning back against the edge of the tub and closing his eyes for a moment.

“You – well, I’m not one to beat around the topic. You look a little worse for wear.” Triss approaches him carefully, holding out a little glass bottle of soap for him to use.

“Nothing a bath can’t fix.” He takes the bottle and pours some out into the water before lathering up his hands with the rest.

“I know you’re used to having handmaids scrub you down but it’s terribly late and they’re all rather scared of you.” She chuckles, taking a seat at the wide brim of the stone tub. “Of, course I could always help out?”

Geralt’s eyes zero in on her face. She looks bashful but sure of herself. Her demeanour is timid but Geralt can smell the arousal in the air and if it were – well, if things were different then he would have taken her up on it without a second thought.

As it were, he looks away and continues scrubbing himself clean. “Monster hunting is dirty work. I don’t always have people to wash me clean. I’ve learned to make do on my own.” It’s a clear dismissal and her shoulders slump, an incredulous look crossing her face.

She clears her throat and leans back a little but remains seated. “Did it give you any trouble?”

He raises an eyebrow at her, trying to make her aware of the fact that that was a stupid question without outright saying it. “No, no trouble at all. The smell is always the worst.”

“Yes, I can tell.” She seems just as taken aback by the terse comment as he is and quickly collects herself. “You should let me treat that gash on your shoulder once you’re done.”

“It’s fine.”

“It’s fine now but Gryttie’s are known to carry diseases. You’ll let me treat your wounds.” She declares firmly before going over to the table next to the hearth and starts preparing for Geralt’s healing session.

He sighs, closing his eyes and dunking his head under the water. Everything is much quieter underneath the surface. When he’s under he doesn’t have to hear the rabbiting of her heart or smell the hurt coming from her. It’s not – it is his fault. He knows that he’d given her ample reason to think he was interested during their last encounter and he had been interested then. But there was no time back then and now, well, now he’s not sure what exactly is stopping him.

He can’t kid himself and say that he’s still mourning the loss of Yennefer when he’d never had her in the first place. What they had together was brief, fleeting, hot and heavy and oh, so short-lived. It was fuelled by passion and circumstance and those never stick around for long. And neither did Yennefer. He was foolish to think that they could have something together. It was obvious from the beginning that she was meant for something else, someone else. He just hopes that she finds whoever that is.

He resurfaces with a gasp.

“Ah, good. I was worried you’d drowned.” Triss waves a hand at him, “Come on now, out you go.”

He doesn’t protest and catches the towel thrown his way. Getting out of the tub is always the worst part because he has to go back to facing the world and currently, his world’s not doing too well.

He spies a fresh set of bedclothes laid out on the chair next to the table where she’d worked earlier so he heads there. Well, at least he won’t have to sleep in his leathers and his rough trousers.

“I’ll get someone to clean the armour for you, don’t worry.” She waves him away as he eyes the set forlornly. “Sit and stay bare-chested so that I can do this.”

He obeys instructions because there’s a testy note of finality in her tone and he doesn’t wish to anger her further if she’s going to be treating open wounds on his body. He puts the linen pants on and sits down onto the chair. Watching sorceresses work has always been fascinating. She knows her craft and just like the last time she’d treated his wounds, the pain goes away quickly with the application of a few magical words and sweet-smelling salve.          

“So, Geralt.”

“Oh, Gods” He throws his head back with force. He knows this tone; this is the tone Yennefer always used before she started prodding and asking questions. He wonders if it’s a witch thing or if it’s due to their close friendship.

So, Geralt.” She says again with a little more force behind the words this time – no room for argument. “I see that you’re travelling alone again.”

“And I see that you’ve talked to Yen.” He shoots back, wincing as she digs a finger into one of his wound to clean out the lake gunk still lodged in there.

“We’ve been in touch, yes.” She confirms, gentling her hands. “I was surprised at first but it makes sense that he would eventually leave your side. You were always terribly mean to him.”

Her words cut harsher than the teeth of the Gryttie had. Is that what Yennefer had told her? That’s – that’s not what happened at all. “He didn’t leave on his own. I told him to go.”

“Oh? She might have glossed over that part then. She’d mentioned seeing him briefly and that he was alone. But I’d been hearing about his exploits from the rumour mill. I suppose you can’t trust anyone these days.” She pats his shoulder, indicating that she needs access to his back so he turns sideways in the chair.

“I sent him on his way.” He repeats, hating how he’s almost growling as he speaks.

“I see.” She hums, tracing one of his old scars idly before focusing back on the task of bandaging and healing. “And why did you do that? Are you not scared that he’ll get in trouble on his own? That he’ll cause some great travesty?”

Oh, she’d definitely talked to Yennefer more than she admits. He knows it and she knows that he knows it. This is a strange game that she’s playing with him now and he feels that he’s going to lose to a sorceress yet again.

“Because he never shuts up and only causes trouble. And, apparently, he can take care of himself since he seems to be doing so well.” And there they are, the words as bitter as gull and as darkly intoned as the midnight sky is inky.

“So you’re not worried?” She pokes at one of the wounds and he jolts.

“Of course I’m worried!” He slumps forward, elbows on his knees as Triss pats his back in a comforting manner.

“Why not go to him then?” Her voice is light but it pierces his senses because of the words.

Why? Well, that’s rather simple.

“Because he doesn’t need me. Haven’t you heard? He’s doing fine. Who am I to sully his fun?” He hates thinking about Jaskier off on his own and he hates talking about it even more.

“But you need him.” It’s not a question, not really. She’s already made up her mind about the whole situation.

“I don’t need anyone.” He’s adamant, pigheaded and stubborn as a mule and he’ll die on this hill of self-denial.

“And yet you want him.” She slaps his back cheerfully and twirls away, putting things back into her bag and setting it down by the table.

“I don’t.”

“Ah, but you’re worried regardless. You say you’re not friends, yet you crave his companionship? Well, Geralt, I’d say you’re as dumb as a horse but I’d be insulting Roach if I said that.” She giggles, her earlier incredulity seemingly forgotten. “You should go to him.”

“I won’t.” He says even as his whole chest caves in at the thought of never hearing Jaskier’s voice again.

“But you’ll worry yourself to death if you don’t.” She tilts her head to the side. He’s getting tired of powerful women looking at him like he’s an unruly child. Is this how Jaskier felt by Geralt’s side? Always inferior and ridiculed? He hopes not – he never meant to make the bard feel that way. And yet, he probably did. To save his own selfish hide – much good that did.

“Then I’ll die worrying.” He grunts and puts on the provided shirt. She’s right, he knows she is. It’s one of the reasons that he hasn’t been able to sleep well no matter how tired he is. His thoughts always stray to Jaskier, alone and dead somewhere in some forest or next to some road. It needs to stop, he realizes this. He needs to know that Jaskier is alright or he’ll lose his mind. He needs to see that the bard is taken care of even if Geralt isn’t the one doing the – oh. Well.

Triss is holding out a bag of coin for him to take, it’s a hefty sum and he itches to take it but... He has some other form of payment in mind.

“No, keep the coin. I need a favour.” He pushes the bag away, certain in what he is going to demand.

“Oh?” She looks intrigued. And she should be – Witchers aren’t known to trade coin for favour. “What is it?”

“I need you to perform a spell and then I need you to follow through when it activates.” He takes a deep breath and turns away from her imploring eyes. “It’s a sort of tracking spell, nothing too difficult but it’s fickle because it works for certain intent. I need you to – for the bard. If his blood is being spilt violently, I need you to help him.”

She’s silent for a moment before her face splits into a wide grin. Almost an exact copy of the one Yennefer worse last time. He knows then, that he’d lost the game again.

“My, my, Geralt. Truly fascinating.” Her eyes soften then and she cups his cheek gently. “That’s very noble of you.”

“Hm.” He avoids meeting her gaze. “Can you do it?”

“Of course I can. It will take a few days but it will be done.” She pats his cheek and picks up her things. “I’ll see you around, Geralt.” She winks at him before leaving the room.

He drops into the bed like the dead and for the first time in months, sleeps through the night.

There’s still a purse half-filled with coin next to him on the bed in the morning and he takes it because you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Three months shy of a year since Dragon Mountains and Geralt hears from Triss again through one of the mirrors in a dead sorcerer’s lair. He’s covered in dust and cobwebs and there’s a tear across the thigh of his pants but he answers he call because it seems like the sensible thing to do regardless.

“How did you know where to call?” He grunts in lieu of a greeting.

“A simple location spell.” She smiles. “It took a while since you’re always on the move but I’d managed.”

“Why?” He’s giving her the short shrift he knows but he needs to go back and track an assassin across the region and that will take weeks and he’s not looking forward to it. There’s a whole mess to solve here that he’s not looking forward to untangling.

“The spell you had me put on Jaskier activated a week and a half ago. I got to him in time, he’s fine now, don’t worry.” She holds up a hand to stop him from talking and then gives him a scathing look like he’d insulted her homeland or something. “He had me cancel the spell so I thought I’d let you know. No, I’m not going to put it back up and no, I’m not going to tell you where he’s heading. I’ll respect his wishes and keep out of his business.”

Geralt’s entire body tenses at the information. Jaskier had – he was in danger. But he’s fine now. But the next time he’s in danger nobody will know and then the bard will die and Geralt will-

“Vizima to Geralt, hello? Anybody in that thick head of yours?” She waves a hand at him, trying to catch his attention but its nigh impossible. “I swear. If I’d known how hurt the bard was by your words and actions I would have never agreed. It was an invasion of privacy on your part, Geralt, shame on you.” Her hands are on her hips and he feels thoroughly scolded like he hasn’t since childhood.                                    

 “I’m sorry,” He chokes out, mind still whirring with the thoughts of Jaskier being hurt and Geralt not being there to help.

“It’s not me you should be apologizing to, Witcher.” She scoffs. “Some bandits had jumped him outside of the city. No permanent damage but the stab wound and the cut will leave scars.” She regards him with a cold gaze, “You truly have no idea, do you?”

“I am done playing these games with you witches.” He sneers back at her, anger and irritation making him see red.

“The only one toying with people here is you, Geralt. It’s time for you to make up your mind.” She turns away, “You either go to him and apologize or you lose him forever.”

