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what the wind blows back

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High up on a cliff overlooking a beautiful valley and the mountains beyond, there is a bench, old wood made smooth with time and many hands. It’s not easy to get to - the climb is steep, though not unbearably so - and the wind is strong so high above the steadiness of level ground.

It’s called the Wishing Spot.

The legend goes that if you sit there for a little while every day for a year and a day, and every day you speak the name of the person you most wish to see, that on the last day they will appear upon the bench behind you.

Jaskier doesn’t know if the legend is true, but he’s done stupider things in the name of love. Lots of them. Geralt would be able to list a good several dozen off, if Geralt were here.

Which is of course the point. Geralt isn’t here.

There are a lot of rumors about what happened to the White Wolf when Nilfgaard came north, but Jaskier’s never been able to discover which of them, if any, hold any truth. Maybe Geralt retreated to the hidden stronghold of the Wolf School, somewhere deep in the mountains of Kaedwen where even Nilfgaard would have had trouble finding him. Maybe he stood astride a bridge in Lyria and struck down Nilfgaardian soldiers by the score, until at last they overwhelmed him. Maybe he died in some nameless town, stabbed through the back by a peasant with a pitchfork and a grudge. Maybe he took ship across the sea, past Skellige and into the unknown. Maybe Yennefer hauled him through a portal (and she would have had to haul him, Jaskier knows: Geralt hated portals) and has kept him as a pet these many years. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Regardless of the reason, Geralt vanished.

Jaskier has sought him for almost a thousand years, now. Witchers don’t live a thousand years, as far as he knows, but Geralt let slip once that his own mentor Vesemir was well over three hundred, and Geralt was twice-Grassed, mutated even further than his brothers, so Jaskier keeps hoping that maybe that might have meant he’d stay alive as long as a fae-blooded bard.

A lot has changed in a thousand years, but this has not: Jaskier loves him.

Fae don’t love easily - or perhaps love too easily, depending on who you ask. Jaskier has loved a lot of people, has given pieces of his heart away like flowers at a festival, has kissed and flirted and slept with them and then left them again, as lightly as a maiden casts aside the wilted flower crown that looked so fair the night before.

But he only gave his whole heart once, and when a fae does that - even a part-fae, even one who is very nearly all the way human - it cannot be taken back again.

Geralt has held Jaskier’s heart since he left his last coin on the table for a bard whose music didn’t even please him. He never wanted it, as far as Jaskier could tell, and so Jaskier never burdened him with that knowledge. Or rather, to be perfectly honest - as Jaskier is only with himself, but he learned long ago that lying to himself was folly indeed - Jaskier never dared tell him, lest Geralt reject him entirely. At least while Geralt thought Jaskier was only following him around for fame and fortune, Jaskier could tell himself the constant refusal to become more than comrades of the road was merely understandable wariness, not a genuine dislike of everything Jaskier was and could be. And they did become friends, good friends, as the years wore by. Even with the way things ended, Jaskier will swear to that.

Geralt kept spare lute strings in his packs, and bought the lavender-scented soaps that were Jaskier’s favorite, and always gave Jaskier the last of the quince jam when they shared a pot of it between them - these and a hundred other little things, Jaskier filed away as proof that Geralt cared, even if his words were sometimes lacking, or halting, or cruel.

It’s been a thousand years, and Jaskier still turns to speak to Geralt half a dozen times a day, still leaves pauses in his rambling for a soft, thoughtful Hm, still expects to see a short-tempered mare waiting patiently outside the bar when he comes stumbling out at the end of a long night’s performance. Still whips his head around at every glimpse of bone-white hair.

So sure, the Wishing Spot is probably pure nonsense, a legend based in nothing but some foolish story, but Jaskier’s got years to spare.

A year and a day isn’t that long at all, when set against a thousand.

The lookout has railings - Jaskier suspects that’s a fairly modern addition - but no walls; the wind cuts right through it, hard enough that Jaskier almost feels that he could spread his arms and let his jacket catch the wind and fly away like a leaf caught in an autumn gale. His carefully-coiffed hair is instantly disarranged into a tangled mess. He laughs aloud - the wildness of the wind is exhilarating, makes him want to dance and sing, to tear his clothes away like one of the wild followers of the god of wine and madness whose cult arose a few hundred years ago.

He doesn’t. Instead, he sits down on the bench overlooking the stunningly beautiful view, and lets the wind play with his hair.

“I am seeking Geralt of Rivia,” he tells the wind.

He thinks perhaps it laughs.

