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You find him lying face down in the underbrush. 

In truth, you wonder just how long he’s been there — covered in a layer of mud, grime, blood — but the long gash across his torso is still fresh, albeit teeming with dirt and insects, and his prized kill is sprawled just metres away, tail still twitching with the aftershocks of life. Your basket full of berries is quickly set aside to haul the strange man up — and gods, the smell. You have half a mind to leave him there dying.

Alas, your guilty conscience wins out; you huff, pulling your sleeves high to your elbows and squatting at the knees, summoning all of your strength to tug him out of the sticky muck and closer to your cottage. 

He’s heavy.

Though it’s no surprise, you suppose: even through the slip of dirt and sweat and gods know what else, you can feel thick, corded muscle, hardened and calloused skin. Had you seen him under any other circumstances you would’ve marvelled at him, you think, though it’s hard to appreciate him when he’s bloody impossible to move—

Finally, when the sun’s just about reached the horizon, you drop him onto the floor of your cottage. His wayward arm knocks over a pile of fabric and dried herbs that’d been resting atop your rickety table; one of his impossibly large legs thumps against your chair and disrupts the stack of books there. Your cottage wasn’t exactly built for a man of his stature.

When all is said and done, you straighten up again — sighing so hard that the stray, sweaty hairs that’d fallen onto your forehead seem to rise up and float momentarily in the air.

Geralt of Rivia. The Butcher of Blaviken, the White Wolf. 

You are no fool — though you live on the outskirts of Maribor, it is often that you venture into the city, both to deliver and sell your wares and visit the markets to buy what you cannot grow yourself. The pubs are rife with drunken singing at any time of the day, and more than once you’ve passed a tavern only to hear the same jig:

“Toss a coin to your witcher, oh, Valley of Plenty!”

In fact, the very bard that had brought the song to life — a lively, only slightly promiscuous man by the name of Jaskier — had commissioned you for the repair of his favoured doublet. And he had talked your ear off the entire time you stitched. The entire time. And mostly about the blonde (well — blonde through the filth) man laying on your floor — his head of shocking white hair, his amber eyes and prowess with a sword, his slaying of elves, his good deeds to mankind, his affinity for bedding women.

(Jaskier had talked very fondly of that last topic. And with great detail.)

“You idiot witcher,” you murmur, kneeling by his side. Tentative fingers press gently to the cut in his abdomen — his own fingers twitch in response. “What would you've done had I not been nearby?”

His clothes are thin and of bad quality, you notice — a linen shirt and worn leather armour that did nothing to stop the attacks of his opponent. The only thing of value on him — or, rather, beside him — had been a silver sword, similarly dirtied. You’d go back for it once his wounds were tended to. Nobody traipsed this area of the woods often, anyways, so both his prized kill and his sword would be safe.

You peel the shirt from his broad shoulders with a wrinkle of your nose. It’s barely held together by a single thread, now, and so covered in mire and venom that you’d be better off burning it. You sigh, dropping it to the ground. 

You’ll have to fashion him a new shirt. A new everything , it seems.

X

“...Fuck.”

It’s not often that Geralt finds himself completely unaware of his surroundings — a fool he may sometimes be, but a fool in control . The second the arachas had revealed itself, Geralt had lost that very control in the tall grass — hands grasping the hilt of his sword and bringing it upwards just in time, for the beast had raised its pincers and struck lightning fast—

It was young. Young enough to be defeated with only his sword, young enough to have only gotten one wallop across his chest before it was struck down. And yet… 

Geralt peers down at the expertly wrapped bandages wound snugly around his abdomen. The poison should have killed him, in reality. Even young arachasae were lethal, and he hadn’t taken any potions beforehand to make him immune. He hadn’t expected the attack, after all — it shouldn’t have been so far south. His brow furrows, deep exhale reverberating through the empty room — his entire body aches when he tries to move. He resigns himself to taking in his surroundings. 

It is a simple, humble room — no doubt of a simple, humble cottage. The walls are bright, white stone; the ceiling, layers of straw and wooden beams. A stone floor. The bed underneath him is not the largest, nor the thickest — though, after sleeping in the forest for the past week or so, he’s not grown picky. It’s got pillows underneath his head and blankets over his legs, and that’s more than enough for him. At the foot of the bed, he notices, is a large mahogany chest. 

The rest of the room is barren.

Not many people live on the outskirts of Maribor. The city is fruitful (filthy, yes. Filled with rude drunkards and ruled by a hubristic prince, yes. But so is every city on this damned continent.) and the forests are thick and dark — his saviour must’ve had to drag him through brambles and nettles and thimbleberry bushes to get him here. He’d been deep in the forest.

He listens closely, narrowed eyes trained on the single door opposite him. There’s… rummaging. The soft whisper of words too far away to hear — the poison still lingers in his veins, evidently. The hearty scent of stew, the warm, fruity tang of ale… His stomach grumbles, as if to remind him that he’s been asleep for far too long.

