A raven arrived at Kaer Morhen as the snow began to thaw. It was more common than it used to be, once Jaskier started wintering there as well, because apparently the bard got a lot of mail. Most was about upcoming competitions, requests for him to sing at a festival or royal court for some event. He always had a neat little pile of mail that he never responded to, waiting until the thaw and they headed back to down to deal with all the correspondence.
But this raven was different. Jaskier had grown quiet when he had seen the crest in the wax. And a quiet Jaskier disturbed all of them.
“Problem?” Eskel asked.
“No, that is just the family crest. It is something official.” Jaskier was just staring at the paper.
And all the wolves were staring at him.
“I could eat it? Then you could say you never got it, if you know anyone asked?” Lambert offered. He looked at the Geralt. “Geralt are his family shit? You know like ours were? Before here?”
Geralt just shrugged, because Jaskier never talked much about his family. He knew they were maybe a little important, minor nobles, because Jaskier occasionally introduced himself at court as Viscount something something with a million names that weren’t Jaskier. But a dozen years together, and Jaskier barely said anything about his family, and the three times Geralt has asked, Jaskier had either sucked his dick or changed the topic. So he figured it was like most people he knew, a shitty childhood that was best forgotten. “Jaskier?”
Jaskier just took the letter and walked away.
Geralt kept eating, and frowned when he received multiple kicks under the table. “What?”
“When your partner leaves, looking that troubled you go follow them and ask what is wrong,” Eskel said.
“You find out who we need to kill,” Lambert agreed.
“You need to protect your bard’s heart,” Vesemir said.
“Eskel and Lambert fuck and love him too,” Geralt replied. “And you love him in that way you do where you take care of all of us, one of you go see what’s wrong.” Jaskier had that look on his face that said leave me alone, and Geralt was going to listen. “He’ll tell us -” there were more kicks. “Fine!” Geralt snapped. He took his bowl with him, finishing eating as he went to find Jaskier. He left his bowl, Lambert would eat it all, and it was his food dang it. He found Jaskier in their room, like he thought he would. “They said I should check on you. But you want to be left alone right?”
“Right,” Jaskier said.
“I go back they’ll kick me again, so I’m just going to sit.” Geralt went to the chair by the fire, finished his stew. He didn’t even look over at Jaskier, giving him space. He put the bowl on the mantle when done. He waited.
“My cousin is getting married, the one set to inherit the title, since well, I’m not going to have children and he will.” Jaskier was folding and refolding the paper. “I need to attend the wedding. The family timed it for when we head back down.”
“And you don’t want to go.”
“No,” Jaskier said. “Not really. It will be difficult.”
“Because?” Geralt pressed and Jaskier shook his head. “Jaskier, have they hurt you?”
“Not in the way you mean,” Jaskier replied. Geralt held out an arm and was a bit relieved when Jaskier came in for a cuddle. “I don’t…it hurts to talk about them, to see them.”
“So skip the wedding,” Geralt said. “If they hurt you, forget them. You have us. We are a good family.”
“You are,” Jaskier agreed. He kissed Geralt’s jaw and Geralt directed the kiss better. He could hear footsteps, knew the others were coming. He waited for Jaskier to hear the footsteps, which he didn’t until they were right at the door. “I’m fine,” he called out.
Eskel and Lambert came in. “Of course you are. Who are we killing?” Lambert asked.
“No one, my wolf,” Jaskier replied. He held out a hand and immediately Lambert was there being pet. “But thank you for the offer. I have to attend family business when we all head down. Geralt will drop me at the border of Lettenhove, and then we’ll meet up again.”
“We cannot allow you to go to a place that will hurt you,” Eskel protested. “You are taking Geralt with you.”
“Fuck that, he is taking us all with him,” Lambert snapped. “Happens in the spring whatever this is? Fine, we all go then you and Geralt go your way, we’ll go ours and all is fine.” Lambert scowled. “We will keep you safe.”
“I’m perfectly safe with my family. And my cranky wolf, do you really want to go to a noble marriage?”
“Fuck no, but you need us, so we go,” Lambert said and pulled Jaskier in for a kiss.
Geralt let them go over to the bed and while they were fucking he spoke with Eskel. “Something is not right with his family. If Jaskier won’t speak of it?”
