Chamomile is not only gentle and powerful, it seemingly does a thousand and one different things, from soothing the nervous system, relieving muscle tension, and addressing cold and flu symptoms, to promoting digestion and modulating inflammation.
--Herbal Monograph on Chamomile, HerbMentor
Jaskier looked between the jars he’d pulled from Geralt’s bag and frowned. One was a metal, battered thing with no label, its lid fitted with a simple screw top. The other, old wood with a wide mouth and cork stopper.
“Which?” he asked over his shoulder.
“Wood.” Geralt grunted from the bed, his voice muffled by the pillow he’d collapsed on.
Jaskier set the metal container aside and dislodged the cork stopper. The scents of chamomile and lavender drifted out, and he nodded to himself. Twin oil lamps lit the small room Geralt had rented, holding the space in a soft yellow glow. It was enough to work by, so long as one wasn’t reading. He shucked his doublet off and rolled the thin shirt underneath up past his elbows. He set the jar of salve on the side table and turned to give Geralt a more attentive examination.
“No wounds?” he asked.
Jaskier checked for himself anyway. Geralt lay on his stomach in the middle of the bed, naked and barely moving. If he wasn’t wrong, the ribs were a little more visible than usual.
“Tell me again,” he said gently and scooped enough salve onto his hands to make them slick. He pressed his palms to Geralt’s left shoulder blade and took a second, letting the sensation rise before he started working his hands over the muscle.
A sound of discomfort ground through the witcher’s throat, but the soreness needed tending.
“The cockatrice hen lived halfway up the mountain. It was only in the forest to hunt. I chased it. I killed it.”
Jaskier pressed his lips together at the perfunctory lack of details. He moved his hands to Geralt’s arm, massaging the muscles there and working his way toward palm and fingers.
“You ran yourself ragged,” he said. “When was the last time you ate anything?”
Geralt was quiet for awhile as Jaskier moved on.
Eventually, “Potion or two,” and the bard’s expression darkened, though Geralt couldn’t see. Potions were the opposite of food. Temporary enhancements that left the witcher weak from toxin after they were done.
He didn’t say anything.
Geralt had come through the door of the inn barely standing upright and using his sword as a cane for balance--practically heretical. Jaskier got him up the stairs and out of his armor and through a bath by force of will. Even without any bleeding wounds, any a fool could see he was hurting by the way he moved, careful, stiff, and unsteady--like his limbs were made of iron.
There were treatments for that.
And so Jaskier focused on the body beneath his hands, trying to ignore the sensation of Geralt’s skin. Like pins and needles, but warm instead of cold. It traveled through his fingers delightful and distracting, as if Geralt’s body needed to be more distracting. He worked arms, then legs, and then because of the size of the bed, had to crawl up onto his knees and straddle the witcher’s prone form to get a good angle on his back. He added a heavy layer of salve to his bare forearm and pressed it up the length of Geralt’s back, like he was rolling out dough.
Geralt’s muscles twitched and spasmed under the repeated gesture, while the man himself made no sound at all. Generally, people did. Many a skilled lady in the service houses in Oxenfurt had taught him that. It hadn’t been the education the University promised, but it was part of the one he got nonetheless. And while their syllabus may have been focused on more carnal purposes. Well. One could just leave a few things out.
He was, after all, here to help. Here to do a job.
But that tingling arcane heat... And Geralt’s heavy muscles pliant beneath his hands. His concentration faltered. And his body became aware of exactly what he was doing.
Jaskier swallowed and listened for a moment to Geralt’s breathing. So very slow and very even.
Asleep , he thought. That’s good .
He released an unsteady breath, betraying his fraying composure. Then Jaskier swung a leg over, so as not to be straddling-- Goddess --his very handsome friend, and moved to get to his feet.
Geralt’s hand, previously buried under the pillow, flashed out and grasped him by the forearm. His warm grip was surprisingly gentle given the speed with which he’d moved--and without looking.
