The mutagens bred the instincts of the school into those that lived. That was what people said anyways, weird stereotypes for witchers just like there were for people.
Redheads had a temper, cat school hated dealing with drowners because after all what cat likes getting wet.
Left handed people are shifty, bear school seldom leave the woods, are massive wild men.
The list went on.
People trust the wolf pack least of all, because wolves killed your live stock, are vicious creatures who will hunt and savage wherever they go. Maybe once they used to try to argue have people actually studied wolves? But farmer tales about rabid wolves were more interesting to believe. Witchers were lone wolves just like the creature they wore around their neck. Always wild, never tamed, never caring about anyone or anything.
Jaskier heard that so much in the first couple years he traveled with Geralt. Every town someone warned him about the nature of wolves, and how they were lone creatures, and he needed to get himself away, because he’d show his nature soon enough. Wolves always turned on you. And he thought maybe there was some to the reports. Because Geralt never talked about anyone. Fuck he barely talked at all other than a few specific sentences.
“How much coin?”
“Do you ever shut up?”
“Get the fuck down!”
It was the last couple that intrigued Jaskier and kept him regularly seeking out Geralt as he explored the continent. Sometimes it was weeks or months apart. Once there was two years without seeing each other, because Jaskier ended up in a royal court for a bit, maybe briefly became King of Thieves, magical curse, almost the king of everything, ran away before any of it stuck, didn’t matter, no big deal, he was pretty sure the kingdom wouldn’t appear for a hundred years again so it was all good.
Anyways he was back with Geralt, on the open road seeking adventure. He didn’t talk anymore than he used to, but he did those things that were confusing.
“I’m hot, you take the blankets.”
“I won’t let them hurt you.”
It was odd, he ignored Jaskier a lot, unless he thought that Jaskier needed care of protection. Then he was worse than the nanny Jaskier had had when he was five. The night that really changed it all was when they were stuck in a cave during a storm that had plummeted the temperatures. Because they had to worry about their air, they couldn’t have a fire. At first Geralt had wrapped him in a blanket, wrapped being a kind word because it was actually a trap, Jaskier could not figure out how to get out of the blanket and then he had one teeny tiny shiver and sniffle and the blanket was torn off and and he was pulled face first into Geralt’s arms. His nose was against Geralt’s neck and the arms wrapped him tighter than the damn blanket had.
Geralt radiated warmth and his heart beat was so slow. The blanket was pulled over top him, and fuck sure he was trapped but now it felt good. “You’re safe.”
“I know that, Geralt,” Jaskier said. That was a thing he never doubted, that he was safe with Geralt. “You’ll get uncomfortable though. At some point.”
“You’re safe,” Geralt repeated.
Jaskier was pretty sure that was all the man would say, and he was right. Jaskier stayed warm the whole night, and then any night after that, if he gave the tiniest shiver, a sniffle he himself didn’t even feel, he was pulled into a hard snuggle and told that he was safe. When fall came, he was given a warmer cloak. Sure it had come off a bandit Geralt had beheaded and well those sorts of stains never quite came out, but it really was nice and cozy. Perhaps Jaskier had been a touch worried the new cloak meant less of those snuggles but one teeny weeny entirely fake sniffle and boom, he was in Geralt’s arms.
He didn’t understand it all, he liked it, but he didn’t understand it.
It was coming time for them to part for winter and for once there wasn’t just a grunt at a crossroads and Geralt heading off. There was a pause and he was clearly worried. “You’re safe?”
Jaskier wasn’t quite sure what he meant. “I mean, I only get into words fights at university.” Geralt did not need to know about the light stabbing he occasionally did of people who talked shit about witchers. Or that slight incident with the mermaids, that mostly worked out. They had that treasure so it was all good. They wouldn’t release the whatever it was they said they good so long as he always sang that one song on winter solstice at some water’s edge. All good. “I’m safe,” he reassured Geralt.
Then he was hugged. “This is weird,” Jaskier squeaked out. He was worried that maybe that would upset Geralt, so he had hugged back as strongly as he could. “Good weird,” he added swiftly. “Are you…ill?”