Steady, soft footprints begin towards his room. 

A deep inhale — the feminine smell of grapefruit and geranium permeates his senses, and as the footsteps come to a stop outside the door, Geralt waits—

And holds his breath.

X

You don’t notice he’s awake, at first. Still and quiet as he is.

You enter quietly, a bowl of stew and a cup of ale balanced in the crook of one arm for when he did wake — which you had expected to be soon, with his accelerated healing — and more bandages in the other. 

Your kitchen is a mess of empty vials and used-up ampoules, hastily ground herbs and basins of dirty, cloudy water. That wound would’ve killed any normal man — it would’ve killed him , had you not acted so quickly, tearing off his clothes that were steadily decaying due to the venom, dousing his skin in watered down Golden Oriole and treating his lesion with every elixir and concoction at your disposal. 

It hadn’t been easy. He was covered in such filth — his hair alone dirtied almost three basins of fresh water, but it came away shining white as snow. You almost had to plug your nose with the smell of him, though, and made sure to wash him with the strongest scented soap you had.

It’s only when you set the stew and ale and bandages aside that you notice he’s fully awake, watching you carefully with those light eyes of his. 

You still — in part because you don’t want to startle him, make him feel cornered… in part because they really are amazing.

His eyes, that is. Bright, citrine yellow, framed by thick dark eyebrows and framed by equally as dark eyelashes. Laying there, bandaged to hell and back, his skin still red and raw, he looks every bit of a beast — a great cat, maybe, cornered and on the verge of extending his claws… scoping out every threat, perhaps. 

Or maybe he’s simply curious instead. You’re no threat to him, surely, and you’d bandaged him up and tended to his wounds when he was most vulnerable. He doesn’t quite look like he’s about to surge up and seize your neck between two of those large, meaty hands — you think that’s enough for now.

Slowly, you pick up the bandages again. “You’re awake.”

His eyes don’t move from you. “My clothes are gone.”

His voice is suiting. A deep, low grumble, seeming to come from his chest rather than his throat — and despite the fact that you’ve seen him almost completely naked, your cheeks warm. Being under his scrutiny and under his eyes is entirely different from simply tending to him while he’s unconscious. 

(All of Jaskier’s rambling seems more well-founded now — though you won’t admit it.)

“Eh — yes,” you say, a bit bashful. You pass the bandages back and forth between your hands, lingering back by the doorway. “The venom was burning through them. I thought it best to remove them before—”

"Where's the beast?" 

Your mind races to follow his change of topic. "Well, worry not. I dragged that up, and your sword, too. You're welcome ."

“Why did you help me?” It’s not a question — more of an order, really, or an exceedingly bewildered statement. He would’ve been better off simply saying tell me why you helped me now . “A strange man in the woods, halfway to death — you look smarter than that, girl.”

Girl? In the back of your mind you’re completely aghast. It must show on your face — open-mouthed like a speared fish, because his lips tilt up just slightly at the corners. A ghost of a smile, and yet your stomach turns pleasantly all the same.

“Maybe I should’ve left you there,” you comment. “I’m sure some other beast would be all too happy to finish you off — if the venom hadn’t first.”

The rumbling laugh that erupts from his chest very obviously hurts him — you can’t even imagine the pain that must be coursing through his body, really. Fatigue from not eating and sleeping for an entire day, the aftereffects of the arachas poison… The strength of the witcher isn’t lost on you. 

“The stew is for you,” you say, then, gesturing towards it. “I didn’t think you’d be awake so soon, though I suppose it’s to be expected…”

If it’s possible for him to be surprised, he is . A brow raises up, his eyes suddenly playful, and you busy yourself with beginning to unravel the roll of bandages — they need to be changed after all, and, well, who’s to say that he can’t hear your heartbeat racing like a horse? “You know who I am?”

You hum — swallowing as you sit on the edge of his ( your ) bed. You avoid his eyes expertly under the guise of checking his bindings. Your hands, usually so steady from years of experience, tremble as they set themselves against the flat plain of his stomach, pulling at your earlier craftings. His muscles tense at your first touch — they relax, however, as he acquaints himself with the gentle tracings of your fingers. 

“Yes. People sing songs about you, Geralt of Rivia.”

He makes another low sound. Unimpressed, this time, and you feel it reverberate against your skin. Everything about him was so impossibly powerful… so alluring, enchanting, as if—

You chastise yourself for letting your thoughts run so rampant. Your job as of now is medic . To help , not to fawn, and certainly not to entertain such unprofessional thoughts.

“Jaskier,” he murmurs, like a curse, though it is much softer than he means it to be. “Bloody bard.”

“He speaks highly of you.” And of your conquests, and of your escapades, and the way you once fucked a woman so hard that she fell unconscious and woke up with her entire body bruised purple from your lips—

“He’ll speak highly of anything that brings him fame.” But still, that underlying fondness is there. “How long ago did he pass through?”