Jaskier’s breath caught in his throat as Geralt guided his hand back to his body. Blood rushed at the request Touch me , and Jaskier felt himself starting to get hard.
He swallowed and demurred, averting his eyes. “I-I really don’t think that’s a good idea.” And took his hand back, scurrying to his feet before Geralt could make a second grab.
Ponderously, Geralt shifted just enough to fix a golden eye on him. “Why?”
Why? “Be cause . I. Um.” He glanced down at himself and quickly turned around. “I think I’ve reached my limit.”
Geralt hummed softly. “Your heart’s racing.”
“Yes. I noticed. Thank you.” He knotted his fingers together and looked at the floor. The walls. The ceiling. He tried transposing scales in his head.
Neither of them said anything for a tectonic age.
And it was Geralt who broken the silence first. “What are you afraid of?”
“I’m not afraid.” Too quick. Too quickly he doth protest.
The witcher snorted. “Liar.”
And it was true. He was a liar. And he was afraid. His nervous fingers ceased their motion, and his shoulders drooped. What was he afraid of? An honest question. And Geralt valued honesty. Mouth suddenly dry, Jaskier swallowed and chose his words with care.
“I don’t have many friends. And… I’d prefer not to lose one.”
There came the sound of movement on the bed, skin against sheets and a shifting of weight.
“Who are you going to lose?” Geralt asked, his tone like a brick.
Irritation spiked through Jaskier’s gut, and he spun around. “Don’t be an idiot! You know what I--”
He stopped and clacked his jaw shut, as his pulse thundered in his ears. Geralt had rolled onto his side and lay with his head propped on one hand. He fixed Jaskier with a steady look, the exposure of his nakedness both casual and intentional. It took several seconds for the realization to sink in that the question hadn’t been obtuse at all. It had been as keen and expertly placed as a witcher’s blade.
The question only sounded dumb if you assumed the answer.
He met Geralt’s gaze.
“But… with a man?”
Geralt snorted softly and rolled back over onto his stomach, settling his cheek into the pillow. “There were only men at Kaer Mohren. What do you think we did?”
Jaskier nodded absently. He’d never thought about it. Literally not once.
Sudden boldness gripped him, and he climbed back on the bed. Put his hands on Geralt’s skin. Sighed as the tingling spread through his fingers and up through his hands. It made him want to touch. Touch everywhere . He pressed the heels of his hands up either side of Geralt’s spine with a slow, steady motion. Geralt let out a relieved grunt, and Jaskier smiled, sure that he could be satisfied just doing this. He walked his hands back, pressing hard, and prepared to do it again.
“You’re wearing too many clothes,” Geralt told him.
He paused and looked down at himself, nodding at the assessment. He was. He really was. He hopped off the end of the bed, disrobed like a man on fire, and returned, gasping as knees touched knees. Bare thighs collided. Goddess, anywhere their skin touched alighted with strange sensation.
Desire burned in his belly, and he put some more of the ladies’ lessons to use, massaging in long strokes up Geralt’s back and out across his shoulders. He leaned in and let out a moan of his own when his cock touched Geralt’s ass and the arcane fire spread there, too.
Sweet sin, how could anyone control themselves long enough to make a sport of it.
On the next stroke he held himself higher and leaned his weight onto his palms.
Geralt released a bone-deep groan and pulled his hands out from under the pillow, unwinding, sprawling.
He spread his legs, too, and Jaskier adjusted so his knees pressed against inner thigh. He stared down in shivering wonderment at the vulnerable display and licked his lips. Considered his options. He gently put a hand on the back of Geralt’s knee and ran it up his thigh, trailing embers. The witcher canted his hips in response, and the invitation seemed entirely clear. And entirely not what the bard had expected.
“Are you sure?” he asked, voice small.
“Is my ass in the air not clear enough for you?”
“N-no. I’m just… surprised.”
