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The Final First

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Jaskier could remember the first time he was happy. This, coincidentally, was also his first memory, and was the first time he heard a song. His mother was singing to him, soft voice hushed as a sweet melody of flowers slipped past her lips, words fading as he was lulled to sleep. He remembered the warm glow in his chest when he saw her smiling down at him, dark hair braided, thick and hanging off of one shoulder. He remembered the soft brush of her fingertips across his forehead, sweeping his hair away from his eyes, a feeling he could later compare to the brush of grass. She had brown doe eyes, he recalled. That always held kindness and comfort. This was the first time he remembered being happy.

Jaskier could also remember the first time he truly felt grief, which was also the first time that he witnessed the cruelty of men. It was the Great Cleansing and he was newly turned eighteen, hiding high in a tree instead of celebrating in his mansion with his friends and family. A glamour placed on him by his mother, who was perched beside him, shielding Jaskier and herself from the humans below. He was looking down at the ground in horror, watching as men brought his father to his knees. Tears flowed freely down his cheeks, mouth covered by his hand in fear that he might make a sound that would give them away. The men below laughed at his father as they drove a sword through him. Jaskier saw him double over around the sword, sticking out of his back, stained crismon and dripping with innocent blood. Jaskier’s mother began to sob silently, clinging to him tightly. He returned the grip with one of equal strength. The men left his father there, choking on his own blood until he finally took his last breath. This was the first time he felt grief.

Jaskier had experienced many firsts throughout his hundred or so years on Earth, each one sticking with him. However, out of so many firsts, he realized he had never experienced heartbreak. Not until that day upon the mountain.

Jaskier didn’t know something could be so painful. He could feel his heart shatter into a million tiny pieces as Geralt yelled at him—tore him down in so few words he could hardly believe that it worked. But then again, that was Geralt; someone who was able to express so much in so little words. He had used his power for good in the past, but now he had begun to use it for evil. Jaskier supposed it was the lesser of evils. Driving him away would help him focus, not be so distracted because the bard wanted some songs to make a couple of coins off of, and actually save people without him getting in the way. And even if he didn’t, even if he could help fight those monsters, Jaskier didn’t know what Geralt would do to him if he had ever taken off the glamour that left him drained and helpless. How would he react if Geralt knew he was an elf and not a mere human?

And Jaskier wanted so deeply to believe that Geralt didn’t mean it, but he couldn’t bring himself to. Perhaps Geralt was being serious whenever he told Jaskier to leave, perhaps Jaskier was just being stupid, as he usually was.

“Right,” Jaskier cleared his throat, looking away, fighting the lump that threatened to rise and make it sound like what Geralt had said deeply affected him. “Right then. I’ll, uh, get the story from the others.”

He left, feeling rejected in the worst way possible—by one he had already loved, someone who had only months before held an actual, meaningful conversation with him because they were friends even if Geralt had trouble admitting it because it was something he never believed he could have. Now it was being thrown away because, Jaskier later settled on, he was hurting.

The first time he had felt heartbreak hurt more than any other emotion he had experienced.