“He doesn’t want to see me.” He deflates. He hates feeling this exposed even while fully dressed. All of these women that see right through him, he wonders if he’d always been so transparent or if this is only in regards to Jaskier and his – feelings.

“He may not want to see the you of now and then but – if you try, maybe he’ll want to see the you of  tomorrow. Your heart beats slow but your mind is quick, I’m sure you’ll figure everything out.” She regards him once more before sighing. “I have to go, if you need further babying like an infant, I’m sure Yennefer can spare some time.” She waves the image of herself away and then he’s standing there, facing his own reflection in the mirror. He looks a little harrowing. 

It’s amazing how Jaskier had managed to win over the affection of both of these women who’d once been so taken by Geralt himself. And it begs to question, was he the bad guy in this story?

Eugh, he grunts. This is precisely why Witchers don’t get attached.

There are so many what ifs and if onlys that surge up inside his head at the mere thought of Jaskier that it always manages to give him a headache. He’s used to the feeling of regret but never had it been this intense before.

He’s definitely the bad guy in this story.

Well, that was horrifyingly easy to decide. It looks like Jaskier had won his affections without Geralt even realizing it, too. Just – serves him right. All his life alone and hopping from bed to bed only to have his entire worldview shifted by a mouthy bard with sky-blue eyes and the voice of a siren.

Now, what to do with this horrifying information?

Well, one thing’s for certain – he does need more babying so he will try and track Yen down and talk to her about it. Though, he doesn’t know what good that will do him. She’s as emotionally repressed as he is.   

Sighing, he exits the cave complex. Sadly, his quest to track down Yennefer will have to wait until this mission is over. He can only hope that Jaskier doesn’t get into any more trouble while he’s busy.

But – but that’s not fair, is it? The bard had been doing well on his own and this one incident was probably a lapse in judgement on the bard’s part when picking a road to travel. So – so Jaskier will be fine. Geralt believes this now. He knows what he did wrong and if he’s ever to accompany Jaskier anywhere again, he’ll need to start admitting it, too.

It takes him a month to finish the job and track Yennefer down. And when he does, she’s in a heap of trouble as well.

“Are you sure you asked them nicely?” He grunts, ducking away from an incoming arrow.

“Yes, and they refused so I took it anyway.” She throws a blast or something at their pursuers and the explosion has Geralt’s sensitive ears ringing.

“What do you even need it for?” He tugs her behind a corner so that she can open a portal out of the mess they’d found themselves in.

“I need it for a spell.” She looks away, cheeks uncharacteristically pink and that makes him wonder.

“Hm.” He follows her through the portal that she’d opened and they step out into a meadow of some kind, the ruby in her hand gleaming brightly in the midday sun.

“Not that I don’t appreciate the help but – you’ve hounded me down with a reason in mind, have you not?” She puts the ruby into a small purse and sits down onto the soft-looking grass. She pats the space next to her expectantly and he relents and sits down as well.

“I – you know where Jaskier is, I need to go find him.” There’s no sense in avoiding the topic when the both of them know why he’s here.

“Last I remember, and last Triss told me, he doesn’t want to be found.” She plucks out a couple of cornflowers from a nearby bushel and starts weaving them together. “So tell me, why should I betray the trust of a friend?”

“Since when are you friends?” He ignores the surge of unfounded jealousy.

“We’re more alike than he knows and I’m not afraid to admit that he’s good company.” She wrinkles her nose at him, very judging.

He grunts, trying to duck away as she tries to pin the little wreath of flowers into his hair. The color reminds him of Jaskier’s eyes too much which is why he eventually lets her braid them into his white strands.

“I want to apologize to him, Yen. I want – I want to do better.” He sighs, knowing he sounds dejected and beaten down.

“I know.” She pats his knee reassuringly but it comes off as a little condescending. “But I’m still not going to tell you. You hurt him, Geralt, more than you know. And he’s gotten over it mostly but the heart wants what the heart wants, I suppose. I’m certain he’ll forgive you, but not yet.”

“What do you mean?” He turns to fully look at her.

Her eyebrows shoot into her hairline. “The – you’re joking, right? You’re not joking.” She throws her head back in a wail of despair that’s entirely too dramatic. “You don’t know. You don’t know and yet you’re willing to crawl back to him. Oh, this is too pure.”

“Yen, you’re scaring me.” He deadpans, wondering what had gotten into her to have her acting like a giddy child. “I want to – I want to apologize and tell him that I’d like to be his friend, that I liked being his friend. Even if only his friend.”

“Oh, my sweet oaf.” She cups his cheek much like Triss had. “It’s not my place to enlighten you on this so I won’t. But you keep your hopes up because it’ll be worth it. I’ll talk to him, see if he’s willing to forgive yet. I expect you to respect his wishes regardless.” Standing up and dusting herself off, “Now, if you’ll excuse me I have some jewellery to craft.”

“I thought it was for a spell?” He smiles despite himself.

“Of a sort, yes.” She winks and then opens up a new portal. “Well, off you go, Roach is waiting.”

“Where will I find you next?” He asks, stepping through the portal.

“I’ll find you.” She waves and before she closes the portal he manages to throw in a quick please, look after him that he’s not sure if she heard.

Roach whinnies at him, bumping him from the back. He chuckles lowly and turns around to pat her on the head. “I know, girl, I know.”

He goes about his life. He continues doing jobs and dies a little on the inside every time he hears Jaskier’s songs being played by someone other than his bard himself. He stocks up on coins because he refuses to indulge himself in the pleasures of the carnal kind and spends only what he must to keep his swords sharp and Roach and himself fed.

Another month passes before he hears from Yen again. He’s somewhere in an inn in the region of Cintra. He’s soaking in his first bath in two weeks and enjoying himself with this basic indulgence. He’s dozing off when the air starts swirling into a familiar circle. He straightens up and tilts his head.

“You’re awfully close to the city of Cintra.” Yennefer enters the room, boots thudding against the hardwood floors.

“I’ll be leaving soon. No sense in tempting fate.” He still shudders at the thought of the Child Surprise.

“I bring news from our beloved friend, the bard.” She throws her arms open with a bright grin and Geralt spies a little emerald glistening against the dark material clipped around her throat that’s new.

He sits up, the water sloshing as he stands to attention. “And?”

“Well,” She clicks her tongue. “You, my good Witcher, have impeccable taste in both men and women.” She’s – she sounds proud of all the things and Geralt slumps back down in confusion.

“I’d managed to get some free time so that I could track him down. I was rather busy, you know. And well, we had a nice chat. He’s really something else.” She taps her chin and paces in a tight circle.

“Yen.” He grunts, impatient and ready to act.

“I put in a good word for you, don’t worry. But he doesn’t seem to have believed me when I said that you were ready to apologize.” She laces her fingers together over her stomach before making a grand gesture and taking a bow. “And now, for the main event. Our little songbird has talons, my dear Witcher. I asked him what it would take for him to believe that you were sorry and you know what he said?”

“Out with it, Yen.”

“He said that you need to grovel, Geralt. You need to get on your knees and beg and he said it with such vitriol that I’d almost jumped him right then and there!” She takes a step back as he surges up from the tub, angry and possessive like a mindless beast at her empty words.

Grovel?” He grinds out, teeth gritting together and fists clenched.

“Oh, yes. Because he thinks that you won’t do it. He knows that apologizing is beneath you so he’s convinced that it’ll put you off and save him further pain.” She walks over to the bed and sits down, making herself comfortable.

“I – it’s not beneath me.” He mumbles, looking down at himself with a frown. Maybe he should put some clothes on.

“I know that, now. But he doesn’t. So you need to show him. And, if you ever want to be more than friends well – then I suggest you get on your knees for more than just begging, Witcher.”

“Yen!” He barks, ashamed at how heat surges through him at the thought.

Well, it’s not like he wouldn’t do it. Not like he hadn’t wanted to do it before. Not like he hadn’t wondered what it would be like to-

“No need to get excited just yet.” She throws a towel at him and he dutifully wraps his waist in it. “For I bear bad news as well.”

A chill running down his spine kills any arousal that he might have felt only a moment prior. He nods but remains silent, waiting for the final judgement.

“He’s not ready to hear you out yet. He said a couple of months in Novigrad and then – well, then you can go and seek him out if you so desire. But not yet.” She kicks her feet out and bounces back up.

“Of course, the coast.” He closes his eyes as grief consumes him. Jaskier always talked about the coast and the cities there. He loved the sea and the warm weather, the breeze and the way the sun would reflect on the waves.

“Give him a little more time, Geralt. And then go to him. And do everything in your power not to lose him again because chances are that you’re going to do something idiotic again and the next time, I don’t think he’ll forgive.” She pats his bare chest and goes for the door.

“Yen.” He calls out, a lump in his throat. “Thank you.”

“Everyone deserves a bit of happiness, Geralt.” She says with a nod and leaves the room.

He doesn’t think about going to Novigrad, not really. He thinks about how much city life fits Jaskier and about how the bard would do well to settle into a court somewhere for a full-time job. He thinks about all of the things Jaskier had sacrificed for him and about how little he’d gained in return.

Yes; Geralt was definitely the villain of the story and now – now it was time for his redemption arc.

Chapter Text

Novigrad was good. Novigrad was something new and yet something so familiar. It brought back memories of his youth that he’d forgotten. Well, not like it’d been that long since he’d last been there but sometimes, Jaskier felt like it had been a lifetime. Novigrad was a thriving community of diverse personalities, assorted individuals, contrasting simpletons and so much more. It was as colourful as it was dreary. And much like any large city, it has its city districts that vary one from another just as much as its citizens do.

Jaskier was aware of this going in, and he planned on using it to his advantage. So once he sets foot into Novigrad, a year and a week after he’d left Geralt’s side, he gets to work.

He charms his way into singing in one of the taverns by the docks called the Bottomless Barrel and spends a few weeks going between that particular tavern and an inn a few streets into one of the nicer parts of the city. Once word gets out that he’s in town, the demand for his songs becomes greater but he keeps his job as semi-permanent entertainment at the Bottomless Barrel and sings there for the fishermen and for anyone willing to spare a coin. The owner gives him a room above the tavern once it’s clear that the amount of business that he brings in is worth it and he settles down there for the moment.