Geralt snorted in a way that articulated exactly what he thought of Jaskier’s no reason , and everything that lay behind it. Assumptions. Idiocy.
And what contemptible moron would pass up an offer like this.
Jaskier settled a hand on the globe of Geralt’s ass and gave it a good massage and squeeze. It took several repetitions of hard effort and the application of an elbow before the tense muscles turned pliant. Geralt’s breathing hitched before he sighed.
He was going to do this. He couldn’t believe he was going to do this. So many nights of Geralt’s profile in campfire light. Watching him work. Watching him move. Falling asleep so near and never touching. It’d scared him when he started to dream it, like Geralt could tell when he woke up.
He rubbed small circles over soft, pale skin.
And it occurred to him suddenly that he may not be up to the task. That he may not be the lover his partner was expecting if the basis of comparison was a troupe of witchers in Kaer Mohren.
Geralt sighed heavily. “What now?”
Jaskier’s hands had stopped their gentling motion.
“Geralt,” he said, unsure, “are you expecting… violence?”
Geralt twisted to look at him. “I hope not. Why?” He scanned the room, tensing.
“No, no. No.” Jaskier pressed his hands to Geralt’s shoulders and tried to urge him back down. “I meant… from me.”
The witcher’s gaze snapped to him, eyes narrowing. And then a smirk touched the corner of Geralt’s mouth as he instantly calmed and lowered himself back down.
“No,” he said, the word rolling from him with a ripple of amusement. He stretched his arms out again. Relaxed.
Jaskier let out a sigh and nodded. “Good.” He ran his hands over Geralt’s back and shoulders with practiced motions and growing confidence. “Because I think you see enough of that.”
Jaskier let the peace settle. The heat built in the quiet. Let himself be intoxicated by the scent of chamomile and lavender. And when his hands reached the apex of their stroke he parted the hair at the back of Geralt’s neck and placed a kiss just there.
He took his time, placing more kisses across Geralt’s shoulders and marveling at what witcher skin did to lips. Like teeth-scraped stinging. With one hand brushed Geralt’s hair out of the way and marked a trail up his neck to the shell of his ear.
“In case I wasn’t clear, I’m not going to be,” he whispered. Violent, he meant. “And if that’s not what you want, you’re welcome to go.”
“It’s my room,” came the lazy reply.
Jaskier ran his hand down one of Geralt’s arms, reaching as far as he could, pressing as much skin together as he could manage--belly, chest, cock, thighs, palm to the back of a hand. “Then I guess you’ll just have to stay.”
His attention turned to Geralt’s shoulder. Hot skin beneath his mouth as he kissed and licked. Worked his way to the pulse in the neck’s sensitive flesh. Sucked and flicked his tongue until he earned himself a groan. A broken little exhale amid steady, steady breathing.
Lips lightly dragged across the nape of the neck. And with practiced ease he shifted Geralt’s hair the other way to gain access, while the witcher turned his head and stretched his shoulder down, opening space. Jaskier kissed with light nipping teeth up to his other ear.
“Do you know what makes me an excellent bard?” he whispered.
Geralt’s body lifted with an inhale, pressing more fiery skin to contact.
Jaskier smiled. Nuzzled at him. “I’m good with my mouth.”
Geralt chuckled . And Jaskier could have howled his joyful triumph. Instead, he worked on the curve of the neck, sucking and lashing the corded muscles and nerves. Found the tenderest spot and sucked until Geralt’s fingers flexed and he pressed his body back in search of more. Jaskier released him and moved on. Worked his way down shoulders and spine with wet lips and wetter tongue. The taste of chamomile. The burning from the touch of Geralt’s skin.
Panting, he straightened, pressing his hands to either side of the small of Geralt’s back and leaning just a little weight while he gathered himself. Ache throbbing through his groin. Needles of heat through his legs.
“Give me the salve,” he said, a little breathless.