“A month, at the most. I mended his doublet for him.”

You begin to lift the bandages — tenderly, delicately, knowing that he could, in theory, withstand the pain, but not quite wanting him to. 

(You notice that his brow furrows as you do, too, as if he’s so used to roughness that he can’t quite fathom the softness of your touch.) 

The skin is ruby red and irritated — but all is clear, save for a thin, shallow gash down the centre of him. Your eyes widen — truly, a marvel of witchcraft.

“Is that what you are?” Geralt asks, watching you closely. You don’t need to look up to know that he is — you can feel the weight of his gaze on you, making your hands stumble and fret over movements that should be so simple . “A seamstress? But you live a ways away from the city. And your bandages are far too neat for an amateur.”

You huff a laugh. “I am a jack of all trades, dear witcher. My mother was a talented seamstress — it comes in handy for stitching wounds, too. And, well…” You continue talking, quite unsure as to why, but Geralt looks genuinely… interested. Is that the right word? 

( Captivated , your green mind supplies. You’re foolish, your smarter self replies.)

“I used to live in the city as a girl. I studied to become a handmaiden to Melitele, but I left before I could be truly initiated.”

“Your faith tested?” Is he joking, or curious, or both? Both , you decide, catching the tail-end of a small smirk. You wonder just what the witcher believes in, himself — you doubt he is a follower of the Maiden, the Mother, or the Crone, though he hails from a place that does . Perhaps he worships the Lady of Ravens, goddess of war and magic and phantoms. 

Yes , you muse. That seems much more likely.

“No, actually,” you say, finally gathering the courage to meet his eyes — and, gods, if you thought the first time had prepared you even a shred— “I wasn’t interested in being a pawn for the priestesses, sent all over the continent to convert. I worship my goddess as she first intended — no grandeur or majesty necessary.” 

His eyes don’t leave you, but he makes no move to say anything. You clear your throat, suddenly nervous for all your prattling, and you clasp your hands in your lap. “The education was handy, I’ll admit… ehm, your wound is healing nicely. You won’t need more bandages for the moment — it’s best to leave it to the air.”

You stand, then, and his eyes follow you there, too. The room is suddenly too hot, you decide, and decisively you turn on your heel and begin towards the door. But then, a passing, fleeting reminder—

“The stew — eat it. You’ll need your strength back, witcher.”

Geralt’s eyes trail after you even as you leave.

X

He’s up and walking by the end of the day, though his movements are slow and cautious. He looks increasingly more agitated with every jolt of pain through his limbs — quite unused to having to be so careful, you surmise. The shirt and pants you’d sewn fit him perfectly, though he ambles around with the laces of his shirt undone to allow his wound to breathe.

(And to bother you, that same naivety in your mind teases.) 

You offer him a place to stay until he completely recovers. It’ll only be a few days, after all — maybe less than two before he’s back to fighting shape — and, well… the cottage could get lonely at times. Having him fill up every space, every nook and cranny, burning gaze somehow always upon you — it’s simultaneously maddening and beguiling.

(And he saves your arms the ache of chopping wood.)

On the third day of his stay he disappears sometime in the morning, into the thickets and evergreens, and returns with a horse. A beautiful chestnut brown mare, with a luscious mane of pure black and what looks like a brush stroke of white along her nose — well taken care of, with a leather saddle and blinders. From the fond way he strokes behind her ears when he dismounts, you estimate that it’s his horse, and not one simply stolen from some poor company traversing the woods.

You’re picking herbs and onions and potatoes from the garden behind your cottage, squatting low to tug the roots out of the mud, but still your eyes can’t help but be drawn to him. He commands himself like that, you’ve found — despite his obvious aversion to attention, conversation, and just about any other human interaction (again, told fondly by Jaskier), he still draws eyes wherever he goes.

 “A horse?” You call out, squinting through the sun.

“Her name is Roach.”

“She’s beautiful.”

Geralt hums in agreement, petting her muzzle gently. “That she is.”

You stand, wiping the sweat from your brow, panting. The day is almost uncharacteristically hot, and yet so much needed to be done. With all the medicine you’d used up healing him, you needed to replenish your stocks. Then you could sell what you didn’t need, and buy a length of wool or cotton for when the winter came—

"______."

You almost don’t register that it’s you that he’s speaking to, so unused to having anything but your own company — but when you do , there’s goosebumps.  It's the first time he's said your name out loud and yes, you’ll admit, you shiver

In truth you can hardly remember giving it to him — the past few days have been a blur of trying to busy yourself so that you wouldn't get caught up in his presence. Somewhere between cooking and sewing and gardening you’d let it slip out, but—

Oh, gods, how green could you get? You’re days of giggling and blushing at village boys are long gone— 

But Geralt is not a village boy. He is — almost deafeningly — a man.

“Yes?” You answer, desperately trying to roll away that stream of thoughts. 

