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"Fuck."

 

Geralt is surrounded. Not by an angry mob or an army of monsters. those he is used to, could handle with relative ease. This is much, much worse. On all sides, inescapably bracketed by a crowd of his greatest irritant: loud, beligerant people. On his own fucking property. In his own swamp, which he specifically chose to avoid this kind of thing. He cringes as the sound of a plate shattering echoes across the kitchen, courtesy of three blind mice scampering around his cabinets. A wolf jumps on his bed and a little puppet boy is eating pickles from the jar by the handful. Theyre his pickles.

"Fuck."

 

This is definitely a two fuck kind of situation, he thinks, scanning for threats in the throng of cutesy fairy tale creatures. They go silent as he stalks through, the crowd parting for him to stand on a stump- HIS stump, on his goddamn property- and get some clarity on this situation.

 

"What the fuck are you doing in my swamp," he snarls, eyes flashing.

 

The crowd stands in tense silence. There is a shuffling and a squawk as someone is elbowed to the front, a young man in a doublet and a ridiculous feather cap. He clears his throat, straightening his rumpled garments, and bows with a grin.

 

"Jaskier the bard at your service, you may have heard of me from my top hits on Far Far Away Idol, such as-"

Geralt gives him a look that says "I will squeeze the jelly from your eyes and eat it on toast." Miraculously, the bard does not seem to catch on to the implications, as he continues listing his top 40 singles for the next 3 and a half minutes.

"-and of course there was my duet with the Fairy Godmother, who could forget, of course that was a cover and not my own song. Shes a real delight, that one, but her son, well."

"Enough. Shut up."

His mouth clicks shut and he has the galll to look offended at the interruption.

"Why are you here?"

"Well, I'm glad you asked. Lord Fuckwad the Tiny sent us away from Duloc, the bastard is doing some sort of ethnic cleansing of fairy tale creatures, as it were. So he sent us here."

"This is my property."

"Oh, shame. Maybe you should take it up with Farquaad, or your landlord. Whole situation is terrible. I actually wrote a little ditty about it, ill sing it for you if you're amicable, my dear- what's your name?"

"Geralt."

"Geralt. Geralt, hm. Funny, that's the name of the witcher they say lives out here in this very swamp. Any relation? What an odd coincidence."

Geralt looks at him.

"wait- wait a second, youre-" His face lights up. "You're him!"

Well, theres a reaction he doesnt get everyday. Or ever. The rest of the fairytale features are currently cowering in fear as they speak, or rather, as this idiot blathers on in his one sided way.

"Just...tell me how I can be rid of you."

"I told you, take it up with farquaad. You would be doing us a big favor if he let us come home."

"I dont meddle in-"

" okay, well, you dont meddle, then here we stay. On your land. Eating your… what do you eat out here, snails?"

He has a fair point. About the meddling, and the snails. He does eat a lot of snails. Geralt sighs.

"Who knows the way to this… Farquaad?"

Jaskiers hand shoots up.

"Anyone else," he grits out.

Jaskier waves his hand frantically, as if he thinks Geralt hasn't noticed the sole raised hand five feet from him.

"Anyone-" he breaks off. He wants to scream. Maybe he should just move away from here. But it was his land first, and he'll be damned if he doesnt at least try. He sighs. "Jaskier, then. lead the way."

Jaskier immediately jumps into a song about having sex in a swamp and catching an STI. It's going to be a long journey.

----

>Lord Farquaad is a small man. Geralt knows about small men and how they like to act bigger to compensate. Geralt knows lords, having been hired to do jobs by some, and being hunted by others. And Geralt knows monsters. So it is no surprise when the crossbows are aimed at him from all sides as soon as he enters the courtyard.

 

"Whoever kills the witcher will be the one to fetch the princess!" Calls Farquaad from his safe perch.

 

Jaskier yelps as Geralt shoves him to the ground and takes a sword from its sheath. He is outnumbered, but a scrawny bard will be of no help here.

The men are heavily armored. Good. Hes less likely to accidentally kill them. He swings at a knights legs and another comes from behind, jumping onto his shoulder. He hits him over the head with the hilt. The others go down with ease, without the speed and reflexes afforded by his mutations, they cant keep up. He uses their bodies against each other, swinging one into another like children in a pillow fight. And then Farquaad releases another wave of them, which he fights, and another. Hes wearing down. He doesnt want to kill if he doesnt have to, but its efficient, and his muscles ache with exertion. Jaskier is curled in a corner beside a massive tank of ale, apparently just intelligent enough to keep quiet.

