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How to Court a Bard in Five Easy Steps

Chapter Text

Geralt was in a bad mood. One would say that was typical for the Witcher, given his near-constant irritation with, well, most everything, but this was a different kind of bad mood.

They had been travelling through dense woodland for nearly three weeks- which wasn’t anything Geralt couldn’t handle, but the gods had picked those specific three weeks to bring the wettest, most obnoxious storm he had ever lived through. Jaskier’s steady stream of complaint hadn’t helped much either. There was only so much “Geralt, my jacket is soaked” and “Geralt, you may be a big strong Witcher, but I’m a delicate mortal and it truly is far too cold” that he could take.

(And that certainly wasn’t because he cared for Jaskier and hated to see him downtrodden and annoyed with the world. Certainly not).

Oh, who was he fooling anymore? Geralt was far beyond denying that Jaskier was his friend.

A friend who, at the moment, was singing his way quite passionately around the inn they had finally arrived in. The town was shit, and only famous for a small but high-quality musical instrument shop the pair had no use for. But it was less shit than any alternative, so it would have to do. At least the crowd seemed receptive to Jaskier’s ballads, with their clapping along and laughing and whatnot.

Jaskier danced between tables, kicking and stomping his feet along to the music. It was an upbeat song, and one the townsfolk appeared to need after the terrible weather they had been enduring. Jaskier wore a smile on his face as he sang- not a staged, fake smile that some other bards wore, but a genuine one. He was practically glowing throughout the entire performance and it truly was infectious. Geralt was sure he could light up a funeral if he so wished. His blue eyes- cornflower blue, Geralt noticed- crinkled up around the corners when he laughed, and wow, what a sound that was. Geralt had heard him laugh hundreds of times over the years, but tonight it felt different- well, different in a very familiar way, like something that was always there finally snapping into place, and- oh.

Oh.

Geralt’s hand tightened around his ale, synchronized with the squeeze in his chest. Good fucking gods, he was in love.

Oh, if the other Witchers at Kaer Morhen could see him now, they’d laugh. A Witcher- built to be strong and powerful and unfeeling- rendered weak by the laughter of a bard. Geralt found that he didn’t care as much as he thought he would. Perhaps he hadn’t realized it, but with how natural it felt to love him, Geralt had probably fallen for Jaskier long ago without realizing.

Wow, how dense was he?

Jaskier’s voice cut through Geralt’s spiraling thoughts. “Thank you, thank you! Now, if you’ll leave a generous donation so me and my friend may indulge ourselves on our treacherous travels, it would be very much appreciated! Coins in the lute case- yes, like that-“

Indulge ourselves. Geralt paused. He had never been one for the finer things in life;
instead content with his baths and his horse (and his friend), but perhaps he would allow himself to reach for something more. Not materialistically, but with Jaskier. Would the bard return his affections if he made them clear? For once, Geralt hadn’t the slightest clue.

It took him nearly two days to decide what to do with the clumsy mess of tenderness in his chest. Two days of hearing Jaskier sing and laugh and ramble and tell jokes and gods, had it always made his heart feel this way? How had he not realized sooner?

He refused to waste any more time on ignorance and denial. Geralt was in love with Jaskier, simply and truly. He had no idea how Jaskier himself felt towards him, but he could hope.

There was only one issue with hope: it drove people to act, and Geralt had no idea where to go next. He was a cart with no horse, trapped on the side of the road.

How exactly does a Witcher go about courting a bard? It wasn’t as if Geralt had any experience in the area- hell, he’d even say this was the first time he’d truly been in love.

But he wouldn’t say that out loud, of course. Only to himself at night, when Jaskier was asleep and a safe distance away (deemed 1.5 metres at the least by Geralt) and he allowed himself to indulge in romantic thoughts that Jaskier would probably die to poeticize, but Geralt would be damned if he ever did. No, those thoughts- those feelings- they were for him and Jaskier only.

Or at least they would be, once he got his shit together and actually managed to tell him how he felt.

No, Geralt was painfully aware that he was no romance expert. That was Jaskier’s field of expertise, and Geralt would sooner die than ask Jaskier to give advice on how to court himself.

He considered tackling it on his own, but dismissed the idea after little thought. He needed this to be good, and it wouldn’t be if he went solo. As embarrassing as it was to admit, Geralt needed romantic advice.

And, well, he only had two close friends, didn’t he?

It was pure luck that Yennefer had been in a neighbouring town when Geralt found himself needing her. Destiny, some would say, but Geralt refused to entertain thoughts of the thing- especially in such a lovestruck state.

Ugh, that was one thing he’d never get used to: describing himself as lovestruck. Yet it fit, didn’t it?

Geralt left early in the morning in order to catch Yennefer as soon as possible. He gave Jaskier strict instructions to stay out of trouble, tried to dismiss the questions about why he couldn’t come without seeming suspicious, and took off. He hoped Jaskier wouldn’t be mad at him when he returned; that would be a less-than-ideal way to start the courtship process.

Courtship. Was he really doing this? The word felt foreign in his mind, like a single off-colour brick in an otherwise monotonous wall. Yet perhaps that was what he needed to make the whole structure more interesting.

He found Yennefer at a small but sleek pub with dark wood walls and warm lighting. She stood alone, so Geralt didn’t concern himself with interrupting anything important and simply waited for her to spot him.

It didn’t take more than a few human heartbeats. She always had been observant.

“Geralt,” Yennefer acknowledged with only mild surprise, “I hadn’t caught word of this town needing a Witcher.”

“It doesn’t,” Geralt grunted, “I... need your help.” The words only came out slightly strained as opposed to not at all, as they would’ve just a few years ago. Thank the gods for emotional progress.

Yennefer’s brow raised slightly. “Oh? Another dragon to slay? An unruly mage? Or has your bard gotten himself in trouble again?”

If she noticed the way Geralt averted his gaze at the mention of Jaskier, she didn’t mention it.

“No, I...” Geralt paused. “It’s a matter of the heart. A hypothetical matter.”

Yennefer gestured for Geralt to sit. “A matter of the heart? Interesting.” Geralt could hear the amusement in her voice clear as day.

“Hypothetically, if someone wanted to... court... another. How would they do it?” Yennefer’s eyes felt like a strain to meet in a way that was completely out of the ordinary. Then again, so was a Witcher asking a sorceress for love advice.

“Court someone?” She echoed, “who has caught your eye, Geralt?” Yennefer was a persistent fisherman, baiting a hook and tossing it in front of Geralt with nothing more than her tone of voice. Geralt refused to bite.

“It’s hypothetical.”

“I see.” Yennefer took a generous sip of her ale. “Well, it’s subjective. Some like gifts, others like spending time together. Humans enjoy it when others take care of them. Lets them know they matter, I suppose.”

Geralt met her eyes (finally) in an attempt to seem casual. The reality of the situation was very different. Taking frantic mental notes was decidedly not casual.

“Candles are usually quite romantic,” Yennefer continued, “flowers as well. You know Jaskier better than I do, so the final judgement is in your hands.”

Geralt nodded slowly. “Thank you. I haven’t- who said anything about Jaskier?”

Fuck, had be been that obvious?

Yennefer just smiled. She had gotten her fish. “Who else would it be, Geralt? Besides, I was wondering when you would finally get your act together.”

Geralt frowned down at the table to hide the heat burning its way under the skin of his cheeks. “That obvious?”

“No.” Yennefer softened. “Trust me, Jaskier doesn’t know.” Geralt hummed lowly in response.

Did Jaskier not know because he didn’t want to know, or because Geralt was terrible at showing affection? Perhaps both? Would he even be a good partner to Jaskier if the courting business went well? Geralt knew he would try his damned hardest, but good gods, what if Witchers simply weren’t cut out for romance?

“I can hear you thinking from here. With that many anxious thoughts pacing around in there, you’ll wear a hole in your brain.” Yennefer nudged Geralt’s shoulder lightly: a silent encouragement. “Go on and court him. Hypothetically, of course.”

A small smile crossed Geralt’s face.

Of course.

Chapter Text

As it turned out, their town was in need of a Witcher. Geralt shouldn’t have been surprised; there was no way the ever-present bad mood was from the weather alone. A cockatrice (why was it always a cockatrice?) had made its home half a mile northward and was causing the livestock enough trouble to warrant a payment for its head that, from Geralt’s eyes, would more than suffice.

At least it had seemed that way before he and Jaskier had arrived to find two of the fuckers.

The first one had been enough of a challenge; raking Geralt’s left arm with enough force to send him stumbling. A quick swing from his right had seen it dead soon after, however.

The second one served to be more of a problem.

Geralt grunted as it rammed into his side with an irritatingly shrill screech. He raised his sword, spinning to strike it through the back of the neck, but it got to him first.

Geralt’s legs caved from underneath him as the beast’s whip-thin tail struck right at the backs of his knees. It turned; loomed over him, ready for a more final blow-

When a lute slammed into the base of its skull.