There we go, that was normal, and relieved Jaskier. They went their ways and Jaskier settled in, at the Rosemary and Thyme like every winter. He really had to mention at some point to Geralt that he owned a tavern. “Zoltan!” Jaskier smiled as he strolled in. “How are things?”
“Fine as ever, not that you actually care.”
“I care,” Jaskier was quite wounded. “But I also trust you and Priscilla to run this place.”
Zoltan rolled his eyes and Jaskier was given a day before he had to actually read the books and listen to their plans which he approved because he always did. He settled into his rooms, wrote songs, played them, and rested up. He sometimes wondered what Geralt did all winter, but never asked; he figured it was private witcher business. He was out for a walk in the winter markets when he heard an argument building. He decided woo for free entertainment and went to check it out.
A woman was arguing with some men. “You are the vicious ones!”
“Shut your gob, everyone knows you got to kill them wolves before they kill your livestock. Vicious cruel animals.”
“They aren’t, and if you read a single thing from a person who studied them, you’d know it is all bullshit!” The woman was holding up pages. “Wolves only come for your farms when deer have been over hunted! You upset the natural balance of the world of course there is a problem. You ruin their chance to protect their pack of course they attack!”
“Aye, there you have it, rabid packs that attack you just said. And I’ve got coins for anyone that will come out and hunt with me.” Several men cheered and the crowd just talked over the woman, shoved her out of the way as they went to blindly hunt. Jaskier huffed a bit and went to help her up. “You’re never going to convince men like that. At least it is probably a lone wolf or two, they are rough but -”
“If they are lone it is because someone probably killed their family,” she snapped. She looked heartbroken at the mud and snow on her paper. She was trying to brush it off, but was smearing the ink.
“Come with me, I know how to fix that.” Jaskier said. His journal had had harpy guts on it more times than he could count, he knew how to help. He lead her to the tavern and Priscilla smirked from behind the bar but he ignored her, as he took her to the top of the building, to the room always kept for him. “Here,” he showed her how to clean her work. “They are just protecting their farms from lone wolves.”
“There aren’t lone wolves, they are more like people than everyone realizes. They have families, and play, and -”
“They pair bond,” she looked so earnest. “They mate for life, and take care of each other. They cuddle for fucks sake.”
Jaskier blinked. “I’m sorry what?”
“I know it sounds crazy, but wolves protect each other, in the cold they cuddle into a pile. The mates provide food for each other, and protection. A wolf once they find their partner is compelled to look after them. They are huge and fierce, and more loving than people comprehend. Fuck, wolves are more loving of their partners than most people.”
“I…see,” Jaskier swallowed. “So, umm, what do you hold on the theory that witcher schools imbue their students with traits of the animal they are named after?”
She laughed. “Oh come on, who believes that codswallop.” She looked at him and looked around the room. “This is a nice space, cozy.”
“Yes it is,” Jaskier agreed. “So when you say mate for life…clearly that is an emotional bond, wolves still fuck around?”
“No, mate for life, is mate for life,” she said. “If their mate dies they often don’t take another, that is why they are so protective of each other. Their priority is to keep their family safe.”
“Safe,” Jaskier said slowly. “Well, shit. The question is, does he know this?”
“Would explain the lack of brothels since the first cuddle,” Jaskier said. “Do you have reading you can leave with me?”
“I could stay,” she smiled at him.
One hour ago, he’d already be naked, but now the idea repelled him. Great. Mates for life. Shit, who would have thought that. “Sorry, I’m taken. Your drinks are free downstairs whenever you stop by.” She left and he wasn’t surprised when his friends came running upstairs later to check he was alright since he hadn’t fucked the pretty and smart woman. “I’m fine.”
“You never not fuck someone,” Priscilla worried. “You even fucked -”
“We agreed not to talk about that,” Jaskier said.
“I talk about it all the time,” Zoltan pointed out, “I get a free meal when I tell that story at other taverns.”