He still takes the odd invite to sing here and there across the city and people follow him wherever he goes. The ability to attract an audience when it matters has always been one of Jaskier’s best selling points so he utilizes it whenever he can. And maybe this sort of thing wasn’t that desirable out there in the real world but here in the walls of the Free City, well, people pay a pretty coin for his talents.

He gets commissioned to write poems for lowly noblemen who aren’t equipped with the talent or brains but do want what’s between their loved one’s legs and he accepts. He might as well utilize someone else’s love as inspiration since his own had grown jagged and rough. He writes songs for the townsfolk and he writes poems for the poor fools in Oxenfurt when they can’t come up with any of their own.

Around the two months’ mark, one of the Big Four calls for him and he has no choice but to accept the call and head towards Francis Bedlam’s court. The Putrid Grove, or The Garden of Liberty, is an enclave in the district of Lacehalls within Novigrad. It’s a refuge to those who escaped the Witch Hunts and it’s not a place Jaskier had frequented before. All things considered, Francis was rather altruistic. And his Grove was near where Jaskier had been living so it was a wonder that it had taken that long for him to be summoned.

Francis hires him to sing at one of his celebrations and Jaskier earns more coin that night than he has in a while. He stows it all under one of the creaky floorboards in his room and bides his time until he can buy a little house on the coast.

The King of Beggars still calls him back on occasion and Jaskier makes the required coin much sooner than he’d expected. And yet he sticks around.

Five months in and he’s still inexplicably attached to the small room above the Bottomless Barrel and the little nest of swallows that’s nestled into the corner of his window. He feels safe in the city – despite getting beaten up once or twice during his stay. He feels like he can stay there and maybe write those memoires he’s always talking about.

But – but the city doesn’t bring peace to his rattled heart so he informs the owner of the Barrel that he’ll be taking his leave.

The man is sad to see him go but accepts the decision with a good-natured pat on the back. Jaskier knows that it must be tough to lose your main entertainer but such is the way of life. Sometimes you lose the things that bring you joy and you just have to live with it.

So he picks up his things, his bags of coin and the horse he’d borrowed and heads for Gors Vellen.

He hates that his heart constantly tugs him towards the coast, towards the place he heeds from but he’s always followed his heart anyway so why should this be any different? He doubts that he’ll spend the rest of his days in the cabin he will eventually procure. But it will be a nice place to settle down in alone for a while.

Word of his arrival at Gors Vellen spreads fast and he is called to court in order to perform for the local nobility and Jaskier has learned that refusing nobility anything is never a good idea.

Unfortunately, the word spreads as far as Kerack and Cidaris so people from all over there come and see him as well. It’s a mess that lasts for three days and by day three, Jaskier is tired enough to slink away with his coin and head for one of the coastal villages. He wishes he could have had time to scout the area first but – he’s always been good at making things up on the fly.

Surprisingly, Yennefer is the first visitor that he gets.

She shows up at his door, two months after he’d settled into the cottage, and shoves a bottle of wine at him before entering the house without a word.

She looks around the room that that holds a moderate hearts with an oven, two tables and four chairs, some shelves and a rack for his lute, with a critical eye before nodding in approval.

“Humble, not entirely unexpected.” She voices and then takes a seat at the table.

“Hello, Yennefer! No, no it’s so nice to see you, yes I’ve been well? How have you been? Good? That’s excellent to hear!” He waves his hands around as he pretends to hold a proper conversation with her and she watches with amusement in her eyes. She looks – well, kinder than the last time he’d seen her and he wonders why this is.

“Yes, I'm doing well, too, Jaskier.” She chuckles and he opens up the bottle, pouring them each a cup.

“What brings you to my humble abode, O’ Powerful One?” He sits opposite to her, one leg propped up on the seat of his chair and his elbows on the table.

She eyes his twisting form with a smile, “I wanted to see if you were settling in.”

He sweeps a hand out around the room. “As you can see, I have everything that the heart desires.” He winces immediately after; the topic of one’s heart is always a sore one.

The skittering of nails against wood distracts Yennefer from what she was about to say next and he watches her eyes light up as his dog, Butters, comes bounding into the room with his tail wagging.

“Jaskier! Who’s this handsome little fellow?!” She croons and drops out of the chair, hands scratching the dog’s scruff with care and enthusiasm.

“His name is Butters. He came by one day looking for food and stole the nearest neighbour’s chicken so I paid the man for the chicken and saved him from getting cleaved in half by the old grouch.” He shrugs, whistling briefly before the dog runs to his side. “Watch this.” He ambles over to the wall and picks up his lute.

He strums a few cords and starts up a low hum of a familiar tune and Butters starts howling with him. Yennefer cackles, her smile radiant as she claps.

“He’s a natural! Soon he’ll run you out of the business!” She pats her knees and the dog wiggles his way back towards her. “He’s so cute.” She coos and scritches under the dog’s white maw. “Looks a bit like a wolf, don't you think?”

“I’ve noticed but he hasn’t eaten me yet, so I'm holding out hope.” He chuckles and takes a sip of the wine. It’s the good, expensive kind he hasn’t had since he’d left Novigrad. He hums in approval.

“You know, I caught one of your performances back in Gors Vellen while I was in town.” She sits back up but keeps one hand on the dog’s head, still petting the soft fur. “You look much better now than you did then. I like the,” She motions to his head and the hair that had grown out a little without him cutting it. “Look.”

“I wasn’t planning on performing in Gors Vellen, let alone for three days.” He sighs, relaxing into the chair. “They’d caught me off guard and while the pay was good, I needed a break.”

“You’d made quite the name for yourself, Jaskier.” She hums, tilting her cup towards him as if to congratulate his success.

He rubs the back of his head, feeling uncharacteristically shy about it. He supposes praise that comes from tentative friends means more than the praise of strangers stroking his ego. “I guess I have. Though, I'm taking my dramatic break at the moment so you can only hear my songs sung by others for now.”

“Ah, are you sure I can’t hire you for a private performance?” She purrs and he feels the tips of his ears heat at the words. She notices, of course, and chuckles. “Relax, songbird, I'm otherwise engaged.” She taps the ribbon nestled around her throat that has a gleaming emerald on it and he leans forward to inspect it better. The emerald is surrounded by elegant filigree of silver and it looks like it cost more than Jaskier’s house had.

“Well I’ll be thrice damned! Congratulations, Yen, I'm – I'm glad.” He smiles, feeling warm and giddy because one of his friends is finally being treated right. “Oh, you must let me write a song about it! It’s going to be a sprawling ballad with highs and lows! Maybe I make an appearance in it! Oh!” He taps his hands against the table excitedly, inspiration striking even without knowing exactly who she’s betrothed to.

“You’re almost as happy as I was,” She smiles a cheeky little smile, so very genuine that makes him wish he were better at painting so that he could capture it forever.

“Why wouldn’t I be? With the live you’ve lived – it’s not every day something so marvellous happens! You deserve to be happy, Yen.” He leans back and reaches to fetch his notebook and quill. His hands are itching to start writing again – this is the most excitement he’s gotten in weeks now. His last song was about Butters and how lucky he is to be able to lick his own balls.

“Yes, I do. And so do you, Jaskier.” She leans forward and laces her hands onto the table. “Is it time? Is the stew done cooking?”

He sighs deeply before inhaling sharply. His fingers tap against the notebook that holds most of his personal works erratically as he looks around the little cabin he’d worked so hard for.

It was easy to forget his woes once he’d had an established routine of singing, writing and entertaining. It was easy to get lost in the streets of Novigrad and in all of the people around him. It was almost easy to not think about Geralt – mostly during the day. It was easy to busy himself with the dog he’d adopted and the horse he’d borrowed and the little garden at the back of the house that he tended to. But he’s always known that his busywork wouldn’t mend his heart.

He thinks about the man now, though, about his cat-like eyes and his white hair, his barrel chest and his deep voice. He thinks about how Geralt sacrifices so much for the people he serves and how unfair it is that they put so much pressure on him. He knows Geralt’s had a life like he couldn’t even imagine but – but he’s still firm in his belief that the Witcher needs to apologize.

But he’d also be lying if he said that he didn’t miss the idiot brute. He missed travelling a little as well. He’d forgotten how hectic city life could be. Out there in the wilderness, under the stars, everything is so much calmer. It was easier to compose in the silence, easier to write when you’re not burdened by the eyes of others on your back – easier when your muse is right there next to you.

Butters scampers over to him and puts his paws on his thigh. He smiles at the white dog, “Hey, boy.” He smooches him on the forehead and gets a hearty lick on the cheek in turn.

“I know you’ve already got one white wolf in the house but is there room for one more?” Yennefer grins and Jaskier can’t help but laugh.

“You know, if you try a little harder, you might be able to teach the other one some tricks too.” She tacks on with chuckle and an eyebrow wag.


He doesn’t get many visitors, even less of the ones that come knocking instead of snooping around the back and trying to steal his carrots or poison his horse out of jealousy.

So when he hears a knock on the door, three months after his last visitor that was Yen came around, he naturally assumes it’s her again. But when he opens the door he’s met with a leather-clad chest and the tight line of Geralt’s shoulder.

“Oh.” He takes an involuntary step back – he’d almost forgotten how imposing Geralt could be at times with all that bulk on his frame. Butters barks from the bedroom and Geralt’s eyes zero in on the door to it across his shoulder momentarily before he’s meeting Jaskier’s gaze again.

“Hello.” Geralt’s voice grits like he hadn’t spoken in weeks and Jaskier, much to his embarrassment and dismay, feels his knees trying to buckle like he’s a fair maiden.

“Geralt.” He crosses his arms over his chest and leans against the doorway for stability. “What brings you to this neck of the – coast?”

Geralt’s jaw works as he tries to come up with the words to respond with. It’s amusing watching him concentrate and carefully pick and choose from what little vocabulary he has. And for Jaskier’s consideration, too! Admirable.

“I – wanted to see you.” Geralt settles on saying and Jaskier really hadn’t been expecting that. For Geralt to say that he wanted to apologize? Maybe. But for Geralt to just admit that he missed seeing him enough to track him down – albeit, not in as many words? Never.  