“We prepare for worst case scenario,” Eskel filled in. “Extra potions, a few more weapons hidden in armor. Lambert brushes up on his signs since he is crap at them.”
“One of us at his side at all times,” Geralt agreed. “Noble weddings actually last two or three days, they’ll let he and I room together, because everyone knows about us. Don’t know what they’ll do with the two of you, but wherever they try to hide you away, you just sneak into our room at night.”
“Clearly. Fuck, why doesn’t Lambert ever behave like that for us?” Eskel groaned watching Lambert laying quietly letting Jaskier play with his body however he wanted.
“Because you two suck, Jaskier is the best,” Lambert called to them.
“Yeah, I’m the best,” Jaskier agreed and they could all hear the smirk in his voice, smell the pleasure rolling off him at those words, at having Lambert under his fingers.
“Hmm,” Geralt said. “Shall we show him the error in his thinking?”
Eskel was already stripping off his clothes. “Let’s.”
Geralt could smell the tension on Jaskier as they approached Lettenhove. He knew Eskel and Lambert could do the same. He suggested they camp for the night. Give Jaskier a bit more time before he went into that pit of vipers that was waiting for him.
“No, we can have good beds and baths,” Jaskier said. “Just…being around my family takes a lot out of me, so well don’t expect a lot at night from me?”
Geralt frowned. “Jaskier we love you as more than a fuck, you know that right?”
“I know you do, but -”
“Oi, what was the emphasis there? On the you?” Lambert frowned at him. “We love you too. Not as much as Geralt, why we are fine him having you alone for the hunting season. But like we feel things and shit for you.”
“I hold you in the highest esteem,” Eskel agreed.
Geralt nodded. “We just want to be there for you, we understand what you have to deal with.” All witchers understood shit families, you didn’t end up a witcher because you were very loved.
“Thank you. All of you. My family does know I lead a unique life…but well -”
“Telling them you spend half your life fucking three witchers might be a little much?” Lambert scowled a bit but shrugged. “Fine, we’re your bodyguards.”
“No, you don’t understand. I need you to -”
Eskel went over and cupped his cheek. “It is fine. We can be your secret. We know what is in your heart.”
“I have to -”
Geralt kissed him, tried to kiss his worries away. “It will be fine. We will not let them hurt you in word or deed.”
“You idiots,” Jaskier sighed. “Let’s go.”
They rode, Jaskier leading them to a large manor house that had ribbons and banners hung for the festivities ahead. Jaskier was so tense that Geralt was worried he was going to snap. Geralt looked at the others and began to signal that they were grabbing Jaskier and running when a woman came running out of the house.
“Julian, oh my baby!” she shouted and had her arms around Jaskier, hugging him. “My baby, you made it. Petyr will be so happy you made it in time. He swore you would, that you wouldn’t miss it, but we also know your path can be a tricky one. Oh my darling, beautiful boy,” she was crying and raining kisses all over Jaskier.
“Mama, Mama I can’t breathe.”
“If you came home more, I wouldn’t have to hug you this hard.”
“You know why I don’t,” Jaskier said, and he was holding her tight.
Geralt was very confused, because Jaskier smelled happy.
And soon more people came out of the house and they were all screaming and crying, but it wasn’t angry screaming. Geralt looked at Eskel and Lambert, who were just as lost as him. Then what could only be described as a battle cry came and they all reached for their weapons. But they saw a woman with long brown hair in trousers and doublet, and she was running and the crowd parted, then Jaskier was running and they were embracing.
Embracing enough that they fell and were rolling on the ground.
“What the fuck?” Lambert hissed.
Geralt wished he knew. Jaskier did not care his clothes were getting dirty. Geralt once had had a three hour lecture about one speck of gravy on a damn sleeve, and Jaskier was getting covered in dust and gleeful about it.
“Jaskier, Madeleine, enough,” that first hugger said. “I swear, you two together,” she was shaking her head fondly. “Especially when you need to make introductions?”
Jaskier got up and came over, his arm around the woman. Geralt knew he and his brothers were all smelling a bit possessive not that the human noses could pick up on it. “Mama, may I present my wolves?”
“Are they going to stay on their horses forever?” someone in the group asked. “Are they centaurs and just magicked to look like they have legs?”