Jaskier had come running with a shriek loud enough to wake the gods and crashed the prized instrument right where it counted. Alarm shot through Geralt when the cockatrice twisted to face its attacker. Its beady eyes spoke of rage and bloodlust, and for all Jaskier talked, he was no fighter.

With a strained growl, Geralt pushed himself to his feet and drove his sword through the back of the cockatrice’s neck, jerking it once to the side to leave a messy but effective cut.

Only when the beast had sputtered, stumbled, and finally collapsed did Geralt allow some of the tension to seep from his shoulders.

“Jaskier,” Geralt turned towards where the bard had stumbled backwards onto the ground. “did it-“

“Did you see that?! It nearly had us, Geralt! If not for you and your witcher-y fighting skills, I would be singing ballads with the dead by now!” Jaskier allowed Geralt to pull him up to his feet by one hand, stumbling forwards a little and falling into his chest with an oof. He pushed back just far enough to inspect Geralt (significantly less than 1.5 metres), with those beautiful, beautiful cornflower blue eyes.

“Where did it catch you? Gods, what a brute- your arm!” Jaskier’s delicate, lute-calloused hands fluttered over the wound like a bird against cage bars, and there was something Geralt’s heart whispered to him about it that he inclined to ignore at the moment.

“Nothing I can’t handle,” Geralt grunted.

“No no no no, you do not get a pass this time! How deep is it?” Jaskier leaned in to poke the wound and Geralt leaned back so he’d miss.

“Shallow,” Geralt responded, “are you injured?” Jaskier’s shoulders loosened at Geralt’s words.

“Gods, no. But my lute!” He broke away from Geralt with a cry, running to kneel back where the shattered remains of the instrument sat (and if Geralt mourned the loss of Jaskier’s body so close to his, that was nobody’s business but his own).

The lute was a mess of twisted wood and snapped strings, spread out around the cockatrice’s body in a bloody mosaic of Jaskier’s bravery.

“She’s beyond repair, Geralt! What will become of my ballads- we’ll never play again! The continent will mourn the loss for years to come-“

“Jaskier.”

“-I’ll have to get another, but there’s none like her! It won’t be the same, I tell you-“

“Jaskier.”

“Here, help me dig. I need to give her a proper burial, one befitting a hero-“

“JASKIER.” Jaskier finally turned to face Geralt with his hands already pressed into the dirt.

“Why do that, if you love your lute so much?” The words sounded harsh, but Geralt’s voice only spoke of confusion.

Jaskier looked at Geralt like he’d grown a second head. “And what, let it take a chunk out of your body? No thank you. Can’t write ballads about a dead Witcher now, can you?” Jaskier’s posture was casual, but Geralt heard the nervous- no, concerned- edge to his words.

He... didn’t know what to say to that.

So he simply helped Jaskier dig (he had saved his life, after all) and severed the cockatrice’s head from its body to be delivered to the townsfolk.

(For all Jaskier had done to help public opinion, some people would simply never trust a Witcher’s word, and Geralt had long since accepted that coming with proof was easier than trying to fight irrationality.)

Once the lute was buried (and sufficiently mourned) and the cockatrice head gathered in Geralt’s arms, they set out back to town.

“Geralt? I know I’m human- all small and squishy and whatnot- but I can help carry that thing, if you need.” Jaskier offered, picking up his pace so he could walk beside Geralt instead of behind him. The two had begun their trek back to town in relative silence (which only went to show how genuinely upset Jaskier was over the loss of his lute), but with Jaskier around, silence never lasted long.

Jaskier eyed Geralt’s injured arm wearily, as if it would give out and send the cockatrice head tumbling any minute. Geralt snorted. It wouldn’t; the injury truly wasn’t a big deal.

Instead of responding, Geralt dumped the head in Jaskier’s arms unceremoniously.

He had never seen him fall to the ground so fast.

Jaskier glared up at Geralt from where he sat sprawled with the cockatrice head in his lap. “Not all at once, you barbarian! Give a man some warning, good gods- hey! Now, laughter really isn’t necessary!”

Geralt truly couldn’t help his amusement (or the light squeeze in his chest, but he could only express one of those, and he still didn’t know how to go about the latter).

Speaking of...

It was only once Geralt and Jaskier had returned to their rooms (after delivering the head and collecting their pay, of course) that Geralt got an idea.

Well, that was a lie. He’d had ideas, just not good ones. There was a difference.

But, as questionable as it felt to admit, Jaskier’s smashed lute provided a perfect opportunity to show Jaskier that he cared. In this case it seemed more like repaying him- he was the reason his old lute had ended its career shattered and two feet underground, after all- but he was determined to make it more than that. Yes, Geralt would get Jaskier the fanciest, most luxurious lute he possibly could.

He never thought he’d be thankful for finding double the cockatrice than expected, but it had resulted in a pay raise that was, coincidentally, enough to buy something truly professional.

There was also, coincidentally, now a use for that instrument shop the town was so famous for. Geralt couldn’t believe his luck (Yes, luck, because anyone who brought up destiny was getting a swift kick in the teeth).

The shopkeeper did a double take when Geralt first stepped in with his coin pouch resting heavy on his hip. He couldn’t blame them, truly. It wasn’t as if he looked like the bardic type.

“Can I help you?” They asked. Their nimble fingers brushed a stray lock of grey hair behind their ear in a textbook show of nervousness. Geralt sighed inwardly. It couldn’t be helped sometimes, how people viewed him. He ignored it; not for the first time, because the shop was his best bet for getting Jaskier the lute he deserved. The shopkeeper was old- probably experienced- and the display cases scattered behind the counter showed off their skill proudly. Yes, this shop would definitely do.

“I need a custom lute.”

•••

Jaskier had initially been confused when Geralt told him they would be staying in the small town for a week longer. Probably because Geralt had expressed his distaste for it already- albeit through his typical series of muttered curses and grunts, but Jaskier understood nonetheless. Thankfully, it was easy for Geralt to toss out an excuse about giving Roach a break until the roads were less caked in mud.

It was however, much harder to explain to him why they could only afford one room at the inn now.

“What? Didn’t those nasty things- cockatrice, were they?- fetch us plenty? I saw your coin pouch just this morning, fat as anything.” Jaskier’s brow furrowed. His cheeks were flushed and by Geralt’s judgement, he was borderline drunk. Ale had entered his system to loosen his lips and muscles in a way not much else could.

“Had to spend it,” Geralt explained. It was hardly a good explanation, but it wasn’t as if he could say more without ruining the surprise.

“On what? Prostitutes? You’ve really no need for that, Geralt. I’d bet people from all across the continent would be dying for a chance to let the famed White Wolf ravish them, no payment needed.”

Geralt snorted, both at Jaskier’s boldness and how wrong he was. “Not everyone is so eager to fuck a Witcher.”

“Wh- I’m sure plenty of people are!” Jaskier sputtered.

“Hm.” Geralt leaned forward onto their table. “Point out a single person in this bar who seems interested.”

Jaskier opened and closed his mouth, averting his gaze and gesturing vaguely. Geralt leaned back, satisfied with the way embarrassment painted his cheeks a dark red.

“Exactly. Besides, it wasn’t prostitutes.”

“What, then?” Jaskier’s gaze snapped back to Geralt, seemingly thankful for the change of subject.

Geralt hummed. “You’ll see.”

•••

In the end, it had been a rather unceremonious thing. Geralt let himself up into their room early assuming that, with two more songs to get through, he could wrap the lute nicely before Jaskier finished watching the performance downstairs and joined him.

Geralt was wrong.

It looked like a disaster. Geralt couldn’t recall a time where he’d ever wrapped a gift for someone before, and he’d no idea it was this complicated. And wrapping a lute, nonetheless! The thing had way too many curves and edges for the paper to cover it in any sort of reasonable way; he’d have to start over again-

“You missed the finale, Geralt! I- what are you doing?”

Geralt froze. At least his back was to the door and the lute hidden where Jaskier couldn’t see. Gods, he hadn’t even heard the door open. Had he been that absorbed?

“Hellooo? Geralt? Don’t just sit there all hunched over and brooding; you do enough of that as it is.”

Well, now or never.

Geralt straightened and turned almost mechanically, crossing the room in two large steps and shoving the gift into Jaskier’s hands. Jaskier let out a muffled noise of surprise, fumbled with it for a moment, and then held it out as the sight of it illustrated a picture of confusion behind his eyes.

“What is this?” He asked, glancing up at Geralt. Geralt averted his gaze before they could connect.

“Open it,” he grunted, taking a step back and clasping his hands to avoid fidgeting with them.

Jaskier’s brow furrowed and for once in his life, he didn’t ask any questions. Every crinkle and rip seemed magnified in the otherwise silent room as he opened the gift delicately; painfully so.

Geralt’s near inaudible breaths stuttered to a complete stop when Jaskier’s eyes finally fell on the dark surface of the lute. He just stared. No words- nothing. Fuck.