“Let me help you.” 

And he’s beside you, hauling the heavy basket of vegetables and herbs from your arms with one hand, unfairly effortless in how he swings it over his arm. 

“You’re my guest,” you contend, following him as he heads back to your cottage. “And you’re healing! Geralt—!”

“You won’t take any coin. Let me offer my help.”

Yes, you had refused his coin. You had helped him because he was in need , not because you wanted money. 

“You’ve cut the firewood — that’s more than enough.”

“And you’ve exhausted your resources to bring me back from the brink of death.” He stops in the open doorway, frowning down at you. It casts a hard shadow over his eyes, and you swallow. The fight’s gone out of you — he’s much too resolute, much too stubborn. “I’ll pick the rest.”

You sigh. “...Okay.”

He works furiously . Without break. Without so much as a drink of water, or ale, no matter how often you offer. Your garden is large, too, a patchwork of expertly cultivated plants, and yet he works tirelessly, plucking them up from the dirt thrice as quick as you ever could. He returns the basket to the kitchen where you’re bustling away four or five times to empty it, and then he goes straight back out to fill it again.

It’d be nice to have someone like him around, a voice that sounds suspiciously like you cajoles. Strong, big, protective .

That’s dangerous thinking. Especially when he’ll be gone within the next day or two, probably never to be seen again, and you’ll be nothing but a far-off memory in the mind of an immortal. You still over the basin you’d been using to wash the vegetables, eyes suddenly burning with the thought. 

So many years of isolation — after the death of your mother, after your desertion from the handmaidens of Melitele — and you’d allowed yourself to be coerced into a false sense of control, thinking that allowing this man into your house, allowing yourself to grow used to his presence in these few days, would end cleanly. The truth is that you’d gotten much too fond of the churlish witcher, and—

“That’s all of them.”

One more basket is placed beside you, and quickly, you clear your throat of all lumps and tear-induced stickiness. You’re not sure just how potent his senses are, just how well he can gauge you, but when you turn — smiling weakly — there's a slight narrow to his eyes.

“Thank you, Geralt."..."I’ve — I’ve heated some water for a bath. The last cauldron is still on the fire.” 

Gods know he needs it — his hands are caked with dirt, skin covered in a fine layer of sweat… You avert your eyes from the smattering of thick hair peeking out from his shirt, scampering over to the fireplace to check the water.

“You have a big enough basin?” He says, amused. He leans back against the doorframe, lips tilted up in that damned smirk of his.

“You’d be surprised… Looks like it’s finished.”

You bow forward to haul up what’s sure to be a heavy cauldron — it’s almost half your size, after all, and filled with water. Your arms brace for the weight of it, when—

You huff, watching as Geralt simply plucks it before you can. His chest far too close to your back — so close that you can feel the heat of him, so pleasant and warm and—

“I can do that myself,” you say, though it’s with a soft grin. “I’m stronger than I look.”

His answering smile is uncharacteristically gentle. “I don’t doubt it.”

The water pours cleanly into the wooden bath, steam filling the open area in a cloud of white, and for a moment you both simply stand there, unsure as to what to do next. It’s only when you peek up at Geralt and find him already looking at you that you realise—

“Oh, of course! Sorry, I’ll leave you.” And so you hurry out of the main room, planning to catch up on your sewing or deal with the dirty chemises you haven’t had the time to wash, when— “Oh — soap.”

After all, what use is a bath without soap? And you tend to splurge on it; a woman in the city makes the nicest smelling lemon soaps, and you’ve a habit of curating them when you have the money to spend. Armed with a bar of this soap in hand, you push back open the door to the living area, and—

“Oh, gods — I’m — gods, sorry, sorry, sorry—”

Geralt is as naked as the day he was born — and not submerged in the safety of the bath. Thick, tree-top like legs, bulging biceps, a hard, strong stomach and an equally as tough chest — and, between his legs—

You let out a squeak, turning so quickly that you almost fall over the hem of your dress. The lemon soap goes tumbling from your hands, disappearing under your kitchen table. Your bodice is too tight, all of a sudden, constricting your chest so tight that your entire neck — and upwards — begins to heat up. 

“I didn’t — I didn’t mean to,” you say hurriedly, crumpling your dress in your hands. “I’m sorry, really, I just wanted to give you soap…”

There’s no sound from behind you — save for an amused huff that has your mind reeling in confusion — but no speech. No assurance of forgiveness, no teasing quip… though there is the abrupt lapping of water, the rumble of a satisfied groan that borders so closely on promiscuity that you have to screw your eyes shut. 

He’s lowered himself into the bath, evidently. Is that your queue to leave? You take a jolting, unsure step forward, and:

“______.”

You swallow, licking over the dry skin of your bottom lip. “Y-yes?”

“Bring me the soap.”

