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and a place to rest my head

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The first thing they do is move their mattress to a corner of the room, to serve as a base for the nest. Then they pile the blankets and pillows and fabric around it on all sides— at least three feet high, perhaps four, Geralt estimates. Finally they bring over a couple extra chairs from the dining table and drape a blanket over them, providing a kind of roof.

"I'll get some of my clothes," Geralt grunts, walking over to his saddle bags and rummaging around until he's found a few old shirts. When he gets back to the nest, there are tears streaming down Jaskier's face.

"Jas, what's wrong?"

Jaskier shakes his head. "It's just so lovely," he whispers. Then he wipes his wet cheeks and looks over at Geralt. "Come on," he says, taking the shirts from Geralt's hands. "Let's go inside."

"But— it's your nest, not mine," says Geralt.

"Don't be ridiculous," scoffs Jaskier, with a wave of his hand. "What's mine is yours, my dear."

"But nests are—"

"Yes, yes, nests are sacred places and alphas are supposed to stay out of them. But you're my mate, and I want you with me," Jaskier says.

When Geralt opens his mouth to question him further, Jaskier claps a hand over it. "I will not accept any further arguments from you, Witcher," he says firmly, his brow furrowed but his eyes soft.

And with that, he crawls into the nest and curls up on the mattress, snug against the pillows, Geralt's shirts clutched to his chest.

"Hmm," hums Geralt, still hesitant.

Jaskier rolls his eyes. "Come on," he says. "Seriously. I absolutely implore you, alright?"

And at last, Geralt joins him in the nest.

***

It's very soft and spacious inside, and the blanket overhead keeps out the harsh afternoon light.

Jaskier scoots closer, rests his head on Geralt's broad shoulder. "Fuck," he says, laughing wetly. "I'm crying again."

"You alright?"

"Yeah, I'm just... just imagining giving birth here, all safe and secure, with you by my side, talking me through it..."

"You want me there for it?" asks Geralt abruptly.

Jaskier lifts his face to look at him. "Are you joking?"

"Hmm."

"Geralt, of course I want you there." He kisses Geralt's jaw. "You're the only one I want there."

"What about a midwife?"

Jaskier shakes his head.

"But I— I won't be much help," Geralt says, frowning. "I've never witnessed a birth before."

"You'll provide moral support," Jaskier tells him. "You'll scent me, and encourage me, and tell me how fantastic I'm doing..." He smiles.

"But—"

"Geralt," says Jaskier. "I gave birth to Rian at fourteen years old with nothing to guide me but instinct, and I did a splendid job of it, if I do say so myself. I think I can handle the pushing-out-the-baby part, alright? I just... I don't want to be alone this time."

"Hmm," Geralt says. "Then I'll be there." He nods, and kisses Jaskier gently. Jaskier kisses him back.

And then something else occurs to Geralt. "Are you sure you'll feel comfortable being, ah... unclothed, in front of me, for the birth?" he asks.

Jaskier hesitates, then nods slowly. "Yes," he says. "I mean, it's not as though you haven't seen my dick before."

Geralt frowns. "That was—"

"I know, that was because I thought you wanted to fuck me, but... but this will be different. I'll be having a baby, for one thing. And I trust you now, for another," he adds.

"Hmm," says Geralt. His chest feels warm.

There's a moment of silence.

"And what about Rian?" Geralt asks then. "Will he be there?"

"No," Jaskier says immediately. "I think it would scare him. All the blood and screaming and whatnot, you know."

"Mm," says Geralt. "Will he stay with Raph and Aleks then?"

"That's what I figured, yeah."

"And what if— Hmm." Geralt clears his throat. "Gods forbid, what if something goes wrong?" he asks quietly.

"Then we'll send Raph or Aleks or Penny for the midwife," says Jaskier shrugging. "But Geralt."

"What?"

"Nothing will go wrong."

Geralt nods, reassured by his confidence, and they lie there quietly for a few minutes, Jaskier's head on Geralt's chest and Geralt's hands on Jaskier's belly.

Then Jaskier sighs. "Melitele's tits, it's so soon," he says softly. "Just two or three weeks, can you believe it?"

"No," Geralt says truthfully.

"It's strange," Jaskier goes on. "I remember the day back in March when I realized I was pregnant. And never in my wildest dreams did I think that maybe I'd end up actually giving birth to the baby."

"Hmm."

"I could always smell the pregnancy a few days after conception, but Szymon would wait until he or a customer could smell it too before he bought me the abortion potion. He didn't want to waste his money in case I miscarried on my own." Jaskier sighs, fiddling with the buttons of Geralt's shirt. "That's what happened with my second pregnancy after Rian," he says. "Szymon always hoped it'd happen again. Sometimes he'd beat me in the stomach in an effort to bring it about."

Geralt scowls, grits his teeth.

"Anyway," Jaskier continues, "the month between getting pregnant and getting the abortion was always awful. I tried so hard not to care. But it was impossible." He glances over at Geralt. "Because I loved them," he whispers. "The babies."

"Mm," says Geralt, his heart constricting painfully.

