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The Loves of Jaskier, Bard Extraordinaire

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1: The Loves of Jaskier, Bard Extraordinaire

 

Falling in love was the easy part. It never took long. Sometimes it was instantaneous. Sometimes it took a day. A week. Once, as long as a month. Never longer. It was as natural as breathing, the falling, the natural result of Jaskier’s heart that pounded in his chest, a heart that begged to be given away freely, that wanted to experience everything.

It was the falling out of love that hurt. Boredom was a common cause; his wanderlust was as much a part of his yearning as his wandering heart. Sometimes, it was rejection. He was never good at handling rejection. Oh, he was quiet about it; he knew better than to cry. But he had to work hard at healing. It did not come easy to him.

 

The first time he fell in love, he was eleven, still Julian, playing in the weeds with a boy who he should not have been playing with. His parents would disapprove of his dalliances with children from the nearby village, but – although he did not have the words to express it quite this way yet – frankly, his parents could go fuck themselves. They approved of little he did anyway, and so he might as well enjoy life as much as he could.

(This is the philosophy that he would hold on to until the day he died.)

And so he fell in love with a boy from the village who was willing to play at adventure and listen to the songs he composed. They were not good. He was only eleven.

It was, predictably, his parents who broke his heart, rather than the boy, who never knew he’d been loved in the first place. They sent him away for schooling, and when he came back, a year later –

(His bottom sore from beatings that his parents thought he earned and Julian thought no one could ever deserve) –

He found that the boy had all but forgotten him, and that he, remarkably, at some point during his past year of schooling, had managed to overcome his heartbreak over the distance.

 

Another time he fell in love, he was fifteen. He saw her from across the room, the daughter of a minor noble visiting their manor for a feast. They spent the night dancing around each other, and then with each other, and he made her laugh, and she let him kiss her as the clock struck midnight, but by the next morning, she and her family left, and Julian never saw her again.

His lips stung for the next week with the memory of the kiss, and he could smell her perfume – a rose scent he found neither pleasant nor unpleasant – for the next month.

 

Another time Julian fell in love, he was eighteen. He had been at Oxenfurt for all of a week when he sat next to her in class and found his heart strings tugging at their shared love of music and poetry. He played the lute, and she played the flute, and they spent three blissful months composing together and spending sleepless nights in each other’s company before she found another. It was she who compared his beauty to a buttercup, and though it stung to part from her in a way it had never stung before, he accepted her gift of a name easily.

Jaskier, he decided, suited him far more than Julian ever did.

 

Another time he fell in love, he was twenty two, performing at the edge of the world to an unappreciative audience. In the corner, he spotted a man who radiated danger, and who was so beautiful it stole his breath away. He knew, in but a moment, that he would follow this man everywhere and anywhere, until the day he died.

He didn’t expect that day to come quite so soon, however. He wasn’t scared at any point throughout the encounter, as much as it surprised him. He trusted Geralt implicitly and immediately, although it seemed  both counterintuitive and ridiculous, and it turned out he was right to.

His heartbreak, that day, was at the loss of his lute, but he received another one from Filavandrel, a kindness he never would have expected, if only because he had known so little kindness in his life.

And then he proceeded to make do on his silent promise, and followed Geralt, wherever he was heading.

 

2: Traveling With Geralt, Witcher Extraordinaire

 

Jaskier had only been on the road for a few months when he joined Geralt, but he was not incompetent. He had a bedroll, and dried meats, and cheese, and a waterskin. He knew never to sleep on the ground unless he wanted to freeze to death. He carried a dagger with him, although he was not particularly adept at using it. His shoes were impractical, but that would change eventually.

(His clothing remained impractical and showy for the rest of his life.)

Traveling with Geralt was harder than any of his previous travels.

For one, Geralt set a far more brutal pace than Jaskier had ever set for himself. He did set a pace that allowed Jaskier to keep up, but only just barely, and it wasn’t long before Jaskier began complaining loudly about the pain at his feet. The first night, he spent a solid half an hour by the fire massaging his feet. The next day, he gave up. Eventually, his feet got used to the pain.

He did not touch Roach.