“Too much?” Geralt huffed.

“No, no, I-“ Jaskier’s words hung on a single shuddering breath. His slender hands traced along the carved pattern of flowers that bent around the soundhole: dandelions and lupine.

“It’s stunning.” He looked up at Geralt then. Something shone behind his eyes that Geralt didn’t know how to name, but he was smiling, smiling, so it must be good.

“Good? Fits with the rest of your-“ he nodded vaguely to Jaskier’s outfit. “Style? I can take it back if it-“

“Geralt I swear if you choose now to finally start being talkative I’ll smash this one over your head instead of a monster’s,” Jaskier threatened, but it was dampened by wonder.

Geralt shut up.

“And don’t you dare return it,” Jaskier continued, cradling the lute close to his body. “She’ll be staying with me as long as I’m still breathing, thank you very much.”

Geralt huffed a laugh. “Couldn’t let the continent mourn the loss of your ballads, could I?”

Jaskier practically beamed at that. “I knew you cared! Oh, if the people could see you now- the fierce white wolf, enthralled with the songs of his bard!”

“Let’s not get carried away,” Geralt protested, but there was no strength behind it. How could there be when Jaskier’s smile alone made his knees feel so weak?

Gods, he was in deep.

Chapter Text

There was only one disadvantage to spending nearly all of one’s coin on a lute for their friend (whom they were hopelessly in love with) and it was that they then had to share an inn room with said friend. It wasn’t like Jaskier and Geralt hadn’t shared a room before, but this time it felt different. Geralt was hyper-aware of every touch they shared, no matter how fleeting or unintentional.

And the bed was a whole other matter.

After half a week of sharing (how long did it take for someone to make a lute?!) Geralt thought himself used to it, or at least well-adjusted enough to not freak out whenever Jaskier was closer than 1.5 metres.

Unfortunately, just when Geralt had gotten used to laying overtop the same bed sheet as Jaskier again, the universe decided to rip it out from under them.

It was the morning after Geralt had presented Jaskier with the lute, so he wrote off the strange warmth the felt when waking up to residual butterflies or something of the sort. Yet as consciousness dawned on him, washing away the hazy cloud of sleep, he realized it was something much more physical.

It was Jaskier.

Geralt froze. At some point in the night, the two had ended up in a messy but comfortable tangle of limbs, with Jaskier’s head tucked into Geralt’s chest and one hand bunched in the fabric of his shirt. Geralt’s arm was thrown- no, curled- over Jaskier’s body, his hand coming to rest near the base of his neck. There was no order to the way their legs intertwined and Geralt wasn’t quite sure how to escape from it (not that he was really trying anyways).

Geralt straddled the awkward like between comfortable and panicked. His heart was racing (by a Witcher’s standards) and he could feel his face growing warm, but Jaskier looked so... content. He hadn’t yet woke up; hair mussed and slightly curled, lips parted just a touch. Beautiful. Geralt’s felt dizzy from it- from the touch, and the trust, and gods, the Jaskier. Although his relaxed state was a paradox in itself, Geralt found himself wanting to preserve it as long as he possibly could.

So he didn’t move. Not a muscle.

Eventually, Geralt’s body coaxed itself back into the waiting arms of sleep. When he awoke again, the warmth was gone. Geralt took a moment to feel the sick-sweet disappointment and relief that had filled its place before something else caught his attention.

Jaskier hadn’t left the room. Geralt could tell without even opening his eyes, because the bard was humming. It was low and quiet, just under his breath as if to not wake his companion, but Geralt heard it nonetheless. He took a moment to simply listen, unmoving and content, to Jaskier’s voice. As of late, he’d seemed happier- more well rested, too. If all it took was an extra half-week at an inn to strengthen the spark in his eyes, Geralt would ensure it be that way far more often. It was lovely. He couldn’t lay in bed forever though, lest Jaskier presume him dead and bury him alive.

Geralt opened his eyes and sat upright carefully, leaning forwards. Just because he couldn’t pretend to be asleep didn’t mean he had to startle Jaskier.

Geralt was glad that he didn’t, because the sight of Jaskier pulling on a fresh shirt and humming without a care in the world was enough to bring back an echo of the warmth he’d felt when they were wrapped around each other.

Jaskier’s humming stuttered to a stop when he turned around and noticed Geralt.

“Look who’s finally awake.” Jaskier smiled, and it was a little lopsided but so, so perfect. “If you’d slept any longer, I fear I’d have to pronounce you dead.”

“Good thing I woke up, then.” Geralt’s voice was still rough with sleep, but Jaskier didn’t seem to mind. “Time?”

“After sunrise, I’d assume. I would have a better guess for you if I could actually see the damn thing, though.” Jaskier grumbled. “There hasn’t been a ballad-worthy sunrise in weeks! If these accursed clouds don’t let up soon, I’ll run dry of inspiration!”

“What a shame.”

Jaskier tossed the first thing he grabbed- a small tea towel- at Geralt in mock offense. “Shut it, you. We both know you love my singing.”

Geralt hummed.

“In all seriousness,” Jaskier continued, the lightness in his voice leaving for a moment. “I do miss the sunrise. The mornings are so much worse without them.”

Geralt looked out the window. Dark, cloudy skies. “This one’s bad, then?”

Jaskier looked away from Geralt at that, working his fingers at the hem of his shirt. “...no, no. This morning... this morning was good.”

•••

The sunrise comment stuck in Geralt’s mind like an especially persistent burr. Every morning, he found himself waking up early just to check if the sky had cleared overnight. For three days, he had been met with disappointment. All clouds, no sky.

On the fourth day, Geralt woke up to a steady stream of dying moonlight through their window.

He had never gotten out of bed so fast.

“H- Geralt? S’ everything ok?” Jaskier asked sleepily.

“Get up,” Geralt grunted. He pulled on a clean shirt and went to gather their pack.

Jaskier sat up at that. “What? If there’s a lord outside the door that wants our heads on a stick, I promise it’s not my fault.”

“Nobody’s trying to kill us,” Geralt sighed, “but we have to go.” He double-checked the window, just to be sure. Cloudless. The sunrise would start any minute now.

“Alright, alright.” Jaskier clambered out of bed unceremoniously. “Where are we going?”

“You’ll see.” Geralt swung their pack over his shoulder.

“Cryptic today, are we?” Jaskier fumbled with his doublet while Geralt stood by the door, waiting. He looked from the bard to the window. Gods, he was taking too long. The sunrise was almost upon them!

Jaskier let out a small yelp when Geralt took him by the wrist and led him outside.

“Now I know we’re in a rush here Geralt but is this really necessary-“

“Yes.” Geralt placed their payment for the night on the front counter as he passed it without bothering to look up at the innkeeper.

“And you’re sure there’s nobody out to kill us?”

“Yes.” Geralt pushed the door open harder than necessary and pulled Jaskier outside, coming to a stop right beside the dirt road that ran straight through the town. The gap it made between the buildings created a perfect window for seeing the sunrise, like a picture frame for nature’s most stunning artwork yet.

“Wha- out here? By the road? This is our grand destination? Geralt, I don’t- oh.” Jaskier’s words broke off in a shaky exhale as the sun breached the horizon and sent golden light cascading across the trees, the sky, the town, everything. It chased away the shadowy dark purples of the night sky with glorious oranges, reds, and pinks. The world felt alive for the first time in weeks; warm and beautiful.

Geralt chanced a glance at Jaskier. His mouth was parted just the slightest, eyes wide and brimming with inspiration and awe ground together using the continent’s most sacred mortar and pestle. The sunlight lit the curling ends of his hair ablaze and caught on his eyelashes like dewdrops.

If there was a poetic way to describe the feeling it gave Geralt- like his heart was being crushed and his lungs punched at the same time- he’d use it, but Jaskier always had been the poet between them, hadn’t he? With the way he was looking at the sunrise, Geralt was sure long-winded, perfect metaphors were already unfurling in his mind.

He hadn’t pulled his wrist away from Geralt’s grasp. Even when he was dragging Jaskier along, Geralt hadn’t held it tightly. Jaskier could have yanked away and ran in the other direction, or slapped Geralt across the face, or crossed his arms and demanded an explanation, but he hadn’t. He continued not to, whether it be from awe, forgetfulness, or trust. Jaskier had followed him across mountains and valleys no matter how hard he’d tried to get rid of him, but this- this small gesture was enough to send Geralt’s heart soaring.

He was still looking at Jaskier when the sun had finished cresting the horizon- still looking when Jaskier turned his attention from it to Geralt.

“Did you wake me up to see the sunrise?” He asked, so quietly and full of disbelief that Geralt wondered if he’d imagined it.

Geralt looked away. He did not reply.

“I...” Jaskier, once again, seemed at a loss for words.

“If I’d known all it takes is a sunrise to shut you up, I would have done this a lot sooner.” Geralt said, not without a smile.

Jaskier pulled his hand away from Geralt’s to smack him lightly on the shoulder, and Geralt found himself missing his touch.