“Well,” He straightens up and curtsies for the Witcher dramatically. “Here I am. Jaskier of Lettenhove, Bard Extraordinaire.”

“Hm,” Geralt grunts like he’s irritated but his face is open for the first time since possibly the Cintra incident. And worst of all – he’s smiling. How is Jaskier supposed to combat that?

He clears his throat, still adamant to try and remain impartial to the other’s presence. “And now you’ve seen me. I have to go feed my dog.” He turns to walk back inside but stops at the sound of Geralt’s voice calling his name.

Julian.” There are two thumps against the wood and he turns towards the sound slowly.

“What – what are you doing?” He hisses, looking around futilely to see if anyone’s in danger of seeing this because – Geralt is kneeling on his front porch, thick thighs spread and his hands resting on them almost peacefully.

“I’m – grovelling.”  Geralt responds and Jaskier startles, arms flapping out in distress.

“You-” His voice fails him for the first time since he’s learned how to talk at the early age of five months. And it’s because of Geralt. This ridiculous, gorgeous, dumb buffoon who’s kneeling in front of him doing something he’d told Yennefer he wanted from him in a fit of petty spite.

“I’m sorry.” Geralt says lowly. “I was wrong. I was wrong and it was wrong of me to send you away like that.”

“Yes, you were. And yes, it was.” He confirms, falling back into being stoic now that he knows Geralt is willing to face what he’d done.

It’s odd – he used to think that he’d forgive Geralt immediately upon hearing those words like a lovesick farmhand. But right now, as he’s hearing them – well, he’s only thinking about how shitty he’d felt and how condescending Geralt was towards him most of the time. He’s promised himself that he would not be a fool again so Geralt will have to try better than this. Because the Witcher isn’t good with words but he’s only infinitesimally better with actions. Willingly kneeling at Jaskier’s feet is a good start but it’s not enough. Because Geralt knows only harsh words and non-reactions and he’s going to have to learn.

At least knowing you did something wrong was a step in the right direction.

“Well, it was good to see you.” This time he does go back inside and even closes the door. He goes about cooking lunch and doing his chores and tries to ignore the fact that he can still see Geralt’s shadow from under the door. He doesn’t sing that night like he usually would, doesn’t give Geralt the satisfaction of hearing him.  

The shadow stays there until the sun goes down but Jaskier stays firm in his decision.

Not even a couple of turns of the hourglass later, Yennefer contacts him via xenovox as he’s lounging in his large bed with a cup of wine in his hand.

Well, I have to say, you keep surprising me, little songbird.” Her voice makes him startle and he scrambles across the room to dig out the box from one of the chests.

“Already?” How? He whines, a little embarrassed about  being so difficult for everyone to deal with.

I’m hiding out in Gors Vellen.” She doesn’t sound happy about it and he can’t blame her, it’s not a pretty town.

“Enough about me, though. You sent him on his way, huh?” She huffs out a laugh and he rolls his eyes, she sounds entirely too amused by all of this.

“Yes, well. If he comes back again, I’ll think about it.” He lies back down, rolling onto his back and staring at the rafters of his thatched home.

Good. You should make him work for it. You said you wanted him to grovel-”

“I didn’t think he’d actually do it! He got down on his knees and everything!” His voice pitches high enough that it makes Butters whine from the foot of the bed.

“Oh! He didn’t tell me that part!” There’s a sound that isn’t unlike that of a bottle being opened and he wonders when they’d both become middle-aged, noblewomen trapped in loveless marriages drowning their sorrows in wine.

“He did. Gods, I don’t – that almost had me, I have to admit.” He chuckles and Yennefer hums like she knows exactly what he means. Well, she probably does.

“He’s going to come back, you know. He cares enough to do that.”

He sighs, “I know. I hope so.”

Butters wakes him up by barking very loudly very early in the morning of the next day. It has to be just after sunrise when the dog starts yapping at the front door and startles him out of a rather pleasant dream.

“You damn mutt.” He grumbles and rolls out of bed with a heavy heart. The dog just probably wants a piss so he should do the responsible thing and let the poor animal out.

He runs a hand through his hair and scratches at his chin where a fair bit of scruff had grown to cover his face. It’s still warm out but it’s going to get cold sooner than he’d like and being by the sea already gives the house a chill during the night so he’s looking forward to going back and sleeping some more in his warm bed.

“Yes, yes. I’m coming.” He hits his hip on the corner of the table in the front room and winces at the bruise that’s sure to sprout there in a couple of hours.

“Out you go, you beast.” He unlocks the door and tugs it open violently. But the dog doesn’t move, just keeps barking and growling by his knees.

“He seems lovely.” The rumbling voice from the other side gives him a fright and the yell he lets out is very undignified.

“Geralt! Monkey’s arse, don’t do that!” He grips at his chest where his heart is making a valiant effort of bursting out of his body.

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t expecting you to be awake.”

“That’s creepy, you weird, weird man!” He stomps his foot down and Butters snaps his maw shut, looking up at him with wide, blue eyes. “Not you, sweetheart. I’d never yell at you.” He croons and bends down to give his best boy his customary forehead smooch.

“You got a dog.” Another non-reaction from Geralt. He’s always been very good at those.

“Your skills of observation remain unparalleled. I also have a horse; his name is Yaruga, like the river.” He waves down at the dog, “This is Butters.”

“Hm.” And then, again, Geralt gets down on his knees but this time he holds out a hand for Butters to sniff at. The traitorous hound starts wagging his tail and approaches Geralt like the happy little beast that he is, all too glad to get pets from strangers.

“You – harlot.” He snorts, turning back inside to pick up the water bucket – he might as well get on with his day, it’s not like he’ll be able to sleep now.

“He’s – nice.” Geralt comments and well – there Butters is, on his back, letting Geralt rub his belly.

“He’s well behaved.” He says with squinted eyes, wondering if Geralt will take the hint. He walks over back to the two and thrusts the bucket out to the Witcher. “Go find the well and fill up the bucket.” He doesn’t say more as he drops it next to Geralt and whistles for Butters to come back inside.

He doesn’t look but he hears Geralt ambling away to try and locate the watering hole that Jaskier visits on most mornings and some nights. It’s a little ways away and he’d developed a solid set of arm muscles hauling the water and wood from the woods but he doesn’t think Geralt will have any issues with it.

“You – you’re a traitor, you know that?” He points an accusing finger at Butters but the dog just opens up his mouth and lets his tongue loll out innocently. “You’re so lucky you’re cute.”

There’s a little stable out by the garden where Yaruga resides and the horse neighs as he approaches with the bag of oats. “Yes, yes. I’m here. Hold your horses, ha ha.” He chuckles and runs a hand up the horse’s dark head. He proceeds to feed the steed while humming a song low in his throat only for the animals and the nature around him to hear.

“You – are a gorgeous beast.” He says to the horse and Yaruga bumps him with his head. Talking to animals is another thing that he’d picked up from Geralt but this one he’s not sorry that he did. He’d have gone half mad if he didn’t talk to his two beastly companions on a daily basis.

A throat is cleared somewhere behind him and he does his best not to startle this time. His back does go a little tense in surprise but he rolls his shoulders to relax it.

“Where – should I put this?” Geralt hold out the bucket and Jaskier rolls his eyes.

“Pour it into the trough there,” He motions to where Yaruga’s water is running a little low.

Yes, he thinks as he watches Geralt do as he’s told, this’ll do for now. “Now go fill the bucket again, I need to water the garden.”

“You do this every day?” Geralt looks to the fenced-off garden and the stacks of hay in the pen next to Yaruga’s and then back at Jaskier.

“This is the last of the vegetables. The season’s turning is near. But yes, I’ve been doing this ever since I planted the garden and settled down here.” He whistles shortly again and Butters bolts outside of the house, very excited to be out and about in the morning air.


“Eloquent.” He scoffs and turns towards the shoreline. This is one of the reasons that he’d wanted this house in particular even if it was a little worn when he’d first procured it. The view was stunning and walking along the beach was always a treat.

“It’s – impressive.” Geralt finally amends and Jaskier turns to him with a nod.

“Thank you.” He hates how the praise affects him, fills him with warmth. He’s still so gone on the man and the absence only made the heart grow fonder despite the anger simmering there alongside the admiration and adoration.

Yaruga whinnies as Geralt leaves again and he takes a couple of strands of the horse’s dark mane to braid. “He’s alright, you know. I know he stinks of death but he’s – alright. No need to get testy.”

The second time Geralt returns with the water, Jaskier instructs him on how to water the plants and in which order.

“Not on the leaves, you dolt, once the sun hits they’ll wilt! Careful with the radishes.” He points to a patch of small green leaves and Geralt shoots him a look that he counters with a raise of his eyebrows. Geralt swallows his words and carefully pours half a cup under each little sprouting of leaves.

Once they’re done with that and Geralt had brought down another bucket, he pats the Witcher’s chest and shoos him away.

“Thank you, that was very helpful. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He closes the door in Geralt’s face yet again and feels a little better about it this time.

Because Geralt came back. And he helped Jaskier take care of his garden. And most importantly, he listened to what Jaskier said without complaining.

Maybe he’s not ready to hear Geralt’s voice yet but he’s definitely ready to see him grovelling for a little longer.

The next morning he wakes to the sound of someone in his house. He has enough wits about him to grab the short sword he’d purchased in Gors Vellen when one of his neighbours tried to steal his horse before he heads out into the front room.

“You useless cur!” He chastises Butters who’s lounging by the fire burning in the hearth.

“He put up a valiant effort until I bribed him with food.” Geralt shoots him a glance from the table in the corner where he’s gutting a rabbit. “Nice sword.”

“Thank you, it’s served its purpose.” He huffs and throws the weapon to the floor.

Geralt freezes and turns to look at him slowly, his hands eerily covered in blood and rabbit guts. Disgusting. “You’ve – used it?”

“Well, yes. I’ve bought it to use it.” He crosses his arms over his chest and Geralt drops the knife he was holding onto the table.

“You’ve stabbed someone with it?” Geralt, walking ever-so-slowly towards him, questions and Jaskier snort.

“Oh, no, no, no! Dear Lioness of Cintra, no! I bought it to chase away the snooping neighbours.” He pats Geralt’s chest and frowns at the blood dripping onto the floor from the Witcher’s hands.

