Slowly, almost gingerly, the witcher became aware of the sounds around him. First, they were muted as if he was under water. It was almost soothing, the man not yet wanting to fully step back into the world of the living. But soon, too soon, the sound got louder and louder. Drumming in his ears all around him. He became aware of the different noises around him. The before humming tunes turning into voices shouting into his ears.
He could hear it all.
Leaves rustling in the wind.
A horse, Roach his mind added unhelpfully, whining somewhere to his right.
A voice, male, shushing his temperamental mare before the man returned to humming silently under his breath, the soft tunes of a lute accompanied his voice.
Under other circumstances the witcher might find the soft tunes comforting but not today, not right now! His head felt like it would split in two, all his senses seemed to be into overdrive. Even with his eyes tightly closed they still burned from the bright light of the morning sun from somewhere behind his eyelids. His nose picked up every scent around him, flowers, trees, smoke, the male sitting somewhere next to him, the horse, even an hour old deer track.
A low growl escaped the witcher, alerting not only the man sitting next to him who instantly stopped humming but also the horse, which neighed loudly at the sound of her Master’s voice.
“Geralt?” the unfamiliar (yet somewhat familiar?) voice called out, far too loud and only agitating the witcher’s sensitives ears even more.
He grumbled again, louder this time, more firmly. His hands balled into fists at his sides, pushing into the dirt underneath him.
“Geralt?!” the voice spoke up again and the mutated human couldn’t help but find it somewhat annoying. How could the soft, soothing humming from before turn into such a high pitched whining? Then, out of nowhere and far too sudden for the witcher's liking, a hand settled down on his shoulder. Instantly he jerked up, tearing the hand away from his shoulder with one hand while the other moved behind his shoulder to pull out his steel sword only to come up empty.
Where the fuck were his swords?!
He turned his head down, away from the bright sunlight and finally opened his eyes. A grumble left his lips, the world somewhat dizzy on the edges but it didn’t stop him from looking around for his missing swords. His eyes moving around the simple camp noticing the two bags leaning against a tree trump, one spilled out hurriedly, bottles containing colorful potions laying around. He noticed the fire burning not far away from him, a brown horse standing next to a tree staring at him and then, finally, he saw his swords leaning against a tree behind the horse.
Too far away. No witcher ever slept without their swords by their side.
He was about to get up and pick up his swords when he registered the nervous stuttering right in front of him. Somehow he forgot about the man, his amber eyes moved to his own hand still holding the man’s wrist in a death grip before his eyes locked on the fidgeting male sitting next to him. Far too close and far too loud.
“-and, okay I get- I get it! It, maybe, wasn’t my smartest idea to touch a grumbling witcher in his sleep. But- but you have to understand my perspective too, dear witcher! I- you were unconscious for hours! Hours! You can’t get angry with me for being worried about you! You hear me? Heeeeellooo? Geralt? I-”
“Oh. Oh. Oh, so that’s what I get for saving your pretty bottom from that crazy thing? Really, Geralt? I thought we were past this- Hey! Ow! Geralt that fucking hurts!”
“I said. Shut. Up.” He pulled the man closer, tightening his hold on his wrist until he heard the sound of bones squeezing together, almost breaking. The man looked at him with wide, crystal blue eyes. They reminded him of a clear winter sky or the sea on a sunny day, deep and hiding secrets that Geralt would never be able to reach.
The man stared at him, not fearfully or scared but clearly frustrated with the witcher's behavior. He could see a shimmer of nervousness behind the blue flecks but it was no were near as bad as the looks other humans would give him whenever he stumbled into an inn or when he walked through a village in search of a competent blacksmith.
No, for some unknown reason the human didn’t seem to be scared of him. It was an uncommon enough reaction (even more so from a total stranger) that he jerked back slightly, wanting to put distance between them.
“Uh-” the man’s tongue stumbled, “Urgh, you’re unbelievable Geralt of Rivia!” the man shouted into his face, not angrily, no… he almost sounded worried. He moved his free hand through his brown, soft looking hair, before moving the hand to his captured wrist trying to pry the witcher’s fingers off his now bruised wrist. His blue eyes settled on his hands, breaking their uncomfortable staring contest, “So, uff , this is what I get for protecting you! For, urgh- oh my god let me go already - for worrying about you! You. Stupid. Old. Arse!”
The witcher had enough of the man’s loud shuffling and even louder voice, so with a roll of his eyes and an angry grunt he grabbed the man’s other hand and pushed him down onto the ground. The man let out a gasp, eyes widening, once again meeting the witcher’s cat-like pupils. The witcher settled down between the man’s legs, the hold on wrists tightening until the man let out another, this time, painful grunt and closed his eyes. For the first time he sensed the distinct scent of fear coming off the man and for some unknown and unreasonable reason the witcher didn’t like it.
His nose twitched, a feral part of his mind wanting to curl around the man and sooth him with his own smell. The thought came so unexpected that the witcher let out another grunt and shook his head as if he could shake the thought out of his mind.