He was not a hunter, but Geralt was willing to share some of a rabbit he had caught in exchange for some of Jaskier’s cheese. Geralt did not admit to enjoying his company – would not for a very, very long time – but he accepted that the bard was not completely useless, and shared his food with him even when Jaskier did not have anything to share in return. In exchange, Jaskier was the one to collect the firewood and the one to clear the stones from the ground so they could sleep in relative comfort in their bedrolls.

They passed through three villages within the next two weeks, and Geralt refused to stop at any of them. He did not have the coin to spare for a stay at an inn, and refused Jaskier’s offer of sharing a room. Jaskier was somewhat grateful, to be honest; he was running low on funds, too, although he would have had an easier time making money had he been able to stay in the villages and perform. Refusing to let Geralt camp alone in case he decided to leave without him, Jaskier slept outdoors with Geralt. It was late summer, and although he would soon smell autumn in the air, it was still rather pleasant outside, and it was not too much trouble to sleep under a tree, with Geralt nearby to protect him from any monsters or creatures that might attack in the night.

At the fourth village, three weeks after Posada, there was a contract for Geralt, a drowner. Geralt told Jaskier with as few words possible that drowners were common, and it would not be a difficult fight. He would be back before morning break.

Jaskier told him he would perform in the tavern, and stay at the inn, and told him to join him when he returned.

Geralt grunted in response, and although Jaskier would eventually be able to tell the difference between Geralt’s different grunts and hmms easily, he was not able to yet, and so he did not know that that was an assent, and simply had to hope it was.

(It was, although Jaskier would somewhat regret his offer to share a room when Geralt returned in the early hours covered in drowner guts and stinking of swamp. From then on, Jaskier always made sure to request a bath be brought to his room when Geralt was on a hunt.)

He debuted Toss a Coin that evening, and was surprised at how well it was received. He made good money that evening, enough to cover the cost of the room and the one in the next village as well. As he left the tavern at closing town, he even heard the barkeep humming the melody to herself as she swept the floor.

 

Despite his love for Geralt being as it was, he never dared to make a move. He did not know, for one, if Geralt was even inclined in his direction; and even if he was, he already cherished what they had too much to jeopardize it. He knew, somehow, that if Geralt were to break his heart, he would not be able to recover.

And so he felt free to take advantage of other opportunities, over the years.

Countess De Stael is only one of many, but is also one of the only who truly managed to break his heart. Although he wandered away often, he came back to her just as often; he spent years of his life loving her. When she ended their relationship for good, he knew it would scar him deeply. He simply did not know how.

His friendship with Geralt – despite Geralt’s insistence that they are no such thing – had been steady for a decade now. They parted, when necessary; but they always found each other again. Mostly it was Jaskier who found Geralt, yes, but not always. Geralt could not possibly be needed at Oxenfurt as often as he found himself there at the end of the winter.

And more than a decade after Posada, Jaskier is finally forced to confront his love for Geralt, because the witcher chooses another. He chooses Yennefer, and even if she hadn’t threatened to cut his gods-damn balls off, he still would hate her, because he could feel his heart crack, just a little bit, and he’d always known that he would not recover from Geralt-related heartbreak.

 

On that mountain, when the crack turned into a schism, he changed forever. He never falls in love again.

 

3: The Teachings of Jaskier, Professor Extraordinaire

 

He had never cried from heartbreak before. He had not cried for a boy in the weeds, or for a kiss stolen at midnight, or for a true relationship that gave him a new identity to hold on to. And he would not cry for Geralt.

The trek down the mountain was hard, but not impossible. He had done it one way, and he was capable of doing it the other way round as well. When he made it down, he and his sturdy boots and impractical clothing headed south, to Oxenfurt.

When he arrived, weeks later, months earlier than expected, his colleagues welcomed him with barely a word. He took up the teaching position he’d been offered several times, and makes a habit of playing at his favorite tavern at least once a week. It may be that his new songs were slightly more maudlin than his previous work, but if so, nobody called him out on it.

His classes were popular. At first he thinks it’s due to his fame and successful career, but it isn’t until one of his students tries to flirt with him that he realizes that, well, he does look rather young for his age.