After a long moment, Geralt reached for the side table and then offered back the wooden jar.
“You don’t have to be kind,” he said.
Jaskier frowned. “We went over that.”
Their fingers touched as he took the salve, and he paused with it in his hand. Slow brain connected actions to words as he realized the implication. You don’t have to use that if you don’t want to . His gaze flicked to Geralt’s placid expression, eyes closed and waiting, and sadness dripped through him, followed quickly by annoyance at whoever--whatever--
“First of all, yes , I do. And second, ow! I’m here too, have a little mercy.”
He didn’t wait for a response and carved a rather large amount of the semi-soft salve out with two fingers. He let it melt across the thick globes of Geralt’s bottom, getting them slick. Stroking himself with what was left.
He teased only a little. Running one finger up. Down. Getting a good slide. Geralt adjusted, brushing his hands across the linens. Inching backwards. Tilting his hips. Jaskier could hear his breathing.
And yet. And yet.
He pressed one finger against tight muscle. Waited. Pressed. Watched. Licked his lower lip as he slid in, and Geralt barely responded. Didn’t hitch a breath while he rubbed, withdrew, stroked in a little more, a little further.
He tried two.
Geralt sucked a breath and spread his hands wide. For a white wolf, he moved like a cat, the motion starting as a ripple in his shoulders and arching outward. Jaskier could write poems about that motion. The power of causing it. He wanted to say something , but Geralt might stop him. And he didn’t want to stop.
Jaskier scissored his fingers, and Geralt’s thighs squeezed, shoulders tensed. He puffed out a breath that was not quite a moan, and Goddess save him there was nothing quite so beautiful.
Jaskier felt like he was shaking. Was he shaking? He swallowed and withdrew his fingers gently.
“Give me the rag,” he said, and his voice didn’t sound shaky. It sounded low, husky to his own ears.
Again, Geralt did as requested. He stretched, reached for the side table, and then settled back down as he had been. Smooth and elegant motion.
Jaskier wiped his fingers clean, got a little more salve, and stroked it onto himself, trying to ignore the sensation. But there was sensation everywhere. Arcane fire from every inch their bodies touched. He couldn’t imagine how he would withstand that for long.
But he would try. Had been requested to try.
He positioned himself with care, pressed hard on Geralt’s ass to hold him open, and slowly laid his weight.
Heat. Fire. Pressure. He breathed.
He bit his lip.
He groaned as he slid inside.
Geralt jerked his hips. An incoherent sound escaped, as Jaskier found himself suddenly sheathed in shimmering heat that felt like the edge of fading cold.
“Sweet Goddess.” The words tumbled out, and he gripped Geralt’s hips hard to keep him from moving. Trembled with the effort to think through such pleasure. “I’m gonna be honest, I don’t know how long--”
Jaskier opened his eyes and stared at the witcher’s face. Closed eyes. Parted lips.
“Right,” he said, breathless, and swallowed.
Think of boring things.
Think of cold things.
Musical theory on a mountain peak.
He loosened his grip and splayed his hands against Geralt’s back, starting, at least, to move . Not tentative but slow, watching, listening. His hands started to slide, so he sat up straighter, found new leverage.
Key of C.
Key of F.
Goddess, he felt hot and heavy already.
He shifted tactics. Long strokes to light, short, swift as he could.
Geralt’s breathing cracked. Fingers shifted against the sheets. Curling... curling. It was as expressive as Geralt’s body was going to be. The thing a subtle poet would notice. The tensing through his limbs threaded together in a kind of motionless writhing, and Jaskier determined to keep him there.
He panted as sweat broke out across his brow and palms. Shuddered at the coiling heat within. He couldn’t keep such a pace. He wasn’t built with a witcher’s endurance and, Goddess, no one was built to withstand whatever sex magic lay within their skin.
Jaskier hummed with effort as sweat slipped down his arms. The hum became a high moan--a whine of denial. He wouldn’t. Couldn’t .
