A few hours pass much the same, the two just laying in bed, tangled up in each other.
Jaskier's hand comes up and he trails his fingers lightly across Geralt's jaw, as if mapping him out, and Geralt shivers at the barely-there contact, leans into it like a cat, skin hungry for Jaskier's touch. Jaskier smiles, and every word has their lips brushing together as he says, "Honestly, Geralt," and his tone is fond, but his voice is so hushed, like he doesn't want to break whatever fragile moment they've found themselves in, "I'm starting to think you have a greater flair for the dramatic than even I do."
Geralt laughs and bumps their noses together, squeezes him tighter around the waist just because he can, just to feel their bodies press even closer. "Don't know about that... I find it hard to believe you'd let anyone upstage you."
"Mmm, guess I'll just have to up the ante, then, won't I?" Jaskier says playfully, eyes twinkling, and Geralt groans.
"Please don't," he says, "at least not for another month. I've used up my drama quota."
"Fine," Jaskier replies airily, "but only because I'm such a generous man. Let it never be said that I'm a thoughtless lover."
"Perish the thought." Geralt says sarcastically, and earns himself a gentle thwap on the shoulder.
"Don't be rude." He says, but he keeps his hand where it landed on Geralt's shoulder, feeling the muscle there before sliding it up, along the column of his throat. He settles it in Geralt's hair, cradling the back of his head gently. "Now come, kiss me more. I'm almost finished composing a ballad about a witcher with a garden of love growing in his lungs."
Geralt huffs, but it's rather ineffective, because he's smiling like a lovesick fool all the while. He goes easily when Jaskier pushes, pressing a light peck against Jaskier's lips. "You will not." He says firmly.
Jaskier's eyes glitter at the challenge. "Just you try and stop me."
The next morning, when Geralt awakes, everything's gone back to feeling surreal again. It doesn't feel possible, like maybe the night before was a fluke or a dream, or-- if it was reality-- like this thing between them is a bubble, fit to burst any second. Like one wrong move and Jaskier will retreat, rescind all previous claims.
Maybe he got his fill already. And he could always change his mind, could always decide he's had enough. Enough of trying, enough of this, enough of... me... Geralt ducks his head a bit at that thought, stares down at the road ahead. Anxiety hounds his steps, a spiral of thoughts about the million ways it could go wrong, the ways he might push too hard and end up alone... again. But then he glances over, and he sees Jaskier, and he wants... he wants to try. He reaches out and hesitantly presses their hands together.
It's juvenile-- both as an action, and how nervous it makes him. He's half convinced he'll get a scoff, perhaps get mocked for the childish nature of it, for his own nerves in the face of such a pedestrian activity, his sudden shyness... but Jaskier just lights up like the sun, squeezes his hand back tight like it's all he's ever wanted from them walking together, side by side. Geralt has to remind himself that Jaskier isn't cruel like that. Jaskier would at least have more tact, he thinks wryly as some of the tension in his stomach uncoils, and maybe it is childish and silly, but his chest gets warm in response to Jaskier's utter glee, and he feels the beginnings of a smile curl around his lips, and... and maybe, for now, things will be fine.
Like a flower cupped in the palm of your hand, it's a little fragile, but it's lovely all the same.
The weeks pass, and they find themselves in an inn like any other.
The bed is lumpy, and the sheets are a touch on the stiff side, but the morning light that filters in is soft in that way it only ever is on sleepy mornings in-- never harsh enough to make you squint, yet fills and brightens the whole room anyway, warm without being stifling, gentle and vaguely nostalgic. The kind of quality of light painters across the continent try to capture, to varying degrees of success. For once, Jaskier is awake before Geralt-- or is, at least, more awake than Geralt is-- and he takes the time to bask in the moment, to appreciate Geralt's growing attempts to be somewhat bolder.
He has a habit of asking before each touch, as if his touch is a frightening thing. Permission and consent are important, of course, and Jaskier deeply appreciates both, but Geralt had a tendency to act like any casual intimacy was a burden he was reluctant to shoulder onto another. Like a simple kiss would be enough to make Jaskier cringe away, make him call the whole thing off. Like it was intrinsically unwanted.