“Look, she was nice enough for half troll, and saved the bloody city, didn’t it?” Jaskier muttered. “It is all good, sends us a few dead goats every year always comes in handy. But look we have a problem. Do you think witchers maybe do take after the animal of their school?” He waited for their laughter to stop. “Geralt cuddles me.” That shut them up.
“A witcher cuddles you?” Priscilla asked slowly. “Is he trying to strangle you really slowly?”
“See, I had thought maybe that was a bit of it at first,” Jaskier agreed. “That maybe he was slowly compressing my organs until they failed. Because he cuddles really strongly, like he decides you are snuggling, you are snuggled until dawn. But if that was the case, it hasn’t worked? Because breathing fine.” He took a deep breath to show them. “And he is really big on saying I’m safe.”
“Safe from what?” Zoltan scratched his jaw.
“I have no fucking clue,” Jaskier said. “And he has gotten odd about me being in danger. He always saved me before but now he is a little scary about it?”
“He’s a witcher they are the definition of scary,” Priscilla had picked up his lute and began to strum. “Always said you are crazy for traveling with one.”
“You always say I am crazy in general.”
“I speak only truth, I sing only lies,” she said.
“Fuck that is a good line,” Jaskier quickly wrote it down. “The lady who was in here. Said well…wolves mate for life. Do we think, maybe Geralt thinks we are mated?” A few minutes later, Jaskier physically kicked them out for laughing so much. The rest of the winter when he talked to a patron they always said to the person ‘sorry love,he’s mated for life, go on with you’ and teased him about being snuggled. He was absolutely happy to leave them when the ground thawed enough for travel.
It took a month to run into Geralt, who looked eager to see him. That was new. There was a hug again, as well. That night there were the cuddles as well. “You’re safe,” Geralt whispered against his skin and the squeeze for a moment was a bit too hard. “You’re safe.” Jaskier wondered who was being reassured, himself or Geralt.
“I’m safe,” Jaskier said.
They traveled and Jaskier watched him. Geralt was definitely attentive and caring. Still quiet and regularly grumpy but he wouldn’t stop touching Jaskier. And they never stopped at a brothel.
One day they were traveling through the woods and stumbled on a wolf den. Geralt moved in front of Jaskier, steel sword out and they were backing up slowly. Jaskier looked at the small pack, at the way the wolves stood together, could just see a pup behind and he almost laughed hysterically. The wolves didn’t attack and they left, until they found the road again.
In a tavern that night, Jaskier sang, and perhaps started a brawl when he heard someone make a comment about Geralt and lone wolves needing to be put down. Maybe he started that brawl, maybe the man just tripped and had his kidney punched by magical forces on his way to get another drink. Who can say, it is all good. Well not so good as they were denied their room for causing a ruckus. But there was an empty cottage at the edge of town and they settled in. They couldn’t start a fire since they didn’t particularly want anyone to know they had borrowed the cottage.
He found his nose against Geralt’s neck as soon as they were in the bed. “You’re safe.”
“Can I ask about the mutagens, the trials?”
“We both know that won’t stop me,” Jaskier pointed out. “Did they turn you into a wolf?”
Geralt snorted. “Now you decide to believe that bullshit?”
“Answer the question,” Jaskier snapped. He tried to pull away but Geralt wouldn’t let him. “Geralt, you can let go.”
“No, you’re safe,” Geralt growled. “You stay safe.”
“See, that. Right there! I’ll still be safe if you let me a few inches away from you.” Jaskier wiggled. “Geralt, not leaving the bed. Look, here.” Jaskier glared at him until Geralt let go. He could see what a struggle it was for the man to do so. Jaskier moved on top of Geralt, sat astride his lap, and wrapped a blanket over his shoulders. “There see, still safe. And I have questions, and you are going to answer them. Do you think I’m your damn mate?”
