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Jaskier has always believed in love at first sight.

He practically falls in love three times a day, mostly with his clients who wander into his tattoo parlour, but also with utter strangers who pass by him on the street. He can’t be held accountable for having an abundance of feelings, for overflowing with so much love and affection – plus, it’s hardly fair when the world is simply full of divine, beautiful creatures.

Take yesterday, for example. He had the most gorgeous man in his studio, naked from the waist up, just lying on the tattoo chair with his body on display like an all-you-can-eat buffet. And Jaskier had spent four hours draped across him, inking a black-and-grey stag between the man’s delicate clavicles. Oh, what a handsome sight he had been…

Flash-forward two hours and Jaskier had been working on a woman, with thighs thick enough to break a man’s skull. She almost, very nearly, had snapped his wrist off when the watercolour spider he had been tattooing came too close to the inside of her knee. God, her shapely body had haunted him for hours afterwards, oh, she had been such a delight to work with.

They had both broken his heart so quickly, so mercilessly, when they had sauntered out of his parlour without looking back once.

Oh, how he wishes, just once, that someone would look back.

That someone would give chase.

That someone would see him as someone to keep and love and cherish.

Oh, how he wishes to have someone

“Jaskier, you better not be drooling on the inks again – I just had them imported!”

“Did you not see my client’s jawline, fuck, I could cut myself on those lines!”

“Stop objectifying your clients!”

—but no. Fate, the cruel mistress, has cursed him to live a lonely, loveless life.

“It’s called appreciation Triss! Look it up!”

Triss, his loyal receptionist and resident piercer, would happily inform him that he has a problem, a commitment problem, and that it isn’t love he feels, but attachment, because he’s scared of being alone, but also has trust issues, and is only going to hurt himself and die alone and blah, blah, blah.

He tends to zone her out after her first three insults.

Besides, she knows nothing of love.

She’s a cat lady.


Jaskier is pretty sure he knows what love at first sight feels like.

Then the building opposite his parlour gets bought.

It goes from a derelict husk to a sweet little florist’s shop within two weeks.

Jaskier hadn’t really paid it much notice, to be perfectly honest.

Until—

The owner moves in.


“Triss!” he declares, waltzing into the parlour with a strawberry Frappuccino in one hand and his iPhone in the other, “I’m in love!”

Triss raises a single, indolent eyebrow and continues tapping away at her computer. She’s in charge of booking appointments, but even Jaskier knows that she doesn’t enjoy this part of her job that much.

“Triss, you can’t ignore me, I’m literally impossible to zone out,” he says, throwing himself against the counter, leaning towards her with his drink dripping all over her appointment book. His receptionist sighs and finally tears her eyes away from her work, throwing Jaskier an exasperated look.

“If you weren’t my friend,” she sighs, batting him away, “or my boss, I definitely would have killed you by now.”

“You say the sweetest things,” Jaskier sighs, before he points out of the window towards the new florist’s shop, “tell me, what do you see?”

Triss sighs, eyes him warily before she leans over her counter and peers out of the window. Opposite their little parlour is a florist’s shop – it’s quaint, with Nature’s Wondrous Hand painted in gold script on the window. It has dusky blue shutters and bunting hanging from the trims. There’s an abundance of florae outside the shop – hanging baskets of primroses and buckets of various bouquets. It looks adorably traditional and Jaskier can see the interest piquing in his friend’s eyes.

“I see the most nauseatingly saccharine store,” Triss reports, resting her chin on a propped hand, “they must have painted it over the weekend because it wasn't such an eyesore on Friday.” She pauses, then shifts closer to the window, her eyes widening slightly, “who is that?”

Jaskier grins smugly and takes a pointedly noisy sip of his Frappuccino.

That is my future husband,” he declares, leaning against the desk to join Triss in observing the newest addition to their street. The man in question stands outside his shop; he has his back to them, so they can’t see his face, but good lord, his back. It’s well-muscled and stretches the crisp white shirt he wears in such a wonderful way. His waist is tapered and slender, but it branches up to gloriously broad shoulders – and his arms, oh how Jaskier wants to lick them.

Then the florist turns around.

Jaskier’s smug grin widens when Triss emits a tiny gasp.

Their new neighbour has an impressively handsome face, with eyes that glow like embers. His jaw is sharp, his cheekbones high and his hair – it’s beautifully, spotlessly white and not as a sign of age, but rather something else. His brow is heavy, and his lips are drawn together in a firm line; he honestly looks severe, stoic, restrained.

“He doesn’t look like your usual type,” Triss hums, casting Jaskier a curious glance, “he looks too serious. He honestly reminds me of Grumpy Cat – remember that meme?”

“Patience, darling Triss,” Jaskier coos, nodding towards the window again.

Triss arches a brow, peers out of the window again and honest surprise graces her features when the man’s expression melts into one of fond adoration. Someone must beckon him from within the shop as the florist suddenly chuckles and heads inside – Jaskier’s eyes greedily swallow up every single laughter line which creases the man’s handsome face, god.

“Looks like marble—” Triss breathes.

“—melts like butter,” Jaskier finishes, taking another pointed sip as the man disappears from view. Triss wrinkles her nose with disapproval and snatches the drink from him – Jaskier frowns, which deepens further when Triss takes a delicate mouthful from the pink drink. He reaches out with expectant hands, but only gets batted away.

“Behave – no more objectifying the neighbours,” she orders, before she gestures to his entire being, “and go set up the studio. Your first client is here in forty-five minutes, so you better be quick.”

“Oh,” Jaskier hums, glancing down at the appointment book with an eager gleam in his eye, “anything exciting?”

“She,” Triss drawls, flicking through the damp pages with furrowed brows, “asked for a crown of daffodils – just above her chest, says it was her grandmother’s favourite flower. I think you have enough time to sketch it out before she arrives; do you want me to grab your notepad?”

Jaskier shakes his head negatively.

“My best work is freehand,” he says, tilting his head as he glances thoughtfully out of the window – something contemplative gleams in his eye before a slow smile curls his lips upwards, “but I’m not above getting a little help.” Jaskier throws Triss a wink before he pushes himself away from her desk and swaggers out of the parlour. “Shan’t be along darling – I have some research to attend to.”

“Jaskier – come back! You need to set up for daffodil-girl!” Triss calls out, scolding and incredulous.

As per usual, she goes completely ignored.


Jaskier steps through the front door of the florist’s shop and thanks whatever deity is listening that he doesn’t suffer from allergies.

A charming tinkling bell heralds his arrival and suddenly, panic grips his heart in an icy fist. He really hasn’t planned for his first meeting with his handsome new neighbour, he just really wanted a front-row seat to seeing the glorious man in high definition. He fiddles his fingers nervously as he pads through the store and wills his heart to calm, his breath to steady – his blood to stay north.

Then—

“Can I help you?”

—the ice melts his heart into a puddle and his mind goes tragically blank; he’s also pretty sure he doesn’t have to worry about his blood flow, because he can feel his face prickling with mortified heat. He pauses in his steps and glances at the source of the gravelly, gorgeously deep, voice and wonders what he’s done in a past life to have been blessed in such a way.

The florist is simply beautiful, to put it plainly. His white hair is scooped back in a messy bun, with wisps of silver locks dangling in front of his lovely face. His bone structure is godly – he honestly looks like Michelangelo himself chiselled him from stone. His pristine shirt is tucked into tailored black slacks, perfectly enhancing his Dorito-shaped physique – he has the most adorable yellow apron tied around him, with the shop’s name embroidered across it. The colour is soft, sweet and makes his amber eyes pop.

“Flowers,” Jaskier chokes out lamely, much to the amusement of the florist.

“Astute observation,” the man replies, arching an indolent brow, “what about them?”

Jaskier swallows down his mortification as his eyes drift to the man’s arms – they’re well-formed, but his left one captures Jaskier’s attention. It’s decorated in a full sleeve of ink, black-and-grey, twining around his forearm and travelling upwards to hide under his rolled-up sleeve.

“Tattoos,” he utters, excitement thrumming through his veins as he greedily drinks in the stunning shading and the exquisite detail adorning the man’s left arm.

“Do you always speak in two syllables?” the florist asks, leaning away from his counter with a clear look of concern written across his face – he also folds his arms, carefully tucking his tattooed arm underneath his bare one.

The judgemental tint to the florist’s voice breaks Jaskier free from his prison of idiocy.

“Apologies,” he utters, approaching the counter with a contrite expression, before he gestures behind him to the parlour across the street, “I’m Jaskier – an artist, the artist, from across the street. I merely wanted to introduce myself to you and welcome you to our little, ah, street.” Solid beginning, strong delivery, painfully weak ending.

He’s done better, goddammit.

“Ah,” the florist utters, humming as he glances past Jaskier to take in the shop opposite his, “Silent Beauty Speak?”

“It’s from a poem,” Jaskier explains breezily, before he points at the man’s arm, “I do so adore the artwork – you must tell me who the artist was, because it’s simply divine!”

The florist must sense that he poses no threat and shrugs, before he presents his arm stiffly to Jaskier. Upon closer inspection, Jaskier can see that the man’s sleeve is dedicated to… creatures? Mythological creatures? They all look wickedly menacing, with sharp teeth and cruel eyes – it honestly could have been terrifying, had Jaskier not been so fucking impressed.

“Is that a mermaid?” he queries, pointing at the creature winding around the florist’s elbow.

“A siren,” he corrects, twisting his arm, “see the wings?”

Jaskier blinks, taking in the delectably shaded feathers.

“This is beautiful – what inspired you to get such a design?” he breathes, his hands reaching out to touch, but then the florist recoils and his arm wavers uselessly in the air, “sorry. I’ve been told I have no concept of personal space.”

The florist shrugs.

“Try asking next time,” he suggests shortly, his gold eyes glimmering in the fluorescent light.

Jaskier blinks, before hope swells in his heart.

“May I touch?” he asks, a tad too eager.

“No,” the florist replies flatly, before a small, amused smile tugs at his lips, “the name’s Geralt and to answer your question, I’ve always been… fascinated by mythology. Beasts, monsters, and the like.”

“Geralt,” Jaskier echoes, tasting the name in his mouth before he leans across the counter and bats his lashes alluringly, “I’m Jaskier.”

“So you’ve said,” Geralt states, gazing down at Jaskier with an odd gleam in his pretty eyes, “now, I’ll ask again – can I help you?”

Jaskier blinks, flushes and remembers why he had waltzed on over in the first place.

“Daffodils,” he announces, blurting the word out because his mind clearly doesn’t wish to cooperate with him around Geralt.

“Back to single-word answers, I see,” Geralt cants his head, “at least we’ve progressed to a third syllable.”

“Shit, no,” Jaskier utters, damning himself for being so awkward when normally he can be impressively smooth and silver-tongued; god, his words usually drip with honey, but now he’s just forcing them out like blocks of ice, “I have a client and—”

He’s saved from embarrassing himself further when he finds himself interrupted by an adorable little eavesdropper.

“Father, is this our new neighbour?” a clear, pitched voice asks, and Jaskier jumps to see a young blonde girl peering around Geralt’s counter – she’s dressed rather smartly, with a sharp, white blouse and a denim, ruffle-skirt. There’s a sweet little tiara balanced in her hair and her cheeks are stained with what looks like berry juice. Geralt beckons her with a gentle cant of his head and his daughter slowly creeps out from her hiding spot – she approaches Jaskier with cautious eyes and he instantly knows what he needs to do.

He takes a step back and ducks down, bowing low and graceful before her.

“Well met, my lady,” Jaskier says, holding his hand out with flourish; Geralt’s daughter laughs, clearly charmed as she places a hand over her mouth, her eyes sparkling with humour – she holds out a hand and Jaskier places a short, chaste kiss upon it.

“Hello to you too – my name is Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon,” she announces, her blonde hair dancing behind her as she takes her hand back and courtesies deeply, “but you can call me Ciri.”

Jaskier nods as he straightens up and gestures to himself.

“And you may call me Jaskier,” he says warmly.

“Like… the dandelion?” Ciri asks, cocking her head.

“Like a buttercup,” Geralt answers, his gaze steady as he stares at Jaskier.

Jaskier blinks and flushes, because no one ever gets the translation right.

“Oh! They’re the sweet little flowers that grow in fields, right?” Ciri asks her father, glancing up at him with bright eyes – Geralt nods, before his glowing gaze drifts across to Jaskier once again, “my friends and I used to make jewellery from them! Is that why you’re called Jaskier?”

“Naturally, I am a sweet little flower after all,” Jaskier confirms, and he feels utterly full to the brim with sheer delight at meeting this adorable child, “is it not obvious enough?”

He then gestures to himself, or more specifically, his outfit. He’s decked out in the skinniest of jeans, with heeled ankle boots, complete with the most billowing of blouses. It has roses printed across it and it’s made of fine silk – most of the button are undone, revealing a black lace undershirt which teasingly peaks out from underneath. He normally takes the blouse off when it comes to inking his clients, but he always dons it to complete the gorgeous aesthetic he’s aiming for.