He would never sleep with his students, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t take advantage of his good looks at all.

 

4: The Results of War, Tragedy Extraordinaire

 

Cintra falls.

 

5: Wanderlust, Temptress Extraordinaire

 

He lasted two years.

They were not unpleasant two years by any means. He may not have been able to fall in love anymore, but he passed the time with much pleasant company, nonetheless. His students were clever, and he enjoyed teaching.

But his feet begged of him, again and again, to travel, and the time came when he could no longer deny them.

The road was harsh, but it was familiar. The audiences were harsher, but that was only a challenge to overcome, nothing more, nothing less, and he had done so before. War may have hardened the land, but it had not destroyed all hope. Joy was still to be found, and music would still be heard, if he had any say in the matter.

 

6: Geralt’s Child, Surprise Extraordinaire

 

In a tavern in a town whose name he had forgotten immediately, he ran into Geralt for the first time in almost three years.

He looked… different. Older, but not harder. He sat in the corner, watching as the bard performed, and Jaskier could not help but compare this evening to an afternoon more than two decades ago, when he spotted the same man in the corner and fell in love instantly.

He knew, back then, that he would follow him to the end of the world and back. And he realized, as he played to an audience far more appreciative than that in Posada, that if Geralt were to ask it of him, he would still do it, even right then.

His heartbreak and love stood side by side, coexisting, perhaps a paradox, but true nonetheless. He would love Geralt till the day he died, whether or not Geralt ever asked for forgiveness, whether or not Jaskier would ever heal.

When he finished, he downed an entire ale for courage, paying for it with the money he had just made performing. And then he headed to the corner, where those yellow eyes were watching him. Had never left him once for the entirety of his performance.

“Hello, Geralt,” he said, and the words sounded alien in his throat, as if he had not spoken in years.

“You seem to be doing well,” Geralt responded.

“I suppose so,” Jaskier said. “What are you doing here?” Perhaps the phrasing was a little blunt, but it was hardly as if decorum mattered to Geralt, and Jaskier, although willing to follow Geralt without question, had still been badly hurt.

“Contract,” Geralt grunted. And then, “I heard your voice, and I…” He trailed off.

Jaskier’s heart constricted for just a moment. Had he come into the tavern just to listen to Jaskier?

“Well, thank you for sitting through the entire performance,” Jaskier said. “It’s appreciated. I know how you feel about my music.”

(I know how you hate it, he didn’t say.)

“I…” Geralt began, then shook his head, as if trying to force the words out. Instead, he said: “Last I heard, you were in Oxenfurt.”

Jaskier was taken aback. Had Geralt taken an interest in his whereabouts? “Yes, I was,” Jaskier said. “For two years. But you know me, Geralt, my heart belongs to the road.” He punctuated the sentence with a heavy, dramatic sigh.

“Yes,” Geralt said. And then, “Where are you headed from here?”

Jaskier frowned. “I… don’t know? I came from the west. Figured I’d keep heading east until I wanted to do something else.”

Geralt gulped. Was he nervous? “You could…” Geralt was fidgeting. Definitely nervous. “If you wanted, you could head north. With me.”

Jaskier stared at him, speechless for a moment. “But, it’s almost winter.”

“Yes,” Geralt said.

“You’re returning to Kaer Morhen.”

“Yes,” Geralt said. “You could come with me.”

“To Kaer Morhen.”

“Yes,” Geralt said, seeming annoyed at the need to repeat himself.

“Humans aren’t allowed at Kaer Morhen,” Jaskier reminded him.

Geralt grunted. “Things have changed.”

Jaskier huffed. “What things?”

“I…” Geralt said, and then glanced to both sides, as if afraid he would be overheard. “I would rather not say in such a public space.”

“Um. Okay then.” Jaskier briefly weighed the pros and cons of what he was about to say, before deciding in favor. “I have a room, just upstairs, if you want to talk.”

 

“Well, this is it,” Jaskier said. The room was small, filled mostly with the double bed. His meager collection of things were on a small wooden chair in the corner, and the bard carefully leaned his lute against the wall beside it.

Geralt shut the door behind them, and Jaskier jumped at the sound, for some reason having not expected it. But of course, Geralt wanted privacy.