“Oh.” Geralt’s shoulders ease and Jaskier realizes, with startling suddenness, that Geralt had been worried that he’d killed someone – or something, at least. And that’s – well. It’s oddly endearing that Geralt’s concerned that he could be affected by his theoretical first kill. Which – Jaskier’s stabbed a man before; it would hardly be the first time. Last year alone he took out one of the bandits that had attacked him before they stabbed him in the kidney and Triss came to chase them away.

“Now, if you’re going to keep coming around, Geralt, I want to make a deal.” He clears his throat, hopes that he doesn’t look as messy as he feels in his sleep-rumpled shirt and breezy linen breeches.

“Mh,” Geralt sounds surprisingly agreeable so Jaskier continues.

“I want a gloves off approach, Geralt. If you’re going to stick around I want you to tell me that you know and acknowledge the fact that I can take care of myself. No more unnecessary comments or derisive insults about my capabilities.” He demands, wondering if it will be too much for the Witcher – if Geralt’s sensitive ego can follow his needs.

The Witcher’s eyebrows draw close together in contemplation and Jaskier sees his jaw working again before the oaf nods. “Alright. I’m sorry. No more – no more insults. I’ll trust in your competence.”

“Good. Now, then. I need to-”

“Already taken care of. There’s a fresh bucketful next to the basin.”

“What about-”

“Fed, watered – both the horse and the garden.”

“Well.” He huffs, both a little mad and impressed. Geralt was stealthier than Jaskier thought if the Witcher had managed to do all of his morning chores while he slept. “What are you doing now?”

“Preparing for lunch.” Geralt shoots him another secretive smile and Jaskier blinks rapidly, wondering what sort of dream had he walked into. Though, he guesses that Geralt is too dressed – even without the leather – for it to be one of Jaskier’s dreams.

“Well what am I supposed to do? You’ve done my morning routine without me.” He huffs, crossing his arms over his chest. He knows that Geralt meant well but Jaskier still can’t help feeling a little babied by the actions. It was sweet – just not in a way that Jaskier needed it to be.

 And surprise, surprise. Geralt’s face falls a little, like he’d realized what he’d done and how Jaskier had perceived it. The Wither steps forward again, closing some of the distance between them and for a moment, Jaskier is afraid that the man will drop to his knees again.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean – it wasn’t my intention to imply-” The pigheaded man starts but Jaskier waves him off. He doesn’t mind it as much as long as the Witcher knows what he’d done wrong.

“It’s fine. Just – wake me up next time, yeah?” He yawns and turns back to his room. “I’m going back to bed; you know where to find me up if you need anything.”

He crawls back under the covers and rests his head on the goose feather-filled pillow. What a strange morning. He has no doubt that these three days are just the beginning, though. And he knows, that if he can help it, then Geralt will continue grovelling for as long as Jaskier can hold out before he forgives the idiot fully.

In the afternoon, when the smell of cooked food wakes him up, he finds Geralt gone and Butters napping in front of the back door. He eyes the stew swinging in the kettle above the fire wearily and sniffs it. It doesn’t not-smell like it usually does when Geralt cooks but rather, it has a pleasant aroma – like the man had used actual spices and vegetables in it. He sees that there are two bowls set out on the table with a fresh baked loaf of bread there as well. And? Geralt cooked and baked?

Wait till Yen hears about this. He thinks idly as he stirs the stew and tries a bit of it from the ladle. It’s – well, it’s delicious and there’s no two ways about it. Geralt had cooked for them – for him. He’d gone through the trouble of this simple indulgence for Jaskier’s sake. His stomach warms at the thought and his cheeks heat.

“Butters, where’s the big brute? Go find him, boy!” He claps his hands and Butters springs up onto all fours excitedly, tail wagging and his entire body with it as he comes to stand in front of Jaskier.

“Go get the Witcher!” He jumps up in place and Butters imitates him, letting out a bark before running for the back door again. Jaskier hurries up after the dog and opens the door, watching as Butters becomes a blur of white heading across the grass out back towards the cliffside where a figure sits facing away from the house.

He watches as Geralt lets himself be toppled over by the yapping mutt and allows the dog to lick at his face. Butters seems to get the idea because in the next moment, the dog is biting at the sleeve of Geralt’s dark shirt and tugging him in the direction of the house. Geralt gets the message easy enough and the two white wolves make their way back.

“The stew’s done.” He says once he’s certain that Geralt will hear him.

The Witcher nods, patting the dogs head and sending him towards Jaskier who readily stops the stupid thing from jumping up and muddying his white shirt. “You rabid cur, fuck off.” He dodges the next attempt and the dog finally gives up after that.

“He seems like a handful.” Geralt comments conversationally and Jaskier snorts.

“I’m used to dealing with difficult beings.” He mutters, walking over to the hearth and picking up the kettle. He brings it to the table and motions for Geralt to sit at the available chair.

It’s – a little uncomfortable. Jaskier doesn’t remember it being uncomfortable before. Probably because he was always the one filling the silence with useless chatter but now they’re both silent and – it’s a little uncomfortable. He wishes he knew what to say. He can write a thousand sonnets about the simplest of things but he can’t come up with a single verse for the man that he’s in love with that’s sitting across from him. And maybe it’s because Jaskier still isn’t sure where he stands on accepting Geralt’s apology – and maybe it’s because he’s fairly certain that Geralt knows how he feels, but, either way – he remains silent.

“You-” Geralt clears his throat, pausing to chew the supple meat before continuing. “You mentioned Lettenhove.”

He tilts his head, wondering what Geralt is aiming at here or if he is simply interested in Jaskier’s origins. “Yes, Julian Alfred Pankratz of Lettenhove. Viscount to be exact. You – well, I guess you wouldn’t know.”

“Huh,” Geralt blinks at him dumbly – in a sort of adorable way, like a dog.

He throws one of the smaller bones towards where Butters is and the beast catches it midair. “Not everyone can afford the education I’ve had. Seven liberal arts they called it at the Oxenfurt Academy.” He doesn’t like thinking about his education days – there was always something that made him wince when he remembered the long and boring lectures he’d been forced to attend when he’d rather have been out in the world gathering inspiration.

“Mm,” Geralt looks down at his stew bowl and Jaskier expects that he’s done speaking on the subject, like usual but then the man speaks again. “I – I’m not really of Rivia.”

“Lies!” His mouth pops open – “Could it be? Geralt of Rivia – not actually of Rivia?”

Geralt’s mouth tugs up in a smile and he nods. “I grew up in Kaer Morhen. And we were encouraged to make up surnames. Vesemir chose mine.”

“What, couldn’t come up with one on your own?” He grins, tilting forward, half of his food forgotten in order to give Geralt his full attention because Geralt sharing information about himself happens once every never.

“I – did. It just wasn’t good.” Geralt looks away.

“What was it?”


“Come on, you know my full name. It’s only fair.” He blinks at the Witcher innocently, doing his best impression of Butters when he wants a chunk of Jaskier’s good dinner meat.

“Geralt Roger Eric du Haute-Bellegarde.” The man grinds out and Jaskier doesn’t stop the yell of pure glee that escapes him.

“Well thank the Great Sun for Vesemir, then!” He cackles, his leg skipping with it and Geralt – well, he doesn’t look like he much minds the sudden noise for once.

“Yes, we were all lucky to have him.”

Geralt washes the bowls and takes the rest of the stew for himself on Jaskier’s insistence – only because it would just go bad in the house otherwise, of course. And when he leaves, he looks back with an awkward wave that makes Jaskier’s heart a little less icy.

“So what you’re telling me is that – he cooked a romantic lunch for you two and baked you this bread?” Yennefer asks the next morning, stuffing her face with the remnants of said Geralt-made bread from yesterday.

“Are you alright? When’s the last time you ate?” He pushes the bit of cured meat in front of him to her side of the table and Yennefer takes it with a grin.

“Mmh,” She muffles her response with the meat and the cheese.

“And it wasn’t a romantic lunch. It was just a regular meal.” He huffs, pushing the cup of ale she’d poured him earlier from hand to hand.

“It’s more than what I ever got.” She scoffs, sending crumbs flying out of her mouth.

He grimaces and leans back to avoid any possibility of the mess reaching him. “Well, then he must be serious about apologizing.”

“You’re an idiot.” She states with a roll of her eyes, “And I mean that in the most loving of ways, little songbird.”

“Thank you, that really comes across as fond.” He pouts.

“And where’s the man of the hour now?” She looks around as if she’s expecting to see the Witcher pop out from one of his cabinets and surprise them both.

“Oh, um. Well. Yaruga needed his horseshoes replaced and I was going to do that today but then Geralt came by and he just – took the reins and asked if he could do it.” He rubs at the back of his neck, feeling hot under her piercing stare.

“He asked if he could do it?” She says the words carefully and smacks her lips together like just saying them had left a bad taste in her mouth. “Are you sure he didn’t just grunt and take the horse without any comments?”

“No, he asked. I'm sure he asked. Unless I’d hit my head getting out of bed this morning; he said: do you want me to take him to the blacksmith?” He lowers his tone in the best imitation of Geralt he can do and Yennefer snorts loudly at him.

“Now I’ve heard it all!” She announces cheerily, purple eyes tearing up with mirth and – alright, maybe Jaskier is glad that he can entertain her so easily because hearing her laugh is rather nice.

“Yes, well, he came here to grovel did he not? He must really want to apologize if he’s being all polite and nice about it.” He’ll admit that it’s a little suspicious but Geralt seems to be genuinely trying to make up for what he did and Jaskier is well aware that the other could flip on him in a moment’s notice but he’ll trust the Witcher this once and think of his intentions as pure and goodness-fuelled.     

 “Jaskier, my sweet boy.” She croons – only a little condescending. “In all my years of knowing Geralt I’ve never known him to ask for permission before doing anything so mundane.”

“I don't think I like what you’re trying to imply here.” He looks away from her gaze again – she’s always intimidating when she’s looking at him like that.

“There’s nothing to imply if it’s all true.” She taps the tip of her nose in an odd fashion and then turns to the door briefly before bursting out into laughter that’s entirely too eccentric.

For a moment he’s worried that she’s lost her mind but then the door opens and Geralt walks in, pausing at the sight of the two of them.