Hipster, but make it boho.

His fingers sparkle with rings, his neck gleams with chokers and his arms always jingle with bracelets and bangles. His body is a temple and though he might not be committed enough to paint it, he sure as fuck can decorate it in other means.

Ciri clearly appreciates his style as she hums and nods, her clear eyes scanning his clothes with visible admiration. His pride is inwardly bruised when he spies Geralt barely giving him a brief once-over and tries hard to not take it too personally.

“You do look lovely,” Ciri compliments, and honestly in that moment, it’s almost as if Geralt ceases to exist because she is simply, effortlessly, captivating and well, Jaskier has always found children to be more interesting conversationalists than adults, “have you simply come to welcome us though, or can we help you with something?”

“I was hoping you could help me, actually,” Jaskier says, his fingers twitching nervously as he’s overcome by a sudden wave of shyness, “I have a client – she’s commissioned a crown of daffodils to be inked on her chest, but I actually don’t know what they look like, I was hoping you may have some in?”

“You don’t know what a daffodil looks like?” Ciri asks, wrinkling her nose with a touch of disbelief shining in her eyes.

“Okay, I do, but I can’t draw from memory – references are the lifeblood of any artist, my dear,” he explains, the lies falling easily from his lips.

“Why don’t you just Google them?” Ciri asks, and—

And—

Well.

Fuck.

“I don’t have Wi-Fi in the shop,” Jaskier says without thinking as panic claws its way from his chest to his throat, “it’s too expensive to run; ‘tis the life of a starving artist, unfortunately.”

“You poor thing,” Ciri replies with a furrowed brow. It shocks him, because there isn’t a trace of ridicule in her voice; she turns to Geralt and clasps her hands to her chest, a beseeching gleam in her eye, “father, we have some daffodils – can we please give some to Jaskier? I’m sure you won’t mind giving him just a couple for free?”

Geralt eyes her, before he flicks his amber gaze to Jaskier.

The tattooist falters under the heated gaze, curses himself when he feels his cheeks prickle with the familiar burn of a blush and has to tear his eyes away. The florist hums lightly before he leaves, walking away without warning – Jaskier swallows as his eyes follow the strong back disappear behind a wall of tulips, only to return with a fistful of yellow flowers.

Ciri rocks on her heels and shoots Jaskier a sunny smile.

“Here,” the florist says, short and plain, “a bundle of daffodils.”

“Thank you,” Jaskier says, taking the bouquet with a grateful smile, “this really helps me out.” His fingers flex around the flowers as he bites at his lip, worrying it with sharp teeth; so, he’s gotten what he came for and—

And he doesn’t really want to leave just yet.

This sweet little family has captivated him, captured his heart and now they’re holding it hostage – but he’s outstaying his welcome and Triss is waiting for him. A quick glance at the clock informs him that he has ten minutes to set up and that’s not nearly enough time to prepare everything for his first client. It breaks his heart, but he knows he has to go, but inwardly vows to have a second visit and soon.

“Well, this has been a darling experience, but I’m afraid I must—”

“There’s something else,” Geralt interrupts Jaskier quickly, his eyes averted as he suddenly looks sheepish and uncomfortable. Jaskier tilts his head, shares a glance with Ciri – who looks inherently amused – and peers up at the florist, “take this. As a thank you, for welcoming us.”

Then Geralt bestows upon him a single Bird of Paradise.

The man is painfully awkward, but Jaskier’s heart has never felt so full, watching this behemoth of a man, holding a flower so delicate – offering it to him like it’s made of glass, offering it to him like— like Jaskier’s the sweetest of princesses.

God, how he wants to swoon.

He gently takes it, holds it to his nose and uses the large petals to hide his bashful smile. The sweet scent floats around his face and flicks a glance towards Geralt, who has averted his eyes, looking incredibly uncomfortable.

“Thank you,” Jaskier murmurs softly, resisting the urge to twirl a lock of hair around his fingers, “I’ve never been given flowers before.”

Geralt grunts in response.

Ciri coughs pointedly.

Her father sighs and turns to Jaskier, his amber eyes clouded by something unreadable and conflicted. It tugs at Jaskier’s heartstrings and he inwardly vows to do everything he can to get this wonderfully handsome and adorably awkward man to open up.

“You’re welcome,” Geralt husks, inclining his head slightly – despite sounding like he’s in immense pain, Jaskier can see the mild pleasure which flitters through his gaze. His grip on the flower tightens and he knows, he just knows that he… he had been wrong. God help him and though he would never tell her this, but Triss had been right – he really hadn’t fallen in love with all those people before.

He really hadn’t fallen in love at first sight. Ever.

Not until now, that is.


Jaskier saunters out of the shop, leaving behind a cheery young girl and her utterly bewildered father.

Ciri waves, a beaming grin on her face, whilst Geralt remains bound and frozen, unable to move from the spot. His mind was in complete disarray, his thoughts wild and scattered – he could not really comprehend what had just happened. All he could really do was watch the disappearing silhouette of the artist. The man had literally danced into his life, dressed in jeans which look practically painted on, paired with a billowing red blouse as his body dripped with necklaces and bangles. His eyes were lovely and bright, his smile even sunnier

The loudness of his appearance had only been outmatched by the utter noise of his voice.

“Father,” Ciri says, a hint of concern playing in her voice.

“I know,” Geralt responds distantly, his eyes trained on the parlour opposite his shop. Jaskier had stormed into their lives like a hurricane, a whirlwind, so sudden and quick, turning his world upside down and.

And then he had left, as swiftly as he had arrived.

And all Geralt could do was hand him a flower, entranced.

Mesmerised.

Stunned.

“Father,” Ciri repeats, striding up to him when he doesn’t move from his spot. Geralt wants to answer her, but he can’t quite dislodge the words from his throat – he feels stuck. Still dumbfounded by… “he’s almost as pretty as mother, right?”

Geralt blinks.

“No,” he says, stern and swift as he finally breaks free from his stupor – he turns back to the counter and begins to distract himself by counting the money in the cash register, “I know what you’re thinking and no.”

“You think he’s pretty,” Ciri continues confidently, and it’s almost unnerving how she sounds just like Yennefer, “you gave him a free flower.”

Geralt pauses in counting the notes and gives her a pointed look.

“It’s too soon,” he says, before he returns to his task, “I don’t even know him.”

Ciri sighs heavily and pulls her phone free from her skirt pocket.

“You can get to know him. And it’s not too soon – you divorced mother three years ago,” she says, and honestly, Geralt isn’t entirely sure what point she’s trying to make, “I think it’s time.”

Geralt cocks his head and peers at his daughter, wary and a little afraid.

“Time for what?” he asks cautiously.

Ciri stalks up to the counter and regards him with a steady gaze.

“For you to start seeing someone again,” she declares, before she thrusts her phone into his face, “mother agrees with me.”

Geralt recoils slightly and then has to squint to read what’s on the tiny screen. He hates technology and he hates that his daughter has so much for it and understands it so thoroughly. He leans forward and his eyes scan the screen, feeling his stomach lurch when his mind registers what he’s reading.

Mother, do you give father permission to court the lovely tattoo artist from across the street? He’s funny and sweet and pretty.

Tell him if he doesn’t want him, then I will happily snatch this mysterious boy up.

Geralt blinks whilst his daughter grins broadly at him.

Well.

Fuck.


Jaskier swears he’s not being a stalker, but—

But—

But then he gets this client who says she needs to get red tulips on her calf. They’re very romantic apparently – they mean declaration of love, which has Jaskier’s little heart fluttering in his chest. It also has him looking up other flowers, like the Bird of Paradise, which apparently means—

Magnificence!” he had declared with sheer delight, mere moments after returning from Geralt’s shop, “joy! Exciting and wonderful anticipation – do you think he gave it to me on purpose? I mean, he is a florist, it would be awfully ridiculous for the man to not know his trade, right?”

Triss had gazed at him blankly, staring at the flower in his hand as a wry smile slowly began to dance on her lips.

“Potentially,” she had said, her words soft like she had been murmuring a secret, “he is a florist, after all.”

Oh, how his heart had lifted upon hearing her sweet words.

Anyway.

What… had he been talking about?

Oh yes, red tulips.

“Triss, my dear,” he says, sauntering past her desk with an airy wave of her hand, “if you need me, I’ll be gathering references for my next piece at the quaint, little store opposite.”

“References?” Triss echoes, peering over her monitor as Jaskier checks out his appearance in the parlour’s large mirror. It honestly serves no purpose and it’s situated directly opposite the receptionist’s desk, but Jaskier has never come across a mirror which perfectly shows off all his angles quite like this one.

“For the red tulip piece,” Jaskier clarifies, running a hand through his hair, rumpling the locks up to add extra volume.

“Why don’t you just Google—”

“Geralt doesn’t live in my phone, darling Triss,” he interjects with an impatient sigh, “though I wish he did, oh, to have that growling voice on tap!”

Triss sighs and refocuses her attention back to her nails, shaping them with sharp flicks of the file. They’re shockingly sharp, painted in a bright red colour – Jaskier eyes the shade and waltzes up to her, pursing his lips lightly.

“You’re incorrigible,” she comments dryly.

“I want ink in that colour,” he says, ignoring her comment which honestly just sounds like a compliment at this point – he points at her hands, “can you get me ink in that colour?”

“Obviously,” Triss replies, putting down her file to begin tapping away at her monitor, “now – go get him, tiger.”

“Thank you Triss,” Jaskier trills, waggling his fingers at her as he leaves the shop, “I love you Triss.”


“What do you want now?” Geralt asks, not rudely, but because he is a man of efficiency.

It’s hopelessly endearing.

“Red tulips,” Jaskier says, glancing around the shop curiously, “it’s for a piece – the client wants a bouquet on her left calf. She’s a romantic and apparently you don’t get more romantic than red tulips.”

“Hmmm,” Geralt says in response, which Jaskier knows is his version of disparaging scoff.

“Can you?” he prompts with a sunny smile, “get more romantic?”

Geralt eyes him coolly as he gathers up a bundle of flowers on his counter, readying them to have their stems snipped.

“More romantic than red tulips?” he asks, taking up his scissors and twirling them around his fingers thoughtfully – Jaskier stares at the nimble digits and wonders why such a tiny action is affecting him so, “shouldn’t be too hard.”

“I do so adore a confident man,” Jaskier sighs, which gets him a snort in response. He watches in silence as Geralt expertly trims the flowers, his cuts are neat and quick and it’s almost obscene how attractive the florist is right now, “have you done this long?”

“Hmm?”

“Being a florist,” Jaskier clarifies, waving a hand around the shop airily.

“Been in the business for around three years,” Geralt explains, his eyes focused and heavy-lidded as he inspects his handiwork, “needed a new job, one that allowed me to relax and free my mind from… other matters in life.”

Other matters—”

“You don’t look like a tattoo artist,” Geralt interjects, placing down his scissors to fetch a vase from beneath the counter. It’s a wonderful baby-blue colour and Jaskier idly wonders if he can get ink in such a colour – oh, he can just imagine all beautiful pieces such a colour could create, “you’re too. Bare.”

Jaskier blinks and then peers down at his arms.

It’s true – he isn’t the typical artist, covered in ink and art; whilst he adores to create beautiful pieces for other artists, he’s never quite settled on the perfect design for himself. Triss thinks it’s a perfect example of his flighty nature, but Jaskier just knows it’s because he’s waiting for something special to come along and inspire him.

It’s just… too complicated, trying to explain that to a complete stranger.

So.

“Would you believe that I’m scared of needles?” he offers, tilting his head cutely, “I don’t mind handling them, but the thought of one touching my skin, just—”

“No,” Geralt interrupts, his glowing eyes piercing, “I don’t believe you.”

Jaskier loses all capability of speech as he stares into Geralt’s mesmerising gaze – he’s never been called out so bluntly before, by anyone bar Triss. No one’s ever cared to separate his lies from his truths and for some reason, it makes his heart skip a beat.

“I’m too indecisive,” he tries.

Geralt hums and shakes his head.

Jaskier bites his lip and wonders when he’s become so easy to read.

“I’m,” he says before he pauses and deflates, defeated, “waiting for the right one to come along.”

Geralt cants his head and a small smile dances on his lips.

“Doesn’t it feel good,” he asks, “telling the truth for once?”

“I think I’m going to be sick,” Jaskier replies, clutching at his chest as he sways on the spot. Geralt merely rolls his eyes and begins placing the flowers into the vase. The muscles in his arms ripple as he delicately moves the flowers around, his eyes focused and intense as he carries out his task – Jaskier tilts his head and a small, yearning sigh escapes him, “you know you’re in danger, right?” he prompts, when he simply cannot handle the silence for much longer.

“What?” Geralt asks flatly, his gaze flicking up to Jaskier’s face, confusion sparking in his eyes.

“You’re in danger,” Jaskier repeats, pointing at him sassily, “of becoming my newest muse – it’s your own fault really, you shouldn’t be so damn inspiring.”

Geralt blinks, furrows his brows and looks utterly, charmingly, lost.