“You brute! You just had to go and ruin a tender moment with your dislike of me, didn’t you?” Jaskier was laughing as he said it, but it wiped the smile from Geralt’s face.

“I don’t dislike you,” he said. Jaskier’s own smile faltered and then widened, as if he couldn’t believe Geralt had admitted what he had.

“I know, I know. How could you hate your very best friend in the whole wide world?” Jaskier snickered. He gave Geralt another gentle shove before setting off along the dirt road.

“Where are you going?” Geralt called.

Jaskier turned around and looked at Geralt as if he’d just asked what the difference between a pig and a dog was. “To get Roach? We can’t exactly leave town without her.”

Despite himself, Geralt smiled. “The stables are in my direction.”

Jaskier blinked as his face morphed from confident to sheepish. He made his way back to fall into step with Geralt.

“Ah. My bad.” He smiled. “You always were the better navigator, weren’t you? Must have something to do with your Witcher training, I presume. Could find a pebble in an avalanche, as they say.”

“Nobody says that.”

“They do too! In fact, I bet-“

The two fell back into their old routine of bickering and teasing, and if their hands knocked together every once in awhile on the way to the stables, it was surely accidental, right?

Chapter Text

After that, Geralt and Jaskier were on the road again. Jaskier would ramble and sing, occasionally strumming a chord on his lute and tuning it as he saw fit. Geralt studied the small smile it brought to his face as if he’d never see it again. Realistically, he knew that they had time and Jaskier wasn’t going anywhere- not today, not right now- but gods, he simply couldn’t help himself. Jaskier was just so... Jaskier. Despite what he expressed in his taunts and grunts, Geralt truly did believe that one could never have enough Jaskier.

“I’m telling you, Geralt! I’m a human- weak and squishy, remember? If you keep up this pace with your inhuman Witcher-y stamina, I just might collapse to the ground within the next ten seconds. Ten! Nine! Eight-“

Okay, maybe one could have a little too much Jaskier.

In Jaskier’s defence, they had been on the road since sunrise and it was now well into noon. They had stopped to eat a few hours ago, but on uneven and uncomfortable ground.

“-two! I’m at two, Geralt! One... ack!” Geralt turned around just in time to see Jaskier fake a choked-off gasp and fall to the ground in his traditional dramatic fashion.

“You’re not dying, Jaskier,” he sighed.

Jaskier cracked one eye open. “You don’t know that.”

“If you were dead, you’d be a lot quieter.” Geralt extended his hand and Jaskier took it. He pulled him up from his crumpled place on the ground and then hesitated, frowning. Jaskier did look tired- not exhausted, but Geralt didn’t want to push it. Had he been inconsiderate of Jaskier and his needs all this time? Geralt himself had far more stamina than any human ever could, but forgot that fact far too often. He vowed to never forget again, for Jaskier’s sake.

“On Roach, then.” Geralt mumbled, breaking eye contact rather clumsily.

“Pardon?”

“Roach. The horse, Jaskier. Get on the horse.” Geralt gestured vaguely towards Roach, as if that would help at all.

“Why?”

Geralt sighed, “You’ve been complaining of sore feet and fatigue enough to make my ears bleed. Do you need to ask why?”

“Ah, so you have been listening! And all this time I thought my suffering fell on deaf ears.” Jaskier snickered.

“It will if you don’t get on Roach.” For as vague and confusing of a threat (using the word lightly) it was, it still prompted Jaskier to at least approach the horse.

“Of course. I wouldn’t want a deaf audience now, would I?” He swung himself onto Roach with as much coordination as one would expect from a tired Jaskier- which is to say not a lot.

Roach huffed but didn’t buck Jaskier off, which Geralt took as a win. He knew she more than tolerated Jaskier just as he did, and expressed it about as well. Geralt took her lead again and continued along their path, which had long since faded from sun-cast dirt roads and fields to sparse birch forest.

“Have you ever noticed the way birch bark looks like eyes? Creepy trees, I tell you. Almost sonnet-worthy, if you squint.” Jaskier commented. Geralt hummed in reply, which seemed to be enough encouragement for the bard to continue.

“Although I suppose I shouldn’t mind them- not after travelling with you for this long. Comparing birch bark to alghouls or damned cockatrice just seems foolis- oh!” Geralt turned when Jaskier broke off suddenly, and bristled when he saw the man launch himself off of Roach.

“Jaskier! What-“

“Flowers, Geralt!” Jaskier scrambled up off of the ground and all but bolted towards a small field beyond the birch. Geralt cursed under his breath and placed Roach’s lead on a nearby branch before taking off after him. For someone who had been complaining of tiredness for the past few hours, Jaskier sure was moving fast.

Geralt caught up to him with relative ease (Witcher speed and stamina and whatnot) near the outskirts of the flower field.

“Jaskier, why...” Geralt’s words died on his tongue. The field bloomed with shades of purple and blue, with splashes of yellow interlacing it to create a striking scene. Unlike the brightness of the sunrise, the flower field had a soft sort of power to it that still managed to be just as breathtaking.

“Gorgeous, isn’t it?” Jaskier said. Geralt hummed in response. He could feel Jaskier’s heavy gaze on him like sunlight through cracked-open curtains in the morning.

“Next time you see something worth looking at, don’t launch yourself off of a moving horse,” Geralt huffed, breaking his eyes away from the flowers in the field to meet the ones dancing in Jaskier’s eyes.

A small, almost sad smile crossed his face. “Ah, dear Witcher, if I launched myself off of a horse every time I saw something worth looking at, I’d be doing it a lot more often.” Jaskier’s stare was heavy and captivating in a way not unlike quicksand- heavy and hard to escape.

“Yes, well. That’s why you don’t ride Roach, isn’t it?” Geralt murmured. Jaskier, for all the words he usually had, only hummed in response. The only sound in the field was the brushing of the flowers and grasses against one another as a gentle breeze coaxed them close.

“I suppose you won’t be letting me on her again, then?” Jaskier said with an unsuspecting roughness. When Geralt didn’t reply, he broke his eyes away- out of the magnifying pull- and hummed.

“I thought as much.” it was said lightly, but with something else behind it- something sad or resigned or upset. Something Geralt did not like. He followed Jaskier deeper into the field.

“I never said no,” he muttered as casually as he could fathom at the moment. Jaskier laughed a little and paused to pick a flower from the ground: a wild daffodil, pale and yellow. Jaskier twirled the thin stem between two delicate fingers, staring at it with another one of those emotions Geralt didn’t know and didn’t like.

“Jaskier?” He began with hesitance staining his voice like a bad dye on aged leather, but it got his attention well enough.

“Geralt?” Jaskier copied Geralt’s tone in a way that would be mockery from anyone else, but paired with Jaskier’s lopsided smile, it was nothing more than fond teasing.

“I...” Geralt paused. He plucked a flower from the ground- blue and tiny- and held it. Flowers- flowers were romantic, according to Yen. Yet she said it was subjective, that Geralt had to make the final decision based on who Jaskier was and what he’d like.

Geralt considered himself good at making sensible decisions fast- he had to be, in his line of work- but what he did next was fuelled by anything but sensibility.

Geralt stepped closer to Jaskier and tucked the flower behind his ear. He moved back afterwards, but was still close enough to see more than hear the way Jaskier’s breath hitched.

“It matches your eyes,” Geralt said as a way of explanation. It wasn’t a good one- Geralt had no idea to explain his thought pattern. It seemed that wherever Jaskier was concerned, the paths in his mind crossed and twisted into heart-shaped knots. Pretty and full of untameable, poetic feelings, but incapable of much anything else.

Jaskier nodded as if it made perfect sense. His hand- still up until then- twitched and fidgeted as if being pulled in two different directions. The pull towards Geralt won and suddenly he had a flower tucked behind his ear in turn.

“As this does yours,” Jaskier breathed. Geralt was almost scared of doing the same, as if the lightest breath would shatter the strange tension in the air like a hammer to porcelain. Luckily or unluckily (Geralt wasn’t sure), Jaskier swung before he had to. He turned away from Geralt and back to the field, looking out at it with something akin to reminiscence.

“Do you have a favorite? Flower, that is,” he asked. Geralt thought for a moment.

“I...suppose.”

Jaskier was impossible to read, his face turned away and his voice unusually choked. “The tall violet-y ones, I presume?”

“No.” Geralt reached out- he seemed to be doing a lot of that nowadays- and took Jaskier by the wrist. “I.. blue and violet. They’re both charming in their own ways.”

Whether it was his grip or his answer that made Jaskier turn to face him, Geralt couldn’t tell. He smiled slightly, hummed in contemplation, and nodded.

“You don’t like the yellows?”

“Not as much.”

“We’ll have to work on that, then. I think they’re stunning in their own right.” Jaskier said it with such confidence, removing any and all space for argument Geralt would have tried to fit his own words into. Geralt’s heart skipped a beat and his lungs lost the air the gods designed them to hold. He was sure Jaskier could bring him to organ failure if he so desired.