After how many years, Jaskier learned that Geralt could indeed laugh so much it became a wheezing breathless thing. He tapped his fingers on Geralt’s chest and waited. It was actually taking a good bit of time for the man to calm down. Lovely. “Fine, I’ll just get up then,” Jaskier said and Geralt’s hands were so tight on his thighs, that Jaskier knew their would be bruises in the morning.
Fuck, he sort of wanted those bruises.
Focus, he needed to focus. “If you don’t consider us mates, then you shouldn’t have a problem letting me go,” Jaskier said and tried to stand and those hands would not let him move.
“No, you’re safe,” Geralt glared at him. “Why won’t you stay safe?”
“Why are you so concerned with me being safe, Geralt?” Jaskier asked. He looked down at him. “Geralt, why?” He watched the man just shrug a little. “Here is another question, how about we stop at the brothel in town before we leave?” There was a look of revulsion on Geralt’s face. “That right there. What was that? You used to stop at every damn brothel after a hunt, and last year you stopped. Geralt, how would you feel if I fucked someone?” Jaskier cursed. “Fuck, no sweet wolf, I’m not going to fuck anyone else, I promise.” Jaskier couldn’t bear the horror and pain in Geralt’s face.
He had seen the man survive an almost severed arm, with less pain on his face.
“When you stopped fucking, I stopped fucking too,” Jaskier promised. “I just want to know why?” He looked down at Geralt and realized something. “Oh, you have no fucking clue do you?” He bit his lip. Time for a small experiment. “Geralt, I’m a bit hungry.” He waited and it was not a long wait. Geralt sat up and Jaskier found himself carried across the room, and held easily as Geralt pawed through a bag, to find some dried fruit. They returned to the bed, Jaskier again astride Geralt’s lap. Geralt put the food on his chest and slowly held up a piece to Jaskier.
Jaskier leaned down a bit and took it with his mouth, and fuck did Geralt’s eyes light up at that. Nothing seemed to make Geralt happier than taking care of Jaskier. As near as Jaskier could tell it was the only thing that made him happy. Geralt carefully held up each piece of food and Jaskier ate it. When it was all gone they just stared at each other. “I’m hungry, Geralt.”
Jaskier smiled at him. “You?” In an instant he was rolled over and Geralt was on top of him. He could feel the slats under the bad mattress with how the weight of Geralt pressed him down. “Geralt?”
“I’ve not had sex beyond my hand and a couple toys in goddamn months. You better make this good.” Jaskier enjoyed far too much the wild look that came over Geralt’s face at that. “You need to take care of me, Geralt.” And didn’t that trigger all sorts of fun, because he found himself utterly taken apart and put back together. The big concern was that they didn’t have the right sort of oil for a full fucking because Jaskier damn well was not letting any witcher substance be pushed inside his body, except witcher itself. But it seemed that Geralt loved sucking his cock, and was perhaps even better than Jaskier was and that was saying a lot.
After Geralt had gotten him off for the third time, Jaskier nudged him. “Want to take care of you.”
“No, you’re safe now.” Geralt was glaring at him. “Stay right there.” Geralt was pressed against him and he could feel how hard Geralt was and he looked so hungry. “I have you.”
“You do, but I have you too, don’t I?” Jaskier challenged. “Sweet wolf, don’t you want to rut against me?” He was not going to get hard again, not after everything that Geralt had done but he arched up. He was sweaty and covered in his own come which made everything slick and interesting. “Do it, Geralt. Please?” He pouted a little bit, and that was enough it seemed. Geralt was soon rocking against him and after the hours they had been at it, it wasn’t long before Geralt added to the mess that covered Jaskier. He maybe also had bit Jaskier, and Jaskier didn’t mind at all.
He did laugh a bit though when Geralt was clearly torn, because he didn’t want to let Jaskier go, but also wanted to clean him up. Jaskier waited to see what Geralt’s solution would be. Finally the man used the blanket to wipe Jaskier off, and then covered Jaskier with his own body. “You’re safe,” Geralt promised.
“I know,” Jaskier said. “Tomorrow we need to stop at the brothel to buy the right sort of oil.”