“I… apologise?” he offers stiffly.

“And so you should,” Jaskier says seriously, though his smile is mischievous and his eyes sparkle, “acting like that in front of an artist – it’s downright lewd.”

“I’m not doing anything,” Geralt protests, cocking his head as a bemused smile threatens to break free. In turn, Jaskier narrows his eyes and steeples his fingers together, resting them against his lips.

“You know exactly what you’re doing, don’t you?”

Jaskier.”

“And now I’m backing off – see, I do know when to behave. A successful tattooist doesn’t get as far as I have without respecting the boundaries of people.”

“A successful tattooist?”

“Oh yes, very successful. And I’m not just a tattooist,” Jaskier says, watching as Geralt arranges several sprigs of fern, tucking them between white lilies – the man’s hands are absolutely gorgeous to look at and Jaskier can feel his weak heart melt at the sight of those long fingers at work, “I’m also a musician – they have to be extra respectful, shockingly enough.”

“You?” Geralt quirks a brow, his words cynical and short, “a musician?”

Jaskier rears up, outrage burning his nerves at the sight of the man’s audacious nature.

“Yes, I’m a musician, don’t take that tone with me mister,” he scolds, wagging a finger in Geralt’s unamused face, “I play the guitar, piano, violin – I once dabbled with a lute and let me tell you, I excelled at it!”

Geralt hums in response and his eyebrow arches even higher.

“I did!” Jaskier emphasises, before his eyes lower and his lips purse – he drags his gaze across Geralt’s lovely body and purrs, “give me ten minutes and I’ll show you how talented I am; oh, the music I’ll strum from your lips—”

“Ten minutes?” Geralt interrupts, tying the flowers together with a white ribbon, “is that all?”

Jaskier gapes, words deserting him as he tries to register the sheer cheek of— how dare he— the outrage, the insult, the absolute slander! He splutters and waves his hands around, unable to form the slightest vitriolic tirade in the face of Geralt’s amused smile; he tries though, by channelling Triss and mustering up the most severe glare possible.

“You, sir, are the most—"

“Father, can I— oh! Jaskier, hello,” Ciri calls out, unaware that she has literally just saved her father from what could have been a severe tongue lashing. Although, Jaskier wouldn’t mind lashing Geralt with his tongue, should the man really desire it – of course, he’d have to apologise first.

Only nice men get the privilege of experiencing Jaskier’s skilled mouth.

“Hello sweet Ciri,” he greets, bowing to her once again and kissing her hand when she proffers it to him, “might I make a suggestion and ask that you educate your father in how he speaks to potential customers?”

“You’re not a potential customer though,” Ciri points out, “you never buy any flowers from us.”

“Well if your father was nicer to me, I might.”

“No, you won’t,” Ciri replies flatly.

“You’re right, I won’t,” Jaskier says with a sniff, throwing Geralt a look of faux irritation. The man barely blinks in response, though his daughter tugs on the tattooist’s sleeve hesitantly.

“What’s wrong – you look upset,” she says, a faint frown curling her lips downwards.

“Your father was slandering my good name and dismissing my talents!” Jaskier declares, gesturing towards Geralt with an outraged look – Ciri giggles, cocks her head and arches a brow.

“What talents are those?” she asks lightly, causing Jaskier to pause, panic attacking his heart with ruthless abandon, streaking throughout his body as he tries to gather up an answer in his scattered mind.

“My, ah. Um. Musical talents!” he says, pride filling his soul, despite noting the sly snort which leaves Geralt’s lips. His reaction is drowned out by Ciri’s, whose entire being lights up with an infectious energy, excited sparkling in her eyes as she rocks on her heels.

“Oh, you play?” she asks, broadly smiling.

“But of course,” Jaskier confirms, before he uses his fingers to list off the instruments he can use, “the guitar, the piano, the violin—”

“I play the violin! Oh, maybe you can help me practice!” she suggests, interrupting with a eager clasp of her hands.

“Music practice?” Jaskier asks, cocking his head with a considering gleam in his eye.

“Yes,” Ciri confirms, confident and bold, “I’m learning how to play the violin for music class, but I’m not sure I’m any good at it.” Behind them, Geralt makes an oddly strangled noise but he goes unnoticed as Jaskier begins to simper with delight.

“Oh, my dear sweet child,” he says, clasping his hand beneath his chin with delight, “how could I ever say no to that angelic face?”

“Don’t let her boss you around, Jaskier,” Geralt orders, his eyes trained on his daughter with an unreadable emotion dancing in the glowing embers of his eyes.

“I’m a grown adult, I’m fully capable of saying no,” Jaskier snorts.

He peers down at Ciri who blinks balefully up at him.

He blinks back.

Shoots Geralt a look with pursed lips.

“I have the potential to say no,” he amends lamely.

“But… you’re saying yes, right?” Ciri prompts, which has Jaskier melting all at once again. He turns to the young girl and beams at her, sunny and bright, as he curls his body downwards into another bow.

“But of course,” he says, ignoring Geralt’s quiet scoff, “because I’m a generous human being with a resolve so weak, I don’t mind offering free music lessons to darling little creatures such as yourself.”

“I can pay you,” Geralt offers, but Jaskier holds up his hands and shakes his head firmly.

“Like I would take your money,” he says, because whilst money certainly does bring cheer to his life, he find it cuts a close second to just simply being nice to this adorable family.

Oh god, he really is growing up.

“Well, I can’t let you tutor my daughter for free,” Geralt says, furrowing his heavy brow before a spark gleams in his gorgeous eyes – Jaskier watches as the man stalks off for a moment, leaving behind Jaskier and Ciri who trade a look. Ciri looks older than her years, her eyes knowing and shrewd; it has Jaskier’s heart beating madly, because he likes children, but he’s never felt so intimidated by one before. He’s about to abscond from the building, when Geralt returns, looking as awkward and uncomfortable as ever. “Here,” he says, presenting Jaskier with a pink hyacinth, “if you won’t accept my money, then at least take a flower?”

“Oh,” Jaskier breathes, feeling his face prickle and flush, “you utter darling of a man, how dare you be so sweet, who gave you the right, the permission, to be so incredibly—”

“Just take the damn flower.”


It doesn’t stop at the pink hyacinth.

After Ciri’s first lesson, Geralt hands him a yellow tulip.


After the third lesson, he gets a gerbera.


“How are you liking Rivia so far?” Jaskier asks, during the fifth lesson.

He’s a little impressed, and somewhat suspicious, of the amazing progress Ciri has made since he’s started assisting her with her violin practices – she’s a goddamn natural, taking to new music like a duck to water.

Still, he isn’t going to question it too much; without her lessons, he wouldn’t get to indulge in the incredibly close proximity he has with her dashing father.

“It’s different to Cintra, but I suppose it’s okay – the children at school are quite lovely, although some of the boys could do with a few lessons in common courtesy,” Ciri reports, and Jaskier just adores the way she speaks. She’s impressively eloquent with a rather serious manner – it’s honestly just a delight, conversing with her.

“Well,” he says, picking out La Noyée for her to practice next, “should you ever need a guide, just let me know. I’m quite the national treasure around here.”

Ciri furrows her brows, picks up her violin and then pauses.

“How can you be a national treasure?” she queries innocently, “Rivia is a small town.”

Jaskier blinks, then gently bops her on the hand with her bow.

“I’m here to teach you music,” he says pointedly, as she takes the instrument-cum-weapon from him, “not geography.”

Ciri shoots him an impish smile.

“Well, thank goodness,” she says, tucking the violin against her shoulder, “you’re not very good at it.”

Jaskier gapes, clutches at his chest and stares wide-eyed at this charming girl who has just slighted him! He’s about to delve deep into an impressive, theatrical tirade, when his ears catch a small huff of amusement. His head snaps around and sure enough, he spies Geralt watching them from behind a bundle of pink and red camellias.

“Find that amusing, do you?” he calls out, arching a brow, “I’m surprised she has a sense of humour at all, considering who her father is!”

“I’m adopted.”

“She’s adopted.”

Jaskier blinks at the chorus of replies he receives and feels overwhelmingly awkward – his mouth opens and shuts, his hands faltering in the air as he tries to summon up a response to mend his social faux pas. He sways under the waves of relief when Ciri merely giggles good-naturedly at his predicament, her sweet laughter soothing his fraying nerves – Geralt finally puts him out of his misery and comes to his rescue, his hands behind his back as he nods at his daughter with a soft look.

“Her parents were good friends of mine,” he explains, and a shadow falls across Ciri’s expression for a mere moment, before it’s covered by a sweet smile, “I dare say, her sense of humour comes straight from her grandmother.” Then his brows furrow, and Jaskier’s eyes flash to that tiny wrinkle which appears – god, he wants to kiss it. “I don’t think Yennefer helped.”

“Oh, she definitely helped,” Ciri chortles, before she begins to slowly play the music presented before her. Jaskier tilts his head – he’s never heard of this Yennefer before, and something cold begins to curdle in his veins.

“Who’s—” he begins, but Geralt takes his hands from behind his back and presents Jaskier with today’s payment in the form of a pale pink rose.

“It may seem cliché, but I,” the man interject swiftly, averting his eyes as Jaskier takes the flower and gently runs his fingers across the silky petals, “I think it suits you.”

“Oh,” Jaskier breathes, holding the rose to his nose, scenting the sweet nectar, “you charming devil – you know, I used to dream about having my own rose garden. It was such a romantic notion too; I’d often fantasise about drawing or writing songs, surrounded by roses of all shapes and colours. It’s ridiculous, for a grown man to want such idyllic things, right?”

“No, it’s not ridiculous at all,” Ciri comments, breaking her rhythm to frown up at him with concern.

“My father would disagree.”

“Your father isn’t here,” Ciri states, before she uses her bow to gesture pointedly at herself and Geralt, “we are, and we own plenty of flowers – I think we have the authority to say whether or not growing roses is ridiculous.”

Jaskier blinks and glances at Geralt.

Geralt simply shoots him a small, soft smile – pride glimmers in his amber eyes as he brushes a single hand through Ciri’s pale locks. Jaskier’s grasp on language falters, as his breath is stolen by the sheer intensity of the emotions which wash over him. He’s never felt so… supported and encouraged before. Even Triss ridicules and teases his little daydream, so—

So, it makes logical sense that the only thing he can softly choke out is a little weak, “oh.”


“Why do you insist on this charade? You don’t need Jaskier’s tutelage; you’ve won three national championships with your talent!”

“Why do you keep giving him free flowers instead of confessing the truth?”

“I— ah. That is… he—”

“That’s what I thought.”


After the seventh session, Geralt tucks a budding sunflower behind Jaskier’s ear.

The blush on the artist’s face remains there for a good three hours – his clients worry for his health, whilst Triss worries for his sanity.

She is not a good friend.


A red chrysanthemum joins the collection next – it’s looped through a button-hole in his shirt and as he locks up the parlour, it falls from its place. Triss is quick to catch his precious gift before it hits the ground, saving the flower from being wrecked.

She passes it back to him and openly admires the way the colour complements his blue jacket.

Honestly, Triss is such a good friend.


He’s a little unsure about what to do with all these darling keepsakes, but then Triss passes him a book of poetry and teaches him about how he can press the flowers between the pages. They’ll last longer and if he puts them in a frame, he could even keep them forever.

“Sappho? How cliché!”

“I’m sorry,” Triss says dryly, pointing towards the shelf of books tucked away in his studio, “I was a little torn between her and Shakespeare, or perhaps you would have appreciated the Byron collection instead, or maybe I ought to have chosen—”

“Okay Triss,” Jaskier interjects, tucking his new amaryllis against the poem Tonight I’ve Watched, “put your claws away, before you break one.”

“I’m just saying,” Triss says, shrugging slightly, “a cliché can’t be considered as such when used by a woman – then it’s just a classic.”


Jaskier finally starts looking up the language of flowers when he gets handed a sprig of ivy.

Mainly because he’s pretty sure he’s been handed a leaf, but Geralt had looked so earnest and Ciri had seemed so charmed, that he couldn’t just say anything deriding, so he had graciously accepted it before waltzing back to his parlour to wave it in Triss’ face.

“A leaf,” he says, confused and fascinated by this development in his relationship with Geralt, “the man gave me a leaf – is this a sign? Does he not like me anymore?”

Triss sighs and takes it from his fingers with a delicate snap of her wrist.

“How old are you?” she sighs, inspecting the sprig closely, “ivy, right? I have them tattooed across my right hip.” Jaskier quirks his brows and makes a noise of interest, which gains him an arched look in return, “behave or you’ll never get to see them. Now, calm your pretty little head – though some may consider ivy to be a pesky, invasive plant, irritating and notoriously difficult to get rid of, others view it as a sign of friendship, affection. Someone who is anxious to please may be inclined in presenting this to the one they cherish most.”

“Cherish?” Jaskier whispers weakly, clutching a hand to his chest, “affection?”

“And friendship,” Triss says pointedly, passing the leaf back to him, “I have five sprigs of ivy on my body, each one resembles a dear friend in my life.”