“If they were, Julian’s songs would be a different sort of filthy,” a man joked and everyone laughed. “Have to tell you Julian, bit awkward when I go to a tavern and some bard is singing about the white wolf’s concubine.”
“I’m not their concubine, I’m Geralt’s beloved and their…whatever I am. Really, what bard -” Jaskier gasped. “Valdo!” he growled a little, and Geralt watched everyone gathered there spit at the very name Valdo.
“I am Ina, Julian’s mother, and I welcome you to our home.” She gave a delicate curtsy. “We have wanted to meet you for so long, but well you know Julian.” Geralt thought he had. Jaskier still had that arm around that young woman and she was squeezing him hard. “Your father is in his study, you should go,” Ina looked sad for a moment. “He’s missed you.”
“He has?” there was something in Jaskier’s voice. The whole family quieted, and it was probably awful, but Geralt was relieved. The patriarch was where the issue was, clearly a cold unfeeling brute and the family lived in fear of him. “Geralt? You should meet my father.” Jaskier kissed Madeleine’s head. “Can you show Eskel and Lambert up to my suite? We’ll all share.”
“Slut,” she said and all the wolves growled. Sure Jaskier was, but they wouldn’t hold with anyone insulting him.
“Hag,” he replied.
“Wastrel,” she challenged.
“Tone deaf,” he replied and she gasped and the whole group made an oooh noise.
“It is on,” she growled. “I’ll show you tone deaf.”
“My money is on Madeline,” Ina immediately said.
“Mama!” Jaskier huffed. “I am considered the best wandering bard on the continent.”
“And I am the best singer in the family, and I am going to kick your ass,” Madeleine said.
“To your father, Julian,” Petyr nudged. “No delaying it. Then after dinner you two can go at it.”
Jaskier nodded and he held his hand out and Geralt took it. He signaled Lambert and Eskel to stay on guard and they went into the manor. Jaskier lead him through the house and it was nice. Bright, the walls weren’t screaming in anger or sadness. There were flowers everywhere. Jaskier paused in front of a door. “This is going to hurt,” he said softly.
Geralt put a hand on Jaskier’s shoulder. “I will always keep you safe, my fox.” It was a silly nickname he had given Jaskier years ago, just for the two of them, only used when he wanted to bolster Jaskier. And he seemed to really need bolstering.
Jaskier nodded and went into the room after a gentle knock. “Papa,” he said as he walked in.
The man didn’t look particularly dangerous, but Geralt knew from experience that danger came in a lot of forms. The man looked a lot like Jaskier in fact, he was reading behind a large desk and looked up. He smiled, and Geralt saw exactly what Jaskier would look like in twenty or so years. “Julian!” the man stood and came around his desk. Geralt noticed the one arm hung limply at the man’s side as the other embraced Jaskier. “Look at you, home from Oxenfurt! How was school this term?”
“It was good, Papa,” Jaskier said. “Valdo continues to be a jackass, but I am writing incredible songs.”
“Valdo,” the man spit to the side. “I really think you should let me come to the school, and have a talk with him.”
“A bit old to have my father fight my battles for me,” Jaskier said.
“It is my honour and privilege to fight any battle for you son.”
“I know, Papa,” Jaskier said and fuck the sadness that was pouring off his bard was choking Geralt. “Papa, I would like you to meet someone.”
Geralt stepped forward. “Hello,” he said. He didn’t know what else to do.
“Schoolmate? Bit old for university?” the man was looking him up and down.
“I’m a witcher.”
“Oh lord, Julian must pester you incessantly for stories,” the man smiled. “A friend then?”
“My partner, Papa. I love him.”
“Well now,” the man was sizing him up and it was all Geralt could do to stand still. “Not sure you are old enough for -” A cloud came over the man’s eyes and he looked at Jaskier. “You are old enough,” he touched Jaskier’s face. “What year is it, my son?”
“It is a year like any other. I am home for Petyr’s wedding. School was a long time ago,” Jaskier guided his father to sit on a sofa. “How have you been?”
“Tired, the headaches grow worse,” the man sighed. “Remembering now, gets harder.”
Geralt watched Jaskier wrap himself around the man. He didn’t understand any of this at all. Because it seemed like a loving family, and he couldn’t understand why Jaskier was so scared of coming here, why he never spoke of them. “Papa?”
“Yes, little one?”