The man underneath him let out another pained breath, mouth opening and closing several times before finally a sound escaped his soft lips, “G-Geralt? You can be angry at me later, for whatever reason, but first, I wanna ask- Are you alright? Geralt?”
The witcher couldn’t help but stare down at the man in utter confusion. Of course he understood what the man was saying but the context of it all slipped through his hands. Was the man asking him if he was alright? People don’t ask him if he was ‘okay’, they run away and throw stones at him, not worry about his well being.
And then there was the problem with the name the stranger uttered over and over again.
Geralt.. That was his name, right?
The witcher wasn’t sure… it sounded right, and yet he couldn’t recall a singly memory where he used it.
“I…” The witcher trailed off awkwardly, the hold of the man’s hands softening before completely letting go so he could tangle them into his own white, long hair.
“Geralt?” the man asked again, uncertainty but his worried tone clearly seeped through. He leaned up slowly, both his arm lifting up as if to touch the witcher but stopping midway. He didn’t speak up again, clearly waiting for the mutated human to pick up the conversation.
“...Fuck…” was the only thing that came to his mind.
The unfamiliar man let out a somewhat amused huff, a slight grin on his lips, “Okay, big guy-” Geralt let out a deep growl at the nickname, “You,” the man swirled a finger over the witcher’s form, “are clearly not fine.”
The witcher let out another grunt. Why he decided to communicate with the annoying man was beyond him. For some reason he felt obliged to give the man a response even if it were only grunts and huffs. For an even stranger reasons the man seemed to be satisfied with Geralt’s growls as if he could compose entire sentences from the short, angry sounds. His amber eyes moved down to the man’s lips, watching a tongue peek out, licking over the impossible soft looking lips and-
When the fuck did he get so sentimental?
And yet, Geralt couldn’t move his eyes away from the sight. The man most have noticed it too because his grin turned into a downright filthy smirk, showing his pearly white teeth, “Not that I hate all your attention on my lips -I know they are irresistible- but my eyes are up here, dear witcher!” forcing his eyes up, Geralt looked up into the blue, blue depth that were the man’s eyes and suddenly he didn’t know what he liked more. The man’s soft lips or his eyes that showed a carefree and friendly soul. As their eyes met, the man turned somewhat serious again his smirk turning into a soft smile. The man only hesitated a second before he placed a -oh so soft- hand on Geralt’s cheek, his thumb caressing the skin under his mutated eyes, “What’s wrong, Geralt? Talk to me…”
Geralt felt as if he was under a spell of a siren. The man captured his entire attention, turning his angry growls into soft rumbles. He relaxed under his hands and not for the first time Geralt wondered if the man in front of him was a mage and somehow succeeded in pulling Geralt into a trance, turning him into a puppet on strings.
Moving his eyes up and down the man’s long, lithe body the witcher came up with the first question that sprang to his mind.
The man’s comical face could have made him (almost) smirk in another situation but Geralt was far to desperate to understand what the actual fuck was going on.
Geralt watched the man, Jaskier as he learned, walk around the camp in long, frustrated steps. Up and down, he went, up and down. Geralt almost felt dizzy just watching the man move around like a startled deer. Jaskier had his hands in his hair, tousling it around until it resembles more a crows nest than any normal hairstyle. Once in a while he would glance at Geralt with nervous eyes while biting his lips, staring at him as if he would just magically gain back his lost memories.
The bard stopped for the fifth time in under a minute, “And- And you’re sure -I mean really sure- that you don’t know how this-” he pointed his hands at Geralt’s entire form, the witcher almost felt hurt by the gesture, “happened?” his tone picking up a comedic high.
Geralt gave him a deadpan stare, “Hmm.” was all he said, all but done with answering the same question over and over again. Jaskier seemed to understand all the same, his teeth biting into his lips until he bled. Geralt nose instantly detected the metallic smell of the bard’s blood, it curled around him like an uncomfortable blanket, choking him.
“Fuck…” Jaskier muttered, averting his eyes to the ground, “This, indeed isn’t good at all…What should we do?” he muttered the last part under his breath but Geralt heard it all the same, as clear as if it was talked right into his ear.
“ We ?”
This time Jaskier glared at him, a sudden fire behind his eyes that Geralt couldn’t understand where the source came from. The man took a step closer to Geralt, hurt flashed in his eyes, “Of course ‘We’ , Geralt! I could-- As if I could ever walk away from you like this! You’re my- my-” The man swallowed his next words, the fire in his eyes disappeared as suddenly as it came. He looked away, hands moving around awkwardly.
Geralt wanted to ask but something was holding him back. He didn’t know the man, not this him anyway, so it wouldn’t feel right to ask about his personal struggles. Whatever the man wanted to say, it wasn’t for the ears of the Geralt in front of him but another one, the one from a few hours ago that still had all his memories.
Suddenly, Geralt felt awfully far away from the bard as if a canyon suddenly appeared between them. Clearly splitting them apart from each other.