So the current weight of Geralt's body slung across his-- the possessive curl of Geralt's arm around his waist, the casual way Geralt's hooked his leg over Jaskier's hips, Geralt's breath hot against his neck-- has him aglow with joy. He has wished, and will continue to wish, that he could magic all that pain away somehow, throw out every instinct that makes Geralt's mind twist every action into something to agonize over or feel guilty about, reach back through time and have strong words with everyone who so vehemently shunned him or shied from his hands needlessly... but right now he's warm and safe and his lovely, brave witcher is nosing into his hair-- not quite awake or asleep at the moment, just dozing, enjoying the peace-- and his heart feels fit to burst.
So, of course, a knock comes to startle them out of their early morning reverie. Geralt groans and presses his face fully into Jaskier's hair. There's a pause, and Geralt mumbles, "Maybe they'll just go away..."
There's another knock, sharper than the last one. Jaskier sighs, runs a hand up and down the length of Geralt's arm almost mournfully. It was such a nice morning... "We should really get that." He says, voice thick with regret.
"I paid for a full day," Geralt grouses, "the innkeeper can absolutely fuck off."
Jaskier laughs. "Might not be the innkeep, dear. Could be something important... c'mon, let me up." He lightly pats Geralt's arm and tries to scoot sideways. There's another rapid series of knocks, louder and heavier, as if whoever's on the other side is getting impatient.
Geralt tightens his grip, tugs Jaskier back in. "Better be important, this early..." He grumbles, but then he releases his grip with an equally grumbly, fine, muttered under his breath.
"Thank you, darling, I'm sure it's such a burden for you to lay in bed while I get up and do things." He rolls his eyes as he drops a kiss to Geralt's forehead, then slides out of bed.
"It is, actually." Which is an admission that he doesn't want Jaskier to leave, so it's in turn an admission that he doesn't want to stop cuddling, which means it's practically Geralt asking please can we cuddle more, and what's Jaskier supposed to do in the face of that, other than kiss the man silly? He presses one knee into the bed and leans over to deposit three kisses along Geralt's forehead. He swats Jaskier away, face scrunching up under the onslaught, but Jaskier is relentless, pressing a few extra into the furrow between Geralt's brows for good measure. "Quit it." He complains, leaning back to try and get out of range.
Three loud bangs ring out in quick succession, and Jaskier finally calls out "Coming!" Then, as an aside, he adds "So impatient." Geralt snorts and rolls onto his back to watch Jaskier as he makes his way over to answer the door.
"Whoever they are," he calls out as Jaskier cracks the door open, "tell them to fuck off and come back to bed, Blue jay."
Jaskier laughs, high and delighted. "Well, I'm afraid you heard the man, so--" He stops suddenly, a rather unattractive sound of shock working its way out of his throat. Geralt's about to ask what's wrong when he hears a sardonic Blue jay?
He bolts straight up in bed. "Yen?" He says, and definitely does not squeak in the slightest, even as she breezes into the room. "What are you doing here?"
"Well, I came to deliver more tea, but I suppose that won't be necessary anymore, hm?" She crosses her arms over her chest, looking rather smug. "How long did this development take, then?"
Geralt rubs the back of his neck uncomfortably. "Ah... about... a month and a half ago, maybe?"
Her brow twitches in irritation. "A month-- are you serious?" Her eyes roll heavenwards as she lets out what might be the most put-upon sigh known to man. "Do you know how hard it was to procure some of those ingredients? That's a month and a half of my tea gone to waste... that tea is expensive, you know, to make and to buy. Not to mention my efforts, all for naught. You really couldn't have gotten together sooner and saved me the trouble? Why must you two always be so damned dramatic?"
"Well," Jaskier pipes up, wandering over to the bed, "to be entirely fair to us. Makes for excellent ballads, being so... dramatic." He falls backwards, sprawling sideways across Geralt's lap with an arm thrown over his eyes. It's mostly meant as a joke, and he fully expects to get shoved off, maybe some rolled eyes as well, but instead Geralt simply wraps an arm around his waist and ducks his head down, hiding in Jaskier's shoulder.
Jaskier's face lights up in delight, and he gets that eye roll he expected, though out of Yennefer instead of Geralt. "Yes, yes, very happy for the lovely couple. Now could you put on some shirts so we can have breakfast?"
A month or so later, Geralt presents Jaskier with a box. "You don't-- you don't have to like it," he says nervously, "but I just thought..."
Inside is a pendant of sorts. Two pieces of glass, sandwiched together, bound together by an outer ring of metal and strung on a chain. Between the glass, fixed in place and preserved, is a pressed flower. A little, unassuming buttercup.
Jaskier nearly screams with delight and tackles Geralt onto the bed, the necklace gripped tightly in his fist.