“I know you might not remember, but you should know - I am fine. I am loved, and I love. I’m a better singer than Madeleine -”
The man snorted, “You told her that?”
“We’ll be sorting that out after dinner. Do you think you might be able to stay awake to hear me?”
“I will try,” he promised. “So a witcher, hmm?”
“Well, technically a few -”
“Taking after your grandmother I see.”
“Shh,” Jaskier said. “She was a good and virtuous woman!”
“My father could be one of seven men.”
“Well not like they are knocking me up,” Jaskier said. “But Geralt is the one. He’s my soul. Like you and Mama. Eskel and Lambert are my limbs.” He was leaning against the older man, and Geralt was shook at how soft Jaskier looked, how happy. He had thought he knew how Jaskier looked when he was happy, but this was a different breed. “He’s the reason I travel the world. Why I’m not home. He’s worth it, even though I miss all of you so much.”
Geralt saw a cloud come over the old man’s eyes and knew that whatever he said next would hurt Jaskier, even though this was clearly a man who would never hurt his son. “Well, soon you’ll be home for summer break, and we’ll have plenty of time together. Go for those walks of ours, find singing birds. You always love the birds that sing at dawn.”
“That sounds good, Papa. I’ll leave you to your work.” Jaskier kissed his head and stood. “Geralt, we should wash up before dinner.”
Geralt did something he never did for kings and queens - he gave a low bow. “Sir, it was a pleasure to meet you.”
“Of course,” the man smiled. “Any friend of my boy is welcome here.”
“I thank you for that,” Geralt held out a hand and Jaskier took it. When they were out of the room, Jaskier’s mother was there waiting. She held open her arms and Jaskier collapsed against her.
“How was -”
“He was a little with us,” Jaskier said. “Not much, but I was able to properly introduce Geralt.”
“I’m glad of it.” She was rubbing his back. “He was so excited when I told him you were coming home.”
Geralt looked at them. “Injury or illness?”
“Injury,” Ina explained.
“It was my fault,” Jaskier whispered.
“You were kidnapped on your way home from university!” she said. “That is not your fault. Kristoff lead the men himself, not satisfied to trust others to save his son.”
“They weren’t going to take the money in an honest exchange.” Jaskier had his eyes closed. “There was a fight, and a fire. The building was collapsing and he pushed me out of the way, took a beam to the head, more rubble collapsed on him.”
“You have faint scars on your arms,” Geralt said.
“Jaskier didn’t even care, tried to pull the burning rubble off his father with his bare hands.” Ina shook her head, “The men said, Jaskier was crazed, this energy moved everything carried his father out. They found healers, Kristoff lived unexpectedly, they healed most of the damage to Jaskier. But Kristoff, well there have been good days and bad days. But he remembers who we are, even if he doesn’t always remember when we are. Blessings.”
“We know some very powerful sorceresses,” Geralt suggested. “One of the best herbalists on the whole continent.”
“We’ve tried, there is no fixing what was broken.”
“You don’t know Triss,” Geralt said. “At the very least whatever tonic you use for his headaches, she can provide better.”
Ina looked to Jaskier. “She couldn’t hurt,” Jaskier agreed. “I’ll send her word, and she’ll come when she can.”
“My thanks. Now go, servants are bringing hot water up to your room. I want all you boys nice and clean for the family dinner tonight, before the festivities begin tomorrow.”
“Mama, they are all like at least 90?”
“They are your partners, you are my boy, ergo they are boys,” she said. “Go on, I need to finish working on the pies for dessert.”
Geralt found himself listening and let himself be sent upstairs with Jaskier who was clearly struggling. When they got into the room there were two baths and Eskel and Lambert were clearly trying to decide if the water was poisoned. They looked and both immediately were going for weapons. Geralt shook his head and they stopped. Geralt carefully gathered up Jaskier. “Is that why you don’t talk about home, or come back a lot? Why it hurts?”
Jaskier nodded against him and began to cry a bit. “Mama sent me away to live my life. Told me not to come back much. Because she knew,” Jaskier hiccuped. “She knew if I came back a lot, I would never leave. And she didn’t want that for me. I had always dreamed of traveling, singing in the world. Every time I come home, I think, maybe I shouldn’t be so selfish, I should stay.”
“I don’t think your parents would say you are selfish,” Geralt said softly. “They seem like…good people.”