Geralt didn’t know what to say, didn’t really want to say anything, so he stayed silent.
“Please ignore my sudden outburst, my friend” the human finally choked out after several seconds of uncomfortable silence, “I don’t know what came over me…”
The witcher let out a soft grunt in response.
“Maybe, this is of course only a presumption, but maybe your memory loss has something to do with the last beast you successfully slayed.” the bard had a hand on his chin, eyes focusing on something over Geralt’s shoulder.
“Uuuh, it- it had the body of a bird, maybe an eagle and the face of an old, ugly woman!” Jaskier explained, “Only saw it from a far distance, you didn’t want me anywhere near it.” his voice turned soft towards the end.
Geralt lifted an eyebrow at the man’s sudden shyness, “Hmm… sounds like a harpy.” if that is true then Geralt was indeed in deep shit. His hands curled into fists on his lap trying to calm down his storming thoughts. Harpies are savage beasts, scavenging on dead bodies and often attacking traveler while they slept. Their claws could tear up a knight’s armor and their wings have enough strength to lift up three grown men at once. But their worst characteristics are the beasts eyes, they can make a man hallucinate or fall into a trance and especially powerful harpies can penetrate a person's mind so deeply that they go insane or even forget certain memories.
Somehow, the harpy succeeded in erasing most of his previous memories. Somehow he still knew that he was a witcher, traveled around the land for some time, he could even remember his horse’s name. But other memories, simpler ones, like his name, age, and the last contract he took, he couldn’t recall.
Geralt felt lost.
He looked back up to his supposedly ‘best friend’. Geralt still wanted to let out a growl at the title. He didn’t do ‘friends’ , fuck, he couldn’t even walk into an inn without getting deaths glares from every direction. How the fuck did he end up with some bard as his friend
“ ‘Fuck’ ?! Oh stars, that doesn’t sound good!” Jaskier looked around with wild eyes, arms fidgeting at his sides as if he wanted to reach out and touch the witcher, “Please tell me you aren’t about to die in my arms!”
“Oh! Oh good! Splendid!” the bard didn’t sound relieved, “Now, could you at least tell me what the fuck is going on in that empty skull of yours?!” Jaskier didn’t even flinch at the death glare the witcher sent him. The young man just let out another huff, giving the older man his own displeased expression..
Grumbling under his breath, Geralt stood up and walked towards his horse. His hands shook with the need to hit the man in the balls but a small yet firm part of his mind screamed at him not to hurt him in any way.
Ignoring his traitorous mind and the bard’s annoying voice, he walked around Roach to pick up his forgotten swords and fasten them on his back. He turned towards his horse, patting her on the snout affectionately.
“Geralt? I’m speaking to you! Don’t ignore me, Witcher!” Jaskier walked closer to him at one point, watching him pat his horse with a confused expression, “What are you doing?!”
“What does it look like.” Geralt gave him a brief glance before walking around the bard to pick up the saddle and fix it on Roach back.
“Uhh, like you have lost your damn memories??? Maybe ?”
Geralt only gave a low rumble in reply, he couldn’t help the roll of his eyes at the man’s high, squeaking voice, “I’m setting off. Can’t stay here.”
Jaskier stopped the witcher from jumping up on his horse with a hand on his shoulder. He quickly let go at the icy stare he received but firmly planted himself in front of Roach so the man couldn’t ride away, both his hands twisted into the horse’s mane. And for some God forsaken reason Roach let the man hug her. If he remembered correctly, Roach never let anyone near her that wasn’t Geralt. Maybe the harpy not only erased his memories but also twisted them around.
“Oh no! You, my dear Witcher, are not riding away into the sunset while you’re sick-”
“I’m. Not. Sick.”
The bard ignored his angry growls and continued without a care in the world, “-and not explaining anything to me! You know how you lost your memories! Tell me, now!” Jaskier’s voice was strong and sure, eyes not looking away from the witcher’s hateful glare. Only the boy’s shaking hands gave away how nervous he actually felt. Then, like a dam broke, Jaskier’s expression fell. His lips wobbled, eyebrows turning down, a glassy sheen glimmering in his eyes, “Please, Geralt, just tell me what is going on...Trust me?” he whispered the last part, already knowing that Geralt didn’t trust him but still trying.
Geralt’s mouth opened, voice spilling out before his mind could catch on, “The harpy… it erased my memories…”
Jaskier just stared at him, waiting for him to go on.
“Hmm… it-” he huffed, eyes looking into the forest around them instead of the bard’s sad expression, “It can erase memories with its eyes. I don’t remember if there is an antidote.” he finally admitted into the clearing, waiting for the man to speak up. Why he trusted the bard was a mystery layered in more mysteries. For some reason, a sixth sense, something inside of him wanted to open up to him as if it was something normal. Geralt hated it.
“Fuck…” Jaskier breathes fingers stroking through the mare’s mane absentmindedly.
“How the fuck are we going to fix this?”
Geralt didn’t reply. He didn’t have an answer.