(He could not know the way being alone in a room with Geralt after all this time made Jaskier’s skin crawl with need and hurt alike.)

“So what is it?” Jaskier asked eventually, tired of the silence.

Geralt sat on the bed, looking down. Definitely still nervous, then. If the witcher was capable of blushing, it was not at all inconceivable that he would now do so, and that, more than anything else, is what caused Jaskier to worry so.

“I claimed her,” Geralt said, so softly that at first Jaskier was sure he misheard.

“You – “ Jaskier could not complete the sentence.

Luckily, Geralt seemed to understand the implicit question in his voice. “Shortly before, I went to claim her. Calanthe tried to trick me, give me another, and when that failed, she trapped me. After Cintra fell, I found her. Or rather, she found me.” This was perhaps the most words Jaskier had ever heard the Witcher utter at once before. “I took her to Kaer Morhen, to be trained. And…” He hesitated, eyes searching for something in the bard’s face Jaskier could not name.

“And?” he prompted.

“And to Yennefer, as well,” Geralt admitted. “The girl has power.”

Jaskier swallowed. “So the two of you have made up, have you?”

“Yes.” Geralt frowned. “No. Well, after a fashion.”

Jaskier laughed. “Well, that was just about the least clear answer I have ever heard. Congratulations.”

“I want you to come with me,” Geralt said. “I want you to meet her.”

Jaskier refrained from telling him that he had already met her several times. That while Geralt spent years ignoring his destiny, Jaskier went back and performed at Cintra a dozen times. That he knew what Cirilla looked like when she cried at a tragic ballad and laughed at a humorous tale. Jaskier was forbidden from outright singing of Geralt in front of her, but that does not mean he did not skirt the lines, telling stories of a hero of a witcher. He did not want her to believe witchers evil or cruel or emotionless when Geralt finally came for her.

(Jaskier always knew he would.)

“Alright,” he said. “I’ll come for the girl.”

 

The road to Kaer Morhen was harsh, and the trek up the mountain range harsher, but he could still remember another trek up and down another mountain, and he steeled his heart and kept moving.

 

“Jaskier!” Cirilla yelled as the bard and the witcher entered the main hall. She immediately rose from her position by the fire and ran towards him. Caught by surprise, he accepted her as she threw her arms around him, and he chuckled into her hair.

“Hello, Princess Cirilla,” he said. “Long time no see.”

He avoided Geralt’s gaze. He would explain later.

“It’s just Ciri,” she said, disentangling herself from him, only to throw herself at Geralt, who seemed less taken by surprise by her actions. Jaskier supposed he must be use to this by now.

“How are you,” he said softly. Jaskier’s heart skipped a beat. He had never heard him speak in that way to anyone, except perhaps Roach.

No, not even Roach.

He loved Ciri, as plain as day. As clearly as he’d loved Yennefer, although where his love for Yennefer of Vengerberg was harsh and passionate, his love for Ciri – for his daughter – was soft and feather-light.

As easy as breathing.

 

Jaskier was put up in a small but warm room next-door to Ciri and two doors down from Geralt, and was also immediately put to work. The other witchers who would come for the winter had not arrived yet, and there was much to be done. He cleaned and cooked and mucked stables, but it wasn’t until two weeks into his stay that he dared to suggest to Geralt and the rather intimidating Vesemir that he perhaps help teach Ciri.

Vesemir frowned. “What would she need to know that you could teach her and we cannot? We are teaching her to survive, and we are doing so well.”

Jaskier waved a hand at him. “Sure, you are teaching her to survive. But Ciri is royalty. She needs to learn poetry and history as much as she needs to know the difference between different types of vampires.”

She had told the bard of her studies at breakfast.

“And may I remind you, I am a qualified and experienced Oxenfurt lecturer,” he added.

Before Vesemir could say anything else, Geralt said, “I think it’s a good idea.”

And that was that.

 

7: Lambert, Eskel, and Coën, Matchmakers Extraordinaire

 

“He wants you, you know,” Eskel told Jaskier one night.