“Just oil?” Geralt was watching him.
“Just oil,” Jaskier promised, and the next morning they did so before heading out.
And Jaskier learned if he thought that Geralt was protective before, it was nothing on now that they had fucked. Any time they stopped, Geralt wanted to cuddle him, or feed him. Jaskier had to train him a bit (thought dear god he would never phrase it like that) because playing his lute was hard when wrapped up in witcher. They settled with Jaskier in between his legs, Geralt leaned back against a tree, so he could wrap Jaskier up in an instant if he was worried, but leaving Jaskier free to play.
Jaskier had also vastly underestimated the amount of oil that they would go through, but that was not a thing that he was going to complain about.
He did have to explain to Geralt that sometimes in town, a patron would boo a song, and that did not mean that Geralt needed to throw the heathen out of a window. But to be fair, Geralt had to remind Jaskier not to stab everyone who made a comment about witchers. He smiled and just made sure to do it when Geralt wasn’t looking. Maybe his protective streak was growing as well.
But any time that Jaskier started to point out that maybe this was sort of wolf like behaviour, Geralt would roll his eyes or huff and say that Jaskier’s imagination was getting away from him. He of course would always say this mid snuggle that Jaskier couldn’t escape from but Jaskier didn’t press. One time a bog hag had grabbed him and threw him across some swamp in Velen, and Jaskier had never heard the sound Geralt made before. He rather hoped not to hear that mix of fear and rage again. When he came to, Geralt was holding him close, sniffing him, a cuddle that was making it difficult to breathe. He could hear Geralt repeating you’re safe over an over again. It was a plea, a prayer more than assurance.
“Ow,” Jaskier squeaked out.
“Your hug?” Jaskier wiggled a bit. “Just a little breathing room.”
Jaskier laughed a bit and pressed his face to Geralt’s throat. “I’m fine, sweet wolf,” he swore and the embrace loosened just a small bit. But only a little and then there were kisses and touches, and fine, maybe he let Geralt fuck him while still covered in bog hag blood. He flicked the eyeball out of Geralt’s hair, it was all good. Geralt pressed into him, continuing to mutter that Jaskier was safe and Jaskier kept reassuring him, he indeed was safe. When Geralt started to reach for his cock, Jaskier redirected him to just holding, because look he was pretty indulgent but the bloody hand on his dick would be a bit much. He pressed as close as he could to Geralt and the friction of their bodies was enough to get him off when Geralt pulsed inside him. “We are very gross,” Jaskier said when his breath was back.
“Always, with you.”
When winter started to seep into the world, Jaskier realized a problem. Because at the usual crossroads, Geralt wasn’t going anywhere. And in fact when Jaskier tried to turn down the road he was pulled into a hard hug. “No, you’re safe.”
Oh Melitele save him. “Yes, I am, and I am always safe in my bar.”
“You stab people, that makes you not safe.”
“I don’t stab many people.”
“You stab enough.”
“I don’t stab them in the bar I own, Geralt. My business partners frown on it.” Jaskier hugged him back. “Is this a wolf thing?”
“Not a wolf, stop saying that.”
“Well, if you aren’t, and don’t have a weird biological urge to keep your mate safe, you’ll let go and we’ll meet up again in the spring.” He was actually surprised when Geralt let go. He kissed Geralt. “See you in a few -”
“No,” Geralt said and pulled him back in for a cuddle. “You’re safe here.”
“What are you going to drag me up to Kaer Morhen, to make sure I’m where you can see me, and keep me safe?” Jaskier teased.
Three weeks later he was standing in the courtyard of Kaer Morhen. He shook his head at Geralt in fond exasperation. He had managed to send a raven to Zoltan that he wouldn’t be home that winter, Geralt was being fussy. He looked around and it was a crumbling mess but also charming. “I like it.”
“It is good home, will keep you safe.”
Jaskier just rolled his eyes. Vesemir had just nodded, like Jaskier had always been there. Eskel and Lambert when they arrived we distant for a couple days. Until they saw them in front of the big fire all cuddled up. And Jaskier found himself in a giant cuddle pile of witchers. He wasn’t even that surprised. “You two also in denial of having actual wolf traits?”