In the end it was Jaskier that came up with a possible solution. Some woman, a friend he told him, could be able to help them. Luckily they met her a few towns over on their way to kill the harpy so it wouldn’t be too hard to find her again, hopefully.
This is how they ended up riding, or in Jaskier’s case walking, towards a small town, the bard talking next to him like an endless stream, never stopping. It wouldn’t take more than three days to reach the town, according to Jaskier. Geralt hoped it was true, he didn’t know how much longer he could bear the man’s endless chatter without killing him.
An annoying voice inside his head peeped up, telling him, if he really wanted to get away from the bard he could always ride away. But something stopped him from doing just that.
His amber eyes glanced up at the blue sky, watching the clouds pass by while he tried to ignore the bard’s voice. An impossible task as he found out.
“- you’ll like her, Yennefer, I mean, you get along well,” Jaskier’s voice broke at the end, eyes glancing at Geralt every few seconds, “She can be a little wild and...dark. But I’m sure she’ll be happy to help us out!”
“Hmm” Geralt replied, his only kind of response since they started their journey. The bard didn’t seem unsettled by the man’s unenthusiastic tone, a friendly smile adoring his lips. His face always brightened whenever Geralt let out any kind of sound. Why was the bard so happy about Geralt abnormally bad conversation skills?
“-and then she went all mad, trying to capture the djinn inside her. The whole scene was really unsettling, I tell you.” Geraltdidn’t even notice that the bard had moved on, telling another story about this ‘Yennefer’, “It was the first time we met her. I guess if it wasn’t for my stupidity I wouldn’t have ended up hurt and we would have never came across her. You should thank me for it, witcher.” he smirked up at him, blue eyes sparkling in the sun.
Geralt couldn’t help but look away from the beautiful sigh, his heart beating faster even though he wasn’t fighting or running away from a monster. The witcher frowned, not understanding the unreasonable reactions towards the simple bard.
From the corner of his eyes, he could see the man’s smirk turning soft, a melancholic look in his eyes while he watched the witcher ride steadily on his mare. Something passed over the bard’s face that Geralt couldn’t identify. It was gone in the next second as if it never happened.
Jaskier gripped his lute firmly, fingers dancing over the strings, creating a soft almost sad melody.
A comfortable silence settled around them, the sound of Jaskier’s lute and Roach hoof steps pulling him into a peaceful trance.
Geralt closed his eyes when a strange buzzing feeling overcame him, his head throbbing as if something wanted to get out. The next moment he was plunged into darkness, a forgotten memory returning to him.
"And yet, here we are…" Jaskier said, crystal blue eyes staring deeply into his own.
The memory vanished, replaced with another…more unpleasant one.
"And then, what happened?" Geralt could make out Jaskier's annoying voice from outside the inn.
"He died…" another male spoke up, several other gasping at the man's admission. Geralt couldn't help but roll his eyes, his blood soaked hand moving towards the door handle.
"Eeeeh, he's fine," he heard Jaskier say through the rattly, old wooden door. He sounded so sure… Geralt frowned when he felt a familiar tugging feeling inside his chest.
"Look, I was there! I saw it with my own-"
In the end, Geralt decided to kick the door open (Jaskier always said that he could be a little… over dramatic at times). He had about enough of people talking about his 'heroic' deeds. He just wanted to get his damned coins and a warm bath.
It was far too soon when the bard stopped playing, throwing Geralt back into reality in the process.
He let out a small gasp, eyes looking around the dirty road. Somehow the sky had turned dark above them, stars coming to live in the night sky. The last rays of sun were disappearing behind the snowy mountains in the far distance, casting the road and forest in dark, foreboding shadows.
He heard the bard sniff next to him while he put the lute back around his back. Glancing at the clumsy man he noticed his slow pace and his blue tinted fingers. The bard was clearly tired and cold.
Geralt shouldn’t be bothered by the bard’s suffering, shouldn’t feel guilty for walking none stop without a break. Yet he did. So much for being an emotionless witcher… Grunting he stopped the mare, also causing Jaskier to stop, the man looking up at him in confusion.
“We are stopping.” he said before jumping down from the horse and lead her over to the side of the road into the dark forest. His eyes had no problem seeing in the pitch darkness but he could tell that the bard at trouble finding his way around, stumbling over rocks and roots and sometimes over nothing. Rolling his eyes, he grabbed Jaskier’s bicep and lead him towards a random direction. They stopped when he was sure that they were far enough from the road so that no unfortunate bandits could see the campfire, and attack them while they slept. Letting go of the man so he could bind Roach reins around a tree, he noticed that the bard had been uncharacteristically quiet since they entered the forest.
Glancing over he could see the man watching him, his high cheekbones tinted red, eyes fixed on the witcher’s hands still fastening the reins around the tree. After several seconds of uncomfortable staring, Geralt had enough, grunting at the man to get his attention (the man jerking up, his cheeks turning down right flushed) he told him to gather wood for the fire. The bard huffed at him but walked away non the less.
