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Lover's Lament

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Jaskier writes lover's laments -
A long time ago, Jaskier wondered, is it an analytic truth that one must love to love? Is a feeling of reverence implied in soft touches, in shining eyes? Is happiness integral to a kiss?

And now he weeps into his pillow.

And now he feels his heart ache like a sore spot in his body.

Oh, how he loves to love.
(How he loves picking himself up and piecing himself back together like patchwork never in the right order never how it was before never whole)
(And
never is like a string around his neck pulling tight, he is held up by rope of almosts. )
Sweetheart, only masochists love love.
What a brave fool you must be to walk onto a battlefield with no weapons and no shield.

But who needs weapons when you have a witcher in front of you by your side at your back -

(And there is nothing that could make you think he is your enemy, not even feeling the blade of his sword against your neck, not even when it stars to pierce your skin, if only slightly – even then, don't I still love your breath in my neck? )

Sometimes it hurts, but Jaskier can't stop writing a lament, when Geralt is with him and when he is not, this is his routine, what he knows -

Love hurts.

 

***

 

Everything is going according to routine - Geralt is fighting a monster, then killing a monster, then he returns to the tavern, goes upstairs to change out of his armor - until Jaskier bursts into the room and blurts: “A wedding!”

“What?”
“We've been invited to a wedding!”
Jaskier waves his hands around in a flourish.
“You mean, you've been invited to a wedding.”
“Nope! Both of us.”
Geralt contemplates this for a moment. Jaskier bringing everything out of order and mixing everything up
is according to routine.
“Why would anyone invite me to their wedding? I'm a witcher.”
“And what a witcher! Impressive swords, impressive... muscles. Who wouldn't be blown away?”

Geralt mutely shakes his head.

Okay, I'll admit,” Jaskier amends, “from a certain point of view, that might seem a tiny bit threatening.”

So what endeared them to me? The friendly smile?”

The fact that you saved their village and now they don't have to live in constant panic and fear anymore! The wedding can finally happen! In a way, you've birthed this wedding. As the father, it's your responsibility, no, your duty even, to attend.”

Hm,” Geralt says. “Sure it's not just your incessant guilt tripping that's forcing me to attend?”

I'd like to think it was my irresistible charm,” Jaskier flashes a smile. “Or because I annoyed you into it. That is a skill, I'll have you know. One I intend to perfect!”

Believe me, you're already pretty good at it.”

Oh, Geralt, stop, you'll make me blush.”

Geralt smirks and watches as Jaskier wanders the room.

What a feat.”

Hey! I do not blush easy.”

Overcome by a strange feeling, Geralt has to avert his eyes.

So who's the happy couple?” Geralt busies himself with putting away his swords and folding the armor.

Farmer's son and smith's daughter. It's properly romantic. We can not miss out on this! I can smell love in the air!”

Geralt turns his head. It's strangely hard to keep the smile in.
“I'm pretty sure that's your perfume.”

Fine, be grumpy, work it off. You've already agreed to this.”
“I have?”
“Come on, Geralt. Don't even pretend you can say no to me.”

Geralt shakes his head in amusement. (He doesn't say no.)

 

***

“I look ridiculous.”
“You look
dashing .”

I look like a peacock.”
“You look like a
dashing peacock, witcher, pay attention.”
Jaskier has gotten him a doublet – Melitele knows from where – and Geralt is sure it must be at least one size too small.

I wear black,” Geralt tries to argue.

Not today you're not. This is a wedding, not a funeral. Can't go around spreading gloom and bringing everyone down.”

If they don't want that, then they shouldn't invite a witcher to their celebration.”

That's not fair, they only got one quick look at you and you looked like exceptional, truly excellent company when you walked in from the hunt covered in blood.”

Oh, when you put it like that.”
Geralt rolls his eyes, worried the effect might be slightly undermined by the outfit. It looks like the outfit of someone who doesn't mind having eyes on him, someone who values looks over practicality, someone delicate and pretty – someone like Jaskier.

Stop this,” Jaskier says and gestures in Geralt's direction.
“Stop what?”
“Your general grumpiness and pessimism. Think of it as going undercover. Here's your new role: You're going to pretend to be a normal person.”

Hm. Like a human.”

Exactly! It'll be fun.”