A second of hesitance passes, before you step gingerly towards the fallen bar of soap. You have to crouch to your knees and stretch your arm out to find it underneath the table, but soon you grasp the waxy ingot and rise back up again. Another — slightly longer — moment of stillness, in which you’re all too aware of what may happen if you turn around, and what may happen if you don’t .

You inhale, passing the soap between your nervous hands, before you make a decision that will set your fate in stone: you turn.

Geralt of Rivia is handsome — don’t let him or anyone else tell you otherwise. Even now — sitting in your bath, with his hair tied as it always is so that it brushes his shoulders. His arms stretched comfortably along the rim, his chest expansive and wide and covered in hair, his eyes watching your face so intently—

“______,” he repeats, voice a quiet rumble. “Come here.”

Heart in your throat, you take a step forward. Then another, and another, until you can reach forward with minimal effort and place the soap in his outstretched hand. You don’t quite know what you expected him to do after that, after he places the soap in the water — but to grasp your wrist with one of his wet hands, to lift it to his lips? It certainly isn't that. 

“Geralt—”

His wrist tugs you almost imperceptibly towards him — an urge to come closer, but gentle enough to refuse if you so wish. You don’t so wish. You step so close that your shoes bump the edge of the tub and cause the water to form gentle waves, the type created by summer winds and—

The sharp aquiline curve of his nose presses heavy into the space just above your belly button; his hands, as if with minds of their own, settle on the lowermost points of your hips — and you find that you want to grasp at his hair with all the ferocity of a woman aroused. That would explain the ache between your legs — the sweet, steadily growing throbbing that hasn’t been satiated by another person in months.

His wet hands leave streaks of darkened fabric across the navy of your dress as he drags it from your knees up to your thighs — high enough to expose your calves, but low enough to preserve your modesty. Painstakingly and deliberately slow, and you’re sure, now, that he’s been able to hear your heart this entire time. You don’t have to hold a finger to your throat to know that it’s racing like a horse. Your stomach flips violently, but still, you don’t move. One slight shift and you could tip these precariously balanced scales, could disrupt this frighteningly charged silence—

His hands still on your hips, and embarrassingly, you're halfway to begging him to continue.

“Are you scared?”

You release a breath you don’t know you’re holding, risking a glance down at him. Eyes like burning amber. “... No.”

And you mean it. Despite every gory myth and legend, despite every cruel convention it’s thought he upholds — he doesn’t scare you. For all his strength and coldness he has only shown you gentleness and warmth. You have no doubt of his abilities, but… you don’t believe he’d ever use them against you.

“Hm.” Another small smile, before his eyes flicker up to you again. You know what that look means; the impish glint hidden among yellow, the artful upturn of one eyebrow. 

What are you waiting for then, girl?

Nothing. You’re waiting for absolutely nothing . Now, feeling less and less jittery with every passing second, you step back and out of your shoes. You undo the laces across your chest — holding his gaze all the while — before allowing the bodice to crumple and fall to your hips. The blouse and chemise underneath obstructs him from what he really wants to see, but you don’t make him wait long. The blouse finds a place on the rug in front of the fireplace, as does your chemise, seconds later. 

With that, you’re bared to the Butcher of Blaviken; every curve and roll exposed, every scar and freckle and hair available for his viewing. And view he does, looking more and more animal as his eyes follow an invisible path along your body — the flickering flames of the fireplace casting long shadows across his handsome face.

“The water is hot,” he says — a badly veiled invitation to take a seat on the only place available: his lap.

“You don’t need to convince me,” you jest, taking the hand offered to steady you as you step inside. And it’s hot, of course; not just the water, the steam, the fireplace, but the heat of Geralt himself. Firm and large and warm beneath you, naked bodies pressed flush against each other. 

You half predict that he’ll rush into it, now that he’s got you where he needs you. But he doesn’t — in fact, his first action is to pull out the pin keeping your hair tied up. His second is to bring the water up to coat your head, effectively soaking your hair within a few minutes.

“I think you just missed having someone to bathe with,” you tease. You can’t deny that you’re the slightest bit breathless, though, the tenderness of his calloused hands at the back of your head making you melt even further into him, if possible.

He hums, beginning to draw you closer with his hands on the back of your head — and then, in that split second, all of your fantasies and innocuous daydreams are shoved aside for reality. Geralt’s lips meet your, and your mind blanks of everything but him. 

He’s not gentle. And you don’t want him to be — you’ve never quite liked it like that, in all honesty — but the sharpness of his teeth against your lips is such a sudden shock that you find yourself moaning into his mouth like an undisciplined juvenile, hips beginning to rock against his. The gentle lapping of the water against the sides of the bath makes you shiver — audible evidence of your long anticipated tryst.

The kiss hastens. Suddenly your hands are attaching to anything they can reach: his hair, his shoulders, the edge of the bath. His own rotate between the curve of your ass and your jaw, the buds of your nipples or the column of your throat. Low groans permeate each length of silence — and it’s different when you can feel it percolate through his chest; different, when it rumbles against the swell of your breasts pressed haphazardly against him.