“Some things always stay the same, with and without memories…” Jaskier grumbled.
Geralt ignored the confusing words, instead busied himself with putting down his armor and swords so he could be more comfortable while he slept.
It wasn't long until the bard returned carrying a stack of wood in his arms. He dumped it in front of Geralt, letting out a long sigh as if gathering wood was the most difficult task in the world.
Ignoring the man's dramatics, he built a small campfire before enlighten it with a swift igni sign. The fire roared to life and the bard quickly huddled closer to the warmth. The young man hugged his arms around himself, trying to get some feelings back into his numb body. But even with the warm fire Jaskier still shuddered from the cold night air.
Maybe Geralt was right when he told him to dress more warmly before they began their journey…. Not that he would ever give the witcher the satisfaction of being right.
After eating some bread both decided it was time to get some rest. They laid down on opposite sides of the fire, Geralt trying and failing to fall asleep. The Bard's shuddering breaths and shattering teeth kept him awake.
He heard the man huff silently, "...I really didn't miss sleeping alone…" Jaskier mumbled into the night air, his words coming out bitter and sad.
Geralt turned his back to the fire, closing his eyes and hoping to finally find some rest.
Half an hour later and Geralt was still wide awake. Jaskier, at some point, managed to fall asleep, his breath coming out in small huffs. Once in a while he would shudder in his sleep, eyebrows furrowed while he tried to curl more into himself to gather some much needed warmth.
Soon, Geralt couldn't bear the man's shuddering breaths anymore and silently stood up. He moved around the fire, hovering over the sleeping bard like a monster praying over his next victim. Taking of his dark grey fur coat he pulled it over the man's body. A small smile formed on Jaskier's lips, a happy sigh escaping him before curling further into the coat.
Geralt snorted at the sight, a warm feeling boiling in his chest. Even though he doesn't remember anything about the bard he couldn't help but feel somewhat fond of him.
Going back to his side of the fire, he laid back down and closed his eyes, finally able to fall asleep.
The sound of Jaskier's confused voice tore Geralt away from his task which consisted of staring into the fire and brooding silently.
He watched the bard sit up Geralt's coat falling into his lap. Jaskier glanced down at the fur dumbly, fingers moving over it.
"Your coat?" Jaskier asked as if the answer wasn't obvious.
The witcher answered without looking up from the flames, "You were freezing." He said, not really explaining anything.
"Uh… thank you." The Bard's voice sounded bashful.
Geralt looked up, meeting Jaskier's beautiful eyes. The man's face looked delicate in the early morning light. Soft brown hair tousled from sleep, sticking out in odd directions. In other words, Jaskier looked soft… vulnerable. It made something feral in Geralt's chest lift up it's head, wiggling around and ready to pounce on the unexpected man. Geralt quickly swallowed the feeling, averting his eyes once again.
He couldn't believe he was lusting after the annoying bard. Was he really so pent up? When was the last time he visited a pup? Maybe he should visit one the next time an opportunity yields itself.
He could feel Jaskier's eyes boring into him, "Did you sleep at all or only sat there and brooded like a sad widow all night long?"
"Thought so. Tell me, what is it your big head is struggling with?"
"Hm, thinking." About all my lost memories , he didn't add.
Jaskier rolled his eyes, "I forgot how much of a stuck up ass you were before we..." he trailed off averting his gaze to the campfire, a hot flush on the man's cheeks, "Anyway," Jaskier stood up, Geralt's coat hanging over his shoulders. The soft fabric seemed to swallow the man's small body. If Geralt was drunk he might call the sight cute, "We should continue our journey soon. I want my favorite Witcher back. Not that this version of you is not lo- likable! Brings back old memories!" He continued a playful grin on his face.
Geralt didn't answer but stood up to put out the fire. While Geralt fasten his swords on his back and put on his armor he noticed the bard fidgeting next to him. His hands were twisting around Geralt's coat still trapped around his shoulder, a blush high on his cheek most likely from the cold morning air (winter wasn't far away).
"Thanks again, dear- ehm, my dear friend!" He squeaked eyes looking at everything but the witcher, "You can have your coat back now, I feel bad for selfishly hoarding it all night long..." Jaskier was about to take off the coat but Geralt stopped him.
"No need. Keep it. It's cold outside and you're clearly not dressed correctly for this weather." One corner of his lips lifted up in a teasing smirk. He walked past the man towards Roach, the horse waiting patiently for him.
The bard stuttered behind him, stumbling gracelessly over his words, "But- But what about you? Won't you be cold?"
"I'll be fine."
Jaskier let out a huff, "Ah, I forgot your witchers are almost immune to anything, even the bitter cold." It didn't sound mocking, maybe impressed, Geralt couldn't tell, "But if you get the flu don't come complaining to me." Jaskier sang already walking back towards the road.