Jaskier let Geralt lead him out of the flower field; away from purples and yellows and blues and strange, unreadable emotions.

“Do you think that grew naturally, or did some well-intentioned farmer come down here and muck everything up?”

Geralt frowned. “I thought you liked the flowers.”

“I do, I do. I just... the longer you look, the more confusing it seems- the pattern.”

“We can make sense of it.”

“Yes- you’re right,” Jaskier said, and then paused. “The purples and yellows look beautiful together, even if I hate to admit it- they’re contrasting colours, I’ll have you know.”

“The blues are nice,” Geralt hummed, “don’t forget them.”

“Yes, yes, but don’t you think the field is a little... crowded with all three of them in there like that? Is there enough room for violet and blue?”

Geralt stopped walking and turned to face Jaskier. What in Melitile’s name was that supposed to mean?

“Yes,” Geralt answered. Jaskier met his eyes with only minimal hesitation and smiled.

“I- yes, yes, you’re right. You usually are.” Jaskier nodded slowly in a way that seemed more for himself than Geralt.

“Not always,” Geralt hummed.

“Of course not always. No one can be spot-on all the time, Geralt.” Jaskier rolled his eyes cheekily and suddenly the spark in them was back in full force, as if it had never really left. Geralt supposed it was like a bird in that way, shifting out when Jaskier’s world seemed bleak and returning when the air had cleared.

“They truly are beautiful flowers,” Jaskier murmured with a wistful look back in the direction of the field.

Geralt couldn’t help but agree.

Chapter Text

It would be an understatement to say Geralt was frustrated. It had been over a week since the start of the courting process, and he still felt as if he’d done nothing at all. Yet on his mental list, he had checked off three items. So why wasn’t it getting him anywhere?

It wasn’t like Geralt was frustrated with Jaskier for the lack of response or acknowledgement from the man; he couldn’t- and had absolutely no desire to- make him reciprocate his feelings if he wasn’t interested. It was more so that he didn’t even seem to be receiving the messages Geralt was trying to send him. It had become glaringly clear that the brick wall between them was built from cluelessness rather than rejection (and thank the gods for that).

Geralt, for all he teased Jaskier, did not consider him stupid. Far from it, to be perfectly honest, though these past few weeks had shown him to be, well, somewhat oblivious. One would think that a man like Jaskier, who was definitely experienced in the world of romance, would be able to notice when someone was trying to show him they were interested. Yet here they were, a week in with no true and proper communication of intention or feeling. After contemplating this for far too long, Geralt came to the rather obvious conclusion that he was simply not being clear enough.

But what else could he do? Did he need to be more bold, more intimate, or more blunt? Perhaps all three? Geralt’s plans had screeched to a halt like a horse-drawn carriage forced to stop due to repairs on the roads, if repairs were comparable to lovesick cluelessness.

So. Overall, it wasn’t going well.

Geralt pretended as if he were merely thinking about monsters or pubs or whatever Jaskier assumed he rolled about in his head on a daily basis as the two of them continued on their merry way through forests and fields, leaving the flowers from earlier behind them. Jaskier was on Roach again, seemingly in a much better mood, though his previous behaviour gave Geralt much to chew on for later. He was strumming a tune- or at least trying to- which proved difficult with one hand on Roach’s neck and the other on his lute. At least he hadn’t lost his balance completely and fallen to the ground, or worse yet, launched himself off of Roach again. That was worse enough the first time.

“...makes fools of our men. Fools from our men? Geralt, what do you think?” the question in Jaskier’s voice cut through Geralt’s thoughts.

He hummed, “fools of our men.”

“Oh-ho! Finally, an audience willing to participate!” Jaskier whooped. “I do believe that’s the first time you’ve given me a serious answer to a question about music.”

“Well,” Geralt grunted, “I’m not tone-deaf.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t go that far.” Jaskier snickered and went back to his quiet strumming. It was peaceful, and Geralt basked in how calm the world around them seemed to be. A bird chirped lazily in one of the trees above them, the leaves rustled gently like a symphony of dancers shuffling about, and Jaskier, of course, tied it all together with his lute. He had always been good at tying things together nice and neat, hadn’t he?

(Even as the thought crossed his mind, Geralt knew it to be untrue. Jaskier was a fucking disaster, to put it lightly).

They carried on like that, with Jaskier singing loud enough to cover up Geralt’s own noisy and scattered thoughts. It wasn’t until nightfall came to return cold shadow to the sky and earth that the two stopped, which wasn’t surprising. It always had been easy to slip into routines and patterns with Jaskier.

The man in question stopped strumming and turned his eyes to the sky. “Usually we stop before the world decides to, Geralt. Are we riding through the night this time?”

Geralt snorted. “The world hasn’t stopped just because the sun’s down. And no, we’re stopping now.” What Geralt didn’t say is that they would have stopped hours earlier had he not been running circles in his own mind.

“I’m well aware that the world isn’t ending. All good poets have to exaggerate sometimes, but you wouldn’t know much about poetry, would you?” Jaskier paused. “I just mean that you don’t seem to fancy it, and I doubt they have writing courses at Kaer Morhen.”

“You’re right; I don’t fancy most poetry.” Geralt hooked Roach’s lead on a low-hanging tree branch and offered Jaskier his hand to help him off, which he took without hesitation.

“Only most?” Jaskier’s grin, which some would describe as shit-eating, widened considerably at what he seemed to view as Geralt’s slip-up.

“Only most. Yours is... nice.” Geralt chose his words carefully, but they still didn’t feel like enough. His brain worked in heart-shaped patterns, yelling I love you I love you the shine in your eyes is brighter than any star and his mouth was determined to make sense of it in straight lines. It would never work though, would it? Hearts were curvy and bright and tender and those things could never be expressed in the straightforward line of Geralt’s speech and mannerisms.

It was hard to think about, so he tucked it away for brooding later.

Despite all of this, Jaskier’s grin shifted and swayed into something different. Waves of warmth foam-capped with pleasant surprise crested and crashed behind his eyes. He still had the flower tucked behind his ear, and that word was at Geralt’s tongue again, trying to pry open his lips and force half-written confessions from the tightening organ in his chest. Beautiful, because Jaskier truly was, wasn’t he?

Jaskier said something; a thank-you and a joke, or maybe a jab at Geralt again, but the Witcher couldn’t tell when all he could focus on was the spark in his eyes and the way the moonlight caught in them just right. Jaskier, for all that he was human, had a certain magic about him. He could capture the sun, the moon, the stars, everything, within his soft gaze.

Yen had mentioned in passing that it was possible to catch lightning in a bottle. If that were true- which it surely was, Yen was not a liar- Jaskier had mastered it without even knowing. Briefly, Geralt wondered if it were possible to capture someone’s heart in a bottle as well, because how else could he explain the way his squeezed as if confined to a space far too small to hold it; and he already knew Jaskier had possession of his heart in some sort of way. Melitile, Jaskier had possession of all Geralt could offer him, if he were willing to take it. How beautiful and how sad it was; to have all of that power held in a little bottle within your eyes and not even know it.

“Hellooo? Geralt of Rivia? White Wolf?” Geralt blinked hard and shoved those thoughts into the back of his mind. Jaskier had indeed been speaking, and Geralt hadn’t listened.

“What?” He grunted.

Jaskier rolled his eyes and stepped away from Geralt to pull their pack from Roach’s saddle. “We’re stopping for the night, yes? So unless you’ve found a nice bed in that head of yours, I’d recommend making our own now.” Geralt nodded dumbly. If the past week had taught him anything, it was that love, for all its blinding brilliance, was still, well, blinding. It wasn’t the most helpful thing, at times.

He helped Jaskier set up their bed rolls- separate, which Geralt only hated a little bit- and built a fire for them. The weather had warmed considerably since the misery of the past few weeks, but warmer still didn’t mean warm, especially without the sun up to pass out its soft light.

They prepared for sleep in relative silence, but once the fire was out and the food cooked and sitting warm in their bellies, Geralt found sleep was another thing his mind wouldn’t allow him to have. He shifted around in a pointless attempt to get comfortable (which was never easy out in the wild, to be clear), but he just.. couldn’t. After what felt like an eternity of tossing and turning but was probably only an hour or so, Geralt huffed and extracted himself from his bedroll. There was a stream nearby he could tuck himself into in the hopes that the chill of the water would scare away his too-loud thoughts. It was also close enough that he could hear if anything happened to Jaskier and Roach, which was definitely a plus.

The water was just as cold as Geralt expected. His muscles tensed and screamed when the icy bite of it wrapped them from the chest down, but in the best possible way. Geralt sighed contently and allowed his eyes to slip closed for a moment as the hushed sounds of the forest lulled him into contentment.

He heard Jaskier’s footsteps before his voice. “No matter how hard you’d like to pretend, that is not a warm bath and you are not in an inn.” He sounded sleepy and sharp all at once in a way only Jaskier could.