“Oh, Jaskier! You always know how to make a lady feel special!” She squeals in fake delight and Jaskier thinks he’s losing his mind. But then he notices how Geralt’s shoulders tense and how his cat eyes narrow at her with something disgruntled in his gaze and oh – is she trying to make Geralt jealous? Of her? In Jaskier’s stead??

“Oh, hi, Geralt. What brings you here?” She eases back into her sultry tone and Jaskier is worried he’s bleeding internally in his head because this is all entirely too odd.

“Brought Yaruga back.” The Witcher eyes the bread on the table and how Yennefer had hoarded what was left of it with disdain clear on his face.

“I hope he behaved. He’s got a bit of a temperament.” Jaskier stands up, fiddling with his sleeves as he walks over to the window to check if the horse is grazing at the small pasture.

“He was good.” Geralt confirms with a light hum.

“That’s excellent. How much do I owe you, for the horseshoes?” He tugs the coin purse out of one of the chests under the window and turns to the Witcher.

“It’s – my treat. You don't have to worry about it.” Geralt stares him down as he gapes.

“Don’t be ridiculous, you know that I can more than afford it and-”

“I know. I know. It’s – a gift. For Yaruga. For... Keeping you safe on your travels.” Geralt clears his throat and pointedly avoids looking in Yennefer’s direction as she doubles over in silent laughter.

“Oh, well.” He’s rendered speechless again. This is getting old, he thinks briefly.

“There’s a couple of Drowners in the town over. I will probably be away until tomorrow.” Geralt moves back out of the house and Jaskier follows to send him on his way like he’s the lonely noblewoman again – sans the wine this time.

“Remember to wake me up.” He calls and Geralt nods with a smile before trotting over to where Roach is waiting for him. He waves at the horse and she whinnies at him.

He closes the door and turns back to Yen, leaning against the wood and utterly bewildered. She’s still smiling widely and he knows that what she says next is going to change something.

“Are you certain you don’t know what his intentions are?” She bites at her lower lip to stop herself from talking and Jaskier closes his eyes.

“Don’t even start.”

Two weeks of Geralt waking him up every morning and doing his chores with him and then either one of them cooking food and he’s still not used to it fully.

It’s odd, it’s new and it’s good. Jaskier feels like he’d somehow domesticated the wild man and even though Geralt still sometimes goes to the neighbouring villages for an odd job here or there – he doesn’t mind, not really. Geralt is, after all, above everything else, a Witcher and it’s his duty. Which brings Jaskier to the dilemma of keeping Geralt from said duties. He feels – selfish. He’s keeping the Witcher here at the coast where the two of them can pretend like nothing bad goes on out in the world and where they can enjoy doing chores in silence together.

He still talks some but he’s timid to do so more often than not. Which in turn, makes Geralt talk more. So Jaskier hears about his adventures more than he had before and in great detail, too. And in the evening, when Geralt leaves to sleep wherever he’s set up camp, Jaskier sits down at the kitchen table and writes more songs than he has in the last two years. Not all of them are for the public, of course. Some of them are too tender – too revealing to ever let anyone see them let alone hear the sorrowful tunes he sings them to.

Geralt is, of course, endlessly amused by Butters howling every time he picks up his lute and is adamantly sticking to his theory that Butters is trying to steal his job. It’s sweet. Geralt doesn’t look at him with disdain anymore, he doesn’t presume Jaskier wants things done for him and he tries his best not to stop Jaskier from doing reckless things like jumping off the cliff into the sea that one time.

What is he doing?” A familiar voice behind him calls and he startles, turning to look at Triss and Yennefer that have just emerged from the fading portal there.

“I told you, it’s eerie.” Yennefer grins at Jaskier in turn.

“M’ladies,” He curtsies before he turns back to watching Geralt chopping down trees in the nearby woods. They walk over to stand next to him at the edge of his land and silently watch the man work with the large axe for a couple of moments more.

“Is this some weird Witcher courting ritual?” Triss turns to him and Yennefer and Jaskier splutters.

“No!” He yelps at the same time as Yennefer says it appears to be.

“Why can’t he have just – you know, given him a pedant or something? Like the rest of us do it?” Triss huffs and places one hand on her hip and – now wait just a second.

“Holy Mother of Asclepius!” He gapes dramatically, pointing to the two of them and then down at their joined hands. “You! And her!”

“Yen, I thought you told him?” Triss pouts at the shorter sorceress who looks a bit uncomfortable at Jaskier connecting the dots.

“Err, surprise?” Yen shrugs one shoulder uncertainly and Jaskier claps his hands together. “I told him I was betrothed – just not to whom.”

“Now I really have to write you two a song in congratulations!” He twirls on his heels, ready to go up to the house and fetch his lute but Triss’ hand on his arm stops him.

“Oh, no. This isn’t about us. This is about this weird thing that Geralt is doing.” She demands, a stern look on her face that just makes Yennefer’s smile soften more.

“I don't think it’s weird.” He huffs, crossing his arms over his chest. He’s fairly certain that Geralt can hear them so he doesn’t want to say anything too incriminating. “It’s gotten colder during the night and I don't have a steady supply of kindling so he’s making a stock.”

“He does know you’re not going to stay here forever, right?” Triss tilts her head in question and Jaskier goes a little numb at her words.

Because she’s right. It doesn’t matter how much Jaskier loves his little house and his garden, he’s not going to stay for much longer. The moment he releases Geralt from his grovelling obligations and the Witcher hits the road again, Jaskier will find another city to wallow in before moving to the next – rinse and repeat.

“I suppose you’re right. Once he leaves I don’t see why I’d stay here for much longer. I’ve had my time at the coast, maybe I head for the mountains next.” He sighs and crouches down the give Butters a belly rub.

“Is he an idiot?” He hears Triss ask Yennefer who snorts.

“In all honesty, I'm not sure.” The other witch responds and both of them let out a long-suffering sigh.

“Let me ask you this,” Triss starts – she seems slightly better at making polite conversation out of sensitive topics than Yennefer who would just barrel through what needs to be said and then wince afterwards.

“Have you forgiven him yet? Has he learned?” Triss asks and Jaskier thinks it over.

“I – yes, I have.” He admits and it hurts a little because now he’ll have to tell Geralt as well. “He has.”  

“Then have that conversation with him, Jaskier. Air out whatever’s been in your linens chest and see what happens.” Triss places a gentle hand on his shoulder and he looks up into her kind eyes. “I can promise you that it will be okay.”

He shivers, regretting not owning a thicker coat because the wind blowing in from the sea really is frigid. He – well. If anyone knows things are going to turn out alright, he supposes it would be the two powerful sorceresses that he’d somehow befriended.

That evening, once they’ve had their food and the two lasses have had their fair share of making fun of Geralt, Jaskier washes the bowls and the cups in the basin and listens to the sounds of Geralt sharpening his swords.

He clears his throat, “It’s really gotten cold out, there’s frost on the windows.” Not like he feels the weather inside with the fire burning steadily in the hearth.

“Hm.” Geralt confirms, “Colder still by the water.”

“That’s right.” He doesn’t know how he’s going to pose this but he knows what he wants to ask. He’s a little nervous and he’s sure that Geralt can hear his heart beating rapidly. “I never did ask you – where have you been sleeping?”

“Uh,” Geralt’s movements halt like he hadn’t expected it. “I’ve set up camp nearby, in the forest.”

For two weeks?” He asks incredulously. He’d expected Geralt to be staying in an inn or something in the nearest town but apparently the man had been sleeping in the forest under the stars. Poor Roach.

“I’ve had worse and for longer. At least there are no monsters lurking around.” Geralt says easily and then Jaskier hears his sword being sheathed.

He grips the rag in his hands and tries not to fumble as he dries the bowl he’s holding off. “What – what would you say if I asked you to stay here tonight?”

“It’s – it’s not that cold, Jaskier, you don't have to.” Geralt speaks quietly like he’s afraid that speaking any louder will upset him.

“I know you can handle a little bad weather, you brute, but I-” He turns back around, determined now. “I want you to stay here tonight. You can put Roach in the pen next to Yaruga and you can indulge in the warmth of a roof over your head for once.”

“How come you ask me now?” Geralt doesn’t sound accusing, merely interested in the answer.

Jaskier hopes that his cheeks aren’t as red as they feel. He can’t exactly admit to the Witcher that he’d been thinking about sharing a bed with him since he’d come up with this silly little plan this morn.

“Because – well, because I'm ready to talk. I think.” He nods his head towards the door. “Do you need help clearing out the pen?”

“No – I – I think I got it, thank you.” Geralt stares at him for a moment before nodding to himself and leaving.

Jaskier releases the breath he didn’t know he was holding in and slumps against the nearest chair. Well – that went well. He takes a deep breath and catches a whiff of Yennefer’s perfume lingering the air like she’d marked her territory. He snorts at the image of Yennefer rubbing up against his furniture like a cat claiming what’s hers.

He takes up his lute and starts strumming one of the tunes that doesn’t make Butters want to start howling. He plays the song with his eyes closed and gets lose in the tune. It’s one of his newer ones – he’d written it with sprawling roads travelled alone in mind but he’ll probably repurpose it to something less dramatic that people actually want to hear.

He strums the last cord and opens his eyes to find Geralt standing in the corner of the room with a gentle smile on his face.

“I haven’t heard that one before.” The Witcher admits with a hum and Jaskier fumbles with the lute uselessly.

“I haven’t performed it before. It’s new – not finished really. I’ll probably put some more pep in it before I decide to sing it for the public. It’s too – melancholic like this, too nostalgic. People don't like hearing nostalgia in a song, did you know? A dramatic tale of broken hearts and dead people, yes, but yearning and wandering? Booed right off the stage if there is one!” He prattles uselessly as he stows the lute away and tries to put himself out of Geralt’s direct line of sight.

“You don’t always have to be performing, Jaskier. You’re allowed to keep some songs for yourself.” Comes Geralt’s reply that gives him pause. He turns around to face the Witcher.

“But I'm a bard, what good am I if I'm not performing? I tried being a professor and that went horribly. Pleasing the crowds is what I do.” He huffs with a floppy hand gesture that’s supposed to mean ‘obviously’.