A tank of ale- perhaps the bard will be of use here after all. He catches Jaskiers attention and motions to the tank. Jaskier jumps up and pushes, and the tank comes rolling forward with a great creak. Perfect. They're distracted as ale gushes out with force and the barrel rolls across the ground thunderously, making it easy to hit them over their turned heads.

Theres one left, with a hand around Jaskiers neck. That makes this more difficult. Geralt strides toward him, ready to swing, but just as he prepares to move the man falls with a groan, having been kneed in the balls. Jaskier sighs plaintively.

 

"My knee is going to bruise," he whines, still standing over the knight curled in a fetal position.

 

Geralt laughs despite himself, and immediately sobers upon looking up. The crossbows still aim at his head. Farquaad looks down on them, calculating.

 

"Change of plans."

 

And so they are off to get the princess Ciri from a castle guarded by a powerful mage in a volcano, with a dragon, and they'll bring her back to be Farquaads wife. It seems a little over the top, even for his line of work, probably why the lord wouldn't just do it himself. Or something like that. He wasnt fully listening when Farquaad told them, too busy thinking what a bad idea it was to take a job from someone eho just tried to kill you. Luckily, he has Jaskier to recount every moment of Farquaads proposal in excruciating musical detail.

 

"Lord Fuckwad was so small
Couldnt fit it in girls arses
And Geralt the Witcher
kicked all his knights.... arses," croons Jaskier. "What do you think of that one? Give me three words at least, this time."

 

"You can't rhyme arse with arse. Give it a rest."

 

"Ah! He speaks. You know, you sure are scary when you go all growly like that. Makes me think you're gonna grind my bones to powder and lay waste to Farquaads fortress, and all that witchery sort of stuff, you know, kill me remorselessly, all that. Surprised you didnt do any of that back there at Duloc, to be honest." He beams a stupid, sunshiney smile at Geralt, his eyes like clear skies as empty as his idiotic fat head. Hes not even bothering to look frightened at the answering glower. He is a fool to be here, Geralt thinks, and a fool not to fear him. Especially after watching him earlier.

 

"Is it true witchers dont have feelings? You smell, you know. Like… onions. And heartbreak, heroics… mostly onions."

 

He doesn't gratify that with a response.

 

"Does that hurt your feelings? I think maybe you do have feelings. You definitely feel annoyed and royally pissed. No, dont deny it, I sense it, it's in the subtleties of what you do, like when you glared at me for 6 hours straight today. You do. If those were the only emotions I had, I'd be pissed and irritated too. Well, not that I would have an option. Because I woud only have two emotions to choose from. Do you oscillate or just feel both all the time?."

 

"witchers dont have two emotions. Were like-" like what? People? No. "Like onions."

 

"Because… they stink?"

 

"Ye- no."

 

"Oh, they make you cry."

 

"No."

 

"You leave em in the sun for a few days and they turn brown and start sprouting little white hairs?"

 

"No, I- they have- never mind."

 

Why did he start this conversation? He reminds himself never to speak again. A large part of him wants to throttle Jaskier and just go on alone.

 

"No, what is it?I want to know. Get in the mind of a witcher, so as to write a song about all this when it's over with. Itll be an epic, trust me, and it's going to be great for your image. and my purse. What's a witcher got in common with an onion?"

 

"Layers."

 

"Huh."

 

There is blessed, blissful silence for a few moments.

 

"...Oh, is that it?I thought maybe you would give more than a one word answer. Layers. Huh. You know, not everyone likes onions. Cake has layers too, you know, and everybody likes cake-"

 

Geralt walks faster, but Jaskier bounds up and continues like he doesnt notice Geralts escape attempts, as he begins composing another song.

 

"Geralt the onion,
Stinky and layered… what rhymes with layer?"

Chapter Text

They have been on the road for two weeks when they encounter trouble. It’s really not a big deal, just two-bit bandits bent on taking their nonexistent coin. He manages them easily enough, but the experience seems to rattle Jaskier, as even after the event, he glances around, nervously shielding his lute, and smelling of anxiety.

“I think maybe we should stop for the night,” Jaskier says.

“It’s only noon.”

“Sure, but what about your injuries? You need rest and healing and all that.

“It’s just a few scratches.” It's rather embarrassing that he managed to get injured in the first place. Perhaps he's getting too relaxed. It's also surprising that Jaskier even noticed, as he’d hidden them well enough from sight.