His lips are swollen and red when you break apart momentarily, his breathing laboured. “I’d hoped to taste you before I took you, but it can wait.”

“And you were so sure that you’d bed me?” You say, rolling your eyes. Still, the slide of his cock against your clit makes you shudder. “Fame – has made you – a-arrogant, Geralt.”

“I was sure I’d bed you when your heart first sped up the way it does,” he replies, nose nudging against yours. His fingertips suddenly press against the hard bone of your chest that protects said organ, smile impossibly fond, and you're frightened that the abrupt turning of your stomach isn't completely from arousal. Something deeper, something much more dangerous– “Like the thundering of hooves.”

“Oh, you jest .”

“Oh, but I don’t ," teases the smirking witcher. 

You’ll show him thundering . Your hand grapples swiftly beneath the water to wrap around the hardness posed between your lips — you barely have time to appreciate its girth or length or Geralt’s pleasured grunt before you hold it up to your entrance and begin to sink down. Even though it had been your idea of revenge your mouth is agape — now, you can appreciate his size like this. Thick and long, moulding against you as if you were meant to fit together, two pieces of the same puzzle. 

(You've never been filled like this — in this too-intense way. It's been a long time since your last, but even that didn't feel like this ; like every nerve in your body has been set alight, buzzing anxiously in anticipation.)

Geralt pants so quietly that you wouldn't notice it had you not been so attentively taking in his reaction — one hand an iron grip on your hip, sure to bruise, and the other near cracking the edge of your bath with the effort of controlling himself. 

(It seems that you’re both as far gone as the other, in the end. Here, now, there are no false pretenses, no facades. Just pleasure and pain and everything in between.) 

Geralt regains his composure quickly. His hands begin to drift along the plains of your body, squeezing and appreciating every inch he comes across; a happy hum when he takes up a handful of your ass, an appreciative grumble when you pulse around him in response. You're wearing down his patience, chipping away at his reserve. 

“Ride,” he says lowly, his fingers tugging cruelly at your nipple on his way down to your stomach. 

“And if I don’t want to?” Is it the hot steam or just him that’s causing your lungs to fill like this? You feel like every breath you take is as hot as the sun, but shaky and unstable. Your nails are dug into the skin of his shoulders, sure to hurt, but Geralt only seems to harden inside you. 

“I’ll make you, girl .” And as if to punctuate his sentence, his hips jerk up — the slide of his cock inside you seizes your breath before you can argue, catching on every mind-maddening spot along the way. Those large, weighty hands grasp the flesh of your ass, then, and with almost no effort at all he begins to lift you up and down the length of him — holding your gaze the entire time, jaw clenched, as if he dares you to fuss. 

You’re not sure why you’re surprised by his strength — you’re not exactly lithe, or easy to carry, but he does so with such ease that you can only stare at him, open-mouthed with pleasure and disbelief. Especially when every hurried movement of his hips nudges his tip against the spongy, sensitive spot that always seems so out of reach—

“Oh—” Hands clambering for purchase against his biceps, toes curling beneath the water—

He grins, smile toeing the line between carnal and feral. “That’s it, isn’t it? That’s the spot.”

You throw every curse under the sun back at him, but your hips have begun to buck in accordance, and soon you’re so far gone that he can simply lean back and admire the view. And what a view it is, he marvels; strands of your hair reflecting the light of the fire, every inch of skin from the softness of your stomach to the roundness of your arms glowing in candlelight. Your tits, heavy and perfectly sized for the grasp of his hands specifically , bouncing with each frantic movement atop his cock. 

Perfect — and that’s just your body. Let his eyes trail to your face and he will put down his sword and write sonnets—

Especially when his hand reaches between your legs and pinches that fantastic little bundle of nerves in that crowd of curls, and your breath stutters and your walls clamp down around him like a vice — your face an amalgamation of every pleasure wrought on your body, mouth parting to whisper his name like a prayer, over and over and over:

"Geralt, Geralt – oh, fuck—" 

His own orgasm comes out of nowhere — shooting up and out of the dark when you collapse desperately against him, panting in his ear. His arms wind around you, crushing you tight against him, hot skin pressed as close as it'll allow — and fuck, the tired, pleasured whimper that you let out when he fills you. 

It's particularly rewarding, he thinks absently, knowing that even when he pulls out, you’ll still have his seed inside of you. Even tomorrow, maybe, you’ll have traces of him painted on the most intimate parts of yourself.

For now, though, he gathers your limp form against his body, his breathing steadying out. 

“The water’s grown cold,” he says to you, lips against the wettened skin of your shoulder, voice quiet. “Come.”

You fall asleep on the rug beside the fire, side by side. A lone hand travels the length of your spine, back and forth, back and forth, and you think that you could quite happily lie like this forever, if destiny would allow it.