“I'm not saying it isn’t.” Geralt shrugs his wide shoulders. “I'm simply pointing out that they shouldn’t be privy to your every ballad, every emotion, all the time. You can play just for the sake of doing something that you love.”

“Oh, huh.” He prides himself on his ability to string sentences together but right now, after Geralt’s kind words, he can't string together a coherent thought much less a sentence fit for being spoken out loud. “I suppose you’re right.”

“It was bound to happen at some point.” Geralt smirks and then goes for the bedroom and now Jaskier is faced with the fact that they’re going to be sharing a bed for the first time in about two years.

They’d shared before out of necessity, of course, but it hadn’t been this tense before. Jaskier hadn’t been this tense before. Because he knew that Geralt would simply, push him out of bed if he got too clingy during the night and that would be it. But he doesn’t know how this new and reformed Geralt would feel to waking up with Jaskier clinging to his back.

Though, on the topic of that, he doesn’t really think that Geralt’s been reformed. He thinks that their time apart gave Geralt ample opportunity to rethink his choices and to decide how he wanted to move forward. And Geralt had decided that being more considerate to a friend and apologizing was the proper thing to do.

It’s flattery at its finest and no words Jaskier will ever produce will ever even come close.

Sighing to himself, he enters the other room and closes the door behind him. Sorry Butters, he thinks to himself, your side of the bed’s occupied tonight.

“You wanted to talk?” Geralt ventures as he drops his things onto one of the chests in the corner and puts the swords under his side of the bed because it’s a force of habit.

“Yes.” He feels his chest constricting a little and his knees going weak so he walks over to sit on the bed.

“I know I always have much to say but it’s not always important. This time, I want to say that – I forgive you. You’ve more than made up for what you said and just – your grovelling days are over, Geralt.” He looks up at the man who’d come to stand in front of him. “Thank you for – for listening, I suppose. And for reconsidering and coming to find me. For looking out for me even though I didn’t need it, too.” He clears his throat because it’d gotten a little tight. “So – you don’t have to stick around. It’s going to be winter soon and the world out there needs you. It’s time to return to your Witcher-ly duties.”

Geralt drops to his knees in front of him before Jaskier’s even done talking, yellow eyes dancing in the candlelight.

“Jaskier.” The growl in his voice doesn’t sound as menacing as it used to. “I haven’t been grovelling just for your forgiveness. Yes, I came here with the intentions to apologize but I – I didn’t stay here just to make it up to you. I stayed because I missed you. I missed your company. And if grovelling would let me be your friend again, then I did what had to be done. And I’ve come to enjoy it. Sure you had me running chores but I liked doing things for you. They were mundane – normal.”

Geralt speaks in a way that has Jaskier’s heart hammering out of his chest and his ears clogged with blood flowing through his veins. The White Wolf sounds so sincere and so fond all at once that Jaskier doesn’t know what to do.

“But if you want me to, I’ll go. I know I'm not the easiest person to be around.” Geralt chuckles lowly and Jaskier feels his lungs stutter.      

“And if I asked you to stay?” He whispers out tentatively, an arm coming up – shaking all the way towards its destination that just happens to be Geralt’s lightly stubbled cheek.

Geralt leans into the touch and closes his eyes. “Then I’d stay. For as long as you’d have me.”

A sob catches in Jaskier’s chest and he refuses to let it leave. Surely Geralt doesn’t mean it like that. Surely Geralt isn’t implying all those things Yennefer had hinted at?


“It was awful.” The Witcher breathes out, nostrils flaring. “It was awful travelling without you. More than I could have imagined it would be. I thought – we’ve parted way before and that this time it would be no different but – it was somehow so much worse.” Geralt’s hands with their large palms and their calluses come to rest onto his knees and Jaskier shudders at the warmth they radiate.

“I hated the silence. I hated that it was my fault. I hated that it wasn’t Destiny because if it were then I could just say it wasn’t meant to be. But no – it was me; I’d done that to myself and to you.” Geralt grunts like he’s angry at the whole world and Jaskier just – just wants to kiss him, really. “I hated walking into a tavern and hearing your songs being sung by someone else and hearing word about how well you were doing and knowing that you never needed me in the first place.” Geralt swallows and grimaces and Jaskier watches the emotions play out across his face. “But that I needed you, instead. I still do. And if you ask me to stay, I will. But – not as a friend. As something more if you'd allow it.”

Mortified, he feels a tear slip the corner of his eye and he feels his entire world unravelling in front of him. The words being spoken wash over him like a spell, sending his heart out of his chest and setting his entire being aflame. He opens his mouth to respond but the only thing that comes out is a shaky laugh, rough and wet-sounding.

“I’d never ask you to stay, you silly man. Not because I don't want you here because the Gods know that I do. But because you’re a Witcher. You are on your best out there doing what you know how to do and enjoy doing despite the complaints.” He rubs a thumb under the Witcher’s eye, marvelling the fact that he can do that now. “No. Instead, I’d accompany you back on the road. Like old times.”

Not like old times,” Geralt hisses. “Never like that again. Better, instead.” The Witcher shuffles closer until he’s kneeling between Jaskier’s spread knees and he almost gets vertigo looking into the man’s eyes.

“You’d really let me come?” He brings his other hand up as well, mirroring the position of the one already on Geralt’s face.

“I wouldn’t leave here without you.” Geralt’s words are firm and certain.

“What of the house?” He asks feebly as Geralt starts slowly leaning in.

“Let Triss and Yen take care of it for the winter, they’re on the run anyway.” Geralt rushes out in the last few scant inches between their faces and then they’re kissing.

It’s a lot softer than Jaskier had imagined, there’s too many emotions swirling around both their hearts for it to be fast and rough like he thought it would. He used to think that Geralt would kiss him in a fit of annoyance just to shut him up but that never happened. It stands to show just how surprising Geralt still is to him and how much more he has to learn about the Witcher.

They break apart, both breathing heavily and keeping as close as humanly possible.

“You know, when I asked you to stay the night, my intentions were rather pure.” He bites at his lip, feeling out how swollen it’s getting, and Geralt zeroes in on the move.

“Hm,” The Witcher grunts, dislodging one of his hands to cup Jaskier’s face in turn, pushing his thumb onto his bottom lip. “I hope you don't mind the change of plans then.” Geralt smirks dangerously and Jaskier’s stomach tightens in excitement.

“Not at all, my sweet idiot, not at all.” He lets Geralt’s thumb slip into his mouth and bites at it teasingly, loving the rapt way with which the Witcher observes his lips.

“Jaskier.” It’s half filled with warning and half filled with lust and it makes the heat in his stomach fester and slide lower until he’s feeling all of the effects of just how gorgeous the Witcher is. “Don’t start something you don’t intend to finish.”

“Oh, I’ll give you a finish, alright.” He promises with a cheeky wink, feeling both elated and like he weighs too much under Geralt’s gaze.

With another growl Geralt springs up, picking Jaskier up by the waist easily and then – then he’s on his back on the bed with Geralt between his legs, looking down at him like he’s something to be treasured.

“You better not let me down, Geralt; with the amount of time I’ve spent thinking about this – you have a lot to live up to.” He grins as Geralt’s soft expression turns into a scowl.

“You insufferable,” Geralt crowds down against him, nose pressing insistently into the skin of his throat. “Vexatious, irritating, incredible, remarkable, wondrous little Blue Jay.

He whines, tilting his head backwards so that Geralt has more room and skin to explore. “Why – ah, fuck – why a Blue Jay.”

Geralt, too busy leaving little bites against his throat and marking him up prettily, takes a bit to respond. “Your eyes, your voice, your flighty nature. Always so free and unrestrained. You’re asking for words when I’d rather keep my mouth occupied somewhere else.” Geralt’s voice vibrates along his skin and he can feel the Witcher’s chest rumbling against his own.

“Too many clothes, love, off.” He demands, remembering that he should definitely be more naked if they were going to do anything.

He shudders as Geralt’s hands slip under his blue shirt and start tugging it upwards – no time for buttons. And yet, the brute is careful with his belonging so nothing actually gets torn in the end. His chest is exposed to the tepid room air and Geralt follows by taking off his own shirt with a lot less care.

“You – you’re ridiculous.” He lifts his eyes towards the sky before surging forward and letting his arms roam all over the other’s fit chest. He traces every groove, every dip and every scar with his fingers, taking his time and enjoying how Geralt strains under the gentle touch.

“You just as much,” Geralt grinds out, his hands gentle on Jaskier’s sides as he lets him explore slowly.

“I’ve always looked but to be able to touch, oh, Geralt.” He whines and tips forward, at this point nuzzling under the Witcher’s chin like a swooning maiden, hands spread over the man’s ribs. “Look at you, you’re gorgeous. So strong and so good. Letting me drink my fill, aren’t you? Know exactly what I want.” He just – he can't stop everything he’s ever thought about from spilling out like a dam breaking.

“Jaskier,” Geralt groans as he grips the man’s ass like he’d always wanted to.

He can feel the other wavering where he’s kneeling over Jaskier’s thighs, swaying and breathing hard. It’s exhilarating, having Geralt all to himself like this, at his mercy and waiting for his cues.

“What is it, Wolf? You’ve got something to say?” He grins teasingly, kneading at the muscles of Geralt’s back. “Or are you going to bite wordlessly.”

“Save your pretty words for your pretty dames, bard.” Geralt grunts, cheeks flushed and still holding himself up and letting Jaskier do what he wishes.

“But there are no prettier dames than the sight before me, for the mighty Witcher, bare-chested and blushing, makes for the prettiest sight of them all.” He purrs melodically, practically singing the words to the other.

“Oil, Jaskier.” Geralt, patience apparently running thin, demands.

“If you’re willing to walk, there’s some in the second chest over there.” He waves in the general direction of his belongings and Geralt grunts. He briefly mourns the loss of warmth but watching Geralt ridding himself of his pants and undergarments is worth the loss. He groans as his own need twitches in his breeches. He decides that getting nude is the best course of action. He shucks his breeches and tosses them to the side.

He’s always been fairly confident in his own body – he’s decently tall, fairly built all things considering and of a good size but Geralt is all that and so much more and Jaskier’s mouth waters as the Witcher turns around and he gets an eyeful of exactly what the other is sporting now that he’s fully hard.