“Not wolves, it is a school system,” Lambert glared at him.
“Just companionship for warmth,” Eskel added.
Geralt just growled and hugged him.
“Mmhmm,” Jaskier agreed. He spent the winter being cuddled, and fed and going through their library. Eventually he found what he was looking for, a book that supported his theory. He brought it down to dinner and slapped it in front of them. “The witchers are imbued with certain instincts of the animal they wear. This varies between the schools, blah blah blah, oh look in the case of the wolf school, it is an increased attention to protection of the pack, wherein the pack is the world. Instinctively they will seek to keep people safe. Should those senses be honed onto one person, they will become affectionate, protective, obsessed with care because as studies show WOLVES MATE FOR LIFE. Right there, I was right. This is your pack, I am your mate, and you lot are in fact sort of kind of wolves.”
Geralt looked at the book, tore out the page and ate it. “Nope, sorry don’t see what you were babbling about.”
Eskel tossed the book into the fire. “Nope. Nothing to see here.”
“Not wolves, just a damn myth,” Lambert agreed.
“What the fuck?” Jaskier glared at them all. He was pulled into Geralt’s lap. “What the fuck?”
“We’re already treated differently,” Vesemir explained. “If people knew there was some truth in the stories, it would go poorly. They would just focus on us being animalistic, not that it is about the good traits. That it adds to us, doesn’t make us -”
“Monsters,” Jaskier finished. “But that does mean, you knew all this time and were lying to me?”
“Denial, don’t like it,” Geralt said. “I can’t control the instinct to be like this around you. So pretended it wasn’t real. That it was my choice to never let you go far.”
“Geralt, it was,” Jaskier cupped his face. “You’ve met how many people in your life? I’m the only one you cuddle. I’m the one you chose to go stupid wolfy over.” Jaskier smiled at him. “Can’t stop yourself now, but you still made a choice.”
Geralt nuzzled him, cuddled him close. “Good choice. And see nice quiet winter, you don’t have to stab anyone.”
“Again, I don’t actually stab people in my own bar. I make Zoltan kick them out and then I stab them in the alley.”
Lambert’s head snapped up. “We have a bar?”
“I have a bar, yes. I own it in Novigrad, why?” Jaskier was looking at all their faces. “Oh god, why?” He turned to Geralt. “Why? Why do they all look like that?”
“Nothing, never mind.” Jaskier found himself carried up top bed, and he happily rode Geralt’s cock and after was pulled into a hug and felt “You’re safe,” whispered against his skin.
“No but really, why did Lambert say ‘we’ there?” Jaskier asked but Geralt kissed him and distracted him.
He figured it out next winter when instead of heading to Kaer Morhen they turned to Novigrad. Jaskier lead Geralt into the Rosemary and Thyme and paused. Vesemir was in a corner reading, Lambert was flirting with Priscilla and Eskel was helping Zoltan tend bar. “No, no no no.” Jaskier looked at Geralt.
“You gave us a new pack home, thank you,” Geralt held him close.
“The food bill,” Jaskier whined a bit. “Oh god, lost income from room rental keeping all of you.” He tried to get Geralt to let go, but the man wouldn’t. “Zoltan, you should have kicked them out!”
Zoltan just flipped him off.
“Where’s your room?” Geralt asked.
“All the way at the top,” Jaskier said. They went up and Jaskier was definitely not going to concern himself with all the packs that were in the hallway by his door. That required a lot of whisky in him to care about. He showed Geralt his room, and fuck the wolf looked perfect in the space. He pressed himself against Geralt, hugged him close. “You’re safe,” he promised. “You’re safe here. No one dares say a thing against witchers in my establishment.”
“Or you stab them.”
“Or I stab them.” Jaskier kissed him. “You’re safe. It's all good.”
Geralt smiled. “I know.”
And that night it was Jaskier who refused to let go.