Geralt is gone the next morning, as you’d expected—

—but he’s back the week after, as you hadn’t.

X

Geralt’s roamed the north ever since then. Never venturing too far south, your cottage a nodal point for every one of his quests, though you’ve learned that he’ll always say otherwise. I was passing through, he’ll explain. I need lodgings for the night. He always gets more than lodgings. 

You learn a lot about Geralt of Rivia, during this time.

He fucks like an animal, for one — snarling and growling, more teeth than lips, cock nudging the deepest, most sensitive parts inside you, hands gripping your hair just on the verge of pain. His hands more often than not find themselves clasped around the column of your neck, controlling each and every breath you take, his hips bruising yours with every rough thrust—

He fucks covered in blood. Sweat. Dirt. He doesn't care. He'll fuck with the corpse of his freshest kill metres away, glazed over eyes watching you writhe underneath him. 

He doesn’t have much appreciation for the high-pitched squeals of a paid woman. He likes the grunts, you’ve found, the fucked-out pants, the murmurs of his name when you’re too far gone to even keep your eyes open — the rugged breaths and cries when you can only lay limp and take it, take him

He likes when his hair is pulled. He’ll always grumble, gnash and nip at your wrists and pretend it annoys him, but the truth is that he enjoys the disobedience, the impudence, because that means that he can put you back in your place — fuck the cheek right out of you , he’d chuckled once. 

He never finishes before you — whether by order of his own pride or simply because he prefers it that way, you’re unsure. But you’re always the priority; a hand between your legs, pinching your clit, his head bowed low to murmur promises and desires in your ear. Sometimes he’ll grasp your jaw, force you to look him in the eyes as you do. And when he cums, he cums deep — a final, pleasure-filled grunt, pushing so hard into you that you rise up the length of the bed and end up with your ankles pressed into the small of his back. His face always finds the crook of your neck — always, without fail, and you, in turn, will never not find yourself cradling him close to you, fingers tangled in his hair.

(If he’s in the mood — and he usually is, his libido is sky high — he’ll pull out and lower his face to the apex of your thighs, nuzzling through wet curls with a low groan, and feasting on your womanhood like a man starved. By time he’s licked the cream away he’s ready to go again.)

He likes to talk, afterwards — stories and tales, though not of dramatised beasts and heroics. He speaks of the kind people he’s met along the way, the beauty of Skellige and Toussaint, the times Roach had managed to eat his provisions and he was forced to survive on rabbits and squirrels — he is much more than you ever expected him to be. More than the villagers would ever hazard to imagine, this rugged, mountain of a man with an affinity for your coveted lemon soaps and holding you close. The night is not finished, after all, until he has slid his arm underneath you and crowded you close to his broad chest.

(Oftentimes you’ve spotted him from the corner of your eye, watching you in a way that no man ever has. That small, impossibly soft smile upon his lips as you finish your own tale…)

Inevitably, you learn more about yourself, too. 

You learn that you have fallen impossibly in love with this… this man . This witcher, this slayer of monsters. The realisation comes gradually, slowly, though you’re sure it had a home in your mind weeks before you truly came to it. Every expectant glance over your shoulder while your gardening, when he’s been gone for a few days too long; every accidental double serving of stew when he’s not around; every bar of lemon soap that stares up at you from your mahogany chest at the end of your bed.

He is on your mind every second of every day. It’s infuriating , and mostly because you’re under no impression that he feels the same. How many women swore up and down the continent that they were in love with Geralt of Rivia? After the nights he’s given you, you’d guess the numbers are high.

It's only when you're walking through town one day, having sold your potatoes and onions and leftover medicine, that you realise that something must change. You stop at the bakery of a local woman called Margery — crass, blunt, loud, but her heart’s always in the right place, and her bread’s the best in Maribor. You've been buying her bread since before your mother's death — you're convinced at this point that she can read your mind. 

As you’re popping two loaves into your basket and handing over your coin, she glances warily over at you.

“What’s the matter, girl?” The plump, red-cheeked woman throws down the cloth she was using and leans forward on the counter, eyes narrowed. “You look like someone’s gone and stomped on your crops.”

"My crops are fine ," you say — unintentionally short, and you sigh. "Sorry."

"Don't be apologising. You do it too much."

"Right, sor–" You cut yourself off when she narrows her eyes. "...Right."

She sighs, then, fixing you with a hard look. "I know that look... Let me tell you: life's too short to be troubled over a wayward lad, _____! Soon you'll have to be settling down—!" 

"Thanks for the bread, Margery." 

And you leave. 

But her words stick to the forefront of your thoughts like tiny little burrs, sticking their tiny little spikes into your brain and refusing to dislodge.

You’re not past marrying age — you’re young, you’ve got a long life ahead of you, and yet you know she’s right. Life’s too short (for you , not for Geralt ) to be plagued by the wandering habits of the man you love — only look at your mother! She’d fallen in love with your father, a sailor, who hadn’t been able to relinquish his life at sea and abandoned both his pregnant wife and his unborn daughter. Her death had come after years of loneliness and fighting to survive… and you don’t want the same for yourself, but — but you can’t possibly just stop loving him, could you? 