“That’s what you call scratches?!”

“If you’re scared of the dangers of travel, you’re welcome to go home.”

He scoffs. “Dangers? Scared? Travel? Welcome? Me? No way.” He pauses. “Okay, maybe a little. They were bandits, Geralt!”

“You’re scared of bandits, but not of me?”

“No, you're nice,” he says factually. Like it's obvious. Like the sky is blue.

He's fed up with this. He's not some sort of big friendly dog creature, or whatever Jaskier thinks that's making him behave so nonchalantly. He's a weapon. How Jaskier has not realized this yet is beyond him, but the bard is in need of a harsh life lesson about walking with monsters, and subtlety hasn't done it.

You're nice.

Geralt strikes him to the ground with a fluid movement, pinning his thin shoulders to the dirt with ease. Jaskier gasps and his eyes flick up to meet Geralts, widening, no doubt in fear and realization that he needs to run far the other direction and- and his nose scrunches, and he giggles.

“You startled me! You're lucky this is one of my worse shirts,” he grumbles lightheartedly, picking at the satin.

He snarls. “I could kill you.”

Jaskier rolls his eyes, unimpressed. “Do it then.”

They lie there, Geralt on top of him and feeling increasingly awkward about being there as Jaskier just looks at him, all traces of fear absent from his face. Finally, he relents, shifting to let him up.

“'I’m Geralt, ‘I’m a big scary Witcher with upper body strength, go grab your knives and pitchforks, because I think I'm sooo scary!’” Jaskier mimes, dusting his pants. "What were you trying to accomplish with that little display? I know you're stronger than me, you're a Witcher."

“Doesn't that- bother you?” He manages. This is bizarre. This whole situation is like a strange dream.

“Of course not. How stupid do you think I am? -Don't answer that- Anyone could see you’re not as bad as the stories say. You gave me some of your bread yesterday and you gave me the big half! No ones ever done that for me. They’ve thrown me vegetables, but not the good kind, if you catch my meaning. And you saved me from bandits! And you have an adorable horse!” He pats her nose and she bites him.

“Hm.”

“Oh, don't give me that look, you’re the one who said you have layers.”

Gods, he's never going to let that go, is he? Geralt's mouth twitches up.

“Hmm.”

“True and well put. Now that we’ve settled all that, can we please make camp?”

“We are not making camp.”

“But it looks like rain!” He gestures to the sky, which is absolutely blue.

“The sky is clear.”

“I am begging you.”

“There is no way we are making camp.”

--

They make camp a half hour later. Geralt considers quietly leaving when Jaskiers back is turned, but like every day before, Jaskier doesn't leave his side long enough to allow it. He sits plucking his lute until nightfall, and Geralt sharpens his swords, counts his potions, grooms Roach and waters her. And then they sit around the fire to cook or boil water. It's becoming routine.

"I'm sorry I wrote a song about you being an onion. I didn't know I had it in me to write that many stanzas. I don't know what came over me."

"Hmm."

"You are so broody. I love that in a man."

What an odd thing to say. Jaskier is full of odd things to say. In the daytime she wishes that the man would give him just a moment of silence. He isn't sure how he feels about it now, against the eerie stillness of the night. It should feel like an inconvenience, making it more difficult to keep watch and listen to things that may be lurking. But he finds himself minding less and less, each night. The fire feels warmer, somehow, and he reminds himself not to get too used to it. He can't afford to relax.

"Want some of my jerky?"

"I'm fine."

"Come on, you haven't eaten all day except that broth. What's a snack between friends?"

"We aren't friends."

"Oh. Well, I'll just leave it in reach for you if you want some, my dear acquaintance. You're like a stray cat, has anyone told you that? Not friends indeed. I've composed so many songs about you just today. You must hold your friends to very high standards, if that isn't enough to qualify me."

"Hm."

"Who are your friends then? Come on, I need to know who I'm up against for the title."

"Roach."

"And…?"

"That's it."

"Wow. You are really something."

"I don't need anyone needing me, in my profession."

"You could settle down with somebody, quit the job one day. I mean when's the last time someone even thanked you? I remember in Duloc everyone told these really scary stories about you."

"Hmm."

"Couldn't have said it better."

"I'll settle when I'm dead."

"Oh, and that's why you found yourself a cozy cottage in a swamp, because you hate the idea of settling down? Come on."