The long summer slips by, day by day, and every day Jaskier climbs to the Wishing Spot and lets the wind mess up his hair, and speaks the name of the man who holds his heart.

In autumn, the distant hills turn to seas of fire, and the wind carries fragments of crimson and scarlet and vermilion in its wake, leaves swept up by its inexorable force and borne along to who-knows-where. Jaskier writes a song for them, for green leaves turned fire-red with age and carried off on an adventure, far from their parent trees, far from everything they know, to find their rest at last in foreign lands. It’s well-received, though not, Jaskier suspects, by the trees.

In winter, the Wishing Spot is bitterly cold. The trees on the distant hills are blackwork figures against white, stark and strange. The wind bites through Jaskier’s warmest coat as though it isn’t even there, icy tendrils creeping down the back of his neck and up beneath his trouser legs, slipping between his scarf and hat to make him jump and shiver. But he comes back every day all the same, and tells the wind the same thing:

“I am seeking Geralt of Rivia.”

The wind keeps laughing.

In spring, the distant trees turn pale green, a lovely shade that Jaskier would happily wear as a doublet - or just as a shirt, since doublets have long since gone out of style. The wind is gentler now, though it still disarranges Jaskier’s hair, and when he unwisely takes his hat off, the wind snatches it gleefully and whirls it away over the edge of the cliff. Jaskier laughs along with the wind.

He speaks his wish into the empty air, day after day after day.

Spring turns to summer again, and the wind becomes a blessing when the sun beats down. The Wishing Spot isn’t terribly popular at any time of year, but in the early summer sometimes Jaskier does meet others on the way up or down, who grin at him and exchange a few words about the beauty of the view or the difficulty of the climb. Jaskier chats with them easily enough upon the trail, but at the Wishing Spot he only speaks a single sentence every day:

“I am seeking Geralt of Rivia.”

As the summer wears on, he can’t quite help beginning to hope. He knows it’s foolish - he knows the Wishing Spot is almost certainly not magical in the slightest. Magic has faded from the world in the last thousand years; there are very few mages anymore, and those who are left are hidden away in well-camouflaged towers, waiting for another Conjunction or a second Black Sun or who the hell knows what else. Jaskier hasn’t seen another part-fae since Valdo headed east across the mountains two hundred years ago, off to find out what lies past Zerrikania. But he’s always been a bit of a fool, dizzy with love and music and hope regardless of how many times the world proves him wrong, and so he dares to dream that on the last day of the ritual, when he turns away from the edge, Geralt will be sitting on the bench behind him.

He knows it won’t happen. But he hopes.

The last three days drag by so slowly he almost thinks the clocks are mocking him, their hands ticking at half the speed they ought. He’s tempted to just stay at the Wishing Spot, but it doesn’t have indoor plumbing, which Jaskier has become immensely fond of over the years, nor a decent place to sleep. He’s not old - barely starting to look at middle age, for a part-fae - but his back won’t thank him for sleeping on bare stone any more often than he must.

He gets to the Wishing Spot very, very early on the final day, though. The sun is just starting to crest the mountain behind him; the valley in front of him is limned in shadows, the very tops of the trees just barely catching the light.

Jaskier stands there watching the beauty unfold below him as the sun rises, knowing that once he speaks and turns around - once nothing happens - he’ll never be able to come here again. The bitterness will taint this view forever.

Finally, as the wind twirls around him, picking up his hair and twisting it into knots and tangles, he takes a deep breath and speaks.

“I am seeking Geralt of Rivia.”

For a single long moment, the air goes utterly still. And then there is a gust of wind so strong that Jaskier staggers backwards, losing his footing, and yelps aloud as he topples towards the bench -

And is caught in strong arms that he would know anywhere.

Cat-pupiled golden eyes blink down at him from behind a curtain of tangled bone-white hair. Anyone else might think the handsome face unreadable, but Jaskier can see confusion in the line between the brows, relief in the tiny upturn at the corners of the lips, and even - his breath catches in his throat - affection in the crinkles at the corners of the eyes.

“I am seeking Geralt of Rivia,” Jaskier whispers, staring up at his rescuer in awe and wonder.

“You found him,” Geralt replies, voice hoarse as though he has not spoken in a thousand years.

Jaskier doesn’t even think before he moves - can’t think, if truth be told. Every thought in his head is given over to incredulous delight, wordless as he never is. He reaches up and tangles his fingers in that bone-white hair and hauls the witcher down into a kiss -

And Geralt kisses back.