His hands slipped from Geralt’s back to the bed and the break in rhythm crumbled his control. With a hard bite to his lip, he pulled out, fumbled for the rag, and came into it with a broken gasp and long groan. He hunched, panting and shaking, and felt Geralt’s thighs squeeze against his knees.
He bunched the rag in one fist and glanced up to find Geralt twisting to look at him. Gold eyes flicked to the rag and back.
“Sorry,” Jaskier whispered, guilt weighing his shoulders. “I-- it’s a bit much.”
Geralt’s gaze moved back to the rag in his hand.
“What did you do that for?”
Jaskier looked down at it too, puzzled by the question. “Courtesy?” he offered.
Geralt gave him a long, inscrutable look and unwound back onto the bed with a “Hmm.”
If he wanted something else, he should have said so.
Body cooling, Jaskier sat back and gave Geralt an assessing looking before crawling off the bed. He tossed the used rag in the hamper and fetched a clean one. And when he turned, he found Geralt watching him, pale and beautiful. Eyes dark with rare desire. Jaskier’s backlit shadow stretched across him.
“Roll over,” the bard said.
Geralt blinked slowly at him and after a moment did indeed roll over.
Jaskier grinned at the sight of his cock against his belly, looking painfully hard.
Geralt cast him a look of mild curiosity. He had complied. Now what?
Jaskier looked him over.
“Hand or mouth,” he wondered aloud as he drew closer. Locked gazes. “Stupid question. Mouth, obviously.”
He climbed back onto the bed, and despite his words, took a little more salve from the jar and rubbed it between his hands. Geralt’s cock was silk smooth beneath his fingers as he gave it a few good strokes just to be sure. The witcher swallowed and bucked, dropping his head back with a sigh.
And then Jaskier licked his lips, dipped his head, and took him into his mouth like they did this daily. He lashed with his tongue, swirled around the slit. Sucked and bobbed. And Geralt-- Geralt buried his fingers in his hair and groaned.
Size, it turned out, measured differently by the eye, the hand, and the jaw. Jaskier flexed open wider and thanked the kind gods that Geralt didn’t shove him down or put effort into a thrust. The hand was there for encouragement, not control. But damn the man’s stamina.
Tens of minutes.
His back ached from hunching. Neck ached. But he could feel the tension in the witcher’s thighs, hear the harsh raggedness of his breathing.
So close. So close... Geralt arched suddenly, and his fingers clenched. Jaskier nearly gagged at the sudden thrust but kept his lips clamped through several spasms. Panting, Geralt dropped his hips, and Jaskier freed himself with a wet sound and grabbed the clean rag. He turned away as he spit into it and then tossed it in the direction of the hamper.
Geralt made an uncharacteristically pleased sound as his breathing slowed, and Jaskier glanced at him as he shuffled to the edge of the bed. A small smile touched the witcher’s grave countenance, and Jaskier felt a lift of pride. He also felt an ache in his jaw and sat massaging the small muscles near his temples.
He jumped when Geralt’s hand touched his shoulder and didn’t resist as he was urged to lie down and stretch out. He flexed his jaw as he rubbed at the pain, and a moment later, Geralt nudged his fingers aside to place his thumb against the spot. Pins and heat suffused his flesh, and Geralt rubbed slight circles into the soreness.
A grunt of relief escaped Jaskier’s throat, and he let his eyes fall shut, overcome with weariness.
Eventually, into the silence, “Thank you,” Geralt whispered.
“For what?” Drowsily.
Geralt lifted his hand away, and Jaskier glanced at him. His expression said Stop being an idiot , and the bard smiled sheepishly.
Geralt resumed rubbing at the pain in his jaw.
“It’s one of the few things that makes me feel human,” he said after a time. “And I usually have to pay for it.”
Jaskier hummed. “Well. Glad to save you the coin.”
The small circles stopped.