Geralt hummed. “Not pretending. You could join me, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s cold.”

“Yes, I gathered that. If you were human, I’m positive I’d be pulling your frozen body out of the stream come morning.” Geralt heard Jaskier sit down beside the bank; close enough to touch if he reached out.

“But I’m not human.” he cracked one eye open to peer at Jaskier. “Did I wake you?”

Jaskier shook his head, and then nodded, and then did a weird mix of the two. “Yes and no. You didn’t wake me- not explicitly- but one does tend to notice when their big strong friend leaves their general area, especially when they’re a light sleeper and bears exist.”

“A light sleeper?” Geralt smiled a little. “So the times you’ve been so deep asleep I couldn’t wake you were fake.”

Jaskier laughed. “Every actor needs to hone their craft somehow.”

“You’re a bard, not an actor.”

“But sometimes I must be both.”

Geralt tilted his head. “And when would sometimes be?”

Jaskier leaned back on his hands and turned his face skyward. “Well if you don’t already know, I’ve been doing a good job, haven’t I?”

Geralt’s smile fell, and suddenly the chill in his bones was no longer from the icy stream.

“You disguise yourself around me.” It was said quietly- a statement and not a question- but Jaskier hummed a yes anyways. His eyelids dropped and he led himself into a little tune, strikingly off beat with the spiral of thoughts in Geralt’s head.

“I... why?” Geralt had to know. If Jaskier felt he couldn’t be true and honest around Geralt he had surely done something truly, wholly wrong and it had to be amended, because Jaskier was a friend first and foremost and he wouldn’t push him away again, Gods be damned-

Jaskier’s eyes flew open and he sat up abruptly. “Oh. Oh- Geralt I didn’t mean- I don’t pretend to be someone else around only you. Ah, that sounds worse-“ Jaskier waved his hands around, looking strangely alarmed. “What I mean is, you’ve seen me act. But I haven’t acted because of you! I mean, surely you know that a bard can’t find it in him to be jovial at all the banquets he must attend.”

Oh. The tension and ice bled out of Geralt, and he didn’t feel much like being in the stream anymore, but at least Jaskier didn’t hate him.

“I thought the women would make them more than enjoyable for you,” Geralt rumbled, not unkindly.

“Well, yes, women are nice, but occasionally a man would much prefer the company of someone- a dear friend, lets say- who’s off brooding in the corner or something equally off-putting to anyone who wishes to approach him.” Jaskier paused, looked away from Geralt for a moment, and then stood.

“Are you coming back to bed anytime soon, or are you determined to freeze to death out here?” He offered Geralt a hand and Geralt, despite knowing that he wouldn’t, couldn’t, freeze to death, took it.

“You do not hate me,” Geralt said while putting his clothes back on. Jaskier was sitting on a tree stump behind him, making a show of not looking (Geralt didn’t understand why. It wasn’t as if Jaskier had never seen him naked before). It was supposed to be quiet and just under his breath, as a question to himself and only himself, but Jaskier heard anyway.

“I do not,” he confirmed. “Is that surprising to you?”

Geralt hesitated. At this point in time, it wasn’t. He knew Jaskier cared about him to some extent- he just didn’t know how- but tonight had placed his surety of that back on shaky ground. Sometimes it was hard for him to believe that Jaskier- beautiful, perfect Jaskier- could genuinely enjoy his company. He wasn’t the most ideal travel compassion and couldn’t ever be called a great conversationalist, yet Jaskier was still with him. He hadn’t left to find someone else or gotten tired of Geralt. Even after all these years, Geralt supposed that was still at least a little surprising to him.

“It best not be,” Jaskier huffed when Geralt stayed silent, “I like to think that by now, you’ve got it through your head that we’re simply the best of friends and you’re not getting rid of me.”

“I wouldn’t want to.” Geralt turned. With the way the moonlight played on Jaskier’s face, it almost looked like he was blushing.

More bold, more intimate, more blunt, Geralt’s mind supplied. He took a small step towards Jaskier that was none of those things.

Jaskier cleared his throat. “Well. That makes this whole travelling around thing easier for the both of us now, doesn’t it? It’s wonderful how much easier life can be when people like each other.”

Another small step. “Much easier.”

“And we do, don’t we? Like each other, that is.” Jaskier swallowed.

Geralt stood less than a foot away now, and his hands itched to close the gap and tuck a stray piece of hair behind Jaskier’s ear. “We do.”

“We do,” Jaskier echoed.

Bold, intimate, blunt. All they needed was another step closer, but it wasn’t his to take. Geralt stood and waited- waited for Jaskier to tell him. Was the gap to be closed or widened; eliminated or extended beyond what Geralt could deal with but would anyway for Jaskier’s sake?

Jaskier didn’t move. He sat there, eyes on Geralt’s, hands still and lips parted slightly. No closing, no widening; no movement at all. His body held the same tension Geralt knew his own did; that acute waiting and wanting. But for what? For Geralt or for distance?

Geralt’s confidence wavered more and more the longer they stood there in the dark. Eventually he stepped back himself, arms crossing, and suggested they get back to sleep. Jaskier nodded, took the hand he offered, and followed him back to camp. There was a lot of following from Jaskier and a lot of leading from Geralt in their strange friendship, and Geralt was unsure how to make it clear to Jaskier that he could- and was encouraged to- change their path if he didn’t see it fit. He could voice his feelings for Geralt, romantic or platonic or otherwise, and Geralt would accept them. There was no greater gift this world could offer him than being loved by Jaskier, but he’d be damned if he didn’t embrace it in any of the forms it took. If only Jaskier would just tell him, he would finally know how to properly proceed.

Geralt paused for a moment, debating the hypocrisy of that. Perhaps Jaskier had been waiting for the exact same thing from Geralt, all this time. Perhaps he was as confused as Geralt was and his hesitation was borne of the same unsurity as Geralt’s own. Perhaps it was time Geralt told Jaskier, explicitly and without room for misinterpretation, what in Melitile’s name he was up to.

Yes, it seemed it was finally time for a proper confession.

Chapter Text

Geralt considered himself a man of action. It was evidenced in the way he jumped into assignments and contracts with a silver sword and Witcher potions as opposed to a fleshed-out plan. It wasn’t as if he were impulsive or careless, just... not one for planning.

But, given his current circumstances, it seemed he would have to become just that very soon.

Geralt knew he was going to confess. The surety of it thrummed in the back of his skull whenever he looked at Jaskier and caught him unawares with a soft smile on his face and a spark in his eyes, or when Jaskier smiled and laughed and teased him, or when he sung under his breath and fiddled with the strings of his lute.

(So, to summarize: always. The mere existence of Jaskier was an unwavering reminder of Geralt’s feelings and what he planned to do about them).

However, he also served as a contestant reminder that Geralt was confessing to Jaskier, who some would consider the most dramatic and loud man in the entire continent. Jaskier, who deserved a confession carved across the night sky in stolen starlight but was going to have to settle for Geralt. It stung. Geralt knew he wouldn’t be able to craft a confession glorious enough to be worthy of Jaskier, but he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to try.

Which brought him back to planning.

Wretched, wretched planning.

Half-formed speeches danced through Geralt’s head at night when the rest of the world slept. Love poems- for all he knew he couldn’t write them- circled in his mind like vultures hungry for nothing more than Geralt’s humiliation. He decided very early on in the planning process that he was not writing a fucking poem, thank you very much. A speech would have to do.

It took an entire sleepless night for Geralt to come up with something. It wasn’t excellent by any means, but it did take some of Yennefer’s advice into account, and Geralt would be damned if he claimed to know more about romance than her.

There was only one, small little problem with Geralt’s plan. He needed an inn, and the nearest town was a day’s travel West. That normally wouldn’t be an issue, but Geralt and Jaskier had been heading East for weeks. Geralt had no idea how to explain to Jaskier that they had to turn around and stop in the town they had passed yesterday without seeming like he’d gone totally mad.

But alas, it had to be done, so mad he would be.

“Wake up.” Geralt shook Jaskier gently in an attempt to coax him out of the steady arms of sleep. Jaskier however, seemed determined to stay in its grasp, grumbling unintelligible words of protest and burying his face deeper into the blankets. Geralt sighed. Light sleeper my ass.

“If you do not get up soon I’ll be forced to take drastic action,” Geralt threatened lightly.

“And what would that be?” Jaskier mumbled. He couldn’t sound less concerned if he tried.

“I’ll throw you over my shoulder and drag you out of our campsite myself.” Impossibly, Jaskier got even more still, faking a sleep too deep to be genuine.

Geralt narrowed his eyes. “Jaskier.”

No response.

“Jaskier.”

“Alright, alright!” Jaskier sat up and stretched, and Geralt definitely did not feel his face heat up when it caused his shirt to ride up ever so slightly.

“Why the rush, dear Witcher?” Jaskier rubbed his eyes and threw off his blankets unceremoniously. Geralt grabbed them and packed them up.