"Hm." He loves the swamp, though he only stays there sporadically between jobs in the area. It's the closest thing to peace he thinks he will ever get. He's even started having… things, there. Dishes, and sheets, and curtains, for when he returns for a blessed few days of rest. In those days he can pretend he's someone who owns curtains all the time, but the illusion can't last. "I have a duty."

"I have a duty," Jaskier mocks in a high pitched tone. "What about your duty to yourself?"

He grunts. It’s an unreachable dream, one Witchers simply don't achieve. Not to mention his house would likely be burned down twice a week if he tried it. He has his duty and it's enough. He wants nothing and that's the way it's always been. Jaskier keeps talking, voice hushed.

"I had a home once, and a little family, lots of sisters. But you obviously know how." He clears his throat. "You know how Duloc treats fairy tale creatures these days, elves," he gestures to himself.

He hadn't known the bard was elven. Abruptly he realizes that for all his inane chatter, he doesn't know much about Jaskier at all. "Farquaad relocating us was hardly the beginning of his horrible little crusade. He- well. Sorry, don't mean to be morbid." Jaskier trails off. In his time with the bard, he has never seen him at a loss for words. It's unsettling. He doesn't want to hear about this. Jaskier wears his heart on his sleeve all day long, and it's terrifying, and uncomfortable, but he's even less equipped for whatever is happening right now, and he smells so upset, and salty. Geralt hazards a glance, and his face shines in the firelight, silent tears rolling down his cheeks.

Geralt pretends not to notice, instead staring into the fire intently. He's making hiccuping little noises, not even bothering to hide it. Geralt looks at the sky instead.

"I don't have anybody," Jaskiers voice quivers as he tries to breathe normally through the tears. Geralts heart twists at the sight of such open hurt.

“What about your...Countess?”

“The Countess, and the courts, they like my playing, but they’re not friends, they just want me for- They don't want me around, do you know what I- I guess- I guess that's why I wanted to tag along on your adventure. I thought- well. I know its stupid," he mutters incoherently and covers his face in an unusual show of shame. It doesn't sit right, for Jaskier to be ashamed.

This is so uncomfortable. Geralt doesn't owe him anything, he reminds himself. His face is covered in his hands, and this is Geralts chance to go. He could get up and walk away right now, take Roach and ride on before Jaskier finishes crying. It's the perfect time.

But Jaskier trusts him, for some reason, and Jaskier thinks he has a heart. Instead of trying to kill him or running from him in fear, Jaskier sings little songs and prances along beside him.

And Jaskier hasn't got anybody.

Hesitantly, he reaches out an arm, planning to pat Jaskiers back in a pathetic attempt at comfort, or maybe to cover his mouth with a hand, and manually make him stop talking. Jaskier, alarmingly, takes the outstretched hand as an invitation. He jumps into his lap, snuggling against his chest in a hug. Geralt should probably shove him off right about now. If he gives an inch, the idiot is going to keep pestering him for miles and miles. He’ll probably write a song about it. But it's not horrible. In fact, it's even tolerable, the warmth pressing around his chest and soaking into his thin shirt.

It’s really not so bad at all. He rests a hand on Jaskiers back, the other on his hair, and for just a moment, he allows himself to want something.They sit like that until the fire begins to die, and Jaskier starts to hum under his breath.

“Geralt the onion
Stinky thing with layers
Pretend he's not an onion
But deep down he cares
..something, something...white hairs?”

Geralt shoves him off and he yelps. His face is puffy and his eyes rimmed red, and Geralt forces himself not to scoop him back up immediately. He wants nothing. Instead he hands him a bowl of broth, now gone entirely cold. Jaskier smiles wetly.

"How was the new verse?"

"You can't rhyme onion with onion." He covers his smile with his bowl of soup.

“Well, friend, let me give you a lesson on rhyme schemes.”

“Not friends.”

“So, there's Villanelles, sonnets, couplets, to name a few of my favorite kinds-”

I'd want you. I’d be your friend, he thinks. In another life, I'd be your friend.

Chapter Text

They find themselves at the tower just a week later. The dragon guarded castle with a powerful witch inside, that is. Geralt also has to cross a bridge over lava, which for some reason, is made of wood, while carrying Jaskier bridal style, because halfway across, the idiot decided he was afraid of heights.

Yes, Geralts day is going fantastically. And it only gets better, because as soon as they arrive at the doorstep, the dragon wakes up, the chain around its neck rattling as it roars, shaking the stone foundation of the tower. Fire shoots from its mouth, lighting his leather armor. Geralt dashes inside and drops Jaskier on the floor to frantically remove his armor before it catches him on fire. Something catches his eye- a rusty knights suit fof armor, presumably someone else who had tried foolishly to save the princess. It’s scorched black. He shakes the bones out and puts it on.