Lambert, Eskel, and Coën had all arrived within a week from one another, just before a heavy snowfall that trapped them in Kaer Morhen for the rest of winter. Jaskier got along best with Eskel, who was free with his words and genuinely funny. And he was willing to listen to Jaskier play, something he’d been doing up until the moment Eskel spoke.

Right this second, Jaskier wanted to stab him more than anything else in the world.

“What,” he deadpanned.

“Geralt,” Eskel clarified, as if Jaskier hadn’t already understood. “He didn’t bring you here just to teach the princess.”

“We’re barely friends,” Jaskier said.

(He didn’t say, He hasn’t apologized yet. He didn’t say, My heart is already broken enough. I do not need nor want false hope.)

“He wouldn’t bring someone he was barely friends with here,” Eskel said.

Jaskier pretended to tune the lute, although, as always, it was magically exactly in tune. “I’d have to hear that from him, for me to believe that.”

“Hmm,” Eskel said, and at that moment, Jaskier’s heart ached for Geralt more than he could stand. He left Eskel to his fantasies, and in his room, he curled into himself and decidedly did not cry himself to sleep.

 

It was Lambert who approached him next.

Jaskier was always nervous around Lambert, who was perhaps the most in touch with his emotions out of all the witchers in the keep. He was also volatile and strange, and seemed to find humor in everything, including things that were decidedly not funny, and Jaskier didn’t trust him.

“You missed dinner,” he told him, shoving some bread and cheese in his direction.

He realized then that indeed, he had, having lost track of time in the library. This happened from time to time, although usually, Jaskier would head down to the kitchen when he realized what happened. Sometimes he’d simply go to bed hungry. Nobody ever brought him food before. Certainly not Lambert, who Jaskier didn’t like and didn’t understand, and who he suspected harbored similar sentiments towards the bard.

“Eat,” he urged. “It isn’t poisoned.”

Jaskier shrugged and ate. He was hungry, after all.

Lambert waited for Jaskier to stuff his mouth with bread before he asked, all casual, if Geralt and Jaskier had ever fucked.

Jaskier choked on his bread. Lambert patted his back, hard, and Jaskier managed to swallow the bread.

“What,” he said, for the second time in two days.

“Did you and Geralt ever fuck?” Lambert repeated.

“No,” Jaskier said. “He’s in love with that fucking witch. Never looked at me twice.”

There was a twinkle in Lambert’s eyes that Jaskier immediately disliked. “Ah, so you were interested, and it was Geralt who said no?”

Jaskier wanted to smack himself for letting that piece of information slip. He should be more careful. “I didn’t say that,” Jaskier said, defiantly. “I never even asked.”

“Hmm,” Lambert said, and he sounded so much like both Geralt and Eskel that Jaskier couldn’t help but laugh.

 

Coën was the last to approach him, and also the bluntest of the three.

“Eskel and Lambert sent me,” he said, sitting by Jaskier in front of the fire in the main hall. Nobody else was around; it was rather late at night.

“Ah,” Jaskier said. “So you, too, want to interrogate me about Geralt.”

Coën shrugged. “I suppose.”

“Why are the three of you doing this?” he asked, some desperation leaking into his voice against his will.

Coën shrugged again. “We want Geralt to be happy.”

“What’s that got to do with me?” Jaskier challenged.

“You make Geralt happy, of course,” Coën said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

Jaskier couldn’t help but laugh darkly. “Do you know, before Geralt brought me here, what the last thing he said to me was?”

Coën’s eyes flashed with something Jaskier couldn’t decipher. “No,” he said. “What was it?”

“He said.” Jaskier swallowed; his throat was suddenly unbelievably dry. “He said, that if life could give him one blessing, it would be to take me off his hands.”

“And let me guess,” Coën said. “He never apologized for it.”

“No,” Jaskier said, bitterly. “He just brought me here. Because he knew I’d follow. If he asked.”

Coën looked at him appraisingly. “Do you love him?”

Fuck it, Jaskier thought. He’d already said far more than he meant to. Might as well finish the job.

“Yes,” Jaskier said. “Always have. From the fucking first moment I saw him.”