"How are you," he asks, tears welling in his eyes as he drowns Geralt in kisses, "the fucking-- sweetest, kindest, most amazing man on this entire--" his breath hitches a little as the metal chain digs into his palm, reminding him of what he held, of the physical proof of Geralt's love, the piece of his affections that Jaskier would now have, forever. "Entire plane of existence?"
"I-- I'm not--" Geralt says weakly, trying to tilt his head away from Jaskier's onslaught, cheeks pink with embarrassment. "I just thought you'd like..."
"And I do like, I... oh Geralt..." He pulls away a bit, presses the necklace into Geralt's hand. "Put it on me?"
Geralt's hands shake a little as they work the clasp, and Jaskier sits up straighter so he can admire it a bit better. It rests gently against his breast bone, and for a moment, Jaskier forgets how to breathe. The gesture-- the thought-- all the money and effort that must've gone into getting this made... did Geralt come up with the design himself, or did he work with some sort of jeweler? How long had he been sitting on the idea, but unable to do anything about it, because they weren't in the right place or didn't have enough coin? The sensation of Geralt's calloused hands fastening it so carefully behind his head. This physical manifestation of his love that Jaskier can carry forever, now... it's all too much.
Jaskier launches himself forward, clinging to Geralt almost desperately, and he responds in kind, wrapping his arms around Jaskier in a comforting embrace. "I'm-- I'm glad you like it that much." He says, a touch awkwardly.
"I love it," Jaskier insists, "I love it." And then there's silence.
Something grows in Jaskier's chest, a crushing, boundless feeling, it sits heavy behind his ribs and wraps an iron grip around his lungs, his heart, his limbs feel weighed down with it. He tries to put a name to it, but nothing seems big enough for the sensation, the feeling settling into him, into his bones, deep as any abyss. This nameless thing rears its head and leaves him breathless, wanting.
"Geralt," he says, pressing in closer, "I love you."
"I know," Geralt replies, squeezing tighter, "I--"
"No," Jaskier cuts him off, because the words aren't big enough, "you don't-- Geralt, I love you."
There's a desperation in his tone, and somehow, Geralt understands. He nods a little, an acknowledgement of everything Jaskier wants to say but can't because he doesn't know how to, and Jaskier buries his face in the crook of Geralt's neck.
"I love you so much, I... I can't even talk about it. What words am I to use? Lovely, as if it's not the most pedestrian of compliments? Gorgeous, alluring, exquisite, as if all you are is something to be beheld? Strong, daring, brave, as if you were just a useful companion and not-- what word could possibly encompass you? What combination could even approach... and yet, that's not even my issue, because that's not... it's what I feel for you. I'm a bard, yet all my words leave me when I try to describe it. You steal my voice, my words, right from my lips..."
There's a heavy beat for a moment, a thick silence, and Jaskier can feel Geralt swallow hard, can feel those big, calloused hands stroking up and down his sides comfortingly.
"You could just say I leave you speechless."
Jaskier laughs, props his chin up on his palm, his elbow digging into the pillow, right beside Geralt's head, in order to smile down at him. "I suppose I could, but where would be the art in that, hmm? The drama, the suspense, the wordsmithing. Hardly suited for a poet, to resort to such banalities when a more elegant option is available. Why, they'd wonder if I was an artist at all."
"Couldn't have that." Geralt says mock-seriously, though his eyes crinkle a little at the corner, giving him away.
"Absolutely not." Jaskier replies. His eyes are sparkling with glee, but his smile is something softer, fonder. "Besides, that wouldn't do it justice. It's not a simple sore throat. Speechless... there's room for interpretation in that. Sometimes rude ealdormen leave me speechless, and that's about the indignity of their behavior. With you, it's... all-encompassing, and it's beautiful, and it doesn't just leave me without words, it's like..." His eyes light up as the idea comes to him, and he sits up a little more to cup Geralt's face in his hands. "It's like the words don't even exist. It's like looking in a dictionary and finding it blank. The words to describe you are like smoke, vague and distant and indistinct, slipping through my fingers. Never solid, never real... I half expect to explore some ruins with you someday, open an old tome and find all the words for it laid out before me, forgotten and deep and splendid, cast aside because they were too big, too much, for the rest of the world, but other times that seems impossible, because--"
"Because ours is the first and the best? The deepest and the truest?" Geralt sounds faintly amused, but there's a shyness about him, and he turns his face into Jaskier's palm, hiding as always. "As all wordsmiths think." He says, a little teasing smile on his lips, eyebrow quirked upward.