“Gods, Geralt, come here.” He scrambles on his knees to the edge of the bed as Geralt approaches. He grips the man’s hips, digging his fingers into the V there hurriedly. He’s fairly certain that he looks like a man starved as he spreads his knees so that he’s at the perfect level to take Geralt’s cock in his mouth.


“Shut up, Witcher.” He grunts and takes the other’s member in hand, giving him a hearty stroke before lowering his mouth and licking a stripe up the considerable length. “Shut up and let me suck your big fucking cock, Geralt, Gods.”

Geralt’s chuckle gets cut off mid leaving his mouth because Jaskier finally gets his lips around the glistening cockhead. “Jaskier.”

It pleases him to know that he’s rendered the Witcher to only being able to say his name and to grunts of pleasure.

He takes his time with this too, licking and sucking and finessing. He wants to make the other remember, wants to make it so that this is the only thing that Geralt will be able to think about every time he looks at Jaskier’s face. He looks up, blinking away the tears and meeting Geralt’s awed gaze. He pulls off slowly, prolonging the contact and enjoying the taste.

“Now, I don't do this often, Geralt, it’s bad for my throat. But I’ll make an exception for you, darling.” He grins, loving the way his lips are already a little sore.

“What are - fuck!” Geralt’s hands shoot to his hair, gripping the brunette strands and Jaskier almost wants to chuckle.

He would, too, if there wasn’t a cock lodged in his throat at the moment. He tenses his throat to make more room for Geralt’s size in there. It’s not particularly pleasant but he knows that the men he’s done this for – which were far and few in between – have always enjoyed it. And nothing got him more aroused than knowing he’s bringing pleasure to his lovers. He pulls out all the stops and starts humming low in his throat and Geralt starts cursing in a tongue he doesn’t recognize.

“Is that – Jaskier, is that fucking Toss a Coin to Your Witcher you little-” Geralt throws his head back and moans, loud and beautiful and no matter how much Jaskier wishes to bring the other off like this, he wants Geralt in him more.

Little what? Bard? Songbird? Blue Jay?” He grins and shuffles back on his knees, dragging Geralt by the hips and getting him on the bed.

Tempest,” Geralt grunts, picking up the oil where he’d dropped it on the bed. “Like a fucking storm, Jaskier, came into my life and roused everything I’ve ever kept buried.”

“It was an honour, my beastly Witcher.” He purrs and lies back down, spreading his legs wide open and giving himself a stroke to the visage that is Geralt at the moment – with his dishevelled white hair and wild eyes.

“You would enjoy causing chaos, wouldn’t you?” Geralt smiles then, settling down some and reclaiming his place between Jaskier’s thighs.

“What good is life without a little chaos in it?” He grins, arching his back and tempting the Witcher with his body alone.

“Quiet.” Geralt responds, bending low and dragging his lips across Jaskier’s chest down to his stomach.

“I thought we – ah, fuck – established that you hated the silence.” He whines and wiggles in place as Geralt’s hands hold him still by the hips. The Witcher’s nose digs under his bellybutton and Jaskier can hear him inhale deeply. “You – don't be disgusting.”

“You smell nice, clean, and like lavender.” Geralt rumbles and Jaskier smiles fondly, running his hand through the other’s white strands.

“Thank you, I take baths sometimes.” He chuckles and Geralt huffs in amusement. “Now, do you want to fuck me or are you going to continue sniffing me like a dog?”

“Jaskier.” Geralt lays his head down onto his belly and looks up at him with adoration in his eyes. “Let me enjoy the moment, yeah?”

“You giant sap.” He coos at the Witcher and they lie like that for a moment, just soaking each other’s presence in.

“Only for you,” Geralt confirms and Jaskier’s arousal twitches valiantly against Geralt’s chest, right between his large pectorals. And oh, that’s definitely something he wants to explore in the future by straddling the other’s chest and-

“You having fun in there?” Geralt reaches up and taps his forehead and flicks the tip of his nose.

He blushes at being caught thinking about the other inappropriately – which is ridiculous because he’s just had Geralt’s hardness in his mouth and he can still taste him even.

“That is a fantasy for another day.” He admits with a cheeky giggle and Geralt rolls his eyes.

The Witcher levers himself up with his mighty arms and Jaskier gives into the urge to grip one of them with his fingers. Geralt huffs in amusement before he kneels back up, popping open the bottle of oil.

“Oh, yes.” He keens and pulls the pillow out from the headboard to push it under his lower back. “Remember, Geralt, no holding back.”

“Mm,” Geralt hums, running one of his palms over Jaskier’s thigh and eyeing the inside of it briefly before dipping down and biting at the pale skin there. He curses, throwing his head back as the Witcher’s teeth worry at him, making sure that a bruise will form there.

“You marking me up, Witcher?” He gripes as Geralt drizzles some of the oil into his hand.

“Have to make sure people know that you’re taken.” Geralt sneers like the thought of someone putting their hands on Jaskier is making him physically ill.

“Oh? I'm not sure I like this base possessiveness that’s being shown.” He hums, teasing of course because it’s still flattering, but it gives Geralt pause.

“I'm sorry.” Geralt lowers his head like a scolded dog and Jaskier snorts.

“You – you’re ridiculous. Like I’d ever want anyone other than you, Geralt. I'm just teasing, of course I'm going to let the people know. It’s going to be the first song I’ll sing, my great comeback after a prolonged absence. About the great Witcher and his massive – fuck.” He closes his eyes as Geralt’s finger breaches the ring of muscle. “Yes, Gods.” He whines at the slight sting but relaxes as Geralt takes to dragging his cheek along his knee.

“Tell me if it hurts.” Geralt demands and then he feels the other adding more oil.

He closes his eyes and enjoys the sensation, enjoys the feeling of skin on skin – of Geralt’s strong hands and his stubble against him, of the fingers in him. He gets lost in it, the dizzying rush of lust and yearning and arousal that swirls low in his belly. He moans as Geralt twists his fingers and brushes up against that one special place. He twitches his hips and tries to bear down onto the fingers inside him but Geralt holds him still. He whines, not having the capacity for words, half mad with pleasure already.

“Please, Geralt, I can take it, I promise.” He hooks his legs around the other’s waist, trying to tug him closer. “Come on, please.”

“Sing so prettily, little bird.” Geralt’s grin is positively feral and Jaskier feels terrifyingly exposed and madly aroused all at once. He watches as Geralt uses some of the oil on his own length and Jaskier feels giddy as the Witcher lines himself up.

It’s almost too much – the man’s cock’s certainly bigger than most he’s had – but Geralt goes slow, gentle despite his rough hands gripping Jaskier’s hips.

“Fuck, Geralt.” He breathes out and the Witcher kisses him, distracting him from the stretch. He whines and accepts it as Geralt’s tongue seeks entrance into his mouth. This time the kiss is rough like he’d expected it to be. And he revels in it – in the heady grunts that Geralt releases into his mouth and the slow twitches of the man’s hips.

“You can – fuck, move, Geralt.” He whines as Geralt’s cock twitches inside him.

“As you wish,” Geralt grins against his cheek and then his hips start moving.

Jaskier’s had some good fucks in his life but very few even come close to what Geralt is able to do. The power behind the thrusts sends Jaskier up the bed and the Witcher has to hold either hold him or pull him back down onto his length with every other thrust. Jaskier knows he’s babbling – he doesn’t know what exactly but his mouth is open and he’s letting out noises. Geralt is relentless, his hips slapping against Jaskier’s ass like he’s trying to punish him. And he loves it, he loves that Geralt isn’t careful with him like he was afraid he’d be.

“That’s it, sing for me, little songbird.” Geralt growls against his shoulder, teeth bared against his skin.

“Geralt!” He wails as the Witcher takes hold of his thighs and throws them over his shoulders. The Witcher is almost bending him in half at this point, rigorously slamming into him and making him dizzy with everything.

“Come on, Jaskier.” Geralt grunts, tugging one of Jaskier’s hands free of the sheets and bringing it to his own cock. He gets the message only because he’s so close to climax already and he grips his own length almost savagely. He times his tugs with Geralt’s thrusts and only a handful of movements later, he’s spilling onto his own stomach with a loud whine.

He protests feebly, too tired to form actual words, as Geralt pulls out and lowers his legs to the bed. The Witcher strokes himself off with his nose buried under the crook of Jaskier’s jaw, panting harshly and rapidly. The Witcher adds to the mess on his belly with a choked off grunts and Jaskier closes his eyes when a shiver wracks his body. If he were any younger he’d be ready to go again by now.

But, he is not, and Geralt is very heavy so he nudges the man to the side. “Gods, you weigh as much as a horse. I need air, you big oaf.”

Geralt grumbles but lifts off anyway, he looks around and then fishes Jaskier’s soft breeches off the ground, using the cloth to clean the mess on his stomach.

“I’d call you sweet but those are mine and I'm going to have to wash that out.” He sighs, closing his eyes and avoiding Geralt’s shit-eating grin. He’s – he’s feeling a little overwhelmed.

“Are you – are you okay?” Geralt tosses the breeches to the floor and settles next to Jaskier, plastering himself to his side.

“I'm more than okay, a little too good, I think. It’s hard to believe.” He chuckles and turns to the side, facing Geralt and placing a hand onto his cheek because he can.

“I'm sorry – for making it seem like it’s something so far out of your reach. You deserve more, better.” Geralt grumbles and Jaskier rolls his eyes.

“Yes but, luckily, I don't want anything other than you. So you’re stuck with me.” He smacks a loud kiss onto the other’s forehead and Geralt grimaces.

“I’ll gladly be stuck with you for all the lifetimes and then all of them over twice again.” Geralt pulls him into his chest and nuzzles his hair. “I love you, my little Blue Jay.”

“You mean it? This lifetime and the next?” He asks, suddenly very aware of how the odds are stacked against them in this one.

“Yes, I do.” Geralt says firmly and it calms Jaskier a little, allows him to relax.

“Then I love you, too, my White Wolf.” He kisses the hollow of Geralt’s throat and allows himself to hope that everything will be okay now that they’re back together properly.

He allows himself to be happy because he deserves it.