 

That night, Jaskier composed a song on his beautiful lute that he would never play for anybody, but that, had he heard it rather than played it, would have probably made him weep with grief.

 

8: Geralt’s Sorceress, Wine Connoisseur Extraordinaire

 

It was a full two months before Yennefer showed up to continue teaching Ciri, something Jaskier had been anticipating – no, dreading – and yet had not managed to actually prepare for.

It hurt, seeing the way Geralt looked at her when she wasn’t looking. How much he loved her, and knowing she was throwing it away.

But she was here for Ciri, not Geralt. And it was clear to Jaskier that they adored each other, so Jaskier couldn’t resent Yennefer, not completely, because he, too, adored Ciri.

Yennefer did not spend much time with the witchers, interacting as little as possible with the other inhabitants of the keep, mostly keeping to herself in her room when she was not with Ciri. This was fine by Jaskier, who did not wish to see her, and was glad that he did not need to avoid her; she did that for him, whether purposefully or not.

Still, it was inevitable that they run into each other.

It was in the library. Jaskier was sitting at a small table, surrounded by books and notes, preparing for his next lesson with Ciri, when Yennefer waltzed in, wearing her usual all-black garb. She didn’t look surprised to see him, but then again, she never seemed surprised.

“Jaskier,” she said in greeting.

“Yennefer,” he responded in kind. And then he went back to his book, expecting that to be the end of it.

It was not.

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you.”

His neck hurt with the strain of not looking up. “You have?” He forced his voice to sound disinterested, and mostly succeeded.

She sighed, and said, “Yes. It’s about Geralt.”

Jaskier finally looked up at that. “What about him?”

She sighed, as if he was being purposefully difficult. She towered over him, suddenly much closer than she’d been only a moment ago. Or perhaps he had simply not paid attention to her movements.

“What?” he asked impatiently.

“You know, I never got it,” she said. “This thing you two have.”

(Had, he didn’t say.)

“Great. If that’s all you came to say, then – “

“No, I mean – “ She cut herself off, as if unsure what to say. “Do you remember that day on the mountain?”

Nope. No. He was not doing this. In a moment, he gathered his notes, and made to leave; she stood in front of him, however, blocking his path.

He was taller than her, and probably physically stronger, too. But he was fully aware that she could kill him with the snap of a finger, so he didn’t move.

“Do you remember?” she repeated.

“Of course I do,” he said, feeling suddenly tired. “Every moment.”

She nodded.

“Follow me,” she said. And for some reason, he did.

 

They were in her room. It was in a part of Kaer Morhen that Jaskier did not frequent, far away from where the rest of them stayed. It was also far nicer than any of the other rooms, even Ciri’s, which had been carefully decorated as to make her stay as comfortable and princess-worthy as possible.

Well, apparently they could’ve done more, because where Ciri’s room was homely, Yennefer’s was worthy of kings.

From a drawer, she produced a bottle of wine that looked… very expensive. From another, she produced two wineglasses.

“Fuck,” he said.

She shrugged. “I figured we might as well have this conversation over a drink, don’t you agree?”

He agreed wholeheartedly. And the wine was very good.

They didn’t talk about Geralt, at first. They talked about Ciri instead. Ciri was easy, and they were both teaching her, and they were both very proud of her progress.

“She’s clever, that one,” he said.

“Yeah,” Yennefer responded, her voice soft, as soft as Geralt’s when he talked about Ciri, too.

And then Geralt was on his mind, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to get him out, not now, not as wine flew through his veins.

“Do you love him?” he asked, the words leaving him before he even knew he was forming them.

She raised an eyebrow, then downed the rest of her glass before she answered. “Probably,” she admitted. “I don’t know. I don’t – “ She looked distressed.

“He loves you, y’know,” he said, and downed the rest of his wine, too, before reaching for the bottle. To his surprise, he found that it was empty. “It’s as clear as day. I don’t understand why you…” He waved his fingers at her. “Don’t just figure it out.”

“It’s complicated.”

“Isn’t everything?” he said, maybe a little bitterly. “Love is always complicated.”

She looked at him thoughtfully. “You would know, wouldn’t you?”