"Well, yes," Jaskier allows, "but the thing is," he wets his lips, smile growing even wider, "that they were all wrong and I'm right."
That startles a laugh out of Geralt. "Oh, is that so?"
"It is." Jaskier insists. "They thought-- if you'll excuse the paltry metaphor-- that they were in the ocean, when really they were in puddles."
"And we're the ocean." Geralt sounds slightly skeptical, and Jaskier shakes his head.
"No," he says, thumbs sweeping over Geralt's cheekbones affectionately, "we're the sky. They weren't thinking big enough, deep enough. Couldn't even conceive of it."
Geralt rolls his eyes a little at that, but he forgets Jaskier is sitting on his chest, can feel the way his breath hitches ever so slightly. "Well," he says, reaching up to hold Jaskier's wrist in place, pressing a kiss into his open palm, "I suppose you better start inventing words, then."
Months pass. Frost creeps along the ground, but warmth blooms in Geralt's chest anyway.
They sit near a fire, Jaskier pressed in close against Geralt's side, hands extended to soak up as much heat as possible. He flips them, so the flames warm the back as well, then flips them again as the chill starts curling against his palms-- such an ordinary, mundane action, but something about it makes Geralt's stomach twist itself into happy little knots. He reaches out to wrap an arm around Jaskier's shoulders, and Jaskier sighs happily, melting into his side.
"I've been thinking." Geralt's fingers twist in Jaskier's doublet, and he glances away, avoiding Jaskier's gaze. "...We don't have to, of course..."
"What is it, darling?" Jaskier turns towards him and places a hand on his knee, looking up at him curiously.
"Well... it's getting colder."
He hums in the affirmative. "So it is."
"And I was just thinking you might... that I'd like it if you..." He clears his throat awkwardly. When he glances over, Jaskier has this sweet little encouraging smile, and he leans in a little closer as if to say go on, I'm listening, and maybe it's silly, but Geralt realizes he wants to look Jaskier in the eye for this. It feels... important, somehow. He turns as well, just a bit, and fixes his eyes on Jaskier's.
It's always hard, meeting Jaskier's eyes. It feels like he's being stripped bare, like Jaskier can-- can see into him, somehow. It's feels too intimate, too vulnerable, but this is important. It warrants the intimacy, even if it makes Geralt want to curl up in the corner and never look at anyone ever again. And, fuck, Jaskier's still waiting for him to say something, brow cocked curiously, a little tilt to his head, so Geralt takes a deep breath in and asks, "Will you come with me this winter? To Kaer Morhen?"
Jaskier gasps, hand flying to his mouth in shock. "You-- you really want...?"
"You don't have to, of course." He reassures quickly, hand coming up to rub the back of his neck. He breaks eye contact as well, glancing to the side. "Just an idea--"
He's cut off suddenly by an armful of happy bard, peppering his face with kisses and throwing his arms around Geralt's neck while simultaneously trying to wiggle into his lap. "Of course," he exclaims in delight, "of course I will!"
Geralt weathers the storm of Jaskier's insistent affections, pulling the man more solidly into his lap and wrapping an arm around his waist to steady him. He's learned by now that there's no real use hiding his face when Jaskier gets like this-- the kisses just become even more insistent, pressed into whatever open skin is available. Secretly, there's also something nice about knowing he inspired such joy, and as he smiles fondly, he admits to himself that he maybe does a bit more than simply weather Jaskier's kisses.
"Do you really mean it?" Jaskier leans back, cheeks flushed and eyes bright, lit up with excitement, and Geralt has to take a moment, knocked sideways by a sudden rush of affection for the man in his arms. "I know it's your place, that it's-- it's not like a lot of outsiders are welcome... and you'd have to introduce me to everyone else who winters there, too. You... you really want me to come along?"
"Always." He replies, a little breathlessly. He leans in until they're flush together, rests his forehead against Jaskier's. "Always."
Later that winter, in the stone walls of the old fortress, sat in front of a large hearth and crackling fire, Geralt leans in closer to Jaskier and says "I've been thinking."
Jaskier's eyes light up, and he leans in a little closer as well. "Oh? How exciting... worked out pretty well the last time you did that. I am rather enjoying Kaer Morhen."
Geralt rolls his eyes goodnaturedly. "Do you want to hear it or not?"