"Sometimes I feel guilty that they all had to die but this one gets to live," Jaskier continues. "I mean, obviously I love this baby to no end and I'm so glad I got to keep them. And I'm elated that I'll be able to meet them and raise them and everything." He sighs. "But I loved the others too, you know? All twelve of them."

"It wasn't your fault, what happened," grunts Geralt. "You needn't feel guilty."

"I know," says Jaskier. "But I do."

"Hmm." Geralt strokes his cheek.

"I try to tell myself that... that if you'd come a few days later, this baby probably would've been aborted too." Jaskier draws a shaky breath. "So I just try to be grateful that they weren't."

Geralt nods. He doesn't know what to say.

"Because we can't change the past, right?" Jaskier offers, taking Geralt's hand.

"No," says Geralt. But fuck if he doesn't wish he could.

For a long while, neither of them speaks.

"You should go pick up Rian," Jaskier says eventually. "It's getting late."

"Mm."

"And warn him about the nest before you get here, alright? He's never seen a proper one. I don't want his brain to explode on us." Jaskier smiles.

"Hmm," hums Geralt. "I will."

He lies there a while longer, nestled beside Jaskier, just breathing in his scent.

But at long last he kisses him goodbye, ducks out of the nest, and sets off for Bethelda's inn.

***

A half hour later, he's heading back to the cottage, hand-in-hand with Rian.

"Rian, do you remember your papa nesting during his heats?" he asks as they walk.

"Yeah," says Rian, glancing up quizzically. "He always scrunched up the sheets and cuddled with some towels. He said it made him feel more better. And I let him use my blanket too, the one with holes that he gave me for my birthday when I turned three."

"Mm," says Geralt, frowning. "That was very kind of you to share."

Rian nods.

"But did you know," Geralt goes on, "that an omega's nest is supposed to be much bigger and softer than your papa's were? With lots of pillows and blankets and nice-smelling things?"

Rian frowns. "Papa never had that stuff," he says softly. "Only one pillow and one blanket." He holds up one little finger for emphasis. "And two towels, but they were dirty and stinky like Bad Men."

"Hmm," sighs Geralt. "Back at Szymon's inn, yes, that was true. But now... guess what."

"What?"

"Now Papa has all the blankets and pillows he needs," Geralt says. "And today, he and I built a big, soft nest for him, like what every omega deserves."

Rian's eyes widen. "How big?"

"Very big. You'll see when we get home."

"And no holes in the blankets?"

"No."

"And no stinky towels?"

"Definitely not."

Rian grins, and tugs at Geralt's hand. "Let's go, Daddy!" he says. "I wanna see it!"

Geralt smiles down at him, and allows himself to be dragged back to the cottage as fast as Rian's little legs will travel.

***

When they arrive, Rian gasps at the sight of the nest. Then he dives into the opening and snuggles up beside Jaskier.

"Papa," he breathes. "It's like a castle made out of blankets!"

"You're right, it is," says Jaskier.

"I can stand up in it, even," Rian says, jumping to his feet and reaching up to touch the blanket that stretches overhead.

Jaskier laughs. "You sure can," he says. And then: "Geralt!" he calls. "What are you doing just standing out there?"

So Geralt crawls into the nest too, and lies down on the mattress next to Jaskier. Rian flops down between the two of them.

"Are you gonna have a heat now?" he asks Jaskier.

"No, not for a while," Jaskier says. "This nest is for when the baby comes. Because omegas like to give birth in nests."

"Did you have me in a nest?"

Jaskier strokes at Rian's curls. "No," he says. "I didn't have anything to make one with."

"Oh." Rian frowns. "So were you sad?"

"I was, before you came out. I was sad and scared. But you know what? Once I had you in my arms, I wasn't sad anymore. I was so happy."

"Because you loved me so much, right?"

"That's right."

Rian wiggles joyfully. "I love you so much too," he says, and Jaskier kisses his head. "But this time you won't be sad before the baby comes out?" Rian asks then. "Because of your castle nest?"

Jaskier nods. "Because of my nest, and also because I won't be all by myself."

"'Cause Daddy will be there?"

"Right."

"And me?"

"Not you," says Jaskier gently. "It's yucky to watch someone give birth, and a bit scary."

"But I watched Walnut do it."

"That's true. But it's different when it's your papa."

"Oh."

"Like remember how it was always scary to see me in heat?"

Rian nods, his eyes large.

"It'll be sort of like that when I give birth," Jaskier says. "You'll have much more fun playing with Rosie and Amelia, I promise."

"Oh."

"And then as soon as the baby is out, you can come right back over and see them and hold them, okay? How does that sound?"

Rian considers for a moment. "Good," he says at last.

"Then it's a plan." Jaskier ruffles Rian's hair, and Rian moves closer to him.

"Papa?" he asks.

"Yes, my love?"

"Can I sleep in here tonight?"

"In the nest?"

"Yeah. 'Cause it's cozy."

Jaskier smiles. "Just for tonight, okay?" he says. "But yes. I think that's a splendid idea."

***

The next morning, when Geralt wakes up beside his mate and son, with Song the kitten tangled in his hair and Walnut curled on his chest, he blinks in the morning light and wonders if it's all just a very blessed dream.

But no, he thinks. It's his life.

And he smiles, and kisses Jaskier awake.