He laughed. “I’ve loved far and wide,” he said. “I’ve been in love more times than I can count. It’s always different. It’s always complicated. But it’s simpler if you just accept it.”

“I don’t understand,” she said, sounding frustrated, and maybe even angry. “Do you want us together?”

He looked at her in shock. “I want Geralt to be happy,” he said. “And that involves you, as loathe as I am to admit it.”

“It involves you,” she said, matching his bitterness. “His feelings for me are nothing but a side effect.”

“Ah,” he said, nodding wisely. “The wish. I don’t suppose you have any more wine? If you’re still a fool about that, I’m going to need to be much, much more inebriated.”

“I am not a fool!” she exclaimed.

“Of course you are,” Jaskier said. “Who cares about some wish?”

I do,” she seethed. “I don’t trust it. Who knows if he would – if he would love me as you say he does if it weren’t for that wish. We had no choice in the matter. It’s not real.”

“I call bullshit, personally,” he said.

“I can kill you with my pinky, you know.”

“Yes,” he agreed. “And I still call bullshit. Blame it on the alcohol, if you so wish. But, well, it doesn’t matter if he fell in love with you before or after the wish. It matters that he loves you now, and you love him back, and there’s nothing stopping you being together except your own inability to recognize that.”

“Blah,” she said, and it was so uncharacteristic of her that he couldn’t help but laugh, really, truly laugh.

“You should be with him,” he concluded. “Because you can.”

“So should you,” she said, pointing a finger at him. “I know you love him, too.”

“You’re not special,” he told her. “Half the continent knows. Maybe the whole continent. Except for Geralt. Who, I may add, loves you, not me.”

“He loves me,” she echoed, and then added, “and you, too.”

“He has a funny way of showing it, then,” he said. “Considering he’s barely said a word to me the entire time I’ve been here. Are you sure you don’t have any more wine?”

 

She did.

They did not talk of Geralt for the rest of the night, but they did get into a drunk debate about botany, and they did both fall asleep, right next to each other, on Yennefer’s bed, and it was, all in all, a very pleasant night, with the exception of the migraine he suffered for most of the next day.

 

It was early afternoon and he was nursing a cup of tea that Lambert assured him would help with the hangover when Geralt stepped into the kitchen and sniffed.

“You smell like her,” he growled.

“Probably,” Jaskier said.

“Did you – “

“Go talk to your witch,” Jaskier said. “Fix things. Properly. Maybe even apologize – I bet you never did. And leave me the fuck alone, my head is killing me.”

Geralt did, and Jaskier stared down at his half empty mug, trying to convince himself that he was doing the right thing.

 

It wasn’t that he was against Geralt being with anybody else, he had realized, eventually. It wasn’t even Yennefer, who he became almost friends with following their night together. It’s that he’s spent half his life loving someone who would never love him back, and at first, when he hadn’t had anyone else, it was okay, because at least he wasn’t special. But when he did choose someone, that meant that it had never been that Geralt didn’t want to love. It just meant that he didn’t want to love Jaskier.

But he wanted Geralt to be happy, and for better or worse, Yennefer made him happy.

He just wished it didn’t hurt so much.

 

9: The Tears of Jaskier, Bard Extraordinaire

 

There was a courtyard that Jaskier had found two weeks into his stay at Kaer Morhen that nobody else seemed to use. It was small, but secluded, and Jaskier took to it quickly. There was a bench, underneath a stone canopy, and he would sit there for hours at a time, playing his lute or reading or jotting down lyrics, just existing by himself. Kaer Morhen was, overall, quiet, but this courtyard was peaceful, and he needed that peace.

Especially since it seemed that Geralt and Yennefer did, in fact, work it out, and suddenly Yennefer was present, all the time, and even though he sort of liked her now, that didn’t mean he wanted to constantly see her and Geralt at each other’s side, or worse, see them both gone, and know that they disappeared together.

The courtyard was good. Nobody else was ever there, and so there was nobody to notice the lack of.

 

One night, Yennefer announced over dinner that she was leaving. “I will return soon, two weeks at the latest,” she assured Ciri, “I simply have business to attend to.”

Before she left, she pulled Jaskier aside, and told him: “Geralt is free to do as he pleases.”