Jaskier laughs and cozies up to his side as the logs crackle before them. "I'm so very sorry dearest. You have plenty of good ideas-- at least three a day." He says teasingly. Geralt pinches his side in retaliation, and he lets out a little yelp. "Alright, alright, I'll be nice." He concedes, and his tone pivots towards sincere as he lays a hand over Geralt's. "Seriously, though, what's on your mind?"
"We don't have to," he says carefully, slotting their fingers together, "and it's a ways out, so you don't have to agree to anything yet. But... since we've been spending this winter here, at my home... maybe next year I could... come with you, instead. To Oxenfurt." He hastily adds, "Not to invite myself along, of course, it's up to you, just... just an idea."
"Oh," Jaskier twists around, gripping his hand tighter and staring up at him, face lit up with excitement, "oh that would be incredible! I could show you everything, and introduce you to all my friends from school, maybe hold a few performances, and..." He trails off and screws up his face a bit. "Are you sure you wouldn't get bored there?"
Geralt shrugs, smiling fondly. "I've been in worse places for winter. I really doubt it... plus, you'd be there." He reaches out and sweeps some of Jaskier's hair behind his ear, and he melts into the touch, relaxing into Geralt's hand with a lovesick expression on his face.
"Ugh," Lambert rounds the corner, only to stop dead in his tracks and wrinkle his nose in disgust, "are you two seriously hogging the entire fireplace to be sappy and make moony eyes at each other?"
"Ignore him," Geralt replies, not taking his eyes off Jaskier, "he's just grumpy because he can't handle the cold very well."
Winter changes to spring, and spring onward, as seasons are wont to do. They do end up going to Oxenfurt the next year-- Geralt with a few new scars and Jaskier with a rather impressive ballad about the katakan that gave them under their belts. Jaskier's eyes shine with excitement as he drags Geralt to every corner of the university, pointing out trees he liked to practice under, and alcoves perfect for ducking class in, and-- on a few memorable occasions-- the various closets and empty rooms that were the unofficial official best hook up spots.
At night, when the world is cold and dark, he presses Jaskier into their bed, and presses kisses into Jaskier, leaving behind a trail of fire that chases away the chill on his skin. And afterwords, when they're both tired and sore and panting, Jaskier's pendant resting on his chest and glittering in the candlelight, Geralt leans in, presses his cheek against Jaskier's shoulder. "I never thought I'd have this." He admits quietly.
"Me?" Jaskier asks, reaching out to brush Geralt's hair out of his face.
He hms softly. Shrugs a little. "Anyone."
Jaskier makes a little wounded noise. "Oh, darling..." He says gently, rearranges them so Geralt's resting in the crook of his arm instead, pressed against his chest, so his fingers can run through Geralt's hair with ease, so he can hold his witcher closer.
Geralt closes his eyes, leans into the touch. "Never thought I'd get to have any of it." His hand rests on Jaskier's stomach, big and warm and heavy. He stares at it through half-lidded eyes. "I keep expecting things to change. The feelings to fade."
The hand in his hair pauses in its journey. "Have they?" Jaskier's voice is surprisingly neutral-- more curious than anything.
Geralt tilts his head up, looks Jaskier right in the eye. "No," he says, "not one bit. I feel like I'm drowning in it, Jask."
Jaskier's smile is blinding. "Oh, my dearest..." He says fondly as he tugs Geralt up to press kiss after kiss to his lips.
"Blue jay..." Geralt sighs, leans into each one like he's coming up for air.
(After the candles have been blown out, when Geralt is curled against Jaskier's side, he hears "Drowning in it, hmm?" Jaskier sounds lost in thought, like he's been hit with a spark of inspiration. "I think I could work with that... my love as vast as the sky, yours as deep as the ocean... something about the horizon when they meet... perhaps some imagery about stars reflecting on the water's surface..."
"Haven't we had this conversation before?" Geralt asks, resigning himself to the candles eventually being relit so Jaskier can write down his ideas before they flee.
"Yes, but it never made its way into a song." His fingers drum out a pattern on Geralt's shoulder, and Geralt can't help the smile that stretches across his face.
"I'm sure it'll make for a truly inspired ballad." He says, amusement laced through his tone.
Jaskier raises a brow, pulls away a little to study Geralt's face. "Are you mocking my bardic abilities?"
"Wouldn't dream of it." He says cheekily.
Jaskier pinches his shoulder lightly. "You're on thin ice." He warns.)
Geralt falls asleep by candlelight, to the sound of Jaskier's quill scratching against paper. He falls asleep warm and safe and happy, and for once, he's excited to see what the next day brings.