Jaskier twirls the sprig of ivy between his fingers and eyes his receptionist carefully.

“Am I on your body?” he asks lightly, pursing his lips.

Triss stares at him, cool and unimpressed.

“Oh, would you look at that, I have a client waiting for me,” she says blandly, picking up the phone which hadn’t been ringing, “hello, yes, this is Silent Beauty Speak, how can we help?”

Jaskier narrows his eyes at her.

“I am one of your sprigs,” he says firmly, before waving his hands at her airily, “this lack of denial just proves your love for me. I’m your sprig Triss, I’m your sprig.

“What’s that, you’re interested in being a receptionist-slash-piercer? Well, would you look at that, a vacancy has just come up,” Triss says pointedly, drumming her nails along the desk. Jaskier hums lightly and walks, backwards, to his studio, “I must warn you, it’s vastly underpaid and the boss is a nuisance to work with.”

“Liar – you love me,” Jaskier calls to her, taunting and childish, “can’t deny it now, you love me.”

He barely holds back his laughter when she throws her appointment book at him.


Playful joy.

Happiness.

Cheerfulness.

Overcoming sorrow.

Smiling sunshine.

Jaskier’s heart trembles in his chest.

Love.

Oh.

Oh, sweet, sweet deity on high, he.

He’s definitely reading far too much into these adorable gifts.

Geralt…

He couldn’t possibly

Not with Jaskier, of all people.

He—

That—

It just doesn’t make sense.


“What,” Jaskier asks, during his eleventh lesson with Ciri, “is that?”

He’s referring to the animal, curled up in the darkest corner of the shop; he’s never seen it before, and he’s been visiting Geralt and Ciri, at least four times a week. At least – and that’s only during his busiest weeks too.

Ciri glances up from her sheet of music, Illumielle, and follows Jaskier’s finger to the ball of brown fluff, slumbering away as she plays her violin.

“Oh, she’s our Springer Spaniel – her name is Roach,” she says brightly, carefully placing her violin on her lap and snapping her fingers whilst clucking her tongue. The animal’s ears prick up, her head following suit as she cranes her neck to gaze at Ciri – Jaskier watches, fascinated, as the dog picks itself up and ambles towards the young girl.

The Springer Spaniel has glassy eyes, a chunk missing from its left ear and it’s definitely limping on delicate paws.

It looks… old.

Haggard.

Practically fossilised, if he has to be honest.

“How old… is this Roach?” he asks warily, straightening up on his stool when Roach pushes herself against Ciri’s legs affectionately, before curling up to sit besides her. The animal’s tail wags lazily, its eyes falling shut as it leans into Ciri’s touch – she gently scratches behind Roach’s ears and Jaskier still finds himself tremendously concerned that this creature is still breathing.

“She’s around sixteen,” Ciri muses, her eyes soft and warm, “Springer Spaniels only live up to maybe thirteen years, so she is pretty ancient. Father rescued her from a very bad man, and she’s been through a lot. It’s why she’s called Roach – like cockroach?”

A survivor then.

Brave and true and strong.

“You poor darling,” Jaskier utters, gazing down at the dog as his weak heart trembles and breaks – oh, what wicked man could harm such a loving animal. She might look a state, but her eyes are deeply soulful, and he can just feel himself falling for her too. He reaches out a hand, but pauses when Ciri frowns, quick and sharp.

“She isn’t fond of men touching her,” she says, with worry tainting her quick words, “she can be in the same room, but—”

But then Roach looks at Jaskier.

And Jaskier’s hand is still frozen in mid-air.

The dog sniffs the air cautiously before she leans forwards with a slow, hesitant twitch of her nose.

Jaskier holds his breath and even Ciri’s eyes have grown wide with anticipation.

Roach curiously presses her wet snout to Jaskier’s fingers, and he feels himself quiver when he feels her soft breath exhale across his hand. He swallows, his eyes are stingingly dry, but he refuses to blink and miss a single moment of this wonderous—

“Oh, Roach!”

—she licks him.

The creature laps at his fingers, quick and affectionate. Jaskier almost falls off his stool as Ciri cheers with great joy, watching as Roach presses herself further into Jaskier’s hand, forcing her head against his touch. Hesitantly, he begins to scratch softly behind her ears, similar to how Ciri had beforehand. Oh, goodness – he’s always adored all animals, but dogs?

He may tease Triss for being a cat person, but, well.

He’s never really considered himself a dog person – he’s more into birds but seeing this creature, who does not appreciated the touch of men, derive such pleasure and affection from his nimble fingertips has his heart swelling with such pride.

He can’t help himself but join in with Ciri’s laughter and cheer.

“What’s with all the noise?” Geralt asks, coming around the corner, carrying a large bag of soil in his marvellously muscled arms. Jaskier feels himself swoon, but then Roach whines and his attention is quickly captured by the delightful animal at his feet.

“Roach likes Jaskier!” Ciri proclaims excitedly, “she licked him!”

Geralt watches, his amber eyes wide as he takes in the sight of his loyal companion, draping herself across Jaskier, who radiates with such sheer bliss—

“Isn’t this wonderful father?”

—and promptly drops the soil all over the shop floor.


Geralt practically throws a bundle of lilacs at him, once the lesson has finished.


Ciri watches as her father silently flirts with the funny, young man from across the street. She watches as he declares his love with flowers and knows that it’s not really having the effect her father desires. She glances down at Roach, who peers up at her in silent agreement.

It’s painful and awkward, but Jaskier seems to like it.

Regardless.

Her father is hopeless and he’s going to need help.


“Hello,” Ciri greets Triss, approaching the receptionist with a short wave, “my name is Ciri – is Jaskier around?”

Triss blinks and gazes at the girl before her, a tad surprised by the appearance of someone so young inside a tattoo parlour. She glances at the door, half-expecting a parent to follow after her, but when no one comes in, she turns her attention back to Ciri.

“Triss,” she offers, before she arches a brow, “Jaskier is with a client right now. I wouldn’t recommend interrupting him whilst he’s busy – we wouldn’t want someone’s tattoo to get distorted. And I mean that, we would not survive a lawsuit.”

“That’s fine, I just wanted to return this,” Ciri says, holding up a sketchbook – Jaskier’s clearly, because it’s bound in red leather and has his initial embossed in gold on the front, “my father would have brought it, but he’s a little shy.”

“Shy?” Triss echoes, straining her neck to peer out of the window in hopes of catching a glance of the taciturn man who stole Jaskier’s heart, “him?”

“Yes,” Ciri confirms with a firm nod, “some think he’s cold and harsh, but he... just doesn’t really do people.”

Triss hums.

“What about Jaskier?” Ciri asks eagerly, as if thirsty for every drop of information regarding Jaskier she can wring out of Triss, “I bet he does people.”

“Oh sweetie, Jaskier does lots of people,” Triss snickers, lifting a hand to hide her smirk.

“What?” Ciri asks, tilting her head and abruptly reminding the receptionist of girl’s youth.

“Uh,” Triss falters, “never mind.”

Ciri nods slowly, places the sketchbook onto the counter and peers around the parlour curiously. It's decorated in rich colours, with crimson walls bedecked with gold vines. There’s an ornate mirror mounted on one wall, with various paintings and photographs sporadically placed across the others. Triss’ desk takes up most of the space, but underneath the mirror is a scarlet chaise, made from crushed velvet and oak. Everything is so ostentatiously extravagant and Ciri can’t help but find it so utterly Jaskier, that she’s almost charmed by the décor.

“What is Jaskier like?” she asks, because the more she can uncover, the more she can divulge to her father and help him court the lovely tattooist.

“He’s an idiot,” Triss says plainly.

“Oh.”

The receptionist falters upon seeing the disappointment and bites at her lip, kicking herself for forgetting who she was talking to, again.

“What I mean, is that he—” she begins.

“It’s okay, my father gets called an idiot all the time—” Ciri hurriedly interjects.

Oh god, there’s two of them? Triss thinks, a touch hysterical.

“—but a well-meaning idiot.”

“Yes,” Triss says, huffing with amusement, “I guess Jaskier could be considered the same. He’s… honestly, he’s an idiot,” she says truthfully, shrugging with her lips tugged up in a reluctant smile, “recklessly breaking hearts, throwing himself at people without caution…”

“Has he broken your heart?” Ciri asks, frowning lightly.

“God no! He’s – let me ask you this, do you have siblings?” Ciri shakes her head; Triss nods and continues, “well. He’s like a brother to me. And as his ‘older sister’, I consider him to be my little, irritating burden that I must suffer if I ever want to grace the pearly gates in the afterlife. Understand?”

“I think so,” Ciri muses, before a flicker of panic passes over her face, “does he break a lot of hearts?”

“Oh sweetie,” Triss murmurs, reaching across the desk to clutch at Ciri’s hands warmly, stroking her thumbs across the knuckles to reassure her, “the only heart he ever breaks is his own.”

“That’s,” Ciri utters, her brows knitting together with threads of melancholy, “really sad.”

“Yes, it is,” Triss says, before her eyes squint suspiciously at the young girl, “why are you asking me about Jaskier—”

“Oh, is that the time?” Ciri says, her eyes wide as she glances the clock on the wall, “please do forgive me, I must dash – I have ballet class and I can’t be late!”

Then she leaves with a short wave and small smile, absconding from the shop on nimble feet. Triss watches as she leaves, eyeing the way her blonde hair dances behind her as she runs across the road.

“What an odd child,” she muses, tapping her nails on her appointment book, “no wonder Jaskier gets along with her.”


Two days pass and Jaskier finds himself with a new client who wants a loop of marigolds inked around their ankle.

It’s just perfect, utterly, wonderfully perfect – Triss doesn’t even bother telling to use his phone to research their appearance, rather she informs him that she saw a client leaving Geralt’s store with a bouquet of marigolds and shoos him out of the door.

He idly wonders why requests for flower tattoos have increased lately, but guesses he’s brought it upon himself. For the past few days, Jaskier’s Instagram has been covered in floral artwork – he hadn’t been lying when he had informed Geralt that the man was his new muse, he has been completely consumed with concepts for tattoos.

It helps that Geralt is literally paying him in flowers, as each one conjures up a new design for his clients. Inwardly, Jaskier looks forward to his next payment and hopes that today, Geralt is in a giving mood – if he leaves with only marigolds in his arms, he just knows that his mind will be in utter disarray.

So, he shoots Triss a smile and a wink, leaves his parlour and goes to cross the empty road which separates him from the lovely florist who haunts his every waking moment.

Then he pauses.

Freezes in his tracks, right in the middle of the road.

Because—

Because there’s a gorgeous woman, standing in Geralt’s florist shop with her arms wrapped tightly around Ciri. Her glossy black hair falls down her back in elegant waves, her skin is perfectly clear and her eyes – her eyes are a gorgeous blue colour which gleam purple in the shop’s harsh fluorescent lights. She’s stunningly captivating and Jaskier feels the barest brushes of interest, but it’s barely noticeable compared to the curiosity which burns inside him, threatening to overcome his sanity.

She’s brushing an elegant hand through Ciri’s blonde curls, a soft smile playing on her lips.

He’s not sure why, but Jaskier has the greatest urge to turn tail and hide.

Every instinct within his body screams at him to retreat, run away, escape and protect himself – he’s just not sure why. He’s never seen the woman before, but she seems charming enough. He watches as they chat between themselves and finds that he doesn’t want to interrupt what seems to be a private moment.

A drop of sour apprehension hits his stomach and spreads like acid, like poison.

He thinks he knows who she is.

He doesn’t think he wants it confirmed, but then they’re leaving Geralt’s charming florist’s shop. They’ve donned matching coats, dove-grey with a silver buckles – they’re such a quaint pair, so smart and effortlessly beautiful. They don’t look physically similar, but Jaskier can see it in the way they carry themselves.

He just… can’t quite believe that it’s taken him this long to really question—

“Oh mother, I do adore your new car!” Ciri calls out, before she slips inside a sleek Jaguar.

—the existence of Ciri’s mother.

To be perfectly honestly, part of him had assumed that Geralt had adopted Ciri by himself, but all the clues had been there. And Jaskier had been too oblivious, too stupid, to connect all those fucking dots.

He watches numbly as Ciri’s mother, who must be Yennefer, slides in after her daughter. The car’s engine purrs loudly into action, which snaps him abruptly out of his reverie. Almost on autopilot, he turns on his heel and stalks back into the parlour – he’s not sure if Ciri had spotted him, or even her mother, but he. He couldn’t just linger a moment more, he has to—

He needs to—

Oh god, he feels sick.

Jaskier dashes inside the parlour, slams the door shut behind him and rests against it. Triss immediately makes her apologies to a client on the phone and hangs up on them – she then rushes around the desk and crowds up against him, forcing herself into his space. Her soft hands press against his face, cupping his cheeks and brushing away the wayward tears which escape his eyes.

“Jaskier, what’s wrong?” she asks, urgent and quick, “who hurt you? What’s happened?”