Geralt scrutinizes himself in the mirror, tries to think away the white hair and the yellow eyes. It doesn't quite work. Normal human, not so much, but maybe he could pretend to be a strange human.

 

***

They're in the back of the church. Geralt is on a mission. He has already calculated seven different escape routes.

Stop glowering,” Jaskier whispers over to him.
“I don't glower,” Geralt answers, “I just... observe.”

You observe gloomily. You're unsettling the flower children.”

There's a boy three rows in front of them staring at them. Geralt tries to smooth out his expression a little. What would human Geralt do?

Oh, that's a wonderful flower arrangement. Look at her, that dress is so beautiful.”
Jaskier continues gushing compliments about the decorations. Geralt follows after Jaskier's descriptions with his eyes. It's simple, they can't afford much, but suddenly Geralt finds himself admiring the carnations tied to the benches. Nearly the whole village is assembled, chattering among themselves and laughing. The children are playing tag along the corridor. It's their faces though – creases in the corners of their eyes, like a whole face pulled apart by a smile.

Geralt is too big here, the seat is too small, the doublet is too small, he just doesn't fit -

There is no use in pretending he is human, he is not human, he could never exist in a space like this, he ruins moments like this. A wedding. What was he thinking? Listening to Jaskier, with the bad ideas that always get them in trouble? Inevitably some monster is going to burst in, or a brawl is going to break out, and somehow, how ever, it will be Geralt's fault. Who invites a witcher to a wedding?

Geralt?”

Only someone who's scared of something worse. Geralt's not stupid, people always have an agenda, he knows this. He won't let himself be fooled by Jaskier's endless optimism. Just because he has let a human too close doesn't mean he is one, never will be again.

I should have brought a sword,” Geralt mumbles.

A sword? At a wedding? Are you crazy? Why, you mean the second row on the left? That's not a water hag, that's the groom's great aunt.”

Geralt snorts, but quickly grows serious again.
“I have a bad feeling about this.”
“You have bad feelings about everything, it's called being a paranoid bastard,” Jaskier says jokingly, “come on, relax a little. Have fun!”

Geralt has been to some weddings before and those had always been noble families and political marriages. This is... different. Strange.

The church quiets down and the ceremony begins. Geralt holds himself completely still, which is stupid – like that will somehow turn him invisible. The groom is a young man, barely out of childhood. He looks lost in front of the priest, scared even. But his face lights up completely when the bride steps in, wearing a blue dress, the best the family could afford. Geralt is dumbstruck at the unbridled joy in his eyes.

(If he were human, would he fall in love?)
When they speak their vows – words of love and gentle promises – the bride starts crying and then so does the groom. They stumble forward, like the happiness pulled them together, and kiss, so enthusiastic in it that it turns clumsy and they pull apart again with a laugh.

(Could he kiss someone like that?)
A sniff next to him startles Geralt out of his stupor.

Are you crying?” Geralt glances at Jaskier sideways, who tries to surreptitiously wipe at his eyes.
“...no.”
“Yes, you are.”

Fine! Yes. I'm crying. It's a wedding, everyone cries at weddings.”
“Look around. No one is crying except for you.”
“They're crying!” Jaskier points at the couple.

Geralt watches them, talking with a few older people, maybe their parents, all the while holding hands.
“They're in love.”

Jaskier looks away.

(Could Jaskier love him, if he were human?)

***

At the reception, everyone is giddy from relief to be rid of the monster that was terrorizing the village and giddy from the joy of the wedding. People are eating at the benches outside of the church and when it turns dark, they start a fire.

He can tell Jaskier is a little intoxicated by the way he leans into Geralt.

Geraaalt,” Jaskier sings, “I love this song.”
“Not gonna complain that they didn't ask you to play?”
“Not today.” Jaskier smiles a little. “You know I don't ask you for much, right? So can you just – can we just -”
“What?”
“Dance with me?” He leans into Geralt more and he's so close, Geralt's head gets dizzy.

You can barely stand.”
“Shut up, I'm not that drunk.”