He looked at her in confusion. “What are you talking about?”

She sighed, then glanced at the main hall, where Geralt and Ciri still were, discussing her training, as they did at the end of most days. “I’m grateful for your help. And I am now returning the favor. Geralt is free to do as he pleases. He is not mine, and I am not his.”

“You’re together,” Jaskier reminded her helpfully.

“We are,” she agreed. “If Geralt approaches you, hear him out. That is all.”

And before he could say another word, she left him, and returned to Ciri and Geralt.

 

The day after Yennefer left, Jaskier settled in the courtyard for the afternoon. He was working on a song, something he’d been working on almost since the moment he arrived at Kaer Morhen, and was carefully erasing a lyric when he heard steps behind him and froze.

Geralt sat down at the farthest end of the bench from him. He was carrying a blanket, which he offered wordlessly to Jaskier.

It was getting cold. He accepted the blanket without a word and wrapped it around himself, one hand still on the lute, the other still holding his lyrics.

“What are you working on,” Geralt offered, and Jaskier took.

“It’s not finished yet,” Jaskier said. “It’s about Kaer Morhen.”

Geralt frowned. “You know you can’t give details – “

“I didn’t say I was going to play it,” Jaskier said. “I’m not stupid. I’m just… writing it.”

Geralt didn’t seem to understand, but he nodded anyway, and lapsed into silence.

“I…” Jaskier swallowed. “How are you?”

“Fine,” Geralt said gruffly.

“Yennefer’s gone,” Jaskier said, and when Geralt didn’t respond, he continued: “She told me something strange yesterday, after dinner. She said, Geralt can do as he pleases. Do you know what that means?” Geralt grunted, and nodded once. Irritated at his continued silence, Jaskier said, “Care to share with the class?”

Geralt was still silent, but this time Jaskier could tell that it wasn’t an unwillingness to talk, but that he was searching for words. He decided to give him time, and busied himself with putting his things away. He had just finished packing his precious lute away when Geralt finally spoke:

“You made me apologize to Yennefer.”

Jaskier shrugged. “Well, yes. You can’t very well start a relationship without apologizing for – well – you know.”

“Is that why…” Geralt hesitated. “Is that why we haven’t…. ‘started a relationship’?”

Jaskier stared.

“I mean…” Geralt gulped. “I’m not good at this.”

(No shit, Jaskier didn’t say.)

“Are you…” Jaskier shook his head. “What are you trying to tell me? That you – that you’re – what, that you’re interested in me?”

“I…” Geralt began. “Yes.” And: “I’m sorry.”

And that is when Jaskier started crying.

 

(Here’s a list of times that Jaskier did not cry:

When his mother yelled at him.

When his teachers beat him.

When his lovers left him.

When his heart was broken beyond repair by the man currently sat beside him.)

 

“I’m sorry,” Geralt repeated. “That mountain – you didn’t deserve that. You’ve been nothing but a good friend to me the entire time I’ve known you. It wasn’t – none of it was your fault.”

“You’re damn right it wasn’t,” Jaskier said through tears. Geralt looked extremely uncomfortable, which was to be expected, but was also suddenly very funny, and, still crying, he started laughing, too.

 

(Here’s a list of times that Jaskier did cry:

When he visited the opera.

When his friend won a bardic competition at Oxenfurt, and he told her how proud he was of her.

When he heard a beautiful piece of music.

When he told Geralt that he loved him.)

 

“Are you – “ Geralt said, frowning. “I don’t understand.”

“Oh, gods,” Jaskier said, putting his hand to his chest and willing it to slow down. “I love you, you know that?”

And then he got up, and stepped closer to Geralt, so Geralt was looking up at him. And he leaned over, and placed his left hand on Geralt’s cheek, and kissed him, deep and slow. He could taste his own salty tears on his lips even as the kiss deepened and became more urgent.

He tore himself away, needing to catch his breath, and leaned his forehead against Geralt’s. Both of them were breathing heavy, as if they’d just run a very long distance rather than simply kissed for what was probably only a few moments.

“Wow,” Jaskier said, and Geralt hummed in agreement, and pulled Jaskier down for another kiss.