And Jaskier’s heart thundered as it recognized his error even before his thinking brain. Geralt started to roll away, and Jaskier grabbed for his wrist. Caught it. And rolled onto his side, bringing them so close. Kissing close.
“That’s not what you meant,” he said quickly.
Geralt gazed down. Away. Allowed the grip.
Jaskier pressed on, choosing his words carefully as he fit pieces of his odd friend into place. “You... meant it’s usually a stranger. Someone who would do the same for anyone who could pay. So… that makes it never about you .”
Geralt’s lips compressed, but he didn’t say anything, and Jaskier let him go.
“You deserve more than that,” he said gently. “Even if they raised you to think you don’t.”
He lowered his hand to Geralt’s cheek, smooth, freshly shaven, and stroked with his thumb. Geralt met his gaze and turned ever so slightly into the touch. A small thing. Achingly intimate.
“You are a singular man, Geralt of Rivia,” Jaskier said, whispered over a smile, his heart beating his ribs.
For a moment, it looked like Geralt might say something in reply, but he didn’t. And there was too much. Too heavy. Too close for Jaskier to remain. He drew back his hand with a lingering caress and sat up, stretching out his aches. Breathing like there was oxygen again.
He got up and started gathering his clothes.
Geralt propped himself up on his elbows, watching. And when Jaskier started buttoning his pants--
“Where are you going?”
The bard looked up from his task. “Well I do have my own room.”
He pulled on his undershirt and picked up his doublet.
Geralt frowned in silence, and Jaskier sighed.
“I don’t think you’re a cuddler. So…” He gestured toward the door.
The witcher’s gaze dropped, and he looked like he was considering the assessment. Jaskier watched him wrestle with it, which told him several things. One, that he was correct. But two, that Geralt found issue with the fact that he was correct, even if he didn’t know what to do about it. It was all very… interesting.
The whole night was interesting, and Jaskier thrummed with the power of it. The pleasure of it. He felt uncommonly bold. Like he’d captured lightning in a bottle. He paced to the side of the bed before the bottle cracked. Geralt looked up, and he bent down, capturing the man’s lips in a kiss. Not a lingering lover’s kiss. Not a perfunctory peck. Something sweet and timed just long enough. As he pulled back, he brushed his fingers along Geralt’s jaw, and then turned quickly to go.
At the threshold of the door, “Jaskier.”
He paused, hand on the handle and about to pull it closed.
“Don’t fall in love with me,” Geralt intoned.
A candy shell in the bard’s chest cracked, leaking bitter poison. It tightening his throat. Spiked his pulse. And as he turned, plastering on a false smile, it gathered bittersweet tears at the corners of his eyes.
He gazed at Geralt naked on the bed, glowing in the oil-lamp light. “Oh,” he said, voice thick, “my glorious friend. You are many years too late.”
A sad smile.
And then he was gone.
Geralt slept half a day and found Jaskier in the common room at a long table, picking at a plate of food. The bard’s lip curled in disgust, and he flagged down the barmaid to ask for stronger beer.
Geralt’s eyebrow lifted, and as the barmaid came back with a new cup, Geralt took it from her and delivered it himself, asking for a plate of food if she wouldn’t mind. He took a seat, offered the cup, and watched as the bard drank from it and made an even more distressed face.
Jaskier sighed dramatically and held up a strip of chicken meat for examination. He gave it a sour look, ate it, and sighed again.
The barmaid deposited a plate and cup of ale in front of Geralt, eyeing him cautiously as she skittered away.
“Well?” Geralt prompted, reaching for his ale.
Jaskier hesitated. “I can’t get the taste of chamomile out of my mouth.”
The witcher sputtered and carefully swallowed his drink without choking. He set the cup down and stared pointedly at his plate.
Jaskier glared. “It’s not funny.”
Around a smile, he managed, “I’m not laughing.”
But grinned through the meal all the same.