Her questions come out like bullets, sharp and unrelenting, like quick-fire rounds.

Jaskier just can’t keep up though, his thoughts are too wild, unleashed and unrestrained. He tries to formulate his answers, tries to build up a response, but his tongue feels thick and his throat is blocked by an awful lump.

All he can do is stammer and choke out half-responses, pained and frantic.

“He has,” he tries to say, stops, tries again, “Ciri has a— there’s a— she’s so beautiful, I can’t— how could I?”

Triss pets at his face, concern lining her pretty features as she tries to calm him down. Jaskier clutches onto her slender wrists, his gaze hanging onto the patience in her eyes – he feels calmed by her strong aura, her soothing tones. She’s his anchor as he weathers this storm and he desperately clings to her as his whole world crumbles.

“Stop,” Triss commands, and so Jaskier stops.

“Breathe,” Triss instructs, and so Jaskier takes in one shuddering lungful and exhales hard through his nose. He feels the panic lessen, feels his tumultuous mind calm down, feels himself sway away from the edge.

“Now,” Triss states, rubbing her thumbs across his cheekbones, “try again.”

Jaskier opens his mouth, croaks out a sound of heartbreak and just throws himself into her arms. She automatically clasps him to her chest, tucks his head into the crook of her neck and allows him to work through his pain, to tremble through the agony and the heartbreak. He takes a deep breath, scents her spiced-apple perfume and melts into her arms.

“He has a wife,” he mutters into her skin.

He feels Triss stiffen and pull away minutely – he’s still cradled in her arms, but now she can gaze into his eyes.

“Say that again?” she prompts, confusion threading through the words.

“He, Geralt” Jaskier repeats, nodding towards the door, “has a wife. Ciri’s mother – she’s. I saw her in the shop, I guess she’s visiting the shop today? She’s, fuck, she’s gorgeous, but in a scary way?”

“Geralt is married?” Triss asks, her words faint with incredulity.

“You know, I think you’d like her, she’s just,” Jaskier waves his hands around, his lips drawn upwards in a pained smile, “awfully intimidating and stunning and. And she’s his wife.”

“Yes, but how do you know she’s his wife?” Triss asks, her nails bite into his skin once again; the pain helps to steady him, helps to keep him grounded, “she might be Ciri’s mother, but who says they’re still together?”

Jaskier’s lips curl back into a derisive scoff.

“I’ve slept with enough married men and women to know when their partners are still on the scene,” he says, curling into himself, “he had spoken of her before, went all soft as his eyes melted like molten lava and he— Geralt would look so handsome with her. And Ciri looks so happy with her—”

“She looks happy with you,” Triss affirms sternly, before a glimmer of frustration sparks into her eyes, “and divorced couples can still be friends, or are you being deliberately obtuse right now?”

Jaskier grits his teeth and shakes his head.

“They’re together,” he says, confident that he’s right – he can sense it, he has experience with this kind of situation, “happily together. God, what the hell am I supposed to do?”

Triss arches a brow and shrugs.

“Well,” she drawls, musing and slow, “he wouldn’t be the first married man you slept with—”

“No,” Jaskier cuts in, quick and hard, “I know my morals are shaky at best, but sweet Triss, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I inflicted such heinous actions upon Ciri. She’s such a darling creature, I couldn’t. I can’t break her family like that – and Geralt is such a lovely man, such a good man. He wouldn’t be swayed from his dear love and I wouldn’t try to tempt him either.”

Triss blinks, looking suitably impressed.

“You don’t want to try?” she asks, chucking him under the chin, “because I believe you’d be pretty successful at seducing him.”

“I don’t want to,” Jaskier says, before a bubble of hysterical laughter rips from his throat, “can you believe that? I don’t want to even try and seduce a married man! Normally I would leap at such a challenge, but now? Oh, just the mere thought breaks my heart.”

The beat of silence which follows his words is small, but it speaks volumes.

Jaskier feels crushed under the weight of exhaustion which hits him out of nowhere; he closes his eyes and leans against the door, questioning every decision he’s ever made in life which has led to this awful moment right here.

“Oh,” Triss utters, breaking the fragile silence with little care, “look at you – my little boy is all grown up.”

Her words draw an unattractive snort from Jaskier’s lips; his eyes fly open and he stares at Triss who has adopted a proud expression, clutching at her chest as she simpers at him. He feels a rush of warm affection towards her and once again thanks some nameless deity that she still endures in tolerating his existence.

“Bite me Triss,” he sighs, because he adores her, and she can never know that.

“You’d enjoy it too much,” she quips back knowingly.

“You’re right,” Jaskier sniffs, a fragile smile on his lips, “I would.”


Jaskier doesn’t stay away for long.

Can’t stay away, really.

It’s like Geralt and his daughter are magnets and Jaskier is helpless against resisting their pull.


Geralt tries to hand him another flower – a white camellia.

Jaskier stares at it, his heart shattering as he gingerly takes it from the man.

“Thanks,” he utters, halted and unsure. He doesn’t know what this means, he doesn’t understand why the man is handing him flowers, everything he’s ever known has unravelled and has left him uncertain and lost. Geralt simply doesn’t look the type to— to cheat. He’s honest and loyal to a fault, with a sense of honour which runs deep.

Plus, his wife looks astonishingly scary, so.

So… maybe he has read the man’s intentions wrong; maybe he’s mistaken their entire relationship, reading into things that don’t exist and second-guessing Geralt’s words for nothing. He’s gotten everything wrong and now he feels like such an idiot.

He swallows down his anguish and absconds before Geralt or Ciri can question his odd reaction.


Ciri still takes note of it.

A small furl of apprehension blossoms in her stomach, poisoning any trace of joy she’s just derived from her lesson with Jaskier. He had seemed so… normal, if a little awkward at first, but then he had just.

He simply just— ran away from them, without a second glance.

What on earth could have happened?

And did she have the chance of fixing it?


It only gets worse, to be honest.

Jaskier becomes more efficient in turning up for lessons, then ending them with such abrupt sharpness.

He still takes the flowers though.

He’ll take anything Geralt will give him.


Flirting is normally second-nature to him, like breathing but more fun.

Now, it just hurts.

But still, he persists – he can’t give away his true emotions.

He can’t allow Geralt to know how he really feels.

Otherwise, well.

Well.


Ciri looks concerned.

Triss looks concerned.

Geralt looks… pained.

But Jaskier doesn’t understand why.


He still teaches Ciri.

He still takes the flowers.

He still can’t quit.


The flowers which decorate his Instagram page slowly evolve into wolves with eyes that burn like fire.

Jaskier expertly ignores Triss' pointed sigh every time a new sketch is uploaded.

He draws, draws, draws his feelings away.


It all falls apart on a day where the air is thick with humidity.

Jaskier slips into the florist’s shop and questions his own sanity, questions why he still continues to visit this gorgeous family and torment himself with something he can’t have. He wanders towards the counter and finds Geralt, frowning at a bouquet of withered flowers which rest sadly on the table. They look like they could have been roses and it tugs at Jaskier’s heart to see something so beautiful, reduced to dust and death.

“What happened to them?” he asks lightly, gesturing to them with a tilt of his head.

“Ciri found them waiting outside the store,” Geralt explains, his tone dull as he gently runs a finger along a fragile petal – it cracks and falls, which causes the florist’s frown to deepen, “a customer has no use for them anymore and returned them.”

Jaskier arches a brow, says, “did they expect a refund?”

Geralt shakes his head, “no,” he says, his tone a tad affected, “they had just left them, abandoned.”

“It’s a shame, these must have been beautiful,” Jaskier sighs, leaning across the counter with a slight wrinkle of his nose, “red roses, right? Pretty they may be, but what a total boring cliché. My dream garden would have anything but red roses.”

“Indeed – Yennefer’s of the same opinion,” Geralt says, a hidden smile on his lips, “she once asked me to grow black roses with white stems and then refused to speak to me for three weeks when I tried to tell it was impossible.”

“Yennefer?” Jaskier asks, hesitantly because he fears he already knows the answer.

“Ciri’s mother?” Geralt answers, a small furl appearing between his brows, “have I not mentioned her before—”

“Oh, yes – I saw her actually,” Jaskier interjects breezily, because it’s one thing knowing that the man is off limits, it’s even worse hearing it aloud and having it confirmed, “the other day. In the store. With. Ciri. I do so enjoy her… terrifying everything. She’s beautiful, like in a sexy Maleficent way – but the Angelina Jolie version? Like, she’s gorgeous, but she also gives me the impression she would absolutely stab me in the throat with a stiletto.”

“She wouldn’t use a stiletto – far too expensive,” the florist comments, his lips slowly thinning as he cocks his head with a faint frown.

“I appreciate her taste,” Jaskier carries on, sensing the awkwardness which rolls from Geralt’s stiff shoulders – fuck, he can’t stop though, he simply can’t halt the words that erupt from his throat the moment they form in his mind, “she… is really beautiful, though. Her eyes, oh, the art they could inspire, what a muse she would be!”

The florist sucks in a breath, sharp and quick, and Jaskier blinks – sees what could have been a flash of devastation in those burning embers, but then it’s gone. Geralt’s eyes cease glowing, instead they turn dull, cold, dead.

“I suppose,” Geralt says, his tone frigid, short – and Jaskier knows that he’s probably gone too far, complimenting his wife too much, fuck, “I must warn you, she’d eat you alive, so tread carefully.”

And Jaskier has to blink—

Because, it almost sounds as if—

As if—

“Who says anything about treading anywhere?” he asks, straightening up and he can taste the moment the atmosphere sours, can pinpoint the second that their dynamic shifts – it’s awful, but it’s happening. Because he’s honestly shocked, his mind feels jarred, because Geralt is honourable in his eyes, good and loyal…

What the fuck?

…and now he appears to be offering his wife up on a silver platter.

“I guess I read between your objectifying lines,” Geralt says dryly, but his jest lacks the light-heartedness of their usual conversations – still, Jaskier flinches. It’s one thing to be called objectifying by Triss, but by Geralt?

It makes him feel awful.

Bad.

Wrong.

“A word of warning,” Geralt says, his expression closed-off and stony, “Yennefer is rather quite picky about who she shares her bed with, unlike—” but then he trails off, scanning Jaskier’s body before his eyes drift away.

Jaskier’s swallows, feels a blade of betrayal stab at his heart and unleash a cascade of hurt and embarrassment. “Unlike, what? Unlike me?” he asks, cocking his head stiffly, “fuck, no need to act as if I’m some diseased leper! Honestly Geralt, you never thought me so repulsive when it was you who— but then, maybe I was wrong.”

“No maybe about it,” Geralt says, his fists shaking on the countertop, they’re clenched so tightly, “you were wrong.”

“How dare you,” Jaskier breathes, stepping away from the counter with a small snarl touching his lips, “how dare you say that I was wrong, when I know, I know you— and now you just— and you’re slut-shaming me? You don’t even know me!”

“I know men just like you,” Geralt says, his lips curling back, “men who think they can come and sniff around Yennefer like she’s a piece of meat, using me and—”

“I never—”

“—it’s disgusting—”

“—I’m not—”

“—now get out,” Geralt finishes, his burring voice cutting across every protest which escapes Jaskier’s lips. It silences the tattooist, steals every word from his throat and Jaskier finds himself lost and floundering.

It’s shocking, truly, because it had taken for Jaskier so fucking long to worm his way into Geralt’s life, to break down his defences and endear himself to his sweet family – only to have it all crumble to pieces in mere seconds.

“Fine Geralt,” he bites out, because he has his pride and he refuses to allow this stoic man see an iota of the pain he has caused, “send my regards to sweet Ciri – she’s rather talented at the violin, so please inform her that our lessons are no longer necessary.”

And Geralt says nothing, does nothing, as Jaskier storms out of the store.

He leaves without a second glance.

But his heart remains scattered on the ground.


Geralt sighs quietly and watches the pretty tattooist leave his shop and leave his life.

He thinks, buttercups are pretty, then presses his hands to his eyes when his mind adds, they're also poisonous.

Regardless, perhaps he had been too unkind in defending Yennefer from the man's impure intentions.

Ah, fuck.


The day after their fight, there is a torrential downpour of rain.

It only makes sense, really, that the heaven’s open up and release their heavy tears upon the world when Jaskier has reached peak emotional turmoil – he’s cried his heart out and wrote so many disparaging poems and songs, but his soul still feels so heavy.

He trudges towards his shop, his aura radiating with mournful energy, and he finds himself startled upon the sight which greets him.

Tied, around the door-handles of his parlour, is a bouquet.

Jaskier reaches out and gently fingers the waxy petals of a purple hyacinth, brushes the silken pink furls of the carnations, the blue and red buds of the salvias – he greedily drinks in the bright colours of the red tulips, the multicoloured zinnias and the pastel gladioluses. Swallowing hard, Jaskier gingerly frees the bouquet from the handle and inspects the ribbon for a note… but there isn’t one to be found.

He bites his lip, tucks the precious bundle close to his chest and unlocks the parlour.

Steps inside.