“The best, the whole family is,” Jaskier began to sob in earnest.
“Parents can be good people?” Lambert asked Eskel and that broke Geralt’s heart a little. What wasn’t already cracked for his bard.
Eskel hugged Lambert. “Looks like it.”
Geralt rocked Jaskier until his calmed and they took one tub, Eskel and Lambert the other. The three wolves were utterly confused by the stories that Jaskier slowly started telling them. Growing up loved, and secure, parents who barely relied on a nurse even though their station usually ignored their children. Playing with cousins, studying music with Madeleine. Them never hating that Jaskier didn’t have the temperament to be a viscount, the duties passing to his mother, once Jaskier’s father was injured, and she trained Petyr to take over, his line the one that would carry on the seat. And how no one in the family ever judged or resented Jaskier for not being what he was supposed to be.
Geralt was the one to tell the others about Jaskier’s father, Jaskier unable to speak that story.
“I don’t get it,” Lambert said.
“I just figured you were with us, because you were broken like us?” Lambert was looking at Jaskier confused. “No person who had all this, would want us. Why would they? When they could have happiness and beds and not hurt?”
“Because I love you,” Jaskier said simply.
Geralt kissed his head. “And we love you.”
“We do,” Eskel agreed.
“What they said,” Lambert cleared his throat. “They serve good food here?”
“The best,” Jaskier told them. “And look, I talked a good game, but Madeleine is a better singer than me. When her and I go head to head tonight, I need you three to lie through your teeth about how I am better.”
“You are clearly going to be better,” Geralt said. It was obvious that no one could compare with Jaskier. They were all in agreement with that - there was no better than Jaskier.
After dinner, which was the best fucking meal they had ever had in their very long lives, even more ale was brought out. Geralt was pleased that Jaskier’s father was still there, even if it was clear he wouldn’t last much longer. They were all on their guard, but not a one of the dozen people in the room smelled scared of the witchers. Instead there was joy and teasing and asking about how their Julian was like out on the road. Geralt shared a few stories that he thought would amuse family, and Petyr got in an intense conversation about horses with Eskel and that Madeleine talked to Lambert and had him almost blushing.
It was the sort of evening that Geralt knew some families must have, but there was no frame of reference for it.
“Come on, you talentless hack, just declare my superiority, and let’s just all drink without having to humiliate you in front of your boys.”
All the wolves growled at Madeleine, who just winked at them in return.
“Ha!” Jaskier hopped up and retrieved his lute. “You have no idea what true pressure is. Oooh, I sing in the best concert halls in the land, Kings and Queens beg for me, I’ve won every award blah blah blah. You want pressure, try singing in a tavern that has rotten tomatoes ready to fly if you hit even one sour note.”
“I hear talking, not playing.”
“I hear fear in your voice,” Jaskier said.
She grinned at him, and he grinned back and they looked like wild creatures, completely inhuman and utterly human at the same time.
“I need to fuck him tonight,” Eskel whispered in awe.
“Do you, sweetie?” Ina asked.
“Uhh,” Eskel decided to drink a lot of ale and Geralt thought that the wisest response.
“I’ll keep the king,” Madeleine sang and all three snapped their gaze to her. She sang and Jaskier played and then joined in as well.
“Fuck,” Geralt said and the other two just nodded.
Petyr laughed. “You three had no fucking clue did you?”
None of them could answer. They had all heard Jaskier sing, and play, Geralt had been listening for years. “What the fuck?” Geralt asked out loud.
“Dearie, you hear Jaskier always singing for others, never for himself,” Ina explained as Petyr snickered at the looks on their faces. “How good he is? Nothing compares to when they are together. Do you know how much money they were offered to become the royal singers for like five courts?” She was smiling, and holding her husband’s hand. “When the two of them let go together? The gods in the sky stop and listen.”
Geralt watched Jaskier and hungered for his bard in an all new way. Because he was wild and free and how he played off Madeleine was astonishing. Their connection was incredible and they spun around each other and the room, and Jaskier didn’t give a fuck about anything but the music. Not tweaking to suit the crowd, waiting for approval or to match needs. This was the man who loved music more than anything and had his equal performing with him.