And there is something about that night that makes Geralt believe in things he knows to be impossible, because he doesn't put up a fight and instead holds out a hand to Jaskier, like a nonsensical offer. Jaskier grabs his hand immediately and Geralt catches him by the hip and he lets himself touch. They are on the outskirts of the celebration, a small distance away. Geralt leads Jaskier slowly and suddenly gets unreasonably worried that Jaskier will hear his heartbeat. (Jaskier probably can't even hear the crickets in the field, there is nothing to be worried about.)

But he can't get the couple out of his mind and that kiss and what if he were human, somewhere in another universe -

Jaskier?”
“Hm?”
“What's it like to be in love?”

Jaskier steps away from him abruptly, with a harsh intake of breath.

Don't.”

 

***

Jaskier feels faint, his eyes becoming unfocused, then focused and unfocused again. They don't talk about this. It's like a rule, or maybe a courtesy, or a secret, how ever unspoken truths can be secrets.
(My hand home in your hand. My house in your house. My lips in your lips. My dreams the color of your eyes. My heart beating to your song.)
Jaskier has never tried to hide this, couldn't if he wanted to because this feeling is too big to hold in and he's always known that Geralt knows but they don't talk about it, because it would be embarrassing, because it would
hurt .

Jaskier sways back a little. We don't do this.

(Have you ever stood on the edge of a cliff and had a strange desire to throw yourself off of it? Have you ever seen a butterfly and wanted to catch it, keep it in your hands?)

Jaskier doesn't understand, because Geralt is never cruel, not like this, so he looks up and sees confusion in Geralt's eyes.

Don't you know,” Jaskier chokes out.

(What is love? A heart beat going too quickly? Elated eyes? A rush of joy in the human body? If that's what you think, dear, you have no idea.)
“Witchers don't -”
“Don't start with that.”
“I –
I don't -” Geralt starts.

I don't believe that.”

It's Geralt, after all. Never understanding feelings, but always having so many of them.

Tell me.”
“I can't.”

What? Can't find the words?”
Jaskier presses his lips together.

Can't find the courage,” he admits quietly.
(Imagine a storm raging through my mind and the storm is just you, you, you. Everywhere, just you. Imagine a room full of mirrors and not being able to see yourself in a single one of them.)

So you have been in love?” Geralt asks.

What kind of question is that?”
“Right, right. You fall in love with everyone.”

Don't tell me you don't know,” Jaskier says, astounded. “You idiot. You moron. You complete imbecile.”
Maybe some truths need to be spoken. Maybe it was more of a secret than Jaskier thought. And he could keep it to himself if he wanted to. He could leave the painful conversation to never. But how could he do that to Geralt who doesn't believe in being loved? Exposing yourself to love, exposing love – like laying bare fear and dreams and hope – maybe pain is integral to love, in a good way, but also in the worst way -

Do you even know how many times I've come back to you? Every spring?”
“We meet out of coincidence -”
“What, you think we met all these times by hazard and you still don't believe in destiny?”
Typical Geralt, trying to find some ridiculous explanation in everything rather than accept simple truths.

Things don't just happen just because you hope for them,” Geralt says somberly.
Hope for them? Hope for Jaskier's return? And isn't that ridiculous, because Jaskier always returns.

Look, Geralt, I don't know if it's because you're really not emotionally intelligent or because you don't want to see it, but I think it's pretty clear that I love you.”
Geralt's mouth drops open. He stares at Jaskier wide-eyed. Jaskier watches him with his heart in his throat and Jaskier would lose his nerve if it weren't for Geralt taking a small step toward him.

Let me show you -” he says. Maybe it's not just him, maybe it's a thing, like him and Geralt, a them thing -

He reaches for Geralt's palm and presses his lips to it. He gets a small sigh as an answer and it tells Jaskier all he needs to know. He whispers a lament against his skin. Then he takes Geralt's hand in his and presses both of them against his chest.

It feels like the future is bright, bright, bright, like maybe they can have this, maybe they can love each other like humans do.

(Love is, I'm here. When you need me and when you don't know that you need me and when you don't need me. Love is, I'm waiting for you to catch up at the end of the road. Even when I can see you in the distance walking in the opposite direction.)

They dance together under the stars and Jaskier leads them, like come here, come here, let me show you the way – and Geralt does, like I'll follow you wherever you go, like stepping into gentleness, so close, like we are sharing oxygen like we are sharing a life like a sweet light little melody that is nothing like a lament and everything like joy.