Tries hard to ignore how much heavier his heart, soul, mind feels.


“You’re sulking,” Ciri states, watching as her father mopes behind the counter.

Roach is curled up in his arms, lapping lazily at his jaw – though she hadn’t be present for the fight which occurred between her father and Jaskier, she has had to suffer through the consequence. Jaskier had sent her the most loquacious apology, cancelling her next three lessons alongside a tiny doodle of Roach crying heart-shaped tears.

Her father, on the other hand, has been skulking around at home – moping from room to room with an aura so melancholic, it smothers her. He’s been like a ghost, honestly; silent and haunting, unable or rather, unwilling, to speak on all matters Jaskier-related.

“I am not sulking,” her father protests half-heartedly.

“Except you are,” Ciri states, crossing her arms as she leans across the counter – she thinks about what her mother would say, then remembers that her mother actually has provided her daughter with her pearls of wisdom. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out her phone, flicks through her messages until she finds her mother’s message, “and I’m not the only one who thinks as such.”

Her father flinches when she presents him with her phone, his eyes squinting as he leans forward to read the tiny words on her screen.

My darling child – never tangle yourself in the affairs of men. They’re tragically frail creatures – please tell your father that if he doesn’t amend his mistake, then I really will come and snatch up this mysterious creature which has him so enthralled.

And I won’t invite him to our wedding either.

Ciri watches as her father sighs and ducks his head into Roach’s fur.

“She’s welcome to him,” he mutters sullenly, his normally golden gaze looking dull and tarnished, “she’ll probably take better care of him than I ever could. I was cruel to him and I fear he didn’t deserve it.”

“Then apologise. And father, you must remember that Jaskier is not a pet,” Ciri declares, pulling her phone away from her father’s face, “he isn’t a child either. He doesn’t need to be taken care of – if anything, I think he wants to take care of you, because he loves you—”

“Ciri, Jaskier does not love me—”

“—look,” Ciri interjects, her clear eyes flashing with sharp irritation, “I’ll prove it to you.”

Then she flicks through her phone and presents her father with a new image on her screen – it’s an Instagram page, Jaskier’s Instagram page. The handle says @tossacointoyourtattooist and the biography simply reads pay my rent – it’s so utterly Jaskier that it had made Ciri chortle with delight when she had originally found the page. Judging from the way her father’s lips twitch, he seems to appreciate it too. Then his eyes drift down the screen and a small furrow appears between his brows – Ciri watches and she thinks she can pinpoint the moment when the lightbulb flickers in his mind.

His eyes light up and his mouth falls agape.

“This is…” he begins, soft and fragile, “is this…?”

“It’s you,” Ciri confirms, allowing her father to take her phone. She watches as he scrolls through sketch after sketch of white wolves. Most of them were alone, but some were accompanied by a lion cub – they howled at moons, curled up under stars, slept and prowled and played. They were beautifully drawn, and Ciri could see the love and attention in each pencil stroke. Of course, what made the wolves extra special were the eyes.

Every white wolf on Jaskier’s Instagram page has the same amber eyes, intense and bold and beautiful.

The colours were gorgeous and stark – stunningly bright against the white paper.

The sketches always received a flurry of a likes and comments, with admirers eager to claim them for their own skin. Ciri has noticed that Jaskier never really offers them up for sale; he always states that he’s just practicing, playing, projecting – one commenter even asked for a wolf with red eyes, but Jaskier had implicitly told them that his wolf has amber eyes only.

His wolf.

“This,” her father murmurs, his eyes reverent as his finger softly flicks through Jaskier’s Instagram page – he pauses though. Closes his eyes and passes the phone back to Ciri; his lips are upturned and pained, “this doesn’t mean anything – even if it does, Jaskier deserves more than anything I could give him.”

Ciri takes her phone back and sighs, wounded on behalf of her father’s lacking self-esteem.

“He doesn’t think so,” she murmurs gently, “he wants to deserve you.” Then she walks around the counter and slowly presses herself into her father’s body – she loops her arms around his neck and hums when he slowly envelopes her in his strong grip. “Whatever you fought over, please believe that you deserve him. He makes you happy – I like seeing you happy. It gets me more sweets after dinner.”

She feels her father freeze as she speaks, feels his heart quiver rapidly in his chest – then he begins to tremble and Ciri holds on tighter, stronger, supporting him like he has always supported her. He’s always been her pillar of strength and she feels proud to finally offer him some comfort in his moment of fragility.

“You deserve to be happy,” she repeats, will repeat, until her words finally sink in, “please, remember that you deserve to be happy.”


“I ruined it,” Jaskier mourns, disposing his used needles from his latest job, “I had the most beautiful man I have ever encountered in my short existence; he was there at my fingertips and I destroyed everything I had with him.”

“You didn’t ruin anything,” Triss states, because she’s pretty sure he can recover by what has to be a misunderstanding, “don’t be so melodramatic.”

“Oh, but I did, sweet Triss. Like… like I always do. I always push too far or cross the line because I don’t know when to. To just stop being all this,” Jaskier sighs, wandering over to his tray to collect the ink pots, “I wasn’t meant for a life of love and happiness.”

“Bullshit,” Triss rolls her eyes, her nails biting into Jaskier’s soft skin warningly, “don’t you dare start that shit with me.”

“It’s true – I even tried to be good, tried to resist the married man, tried to ignore the siren call of Geralt’s gorgeous everything but,” Jaskier utters brushing his hands against his jeans, “it still wasn’t enough. I’m still not enough. I’m still a wretched whore who taints all he touches.”

Triss sighs, runs a hand through her thick hair and approaches him, slow and cautious.

“Listen, I don’t have time to unpack all of your insecurities,” she says, placing her hands on his shoulders, drumming her nails along his sharp bones, “but you have to understand that you are enough and you aren’t a whore, and if that man doesn’t have the balls to accept every atom of your whole being, then you need to move on.”

“I bet he has the most beautiful balls though,” Jaskier utters, breathy as his eyes gaze off distantly, “I really wanted him to have the balls to want me in his life – god, I’m such an idiot. He never even liked me, did he?”

Triss has seemingly reached her wits end and flicks him sharply on the nose, her expression blasé as she arches a brow.

“I really don’t understand how the human race has gotten so far with men leading the way,” she complains, shaking her head when Jaskier purses his lips at her, “of course he liked you – you’re just oblivious to people actually developing feelings for you. You think your worth begins with your mouth and ends with their orgasm.”

Jaskier’s eyes widen as something which feels like ice forms around his heart.

The icy tendrils web throughout his veins and…

And he’s always hated being analysed, loathed having his deepest insecurities yanked from his mind and brought into the spotlight. But Triss is different, because Triss isn’t doing it to be cruel – she only ever does it to teach him a lesson.

He’s just never really cared all that much about learning how to better himself.

Because, well, how does one possibly improve perfection?

“That’s not true,” he protests, his voice breaking as he tries to defend what little honour he has, “you didn’t hear the way he spoke to me, god, he looked so repulsed by my entire everything.”

Triss cocks her head, cards a hand through his hair and sighs defeatedly.

“Okay,” she says, taking a step back, “I’m clearly not going to win this battle, so let’s move on. Geralt adores you, the man wants you. I mean, he clearly needs to apologise in the most spectacular way and I will most definitely be giving him a piece of my mind, but. Fuck, look at the flowers he’s given you in the past – they all proudly proclaim: I love you.”

Jaskier furrows his brows and tears his gaze away, staring despondently out of the window.

“They’re just flowers,” he shrugs miserably, before his eyes drift towards his new bouquet, resting on the receptionist’s desk. He had left them there at the beginning of his shift, with each one of his clients praising their colours; Triss had merely pursed her lips at the sight of them and had offered to press them too.

Jaskier wasn’t really sure if he had wanted to keep them, honestly, so he had told her to just leave them be.

Seven hours later and they’re still there, resting on the side – they’re hauntingly beautiful and it just breaks his heart to just look at them. The vibrant colours pierce his eyes, flooding his world with pain and longing – god, he wonders how long Geralt spent, putting the bouquet together.

He wonders if Ciri has any input, but glancing at the sparkling bow wrapped around them, the whole thing just screams her idea.

Triss drifts towards them, gently brushes her finger across a zinnia and tilts her head.

“You really think they’re just flowers?” she asks, her tone a touch sardonic. She digs into her back pocket and pulls out her phone, tapping away at the screen until she reaches a bookmarked page, “okay, so I’ve been brushing up on my flower knowledge, so you better appreciate this shit.”

Jaskier emits a little noise of interest as he joins his friend by the desk – part of him feels sickly apprehensive of what Triss may find, though another part of him is deeply invested in learning more about everything Geralt thinks and cannot say.

He watches as Triss’ gaze flits from the bouquet to her phone, humming with interest under her breath. Then, without warning, she straightens up and points to the blue salvia with a wry smile on her face.

“So, that one means… ‘I think of you’,” she announces, before she begins to point at different flowers with her smile widening with each meaning she uncovers, “and this one means, ‘forever mine’. Then we have ‘regret and forgiveness’, ‘sincerity’, ‘thinking of absent loved ones’, ‘I’ll never forget you’ – oh, this man means business. You know, if you don’t want him back, I’ll happily take him for myself—”

“Don’t you dare!” Jaskier hisses, snatching the bouquet away from the table and protectively huddling it against his body, “these are my flowers and he is my man!”

“Oh, now this is more like it,” Triss purrs, her eyes lighting up with appreciation, “go get your man, I believe in you.”

“I will,” Jaskier declares, before he turns neatly on his designer ankle boots and leaves the parlour.


He strides outside – he feels confident and fierce, he’s gonna go get his man. Adrenaline thrums throughout his body; he’s intent on marching into Geralt’s shop, to forgive, to forget, but mostly to claim the man as his own.

Jaskier takes two steps outside.

Sees the cheery sign.

Sees Ciri dancing around the shop with Roach in her arms.

See Geralt’s gloriously muscled back and thick arms.

He sees the family he tried to ruin, like the dirty little homewrecker he’ll always be, and.

And.

And.

And— oh, fuck.

And hastily retreats back inside his tattoo parlour, expertly ignoring Triss’ disappointed sigh.


The bouquet joins the rest of his collection, pressed inside his book of poetry.

He chooses the Hymn to Aphrodite to house his newest gifts.

Sappho is the only one who understands him, truly.


“Is he still sad?” Ciri asks Triss, watching as the woman unboxes a new set of navel bars.

“Yes,” Triss reports dutifully, holding up a bar with a tiny red rose embedded in the ball, “he’s currently trapped in the Adele phase – I believe it may take a while before he feels more Beyoncé.”

Ciri tilts her head, her lips pursing into a moue of despondence.

“My father is sad too,” she says, her eyes scanning the jewellery, appreciating the sparkling diamanté bars with a small hum, “he tried to apologise but I don’t think it worked.”

Triss sighs and drums her fingers along the desk.

“It worked, but it needed to be bigger, I guess. The apology, not the bouquet,” she admits softly, “because flowers won’t be enough this time. Jaskier, he’s hurting and confused, much like your father, I presume, so he’s going to need more than that.”

Ciri nods and folds her arms atop the desk, cradles her head against them and sighs. She absently watches as Triss picks up a clipboard and ticks off her newly delivered stock – her eyes sharp as she inspects the quality and cleanliness of the jewellery. Ciri can’t help but admire the smoky eyeshadow which rims her eyes, her eyes popping with the sheen of gold which curls around the crease.

It reminds her of Jaskier, honestly.

“He stopped wearing make-up,” she says, her eyes drifting across the shimmer which dusts Triss’ cheekbones, “I think that should have been my first sign that something was wrong.”

“What do you mean?” Triss asked, a small note of shock tinging her words.

“Jaskier,” Ciri clarifies, the alarm in Triss’ eyes dying down, “I noticed he was wearing blush and mascara once, during our lessons together. He tried to tell me that he always wore make-up, but he hadn’t. Not the first time we had met, anyway. But then – he stopped. He stopped being happy and he stopped wearing make-up, not even lip gloss!”

“Ah,” Triss says knowingly, placing down her clipboard, “Jaskier only wears make-up when he wants to impress someone. I swear, the man used to be a peacock in a past life.”

Ciri cocks his head. “How many people has he tried to charm that way?” she asks, feeling slightly concerned that, once again, her father could be another in a long line of—

“Only two people,” Triss hums, tapping her lips thoughtfully, “one was a singer, called herself the Countess de Stael, although I’m pretty sure her real name was Virginia. She had been married, however, and left Jaskier after, uh—” her words falter as she takes in Ciri’s curious expression, “—after her husband caught them dining together. The second had been a young man named Eskel who had been a client of ours last year. He had been part of a bachelor’s party who had to come in for a few days due to the size of the pieces they had commissioned. Jaskier fell for him after mere minutes of meeting the man.”

“Oh,” Ciri breathes, her eyes wide and eager for more, “what happened?”

Triss sighs and furrows her brows. “Eskel was part of the bachelor’s party because it was his – he was the groom. And so Jaskier was left, wanting and alone, again.”