“We’re heading West,” he huffed. He saw Jaskier go still from the corner of his eye as confusion took hold of his muscles and shook the sleep out.

“West? Forgive my prying but hasn’t the whole point of this journey been to go, well, East? As in, the categorical opposite of West?”

Geralt tossed Jaskier a change of clothes and hooked their packs to Roach’s side pointedly. “Change of plans.”

“Yes- I gathered that, thank you- but why?” Jaskier sputtered. Geralt turned to look at him then. He was still in his nightclothes; fiddling with the clothing Geralt had thrown him, but not making any real effort to get it on. His brows knitted together in a show of bewilderment that hadn’t been present there for quite a while. He looked almost concerned, and Geralt longed to explain everything, but he couldn’t go and ruin the surprise now, could he?

 

He broke eye contact with Jaskier. “We’re headed back to the town we passed. Nothing urgent.” That last bit was a lie in his eyes, but a few drops of tension bled out of Jaskier’s face at it, so it was a lie worth telling.

“Is there a contract we passed up? A maiden you’ve fallen for and simply cannot get off your mind? If it’s a true love you’re returning to, please do tell me now so I can rid myself of sorrows and cut straight to writing a wonderful ballad for the pair of you.” Jaskier removed his shirt with a strange stilted grace and pulled the other one on much the same. Geralt, like Jaskier had two nights past, made a show of not looking.

“A ballad won’t be necessary,” he said. “There’s no woman.”

“What, then?” Jaskier finished dressing with his traditionally high-waisted pants and bright doublet. Once, Geralt would have called him flashy, or tacky, or any number of words with a little too much bite to be considered worth saying. Now, the only word that came to mind was beautiful. Gods, it always did come back to beautiful.

“Opportunity,” Geralt answered vaguely. He took Roach by the reins and set off along their desired path, not needing to look back to know Jaskier was following.

“Cryptic. For a man who hates destiny and all its wiles, you do seem to speak in riddles quite a lot.”

Geralt hummed. If riddles were what it took to ensure Jaskier got a proper confession, riddles he would tell.

•••

They arrived at the town just as the sun finished its meandering trip across the sky and dipped below the horizon to rest, leaving hues of deep purple and black in its place. Jaskier swayed a little on his feet, complaining of tiredness and overexertion that humans couldn’t handle the way you could, Geralt. Geralt hummed an apology and led him to the nearest inn.

It was a quaint sort of place with plenty of natural light courtesy of the large windows, and the owner- an older gentleman with greying hair- sat at the front desk and read. He bristled at the sight of them- well, at the sight of Geralt. It was nothing he wasn’t used to, and if anything, he was glad for it this once. It made him feel less guilty about the next step in his plan, at least.

Geralt slammed a few coins down on the desk. “A room,” he snarled. Jaskier glanced at him from the corner of his eye, but bit back whatever comment was surely on the tip of his tongue.

The innkeeper’s eyes widened and his barely-there eyebrows fled to his hairline like birds heading northward for summer. He spared a glance at the coin Geralt had offered- only a little over half of what the average price of a room was- and another up at Geralt’s glare. He nodded.

He fished a key from below the desk and dropped it into Geralt’s outstretched hand. “Will the one at the end of the hall suit your needs?”

Geralt nodded and closed his hand around it. He left the innkeeper with Jaskier in tow and only allowed his angered look to drop after the door of their room had been closed behind them. Sometimes being feared had its advantages, like when you were short on coin and needed to stretch it thin in order to afford all of the components in your master plan to confess your undying love to a particular bard.

“Everything alright, Geralt?” The bard in question asked, twisting the ring on his finger. Should Geralt buy him a ring? He shook his head. Now was not the time.

“Everything is fine,” he responded. Jaskier hummed and nodded, but looked less than satisfied.

The room, as expected, only had one bed. It made Geralt more than a little nervous, but he assured himself that if Jaskier turned him down and felt uncomfortable sharing it, he would simply take to the floor.

That thought did not help much, as it involved the idea that Jaskier would turn him down, which stung more than he’d like to admit.

Getting to sleep that night was, to put it simply, a struggle. Geralt couldn’t seem to close his eyes, lest this be the last time Jaskier allowed him to gaze upon his sleeping form so freely. Gods, he looked so peaceful in sleep. A sliver of moonlight cut a sharp line across his face, highlighting the curve of his cheekbone and the corner of his mouth. Geralt longed to trace them with his own hands and lips; to map a brand new continent on the space between Jaskier’s temple and jaw. For now he’d allow himself the privilege of looking without trying to disguise the special kind of softness in his eyes. It was a softness reserved for Jaskier and Jaskier alone, in moments like this when the world was peaceful and quiet and wholly theirs. Geralt hoped that after tomorrow, he’d be able to share it with him.

Morning came both all too slow and all too fast. Geralt did fall into his own hesitant slumber eventually; dreamless and peaceful. He awoke at the crack of dawn and prepared for the day as anticipation and fear made a home in his gut. He was ready to leave with his coin pouch heavy on his hip when Jaskier’s sleepy voice stopped him in his tracks.

“Geralt? Where are you going?” He could hear concern behind the drowsiness in Jaskier’s words and hated to be the cause of it.

“Go back to sleep,” he murmured. “I’ll return soon.” Geralt didn’t allow himself to move until he heard the bed creak as Jaskier flattened himself back on it. Thank the gods for how compliant sleepy Jaskier seemed to be.

Right then. To the market it was.

Geralt, true to his word, returned just as Jaskier was truly waking up. As nonchalantly as he could, he shoved his new bag of freshly purchased items under a small table by the door where they would hopefully go unnoticed until later.

“Morning,” he hummed.

“Morning indeed. How long have you been awake?” Jaskier rubbed the stray sleep from his eyes and blinked up at him owlishly.

Geralt opened the window and allowed the sun to spill itself into their shared room. “Not long.”

“Long enough, it seems. The sun is high.” Jaskier stared out the window, and Geralt found himself admiring how the sunlight caught in his eyes for what felt like the hundredth time.

Geralt hummed and nodded. The sun was indeed high, or at least high enough to indicate that Jaskier had slept through what most people deemed breakfast.

“You should eat,” Geralt suggested.

Jaskier turned away from the window in favour of inspecting him. “And what about you?”

“I already ate,” Geralt lied. He hadn’t- not yet- but it wasn’t as if he was hungry anyways. Having the stamina of a Witcher did have its advantages, one of them being able to go for fairly long periods of time without food. Seeing as the time between yesterday’s dinner and this morning was by no stretch of the imagination a long period of time, Geralt was more than fine.

“Get something to eat.” Geralt tossed his coin sack to Jaskier. “Take your time. I have something to attend to.”

Jaskier raised an eyebrow. “A contract? I can come along, you know. Unless it’s cockatrice again. I refuse to lose another lute to those brutes.”

Geralt couldn’t help the small smile that crossed his face. “Not a contract. Just some... organizing.”

“If you refuse to provide more details, I’ll be forced to go back to the secret lover theory, and I do not believe either of us want that.”

“There’s no secret lover.” Geralt rolled his eyes. “Everything is fine. I’ll explain later.”

Jaskier eyed him wearily. “If you insist. Though when I return, I expect full detail, Geralt. You’ll have to indulge me this once.”

Geralt almost laughed at his word choice. Oh, he’d be indulging him alright. That was the entire point of attempting a genuinely romantic confession.

Once Jaskier had left the room, Geralt was alone with only himself and his feelings- well, them and the copious amounts of candles he had purchased.

He inhaled their scent slowly and turned towards their hiding spot. Right then. Time to begin.

•••

Geralt would not consider himself an expert at setting a mood, but all things considered, he thought he’d done a more than decent job. Almost every desk, table, and nightstand in their room had at least one candle situated upon it. They added splashes of red and white to the room, along with a distinct scent of lavender and vanilla. He’d lit them all, checked to see if they were dripping outside of the dishes twice, and drawn and redrawn the curtains more times than he felt like counting. All there was left to do was wait for Jaskier. He’d have to arrive at any time now, as he’d already been gone long enough to eat and then some. Last Geralt had checked, the sun indicated it was just after noon. He sat himself down on the edge of the bed and clasped his hands in front of him, head bowed. He was sure it looked strange- almost like a prayer- and perhaps it would have been if Geralt felt inclined to ask the gods for any favours. Considering what help they had been in the past, he decided against it. No gods, nor the hand of destiny, would help him now. All Geralt could do was wait and hope.

He was acutely aware of the passage of time at first, but by the time the door actually opened, Geralt had no idea how long it had been.

“Terribly sorry for being out so long. I visited Roach bearing gifts of apples-“ Jaskier’s voice cut off abruptly in the same tune to Geralt’s heart- it certainly felt as if it had stopped as well.

Geralt looked up. Jaskier’s eyes flickered around the room, not unlike the flames of the many candles he was taking in. Geralt couldn’t find it in him to regret buying so many, not when they cast Jaskier’s face in such a beautiful light.