Geralt looked up to the blue sky, a low hum coming from his chest, "How the fuck did I end up with this bard?" He asked Roach. The mare gave him a look, "Hm, you're right, I have to find out myself it seems." He jumped up on his horse slowly trotting behind the bard who already took out his lute and was singing to the morning light, his warm breaths slowly condensing towards the sky.
Geralt served himself a moment of peace and closed his eyes. Listening to the bard's lovely voice.
Of course his peace couldn't last long. Soon, the bard stopped singing and instead used his voice to talk Geralt's head off. After two hour of endless, annoying chattering, Geralt stopped responding with his occasional growls and huffs. He couldn't keep up with the man's conversation. The bard jumped and skipped in between stories, his voice getting awfully loud and high at times when he reached a particular excited point in his tale. He would start moving around his arms in ridiculous motions has if he could reconstruct whatever beast he and Geralt fought against in his stories. And sometimes Jaskier would stop mid step to pull out his lute to play one of the songs he created for Geralt, most of them talking about his heroic deeds and the beasts they encountered on their long journey.
Songs Geralt couldn't remember... couldn't recall ever living through the stories the bard told him about. They felt like a distant dream, something that might have happened.
"-we didn't travel together for several months. When we finally stumbled into each other in a rattly, old tavern our reunion got rather emotional. Even some maiden let out their tears at the sight of us together." A peaceful look adored Jaskier's face, a small, private smile hidden behind Geralt's coat, "It's one of my favorite memories." The man admitted at last, a light blush traveling up his cheeks.
"Hm...why?" It was the first time Geralt spoke up in a long time. Jaskier also seemed shocked, eyes moving up and down the witchers face. Was it so unusual for him to listen to the bard's chatter?
He glanced at Jaskier when the bard didn't say anything for several seconds. The sight he was greeted with made his next breath stuck in his throat.
The bard's face was bright right, reminding him of a particular ripe tomato. He had his lute clenched tightly against his chest, trying to hide his red face with it while trying not to look ridiculous by doing so. Geralt lifted an eyebrow at the man's strange reaction. Did he say something wrong?
His chest constricted at the thought. It wasn't his goal to offend Jaskier. The man might be an annoying prick at times but he only showed Geralt patient and understanding since the witcher woke up without half of his memories.
"Did…" Geralt didn't know how to apologize to someone but he tried to force out the words, "Did I say something wrong? If so, I-"
"Nooooooo, no!" Jaskier interrupted him, swinging his lute around awkwardly, "It's just- Maybe that story is better suited for another time…?" the bard squeaked out, head turning away but Geralt could still see the blush traveling further up his face.
"Good! Fine! Good!" The bard repeated and walked further ahead so he wouldn't have to look at Geralt's confused expression. His shaking hands curled around his lute, starting another songs about their adventures that Geralt couldn't remember.
The witcher couldn't help but feel awfully lost in that moment.
Soon the road split into two directions, one leading to the West the other to the East. They stopped in front of the crossroad, the bard looking back and forth.
"Which direction, bard?" Geralt grumbled but he already has the suspicious feeling that Jaskier didn't know either.
"Uhhh...to tell the truth, I'm never the one to lead the way on our heroic quests. Most of the time I just follow you around wherever you go…" he fumbled with his lute, giving the witcher a guilty glance.
Geralt groaned towards the sky, "Like a lost puppy."
"Hey! For your information our partnership is built on reciprocity and trust!"
"I can see that you don't believe me, Witcher, but you dearly respect me for my special talents! You tell me so a lot!" He grinned proudly one hand over his chest has if he was cradling something precious. Happy memories… Geralt's mind peeped up unhelpfully.
"Hm" he repeated, clearly not believing the bard at all.
"Oooh, oooooooh! Wow! You can be happy about the fact that I know you love me or I would have hit you with the lute of mine long ago!"
"What?!" He stared at the bard with wide eyes. Jaskier's face paling after he realized what he just said.
"What…?" Jaskier squeaked back, eyes not meeting the witcher's.
"Jaskier what the fuck-"
"Oh! Look at this! I just remembered! The right road is the one leading East!" The bard yelled, all but running away from Geralt. Geralt growled darkly before catching up to the stumbling bard.
"Tell me, what you meant by that, Jaskier."
"It-it was just a stupid joke! Don't think about it! We do it all the time, haha!" He didn't look at the other, Geralt could hear his heart skipping several beats a clear indication that he was lying. And yet he didn't call the other man out on it. Jaskier felt uncomfortable talking about his slip up. And Geralt…
Geralt didn't even know how to convey his feelings properly. There was no way in hell he could talk about them with the bard.
In the end, the witcher only grunted and let the topic fall.
He felt a painful tug in chest when he heard Jaskier relieved sigh.
Maybe he read the situation wrong. After all, there was no way someone as lovely as Jaskier could fall in love with a Witcher…
“Finally! Some other humans!”
Geralt almost, almost snorted at the man’s over dramatic behavior. Jaskier indeed choose the right direction and they finally reached the first village on their long journey. Only a few more days and they would arrive at the small town where this ‘Yennefer’ stayed for a while.