Ciri blinks, before a slow frown develops on her lips.

“Does Jaskier always fall for people who are taken?” she asks, tilting her head, “doesn’t he ever try and give his heart to those who are single?”

“Oh, of course not,” Triss scoffs, before she catches the saddened expression on Ciri’s sweet face, “he’s a self-sabotaging idiot, my dear. He thinks if he goes after married people, then the rejection he receives is due to their marital status, not because of anything personal – odd really, considering your father’s married. I half-expected Jaskier to throw himself at him, but instead, he’s recoiled and cowered away.”

“My father is single,” Ciri reports, a heavy frown on her face, “my parents divorced years ago.”

Triss blinks, sighs and her head falls back in incredulity.

“Of course,” she mutters, before she rights herself up and peers down at the young girl, “listen, I’m sorry that this whole sorry saga has been dragged out for so long; whilst we can try and convince Jaskier of that fact, I’m afraid the flighty cretin won’t believe us.”

“Oh,” Ciri says, disappointment cascading over her hopeful heart.

Triss drums her long nails along the countertop and hums thoughtfully.

“You can always try your father again,” she suggests, before she glances at the closed door leading to Jaskier’s studio with pursed lips, “Jaskier’s always done the chasing – might impress him if he’s being chased for once.”

“Really?” Ciri asks, tilting her head.

And Triss’ eyes dim somewhat as she tastes the optimism in the young girl’s voice, “I honestly don’t know,” she admits reluctantly, “but it’s better than more flowers, right?”

Ciri deflates, her heart feeling heavy in her chest – she hasn’t felt such sorrow since her parents announced their divorce. Though they had assured her they were still amenable towards each other, and whilst they had promised that they loved her and would never stop, the utter heartbreak had torn her body and mind apart.

She doesn’t think she can go through such anguish again.

“I wish they would just stop fighting,” she says mournfully, clutching at her chest the ache begins to spread, “not even my mother would have allowed a grudge to last this long.”

“Your mother sounds like a very smart woman,” Triss says, a small smile playing on her lips.

“Oh, she is,” Ciri confirms, eager to distract herself as she straightens up with a new sparkle in her eyes, “I think you’d actually like her.”

Her eyes sparkle further when she spies the pink flush sitting high on Triss’ cheeks.

Well then.


A few days later, and Ciri is frustrated to find that the cold war is still taking place.

She watches from the window as Jaskier opens up his parlour, his face lined with grim determination as he resolutely refuses to glance their way. But then, just as he takes a step through his front door, he casts a quick glance over his shoulder – he looks like he wants to cross the street, to come and visit, but he falters and slips inside his sanctuary.

Her heart had swollen with hope and joy upon seeing his hesitation, but it had quickly sank like a stone when the tattooist lost his nerve – his face had flickered with pain, heartbreak, sorrow, and it was like looking at her father, honestly.

Ciri sighs, blows a wayward lock of hair from her face and feels her patience snap.

Her mother has taught her a great deal about life and the world she lives in – mostly about the dangers and how to become more dangerous than them, but she’s also taught her about being proactive and ambitious and how she should never allow her emotions and insecurities to hold her back from what she desires most out of the world.

Especially when the emotions are marred by something as mundane as a misunderstanding.

So, Ciri leaves her perch by the window and strides determinedly up to her father.

He’s still sulking as he waters the yellow tulips, his eyes downcast as his gaze drifts across the sunny petals. Ciri knows that, out of all the flowers in the shop, he’s become most fond of these ones. She tilts her head and wonders how Jaskier could be so oblivious to her father’s affections, but she guesses it’s an adult thing.

Still.

It’s not a good enough reason for all this moping misery.

“Father,” she announces herself, tapping him gently on the shoulder.

Her father turns, his eyes still tainted with pain and she feels her heart tremble on his behalf, but no. She must remain resilient and stubborn – if she bends to her father’s puppy-eyes for a single moment, then she’ll never get to accomplish her mission.

“Are you okay?” her father asks, reaching out to cup her face, but she dodges his touch easily.

“No,” she answers curtly, “I think you’ll find I’m not.”

Then she gestures towards the parlour, her eyes pointed and firm – her father follows her finger, out of the window and deflates with a heavy sigh.

“Ah,” he utters tonelessly.

“I’m afraid this has gone on long enough – you’re going to fix this before I tell mother,” Ciri threatens, glaring at him with folded arms, “and trust me, she might not admit to it, but she’s become rather fond of Jaskier and she hasn’t even met him yet!”

Geralt blinks.

“He seems fond of her too,” he states, dragging his gaze from the parlour, “perhaps I should just let her have him – they’d make a handsome pair.”

Ciri honestly feels stunned by her father’s obtuse words.

“Oh father,” she sighs, heavy and exhausted, “he doesn’t want her. I— I may have visited Triss, I know you said I should leave them alone, but I simply couldn’t. Jaskier, he thought you were married. That’s why he’s been acting the way he has. He wants you father, he just thought he couldn’t have you!”

She watches and feels remarkably touched when father’s eyes gleam eagerly.

“Really?” he asks, a touch unsure despite the simmering hope hiding in his voice – his question draws a nod out of Ciri, genuinely pleased for him.

However, before her father can utter another word, she flounces off and begins to flit around the shop, gathering silken ribbons and colourful cellophane and bright boxes. She’s watched her father make a million flower displays, so she knows he’ll need everything to create the most magnificent one yet.

“You’re going to create the most dazzling bouquet he’s ever seen – even better than the apology one,” she instructs, thrusting her collection into his arms, “this one is a declaration of love and you will apologise again using your words this time.”

She watches as her father looks at the bundle in his arms, before casting a look at Roach. The dog has been curled up by a collection of goldenrods, watching and judging her bickering owners with doleful eyes. Her father gazes back, silently exchanging words which Ciri will never hear or understand. Roach has been a precious part of her father’s life – she’s been there for her father, way before her parents had adopted her. Often, her father will credit Roach with how his life had turned out – he hadn’t been the most moral of men, growing up but then he had rescued Roach, and everything had changed for him.

She’s special.

So, Ciri doesn’t feel too miffed when her father nods at Roach and passes the bundle back to her.

“I have a better idea,” he says, a small grin playing on his lips.

Ciri arches a brow and decides to trust his judgement.

For now.


Geralt strides through the parlour.

Triss watches as he passes by – she doesn’t say anything at first, but she does shoot him a look which feels like a threat and tastes like a deadly promise. He sends her a short, courtesy nod as he walks through reception and heads towards the back, towards Jaskier’s studio.

“He’s with someone,” Triss suddenly calls out, but that doesn’t deter him, “you’ll have an audience, so your apology better be good!”

If he doesn’t do this now, he never will – he’s only so brave and bold, he can only feel confident for so long. So Geralt presses on and holds onto Ciri’s encouraging words—

You deserve this.

You deserve happiness.

You deserve him.

—the mantra soothes his nerves, a calming balm to the anxiety which festers under his skin. He approaches the closed door to Jaskier’s studio and is acutely aware that he’s never been in the parlour before – it’s always been Jaskier, coming to him.

It’s always been Jaskier, chasing after him.

And Geralt can’t help but wonder if—

If anyone’s ever chased after Jaskier, if anyone’s ever bothered to hunt the tattooist down and catch him, keep him, hold him close and reassure him that he won’t be let go and abandoned. A whisper, tiny and cruel, creeps into his mind and tells him, of course not, why do you think he’s like this? But Geralt shrugs away that voice, because he honestly feels proud to be the first person to chase after Jaskier, the first one to catch him and keep him.

He only hopes Jaskier wants to be caught.

So, when he arrives at the door, he only falters for the merest of moments. He lifts his hand, contemplates knocking, but he’s decided he’s stalled enough – Geralt has always been a man of action and he refuses to allow his own cowardice to prevent him from taking what’s—

What could be, his.

Steeling his nerves, Geralt opens the door and stalks into the room, shutting it behind him gently. Before him is Jaskier, leaning over his half-naked client who lies on her front, phone in hand, grimace in place. The tattooist is inking a solar system on her lower back, his tongue captured between his plush lips – there’s a radio playing soft music in the background, but it’s drowned out by the sound of Geralt’s arrival.

Jaskier’s head snaps up, his eyes irritated as he holds his tattoo gun away from his client’s body – the woman flinches, cranes her neck around and arches a brow at the florist.

“You do realise that I work sometimes, right?” Jaskier says, delicate and icy, before he gestures to his client, “and that it’s imperative I don’t get interrupted because it can lead to very unfortunate consequences?”

“What?” the client yelps, twisting to peer at her own back, but Jaskier is quick to calm and soothe.

“It’s okay darling,” he croons, throwing her a charming grin, “your tattoo is picture perfect, I promise,” which has her settling back into the chair, her fingers drumming along her phone screen with deliberate impatience.

“Apologies,” Geralt offers her awkwardly, before he thrusts the tiny collection of flowers towards Jaskier. The artist flinches back and eyes the bouquet with a wary gleam in his gaze, “these are for you.”

Nestled in his large hands is a collection of dandelions and buttercups, neatly tied together with a yellow ribbon. It’s not the most expensive creation he’s ever made, but it is the most heartfelt – the meaning should be clear, because it’s practically screamingly loud, but Geralt sincerely hopes Jaskier just doesn’t see a bundle of weeds.

“What, did you pick those up from the side of the road?” Jaskier’s client snipes, furrowing her brows as she slowly scans the flowers, “honey, you know you can do better, right?”

But Jaskier merely blinks and seemingly ignores her as he places the tattoo gun on the tray besides him and reaches for his gift. His movements are cautious, slow, hesitant – his gaze flicks between the flowers and Geralt’s face, shy and unsure.

It makes Geralt’s stomach lurch and he wants to gather the tattooist up in his arms and chase his insecurities away with his lips; he doesn’t move though, he stays perfectly still, because Jaskier is skittish and he doesn’t want to frighten him.

It takes a moment, but Jaskier gently takes the bouquet, gazes up at Geralt and—

And—

And Geralt feels himself sway under the wave of relief which hits, when Jaskier cuddles the flowers to his chest and rises quickly to his feet. His client mutters something dark and disbelieving under her breath, but no one pays her any mind.

“I’m sorry,” Geralt utters, swallowing down his nerves; though some may view him as infallible, as emotionlessly stoic and uncaring, it couldn’t be more wrong. He feels – he feels so much, all the time and he wished he didn’t, but he does.

Especially for Jaskier.

Who sniffs, brushes a gentle finger across the golden-yellow petals and says, “what for?”

For everything, he thinks.

“For insinuating dishonourable things about you, for shaming you and your choices – for implying that you had only befriended me for the sake of seducing my ex-wife. For hurting you, when it’s the last thing I ever want to do,” he says, his words fierce and true, “it’s hard for me, to let people in. It’s harder, letting them go. Please, Jaskier. Don’t go.”

And Jaskier stares at him, his grip tightening around the bundle of flowers.

“Ex-wife? Shit, Triss was right?” he asks hollowly, his eyes desperate and searching, scanning Geralt’s face for a hint of a lie – and the florist stares back, steady because honesty is all he had left to give.

“I honestly thought you had known who Yen was,” Geralt admits, his gaze skittering to the side, “we divorced three years ago – she’s a devoted mother though and she’s one of my dearest friends. The love we have for each other has long since settled into something… platonic.”

Jaskier’s lips part, his mouth working around a little surprised gasp which never quite leaves his throat. Geralt steps closer to him, throws the client a withered glare and pauses when he sees the tense line of Jaskier’s shoulders.

“I still don’t understand,” the tattooist utters, his eyes drifting from the flowers to the florist, “if you truly never wanted me to leave, why suggest I jump into bed with Yennefer? Why push me away, instead of explaining matters!”

“Oh, fuck,” the client mutters, pushes herself up onto her elbows and watches with wide-eyed fascination – her fingers are clawed around her phone, her lips tugged upwards into a soft smirk. Geralt hears her soft utterance and feels it dig deep into his bones; it stings, having an audience to spectate his own foolishness.

He closes his eyes, exhales a stressful sigh and refocuses his attention back to Jaskier.

Forming words has never been his strongest attribute and Yennefer has always bemoaned his lack of communication skills but seeing Jaskier in such a wounded state has him longing to explain himself. The words come quick to his mind but are slow to form on his tongue.

“Tell me?” Jaskier urges, soft and encouraging.

Geralt sighs… and tries his hardest.

“I never— I didn’t think you would want— and then I thought you had found a new muse in Yen, which made me feel so—” he cuts himself off, frustrated with his own inability to express himself, “listen, I’m not like you. You’re open and bright and loud—”

“Well, that’s just hurtful,” Jaskier mutters.

His client snorts derisively – Geralt is pretty sure she’s live-blogging the whole thing, or whatever it is people do nowadays when they’re indulging in some schadenfreude. Still, he persists.