The room is empty, but an eerie purple light shines through the door beneath the stairs. The witch must be there, then.

"You said you're good at talking to women, right?"

"Yes, I'm quite the-"

"Distract the witch. Don't die." He has to find the princess before the dragon destroys the place looking for them. He runs up the stairs, rusted armor clanking uncomfortably. At the top there is a door. This must be it. He pulls the cowl over his face. Cant have the princess jump out the window when she sees her rescuer has yellow, inhuman eyes. The last thing they need is for her to resist coming with them. The air is charged with a strange energy, and he feels tense with nerves. If it feels like destiny lies behind the thick wooden door. He turns the handle and it opens with a deep creak. The room pulses with energy, pulling him toward the bed, covered with white silken sheets, a canopy.

And a little girl.

Oh, fuck.

This is just his luck. Destiny fucking him again. Of course the princess is a child. Of course Farquaad had conveniently failed to mention this. That complicates the plan beyond reason. Of course.

There's no time to think about it now. He has to get her out of here before Jaskier inevitably gets them all killed by a witch, before the dragon comes back around. He shakes the child more roughly than he means to, and she wakes with a groan, blinking confusedly at him. Then her eyes widen. He slaps a hand over her mouth before she can scream.

"I'm here to rescue you."

She bites him. Outside, the dragon roars. He throws her over his shoulder and dashes down the stairs, heart beating fast as he prays Jaskier isn't hurt.

---

Jaskier sits across from the witch, tied to the seat by his legs. He squirms, fixing her with a look of pure fear as she plans her next move. The witch smirks, remorseless, and lifts her hand.

"Don't you dare. Don't," he begs pathetically. "Come on. Not again, I can't take it. Dont do it."

"Oh, but I shall." She places her card on the pile. "Draw 4."

"Damn it!" He groans. "Thats- you have to be cheating magically. There's no way one person is this good at cards."

"I've had ample time to practice, out here,"she drawls, a note of bitterness tinging her tone.

"Must be lonely," he tuts in sympathy. Only a dragon for company, and a really scary one at that. He wonders if she would let him pet it. Probably not. She’s actually been kind of a bitch, so far.

"Don't speak of it. You know nothing," she hisses.

He puts up his hands in surrender. "Why did you stay?"

"The girl needs protection. She's the only person I-" she composes herself, "am assigned to guard."

"It's very sweet of you."

His voice is cut off abruptly and he is yanked into the air, suspended by magic around his throat. The witches power swirls furiously, crackling in the air, chaos in every breath. She stalks across the table, boots clicking dangerously as she steps over the cards and comes to stand over him.

"Sweet, am I? You don't know the first thing about me," she says quiety, trailing a long figer over his jaw. He can't breathe. His throat is closing.

"I know you like bondage," he gasps, gesturing to his bindings. What a stupid thing to say, why did he say that? He’s going to die. She's got a feral glint in her eye, she's going to kill him for real. "You're- you’re good at cards. And you care about the princess enough to be alone out here for ages, just you and her and a really very fat dragon." Oh, he called her dragon fat. She’s going to kill him. She’s also really hot, which is not what he should probably be thinking about.

She flexes a finger and his throat closes ever tighter. He wheezes, managing to grasp out words as his vision goes spotty.

"Okay, fair,” his voice is an airy whimper, “Personally- I like being alive, if my preference is to be taken into account." He smiles at her. "Up to you of course."

He’s really about to die, that much is certain, but what a way to go. Perhaps they’ll write a song about it, his tragic misadventure.

She twists her hand, but then her head turns before she can continue, as Geralt barrels down the stairs with a little blonde girl in his arms and a dragon on his heels. He manages to jump just in time to avoid a blast of fire from its jaws as it shatters the stone staircase like glass. Geralt looks at Jaskier, bound and choking, and raises an unimpressed brow.

"Thought you said you were good at talking to women."

He shrugs, face purpling.

"Ciri," says the witch.

"Yennefer!" calls the princess, thrashing in Geralt's arms.

"Jaskier!" gasps Jaskier, for good measure.

She hesitates, and drops him. He gasps for air and stands, gratefully grasping her arms.
She furrows her brow decisively and sprints away as the dragon slams into the wall again and the tower begins collapsing around them.