They slowly made their way into the village, the bard looking around excited, most likely searching for the next best tavern or inn.
“Where was it… ah! There!” Jaskier walked towards an old tavern right across from a slightly bigger inn. Geralt looked up at the building, trying to see if he could remember his surroundings… but no, everything was unfamiliar, no lost memory thundering into his mind.
While Geralt pulled Roach into a stable he not only saw but also felt Jaskier vibrating next to him. Even a blind man could see that the man was overly excited about eating some warm meals and socializing with people. Jaskier was drumming his fingers on his precious lute while he waited for Geralt to follow him.
“Come on, Geralt! I’m going to starve if I don’t order some food soon.”
Geralt grumbled unhappy, eyes looking up at the orange tinted sky (not for the first time asking himself how he got into this fucked-up situation) before turning around and following the smiling bard inside the tavern. Jaskier was still wearing his long, grey coat so there was no way Geralt could hide his appearance from the townspeople. Mentally preparing himself for verbal and physical harassment he opened the old tavern door.
The large room fell silent for a second, everyone looking at the strange newcomers before the conversation picked up again but distinctly quieter. Some people gave them curious stares while other grit their teeth when the witcher walked by. Geralt ignored it all, even with forgotten memories, he was still used to people’s disdain for his kind.
Together they sat down at a table in a far corner, Geralt sitting with his back to the wall so he had a good view of the entire room. Jaskier sat down across from him, a bright smile on his face while he watched the witcher brood in his seat, “Sheer up, my friend! Today we can dine like champions and get the comfort of a real bed! Maybe we can even get you a much needed bath!” he wrinkled his nose but didn’t drop his teasing smile.
“Uff, you are such a Sour-witcher…” Jaskier leaned his head against his hand, face falling into a bored expression, “The last time you spoke so little to me was a long time ago…I miss-” Jaskier stopped, swallowing whatever words he wanted to let out. He let out a tired sigh before standing up to get them some food.
Geralt watched him go, eyes boring into the bard. For the first time he clearly saw how much the situation got to Jaskier. The man was good at keeping up a happy facade but the long travel creaked it open like it cheap vase which fell down thousands of times. His keen nose could pick up the bard’s sore scent from a mile away, he was sulking and Geralt didn’t know how to fix it.
Not only couldn’t he endure the man’s sad stench, seeing Jaskier’s glassy, blue eyes tugged at something deep inside Geralt’s chest. Something he was sure he had lost forever when he swallowed down mutagenic compounds back when he still lived among the walls of Kaer Morhen.
Soon, Jaskier came back with two bowls of something warm and edible. He pushed the second bowl over to the witcher, Geralt grumbled a ‘thanks’ before digging into the meal. The bard gave him a soft, sincere smile before turning to his own soup. Of course the silence between them didn’t last long. Jaskier picked up their previous conversation, but changed it to a more carefree topic. He talked about a dragon egg they protected, a Bruxa on a secluded island that almost killed them both, a pack of mutated wolves following them all the way to Novigrad and several other adventures Geralt couldn’t recall. Yet he listened to the bard, sometimes giving a short answer or grunt whenever the man expected one.
It was almost too easy talking to Jaskier. The man seemed to pick up every change on Geralt’s grumpy face and understood the witcher even if the man only used inhuman growls and grumbles to communicate instead of real words. Jaskier knew him like the back of his hand. Could, most likely, sing a song about him while he slept.
It made him wonder how long they have known one another. How long he had been Geralt’s friend.
“How long we have been friends, you ask?”
Geralt grunted finally finding a chance to ask the bard after he finished his last tale about some Kikimore that swallowed the witcher whole and soaked him in it’s guts and blood. He glared at the man for using the term ‘friend’ .
“How long…” Jaskier averted his eyes from him, looking around the room as if it held the answer to his question. It shouldn’t be a difficult question and yet the bard struggled to find the right answer.
Did the bard forget too?
“A few years, 13 I believe.” Jaskier’s heart thumbed loudly in his chest, catching the attention of Geralt’s sensitive ears. He was lying. For what reason, Geralt couldn’t tell. The man didn’t seem to have a problem answering any other questions about their travels but as soon as the topic changed to their relationship the bard closed up.
“Hm, I see.”
Jaskier knew that Geralt knew that he was lying through his teeth. The nervous man began to sweat under his icy stare, fingers drumming a fast rhythm on the table. Suddenly, Jaskier stood up, Geralt’s grey coat fluttering around him. “I-I’ll get some more ale.” he stuttered before all but fleeing from the witcher’s accusing stare.
Geralt growled under his breath unsatisfied about how the conversation ended. The bard kept something from him, something important that he didn’t want the witcher to find out about. What could be so important that he didn’t want Geralt to find out? Jaskier seemed like the type to spill more of personal secrets than necessary. He was a bad liar, couldn’t keep one up if his life depended on it and yet he tried with the white wolf that could easily see through it.