A few songs in Ina helped Kristoff up and they left the room and with the matriarch and patriarch gone, the music changed a bit. A lot more cursing and suggestion, and the way Madeleine moved and spun and the way Jaskier framed her, had them all pausing a bit.
“What sort of cousins are they?” Lambert asked.
“Adopted, yes they’ve fucked,” Petyr offered helpfully. “But they did it for the music? They explained, I didn’t pay attention. Haven’t done it since they were teens. Just gives them that feel. Jaskier’s grandmother swore the viscount was Kristoff’s father, but we’ve often wondered if there isn’t some fae or elven blood in there, because well look at Jaskier.”
None of the wolves could tear their eyes off him. The lute was almost screaming with how hard Jaskier was playing and he and Madeleine were sweating and spinning and then the music just stopped.
The room was silent. Until Madeleine grinned. “Fine, just this once, maybe you are better than me.”
Geralt managed not to snarl when Jaskier pulled her in for a hard kiss but in a moment he had that sweaty Jaskier in his lap, his legs thrown over Lambert, and a hand reaching for Eskel. “So Petyr, tell me about this woman you are marrying tomorrow!”
“She is the third child of Marquess de Tr -”
“You are marrying Karina, that is fucking fantastic!” Jaskier shouted. “Should have paid more attention to the invite. She is perfect for you. Clever and kind.”
Petyr sighed. “You’ve fucked her haven’t you?”
“Actually no, her older brother and sister. The Marquess let her marry you? He could have made a better match. Yes I’m signing signing my title over to you when I am forty which is when the law allows, but still.”
“You always forget, I am really rich, Julian.”
“Wait, if you have access to all this money, why are we begging for coins on the road?” Lambert asked and pinched his thigh. “Why aren’t we your kept witchers? I am fine with being kept. I’d still hunt monsters. just you know in style.”
“I’m not rich,” Jaskier explained. “Petyr is, and the seat is land rich and the people are fine. But I won’t take what I am not willing to tend. I signed my allowance over to the local healer and orphanage. No child in Lettenhove has to tend fields and can receive an education if it is desired.”
“That is a fine thing,” Eskel said and Geralt just sort of grunted, because he couldn’t cope with everything he was learning about Jaskier.
“But you are right, the Marquess is a dick, I just happened to fall in love with Karina and her me. My money talked enough to get him to agree to it. He is planning his knights do a demonstration of how much better they are than us,” Petyr grinned, “But maybe your wolves could help us out with that.”
“You can’t use my wolves to show up -”
“We’ll do it,” they all said at once. It was a way to show their thanks for the food and the hospitality, and Jaskier. Plus that sounded a lot more fun than a wedding. Eventually they retired, and Jaskier was clearly tired from the emotions of the day, so they snuggled him close, not caring about sex that night.
Geralt held him close. “You don’t talk about your family because they are wonderful and loving. It isn’t because they are cruel or hurtful, it is because if you talk about them you miss them too much.”
Jaskier gave a small nod.
“We could,” Eskel suggested tentatively. “No reason we couldn’t all come down the mountain spend a week or so here, and then all continue on the Path. Or we could meet up here before winter and head home after?”
“That would be -” Jaskier cleared his throat and Lambert kissed it. “That would be nice.”
The next few days passed in a blur of revelry and happiness. An incredibly foreign feeling for the wolves, but they let Ina fuss over them, when he was having a good afternoon Eskel played chess with Kristoff. Geralt found himself playing hide and seek with children and Madeleine and Lambert flirted madly. They also crushed the Marquess’s knights in faux combat.
They supposed the wedding was nice. People were happy, there were too many flowers, and Jaskier cried. When one of the Marquess’s people made a joke about Kristoff, Lambert knocked him unconscious and Eskel and Geralt glared down that table which was enough for them to not cause a fuss. Jaskier and Madeleine sang for the first dance and lots of people were crying.
“So this is what sane people do,” Eskel said. “Nice vacation.”
“This much happiness would drive me crazy longer than this,” Lambert said.
“I know, it is also why I left,” Jaskier said. “It is so…content. I needed more than content. I needed my wolves. One of whom better fucking dance with me.”
“Not it,” Geralt and Lambert both called, and Eskel happily lead Jaskier onto the dance floor. Geralt grabbed an ale as a tray walked by and flung an arm over Lambert.
“You doing fine?” he asked softly.