“Jaskier,” he tried to begin. Jaskier met his eyes with ones that held nothing but confusion.

“What is all this?” He asked, and shit, his voice was laced with confusion as well. Geralt shifted awkwardly.

“I...”

“Why are you sitting in the dark with- surrounded by candles? If I walked into some sort of dark ritual, I’d rather you be upfront about it-“

“I’ve been trying to court you.”

Fuck.

Geralt ripped his eyes away from Jaskier’s, but not fast enough to miss the way they went round with shock- he truly hadn’t known, then. Geralt’s plan was falling apart whilst he watched and- good gods- helped tear it down. It was as ridiculous as watching a bricklayer take a hammer to the wall he had spent half a day constructing.

“I- what?” Jaskier stammered. Geralt looked down at his hands, almost white-knuckled with how hard they were clasped.

“I... have been trying to court you.” His teeth ground together with the effort of saying it aloud. It wasn’t romantic or magical or any of the things Geralt had planned, and fuck, Jaskier was excruciatingly silent.

“You... have been trying to court me.” He echoed, seemingly for his own benefit rather than Geralt’s. Geralt nodded stiffly anyways.

“That-that explains an awful lot, actually.” Jaskier murmured, and then continued louder. “So all of this- these past weeks- have been courtship? No offence Geralt, but I’d started to worry about your behaviour. You’ve been kind- kinder than usual- and yet angry towards the innkeeper and it makes sense now I suppose, but gods, you really had me running in circles there.” Jaskier laughed a little, but it came out forced. Shit.

“I- I do have one question, though.” Jaskier was back to fiddling with his ring. “Why? Why have you been trying to court me, that is.”

Geralt looked up at him then. “Why do you think?”

Jaskier was silent.

“Jaskier,” Geralt began softly and with more than a little terror. “I’m not a poet. I’m quiet and I brood, as you would put it, and I‘ve not always been a good friend to you. I’m... incredibly sorry. I’m sorry that you’ve put up with my emotional unavailability for so many years. But Jaskier, I can’t imagine a life without you, and some say Witchers can’t feel emotions, but I say fuck them, because how I feel about you is more than enough proof to the contrary.”

Jaskier made a choked-off noise that gave Geralt pause. “I- I need you to say it. Say it and make it real.”

“Jaskier, I am in love with you.”

And just like that, as if Jaskier were a puppet cut from his strings, he collapsed to the ground on his knees.

Geralt stood in alarm and crossed the room, hands skating over Jaskier’s trembling form with all the surety of a bird fresh from the nest.

“Jaskier? I- you are under no obligation to accept my feelings, I just-“ Jaskier reached up and grabbed Geralt by the front of his shirt, pulling him down to kneel in front of him.

“Geralt, if you thought for even one moment that I would turn you away, you are more dense than I ever could have imagined.” His voice was shaky, but held an unwavering sort of certainty that stole Geralt’s breath from his lungs.

“Geralt of Rivia, White Wolf and legendary Witcher, I have been in love with you for fucking years.”

“Oh,” Geralt exhaled with the same sort of tremble. “Oh.”

“Oh indeed,” Jaskier laughed wetly, and Geralt noticed for the first time that his eyes held unshed tears. He raised a hand, careful and uncertain, and wiped away one that threatened to fall. Jaskier leaned into the touch, and that word was back at the forefront of Geralt’s mind, and for the first time he allowed himself to say it.

“Beautiful.” Jaskier’s smile widened impossibly, beautifully, as blush painted his face a deep and glorious red.

“Can I kiss you?” Geralt asked, the request hanging on nothing more than a shaky murmur.

“Yes. Gods, Geralt, yes.” Jaskier nodded erratically and Geralt brushed his thumb along his cheekbone to remind himself that this was real. Jaskier loved him, and they both shook with the force of it- the force of loving so deeply and freely and knowing that the other felt it too. It was acutely overwhelming in a way Geralt couldn’t get enough of- an addicting, heart stopping feeling that was his to share and receive.

Geralt leaned in as slowly and carefully as he could bare- to savour it, to savour this- and brushed his mouth against Jaskier’s. He felt Jaskier exhale shakily against his lips and gods, it was almost too much to handle. It was standing on the edge of a cliff, ocean waters 50 feet below you, and feeling the wind egging you on. Go, it said, just a few more steps forward.

Jaskier’s hands tightened in the fabric of his shirt and pulled him a little closer; gentle encouragement where words couldn’t fit. Geralt jumped- left the sand and the rocks and the trees behind and Gods, the water was beautiful. Jaskier’s hand trailed up, up, up, to find purchase in Geralt’s hair, and how could one thing be so gentle and yet so urgent?

The press of their lips was soft in a way only something years in the making could be. Jaskier’s mouth parted ever so slightly and it deepened, deepened, and suddenly there was something hungry in it as well.

Geralt pulled back and pressed their foreheads together, feeling breathless in a way that was about more than just oxygen.

“How put off would you be if my next ballad happened to contain mention of a certain Witcher being unfairly good at kissing?” Jaskier laughed between breaths and Geralt couldn’t help but laugh along with him.

“Can’t say I’d be surprised,” he hummed, “but no strange metaphors.”

“No promises,” Jaskier snickered. Geralt rolled his eyes and leaned forwards again to catch the tail end of Jaskier’s soft laugh from his lips, shifting his hand from Jaskier’s cheek to the back of his neck.

If the first kiss was jumping into the water, the second was the hot burn of swimming back up to the surface.

They deepened the kiss, mouths open and wanting, hands trailing to meet hips and sides. Jaskier pulled Geralt closer, and how had he never noticed how well their bodies fit together before? The floor met Jaskier’s back, and Geralt braced his arms on either side of his body for purchase. Jaskier’s hands found their way back to Geralt’s hair and pulled lightly, and Geralt couldn’t help the pleased sound it drew from deep inside him. Jaskier’s breath hitched and Geralt pulled back.

“Good?” His eyes brushed over Jaskier’s face- his mussed hair and wide eyes, blush-dusted cheekbones and parted lips.

“I- Geralt how do you have the audacity to ask if it’s good when you know full well that it most certainly is- you’re more than good, you giant fool-“ Jaskier cut himself off with a breathy gasp as Geralt tucked his face into the crook of his neck.

“Oh, yes. Definitely good.” Jaskier murmured, and Geralt felt the way he shivered when his breath touched his throat.

“Sensitive,” Geralt murmured against it, and there was that blessed shudder again, accompanied by a quick yes.

Geralt brushed his lips against the expanse of Jaskier’s neck- felt his pulse hammering right beneath his jaw. Jaskier’s hands found themselves on Geralt’s waist, and he couldn’t say he rather minded.

Geralt pressed a kiss to Jaskier’s throat gently and it drew out a wonderful sound that Geralt simply couldn’t ignore. He trailed kisses and bites down Jaskier’s neck- all the way from his jaw to his collarbone- and relished in the way Jaskier gasped and arched up into him, hands shifting up to his back.

“You seem to be having fun,” Jaskier managed between light gasps.

Geralt hummed a yes. “And you?”

“Yes, you idiot-“ his breath hitched as Geralt turned attention to his collarbone.

“Do you mind if I-“ Jaskier stuttered, pulling at Geralt’s shirt. Geralt answered for him, leaning back and pulling off the item in one fell swoop. Jaskier drank in the sight of him like a man who’d gone days without water.

He traced a scar that led from Geralt’s shoulder to his peck. “What did this one?”

“Alghoul,” Geralt murmured, letting his eyes slide closed for just a moment.

“Nasty things,” Jaskier hummed, “but you-“ he leaned up on his elbows and pressed a painfully soft kiss to the scar.

“-there’s no other word to describe you besides gorgeous,” Jaskier said against his skin, and then it was Geralt’s turn to shiver. Jaskier pressed gentle kisses to every scar he saw, from his jawline to his stomach and back up again.

“Well, that’s not entirely true. There’s also charming, and exquisite, and wonderful.” Jaskier marked each word with another delicate kiss, and the softness of it all was almost too much to handle.

“-and divine, and pulchritudinous.” he broke away from Geralt’s skin to meet his eyes with ones filled with an emotion that couldn’t be described as anything but love. It would be unbearably tender, if not for his broad grin that let Geralt know he was about to say something he found rather amusing.

“And ravishing. I cannot forget ravishing, my dear Witcher.” Jaskier kissed Geralt firmly on the lips and that fire was back in Geralt’s gut. He wrapped his arms around Jaskier and rose from their tangled position in a way that certainly wasn’t graceful, but served its purpose nonetheless. Geralt carried Jaskier- who’s legs had found themselves wrapped strongly around his waist- to the bed and fell down on top of him, much to the mattress’s protest.

“Ravishing indeed,” Jaskier laughed. “We’re having a fun night then, aren’t we?”

And oh, a fun night they did have.