Geralt shifted in his seat so he could keep an eye on his traveling partner. If he learned one thing from Jaskier’s stories, it was that the man got into trouble wherever they went. Luck never was on the bard’s side. And as if destiny listened to him, he saw a tall, beautiful woman approaching Jaskier with a look that screamed pure lust. The woman put a hand on the counter near Jaskier’s body, Geralt’s coat the only thing stopping her from touching Jaskier’s skin directly. The lithe man looked up at the stranger a confused expression adoring his face.
Jaskier said something to the tall woman and Geralt had to strain his ears to hear whatever conversation was going on between them, the loud sounds of people drinking, eating and talking, making it difficult to make out Jaskier’s soft voice.
“You sure can, sweetie.” she said eyes looking up and down his body. Jaskier turned towards the woman, hiding his face from his view, “I saw you walk in here with the witcher, caught my attention right away.”
The woman moved closer stopping whatever words Jaskier wanted to say. She pressed her chest against his body, a shocking sound escaping Jaskier’s lips. Something inside Geralt’s chest flared up, coming alive with an angry growl. He had to bite his inner cheek from growling out loud.
“I heard about your songs, you’re leading a really exciting life, bard.” she laughed under her breath a hand reaching out towards Jaskier’s resting on the counter. Her fingers only touched his skin for a second before he separated himself from the beautiful woman.
“I- uh- I feel really flattered by your passionate words, young lady but I’m not interested.”
The woman looked at him for a second before advancing again, “Getting shy? I can show you a really good time. We can get a room in the inn across the street.” Geralt’s gaze hardened, pupils zeroing in on the woman. Before he knew it he was standing up, ready to go over there and push the woman away from what was clearly his . “You look like you need some good time.” She moved her hands up Jaskier’s chest, and over his shoulders.
Geralt was all but ready to storm over there and do more than just push the woman away but Jaskier’s next words stopped him.
Once again, he untangled himself from the drunk woman, giving her an awkward half smile. He patted down the clothes were the woman touched him as if he could erase the unwanted touches from his body. “You misunderstand. I’m not interested because my heart already belongs to someone else. They’re dear to me, I-I could never be unfaithful to them.” he coughed into his hand, a blush on his cheeks. He quickly picking up his forgotten ale before excusing himself from the stunned woman.
Geralt quickly sat down when he saw the bard moving towards him. All the anger left Geralt’s body at once, only living behind a dark, empty feeling. Jaskier had a lover, someone he clearly loved with all his soul. Why did the discovery hurt so much? He touched his chest, feeling like someone had pierced a dagger into his lungs, squeezing the air out of him.
When Jaskier slumped into the seat across from him, Geralt managed to more or less gather himself. He glanced up at the still blushing man, watching the jug touch the bard’s soft lips. The younger man most have noticed his staring because he stopped gulping down the ale, giving Geralt one of his shit-eating grins.
“What’s wrong, witcher? Dragon got your tongue?”
“Hm…” and before he thought better of it, he said, “You have a lover.” he choked out with all the grace of a cat being pulled into the sea by Drowners.
The man choked, almost spilling the drink all over Geralt’s expensive coat. Geralt had the tendency to glare at the sputtering bard, even though, it kind of was his fault for dropping it on the unsuspecting bard like that. The witcher leaned back in his seat, waiting for the man to stop coughing.
“You- huff- you heard? Of course you did… damned Witcher senses! I- urgh- yes?” it came out more like a question than a firm answer. Geralt lifted an eyebrow, “I-I mean, yes! I have a… partner.”
Not some random lover the bard visited every now and then. No. A partner .
Geralt had the strange urge to go outside and search for some wolves to slay. He crossed his arms to hide his shaking hands, averting his amber eyes to the dirty floor. Someone should really clean this place.
“Hm.” it came out like a low growl and not as a simple affirmation as intended. He felt Jaskier stiffen across from him, could feel his eyes move up and down his body, searching for the reason of the witcher’s sudden bad mood.
Why was he so worked up? He didn’t feel in control of his unexplained jealousy. It only made him more grumpy. Witcher’s were the epitome of emotionless, he shouldn’t lose his control like this. It must have something to do with his memory loss, it twisted his mind in a way that he couldn’t even control his own mind anymore.
He felt out of touch with himself. Losing most of his memories was one thing, he could maybe live with it (it wasn’t like he needed them to be a good witcher) but having unreasonable, strong feelings about Jaskier's love-life was another problem all together.
Fuck. He barely knew the man.
He needed space from the hyperactive bard. Some time alone so he could collect his thoughts.
He needed to mediate.
Making up his mind, he stood up without a word. The sudden movement startled the worried bard, looking at him like a bunny in the line of his arrow.
Adorable , the traitorous part of his mind spoke up.
“Geralt, let me explain-”
“Explain what? There is no need for you to explain anything.” Geralt said, “Try to stay out of trouble.” with that the witcher turned around and walked out of the tavern, ignoring the curious stares of the villagers. He had about enough with humans for one day.