And you don’t want to turn him away, either. You see and hear how others treat him — you don’t want to be another cruel person in a cruel world. He deserves that bit of kindness, you think. That warmth. It’s simply unfortunate that it would come at the cost of your own happiness.

Perhaps, though, you’d meet someone. Someone… normal. 

Boring, you mean, that pesky voice murmurs. Someone boring, and uninspiring, and not him .

It’s a terrible, terrible thing, you think miserably as you turn the corner towards your cottage, that I can’t even imagine a future without—

“Geralt?”

He’s sitting in the open doorway of your cottage, an apple in one hand and a knife in the other. His leather armour has a giant gash in its side — that’ll need mending — though he looks uninjured. Roach is tied to a tree close by, happily grazing.

“I need lodgings for the night,” he says, looking over at you expectantly. 

Life's too short to be troubled over a wayward lad. Soon you'll have to be settling down.

“... Of course you do.” And you stroll past him, leaving him staring over his shoulder, perplexed.

“Are you… okay…?” It sounds as if it physically pains him to get the question out — or, more accurately, like the words are so foreign in his mouth that he doesn’t know how to string them along. Should you be flattered that he’s at least trying?

You huff as you set the fresh bread down at the table, along with your other purchases: a fresh bar of soap, a hock of ham, and a large lump of butter. “Yes.”

From the corner of your eye, you can see him hesitate. “...Okay.”

“Damnit, Geralt!” You exclaim, spinning on your heel. “No, I’m not okay — you know, someone told me that I should be looking to settle down soon.”

His eyebrows quirks, and his face contorts in such a way that tells of his dislike. “I — who?”

“Nevermind who ,” you sulk, bottom lip pouting. “The point is that they’re right . I can’t sit around waiting day in and day out for you to return like a bloody widow —” 

Oh, gods, you hadn’t meant for that to slip out. You freeze, eyes wide, and you very suddenly feel like you could keel over and get sick. But Geralt — Geralt simply folds his arms and leans back on the doorframe like he so often does, lips beginning to curl up in a smile that both confuses and irritates you. 

“Don’t look at me like that,” you say shortly, turning away. 

“Like what?”

“Like that , Geralt!”

Bloody half-lidded eyes and soft smile and all too knowing tilt of his head — the look of a man in love , is what your brain is telling you, and you want so much to believe it. But the larger part of you, as always, is more cynical.

“Like — like—” 

Two hands smooth over your shoulders, trace a path down from there to your elbows, to your wrists, across the divide and to your waist. Your words die in your mouth.

“Like what, _____?” He murmurs. White hair, amber eyes, pale skin. Strong nose, a masculine, square chin, thick eyebrows. Your eyes trail over his features instinctively, searching for something that you’re all too afraid of not finding—

“Like you love me, Geralt.” Embarrassingly, your voice breaks. You swallow the sudden ball in your throat, tracing the knots in the laces of his shirt with your eyes instead. “Like… Like I’m the only woman you think about; the only one who warms your bed—”

“You are ,” he interrupts, voice dead serious. “There hasn't been any more since you.”

"...Oh."

Oh is right. Your mouth opens, closes, opens again — but you can’t for the life of you think of what needs to be said. Geralt — looking all too amused — squeezes your waist instinctively, as if to remind you that he's still holding you. 

He clears his throat, then, suddenly looking more bashful than you suspect he ever has. "And… for you? Any—?" 

"No — gods, no." You peer up. "I — I won't be able to continue this knowing that one day the call of something greater might take you away, Geralt. For good. If you have even one thought that you might—" 

“I won't." 

He's drifted so close that he barely has to speak above a murmur; distantly, you hear your heart thundering in your ears. 

Would you really be the kept woman of Geralt of Rivia? For so long it had felt like a far-fetched fantasy. But he looks so resolute, so determined — when you speak next, you know your mind has already been made up. 

"Are you sure?”

X

"Are you sure?"

Is he sure? Is he sure

Is he sure that he loves you, this warmth, this affection? Is he sure that, for the first time in what could be decades, he feels whole from something that isn't killing or money or whores

The world is shit. Most of the people are shit, the laws are definitely shit. The ale is good, but not much else. Except in this little grove, where you grow herbs and make medicine and sew and treat everything with kindness. 

(Are you sure? He almost laughs. He thinks he's been sure ever since you dropped that bar of soap and squeaked like a little mouse at the sight of him. Or maybe even earlier, as you changed his bandages.)

"I'm sure."

You worry your bottom lip between your teeth, hands settling on his shoulders, and Geralt can't help but smile. "Well… take me to bed, then, Geralt of Rivia."

"Gladly." 

And he scoops you up, and he takes you to bed.