They exit with haste.

-----

Standing on the opposite cliff, Geralt allows hiself to relax for a moment. They did it. And somehow, no one died.

"Wow, that was incredible. A heroic knight just like in the stories! Who are you? Take off your helmet," the child gushes. It seems shes gotten over her initial fear, then.

Yennefer looks at him suspiciously. "Yes, take it off. Now."

"...No."

"Why? Who are you? Someone famous?" the childs eyes widen.

"One of my enemies?I don't recognize your voice."

"Hideously deformed, maybe?" Jaskier pipes in. "Maybe he has a skin condition, be sensitive."

He shoves Jaskier. He looks at him and shrugs. They're all staring expectantly. He has no choice, then, but to remove the helmet , readying himself for the child's eyes to widen in fearful recognition of what he is. Not that he could blame her for it. Not that he cares anyway. Because he doesn't care. He looks at the child and she looks back and it is awkward. He divests himself of the rest of the rusted armor, some of it having already broken from the exertion of their escape. It's too heavy to serve him well. The witch watches him with a level gaze, and the child squints in confusion.

"Do you have jaundice? Your eyes are yellow."

Yennefer smacks her arm gently, eyeing Geralt up and down.

"A Witcher," she purrs. Jaskier glares at her.

"Huh. Oh, okay. What is that?" the girl approaches him and squints.

"I kill monsters."

"Oh, nice! You could teach me some of that. I could be really good- check this out-" she takes a branch and swings it wildly, grazing Yennefer. Jaskier looks at the witch like he expects her to curse the child, but she just smiles.

That went better than expected. Well, actually, much worse than it should have... But better than he expected nonetheless. Unsure what to do, they walk on the path together, covered in soot and rubble, and Ciri talks about the tower and the woods, how much friendlier the world seems now that she's in it. He wishes she were right. But things are going to be much more complicated now- he can't very well bring her back to be wed to a middle aged man, and he can't just leave her somewhere to be snatched up by anyone who recognizes her.

Why is this happening to him? He just wanted a peaceful, quiet few days in the swamp. Alone. And now he's picked up not one, but three companions. And they’re all individually irritating.

Jaskier recounts their tale to Yennefer while Ciri busies herself with the stick. Her mouth is thin as she hears about lord Farquaad's wish to marry and she eyes the two of them suspiciously.

"And what is your plan now?" She asks. Despite her casual tone, It does not escape his notice that her hand rests on a small blade at her hip, tensing in wait for the answer.

Jaskier scoffs. "Regardless of their similarity in stature, we can't let Farquaad marry her on such… short notice."

"What?" Yennefer snaps.

"Oh, I just mean he might not…measure up to expectation."

Geralt huffs in amusement. Apparently Yennefer is unaware of Farquaad's reputation, because she still looks tense with confusion, not understanding what Jaskier means, her fingers tightening around the hilt of her blade. Ready to escape with Ciri, if their intentions are dire. Geralt thinks it’s time to intervene.

"Don't kill the bard, he's just an idiot. We don't intend to bring the child back to Duloc."

"Why agree to rescue her then? You won't be paid when you return, if she’s not there." He watches Jaskiers hackles raise.

"You think just cos he's a witcher he’ll do anything for pay? Well he’s a person too you know, with-"

"Jaskier." He shuts his mouth with a click. He turns back to the witch. "We didn't know she was a child."

"And it would be better if she were a woman?" She raises a brow, but he can see that she’s calmer, now.

He shrugs. "I'm a Witcher, we don't have feelings."

"He doesn't mean that." Jaskier says immediately, and pats his cheek with a soft look. He ducks away before Geralt can swat him, and he turns back to the witch with disdain. "What he means is, neither of us are twisting your arm, it's a big path and you're both free to go whenever you like, in fact," Jaskier snaps, gesturing wildly.

The tension seeps from her shoulders at the outburst. She nods. "So where do we go now?"

They both look to Geralt. “We should avoid towns until we figure that out. Farquaad will come looking for us if we don’t return.”

So, they set up camp in the woods, Jaskier shooting glares at Yennefer who he has clearly decided he hates, for some reason unknown to Geralt. Ciri gets ahold of his lute and he teaches her to strum it, and Yennefer builds a fire. She talks with Geralt about different spells she’s been working on and requests that he show Ciri his weapons, because she’s been interested in combat training recently.

It’s a nice reprieve after the exhausting day. If he were the type of person who had friends, he imagines it would be a lot like this.