“He chooses us over all this. I don’t get it,” Lambert whispered back.
“Well, he is Jaskier - he’s fucking insane,” Geralt said, knowing that a deeper or true explanation about love and loyalty would just upset Lambert. “Up to us to look out for him.”
Lambert nodded. “Right. I’m going to go make sure those other guys don’t say anything else stupid.”
Geralt let him go, knowing a bit of a scuffle would ease Lambert’s mind and the few other weddings he had been to usually ended in a blood bath, he just assumed that was custom.
“Boy, can you help me to my room?” Kristoff asked. “Ina is having too much fun.”
That part of this he would never get used to - even Vesemir didn’t call them boys. He guided Kristoff gently, catching him when he almost fell. “What do you study at university? I haven’t heard you sing or play, so not music like Julian.”
“History and folklore,” Geralt said after a moment. “And mostly I…plan to protect people. I’ll protect Julian.” It felt odd to call him Julian, but it was what the man knew.
“He might not be completely human, we just don’t know,” Kristoff said. “That doesn’t bother you, does it? My mother she was a very friendly woman. And I think there was a time, I should have died, but I didn’t.”
“No, I don’t mind.”
“Good, good. Nice boy. Solemn, a good balance for Julian. Go dance with him. He’ll like that,” Kristoff smiled and patted Geralt’s shoulder. And then the grip grew tight, and the man’s eyes changed, cleared. “And if you don’t take care of him, there is no power in the whole of the continent, no magic, no entity that will keep you safe from me. Do you understand?”
Geralt saw where Jaskier’s hidden rage came from easily enough. “I do, sir.” He gave a respectful head tilt. “I may hurt him, I am not the best with the feelings he creates in me. But I will always repair the damage I do. I’ll try to. We all will.”
“That’s nice,” Kristoff swayed a bit. “No go. Go dance.”
“Yes sir,” Geralt handed the man off to a servant and returned to the party, where he did dance with Jaskier.
In the morning they packed for the road, the Path calling to them. Geralt almost suggested Jaskier could stay a little longer but the death glare he gave, had Geralt staying silent.
“Umm, we’re fine?” Lambert tried to say.
“No, no, my boys are starting on the path well looked after. There is some money, and a good bit of food, an armor repair kit. Now do you need anything else?” Ina asked.
Lambert shook his head and then tried not to flinch when she kissed his cheek. “And I am done. Jaskier see you in a few months.” His brothers got a vague wave and he was off on his horse.
Eskel received his extra pack and the kiss as well. He managed to nod to Geralt and kiss Jaskier before he headed out as well.
“Extra lute strings, and a new doublet in your pack, dear,” Ina told Jaskier. “Geralt, found this. An old enchantment. Now then, you look after each other, and maybe a letter or two so we don’t have to wait for your new songs to reach us, to know you are well?”
“I promise Mama,” Jaskier said and hugged her close. “Look after Papa.”
“Always,” she said. He had been having a headache and the sun would hurt his eyes too much but they could see him waving from his office. Geralt couldn’t help himself and bowed to that window. “Off you go, have a grand adventure, be all heroic!”
Geralt mounted Roach and off they set. He noticed Jaskier didn’t look back once. When they made it to the crossroads, Madeleine was there, with her horse. He watched them hug and whisper to each other and Geralt made sure to focus away so he didn’t hear. She headed in the opposite direction to them, and he could hear her singing. Jaskier picked up the tune and sang a bit. Geralt ignored the tears that fell from Jaskier’s face. They eventually set up camp and Geralt made soft love to Jaskier. When he held Jaskier after, he struggled with what to say, feeling Jaskier’s tears drip on his arm.
“They were nice.”
“Nice is very confusing.”
“I know,” Jaskier said. “They really liked you.”
“That is also confusing.” He could feel Jaskier laugh a bit. “I need to tell you something.”
“Madeleine is a much better than singer than you,” Geralt waited and sure enough Jaskier rolled over and began to attack him, sadness forgotten for a moment. He smiled at Jaskier, easily blocking the feigned pummeling. “I’m glad you have them.”
“I’m glad I have you,” Jaskier said. “All my wolves.”
Geralt touched his cheek. “I’m glad I have you.”
“I like that even more than I love you, I think. It suits you more.”
Geralt pulled him down for a kiss. He thought it suited as well.