“—and I liked it. I liked the— the energy you brought to my, our, life. No one ever takes the time to. To speak to Ciri like you do. You make her laugh; you dote on her and treat her with respect. You don’t just use her as a means to— to, well. And… despite having some fucking peace for once, these last few weeks have been terrible,” Geralt explains, the words thick and clumsy as they fall from his lips, “and not just for Ciri.”

“No?” Jaskier asks, quick and hopeful.

“No. I don’t—” Geralt sighs and Jaskier’s client groans loudly with impatience – the tattooist hisses at her, however, silently scolding her with his gaze; he then glances back to Geralt and nods, sweet and soft, “it hasn’t been the same – my life. I miss your… everything.”

Jaskier’s eyes grow wet in the corners.

Even his client looks touched by his awkward confession.

Geralt shifts, nervous and unsure – there’s a beat of silence, before Jaskier breaks it with a delicate, mournful sigh.

“Oh, Geralt,” he breathes, sniffing sharply, “why didn’t you say anything?”

“I – I never imagined you would actually feel for me too,” Geralt admits, the shame burning him from the inside out.

Jaskier’s client sighs loudly; she presses her face into the chair and is seemingly praying for a quick death. Her theatrics aren’t as endearing as Jaskier’s, however, so she goes ignored and unnoticed. Jaskier, on the other hand, gapes openly at Geralt – his eyes are full of disbelieving horror.

“You thought I couldn’t possibly feel the same?” he demands, before he deliberately places down the little bouquet onto his tray and stalks over to his shelf of poetry. His hands hover over the books, scanning before he finds what he’s looking for and turns back to Geralt, thrusting it in his face, “see this?”

Geralt looks down and cocks his head.

It’s a collection of poems and fragments from Sappho – the name resonates with him, as Ciri had studied her in her literature class last year. She writes poems of love, unrequited and returned; he remembers Ciri talking about beautiful they were, but how sad they could be too.

Just thinking about Jaskier reading these poems, relating to them – it honestly breaks his heart, tugs at the strings and creates an ache so deep, it makes him sick.

Of course, that being said, he doesn’t really understand what Jaskier is trying to show him – he thinks Jaskier is trying to communicate with him using objects, but the artist isn’t like him. Jaskier hasn’t been anything but honest this entire time and—

“See?” Jaskier offers, urgent, pleading.

—and then the artist opens the book, flipping through page after page.

Geralt watches, his breath caught in his throat, his eyes wide and full of awe – his heart stutters in his chest as affection blossoms, sweet and slow in every corner of his body.

He sees the pink hyacinth, the sunflower, the ivy – he sees all the flowers he had presented to Jaskier, all nestled within the pages of. Of Jaskier’s book of romantic poetry.

He swallows.

Glances up.

And sees Jaskier looking more open and vulnerable than he ever has before.

“I love you,” he blurts out, unable to stop himself because Jaskier looks utterly fragile and Geralt doesn’t like seeing him in such a state, “I think. I mean, I know it’s too early to say, but I think I could love you.”

And there’s a beat of silence—

And Jaskier drops the book—

And the client gasps—

And suddenly, Geralt has his arms full of an excitable tattoo artist.

Jaskier is trilling and sighing, his arms looping tightly around the florist’s neck – in response, Geralt holds onto lithe hips and clasps him close, crushing their bodies together. Jaskier bites his lip, rises to the tips of his toes and sweetly brushes their noses, their lips together.

But it isn’t enough – so Geralt cradles Jaskier’s jaw in his palm, thread his fingers through tawny-soft hair and presses his lips to Jaskier’s soft mouth. He kisses hard and long, his tongue delving in deep to flick and lave over every inch of Jaskier’s mouth. He pours all of his adoration and intent into the tattooist’s body, claiming and loving every sigh he coaxes out.

Their lips grow numb, their lungs begin to burn, and they have to tear themselves away with two breathy sighs of pure satisfaction. 

Geralt finds himself dazed and endeared by the dizzy sheen in Jaskier’s pretty eyes, accompanied by a delicate flush and an impressively pleased smile.

God help him, he's falling so hard and deep.

“I love you too,” Jaskier murmurs, which has Geralt huffing in amusement.

“I should hope so,” he utters, “after a kiss like that.”

Jaskier hums happily, tucks his head into Geralt’s throat and the florist can only hold on, because he almost lost this – he’s had so many chances of happiness, had honestly believed himself unworthy of anymore… but now he has Jaskier.

And he cannot lose Jaskier.

He refuses to.

So, he holds on tight, buries his nose into Jaskier’s soft hair and commits the scent to memory. They linger in the moment, limbs entangled and emotions entwined, savouring what they have and what they could have lost—

“Holy fuck, you’ve made me viral!” the client announces, breaking the fragile moment without prejudice – her fingers tap against the screen excitedly and Geralt can only sigh in irritation. Jaskier rolls his eyes, tucks a loose lock of wintry hair behind the man’s ear and soothes his irked nerves. Still, he can’t help but find it strange, as—

“I thought you didn’t have Wi-Fi in your parlour,” he asks, cocking his head as the client crows over her new followers, “how is she—”

Darling,” Jaskier huffs out with incredulity, with embarrassment and shyness, “I needed a reason to come see you – asking for references was just an easy excuse.”

“You couldn’t have just dropped in to introduce yourself?”

“No, I really couldn’t,” Jaskier bites his lip, a shadow of insecurity blurring the edges of his pretty eyes – Geralt hums, leans in and kisses the artist’s temple.

“Ciri can play the violin and has won three national championships over the past five years,” he admits, and Jaskier pulls away, surprised and confused, “I really couldn’t drop in and see you either.”

“Oh, Geralt,” Jaskier breathes, clutching at Geralt’s face with such love in his eyes, “you darling man. I think I’m going to keep you forever.”

Geralt snorts, brushes their foreheads, noses and lips together.

“I guess I have no choice,” he murmurs, before Jaskier laughs quietly and captures his lips in another sweet kiss. Geralt feels Jaskier melt into his arms as his tongue delves deeply into the kiss, claiming every nook and cranny of the artist’s mouth for his own – because Jaskier might want to keep him forever, but he has belonged to Geralt since the moment he had walked into the shop. He feels Jaskier’s arms loop around his neck, feels the artist press up against him hard; he’s helpless against the wave of emotion and pleasure which dances down his spine and he clutches Jaskier back, desperate and hard, not ever wanting to risk losing him again.

They lose themselves in each other, tangled and consumed, until a delicate cough spoils the moment and drags them out of their deliriously happy bubble. Jaskier pulls away with a gasp, his cheeks beautifully flushed and his lips obscenely wet and red – he turns and chokes as he realises that he has a client, waiting for him on the chair.

“So sorry about this,” he utters, running a hand through his rumpled hair as he grins sheepishly, “please be assured that I am a profession and that this rarely happens.”

The client snorts and arches a brow. “Don’t suppose this little,” she waves a hand at them, “interruption will get me a discount?”

Jaskier snorts and rolls his eyes.

“Don’t even try it,” he says, and Geralt feels immeasurably stirred by his confident posturing, “we just gave you a free show – darling, if anything, I should be making you pay more.”

The client drums her fingers along her phone before she shrugs in obvious defeat.

“That’s fair,” she says, glancing down at her device before she peers above it with an impish smirk, “I will admit, you’ve provided me with some impressive content – I’ve got journalists retweeting contacting me. Seriously, I could win a Pulitzer Prize for this heart-stopping saga.”

“Oh, a Pulitzer Prize,” Jaskier echoes, a touch sardonic, “well then, I do look forward to our cut, don’t you darling?”

“I do like getting free money,” Geralt admits, feeling his heart burst with adoration when Jaskier chortles and nuzzles at his ear lovingly. He’s never been included in Jaskier’s teasing nature before – he’s always been the target, never the accomplice. It feels… nice.

“You two are nauseating,” the client mumbles sullenly.

“I love free money too,” Jaskier says with delight, running his hands across Geralt’s shoulders as he bounces lightly on his feet, “oh, we have so much in common – I can’t wait to discover more with you, it’s going to be utterly wonderful.”

“How can it be anything but, if you’re there?” Geralt rumbles back, feeling more content than he has in years – three years, to be exact. Jaskier’s eyes widen momentarily, which is all the warning he gives the florist before he throws himself back into Geralt’s arms and attacks his face with a flurry of kisses.

“Utterly nauseating,” the client repeats.

Naturally, she’s ignored.


“—and that’s how my matchmaking skills led to my father and Jaskier realising that they were soulmates,” Ciri finishes, leaning against Triss’ counter with a broad, proud smile.

“Wow,” the receptionist comments, truly entertained by Ciri’s story – she tilts her head and regards the young girl, “think you can extend some of those cunning ideas my way?”

Ciri merely hums with glittering eyes and peers out of the shop window.

“Thank you,” she says, drumming her fingers idly on the desk, “for wearing Jaskier down – I think he probably wouldn’t have been so receptive to my father’s apology had you not encouraged him beforehand,” then there’s a delicate frown, “especially after learning of the more unsavoury words he said to Jaskier.”

“So long as he doesn’t repeat them,” Triss says, allowing a smile to curl her lips, “I’ve only heard of your mother in passing and I wouldn’t wish to risk gaining her ire by murdering her daughter’s father.”

Ciri shrugs with an impish smile.

“She’ll probably help,” she says, before glint shines in her eyes – she pushes herself away from the counter and waves to someone outside. Triss arches a brow and turns to see who has delighted the girl so much, and—

Oh.

“So, this is his place?” a stunning woman, brunette with enchantingly violet eyes, saunters into the shop with a curious expression, “I must admit, he has surprising taste.”

“You can call him Jaskier, you know,” Ciri says, greeting the newcomer with a warm hug – ah, so this must be Yennefer. Triss’ eyes slowly drift over the woman and understands why her friend had worked himself up into an awful, anxious mess.

“He has to earn the right of a first name,” Yennefer replies, yet there’s an underlining tease which takes away the bite of her words. Triss watches silently as Ciri steps away and shakes her head at her mother, wordlessly admonishing her.

“You like him,” the young girl says, almost as a protest, “you said he was pretty.”

“Because I have eyes,” Yennefer replies archly, “I cannot see his worth.”

Triss snorts and sits up when she captures the woman’s attention – she blinks, falters for a split-second before she sends the woman an indulgent smile.

“If it helps,” she says lightly, “I can vouch for him – he’s not a total fool, despite his best efforts to appear as one.” Yennefer hums with interest and sways towards the desk with deliberate intent; Triss finds herself sitting up straighter, wetting her lips when the woman pauses and places a delicate hand atop Triss’ appointment book.

“You must be Triss Merigold, correct?” she asks, holding out her hand with a small smile.

“And you must be Yennefer? Ciri’s mother?” Triss responds, before she takes the hand and jumps at the small spark which ignites between their bare palms. Yennefer’s hand is cool and soft, her fingers delicately curving around Triss’, “I’ve heard plenty about you.”

“A shame I can’t say the same,” Yennefer replies, releasing Triss’ hand slowly, “I do adore your little establishment however, – I’ve always been a fan of the lesser-accepted arts.”

“You consider tattoos art?” Triss asks, a touch surprised.

“Of course,” Yennefer confirms, before she grins at Triss, like she’s sharing a secret, “they’re significantly more interesting than a boring painting on a wall.”

Triss huffs out a laugh, tears her gaze away from the woman when she feels a tad too scrutinised and spies Ciri, pursing her lips impatiently after checking the clock on the wall.

“Come on, mother,” the young girl urges, tugging at the sleeve of Yennefer’s grey coat, “we’ll be late for the booking,” then she turns to Triss with a bright smile, “we’re having dinner with my father and Jaskier; mother is ever-so excited to finally meet him.”

Which definitely explained the excessive energy her boss had exuded earlier that morning. He had been irritatingly cagey on the details.

Now she knows why.

“Excited being the operable word,” Yennefer states, before a smile flashes on her lips, “but it will be interesting to see how much weight your word holds, Triss Merigold.”

Triss gapes, feels oddly outraged and would have said as much, had it not been for a sharp car horn suddenly piercing through the air, disrupting all notions of a protest. Ciri jumps and turns to the window – Triss joins her in peering outside and is amused to see Jaskier leaning out of the window of a very sleek and elegant Jaguar. Triss snorts, casts her eyes askance and spies a reluctantly amused grin playing on Yennefer’s lips.

“Let’s be off Ciri – the boy is clearly getting impatient,” Ciri’s mother pauses and turns to Triss, “it’s been,” she drawls, her eyes tracing Triss’ features languidly, “a pleasure meeting you.”

Ciri giggles as Triss feels her cheeks grow warm with prickling heat – Yennefer slips out of the parlour with an idle wave of her hand, her daughter quick on her heels. Triss wiggles her fingers in lieu of a farewell, truly stunned, and watches as Ciri climbs into her gorgeous mother’s car and—

And—

And—

And finds that her heart has not stopped racing and that her cheeks are still hot, and just doesn’t understand why. Because Triss is not like Jaskier – she resolutely does not believe in love at first sight. It’s childish and unrealistic and just doesn’t happen outside of fairy-tales.

But,

Then again…