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For the Love of Canon

Chapter Text

The wind blew gently outside the ruined inn, softly whistling past the shattered timbers and torn tapestries that had once constituted a whole, if rather rundown, structure. It was a far cry from the tempest that had raged a mere hour earlier, threatening to tear the building from its foundations. Of course, that tempest had been the result of an air djinn, an angry and malicious one at that, who had been intent on just two things: freedom and revenge.

Geralt’s wish had denied him the later, but in the end, the djinn hadn’t seemed to mind. The creature had flown three times around the destruction he and Yennefer had rained down upon the town of Rinde, and flew off. Geralt knew he wouldn’t see the djinn again and the town had been saved, but that was not on his mind at the moment. No, he had far more pleasant things to focus on. 

Yennefer. She was an enigma, this beautiful woman in his arms. He couldn’t describe how he felt; he had never felt anything similar to it before. Somehow, he missed kissing her, even though they had spent the last hour making the most passionate and tender love he had ever experienced in his long life. He ached to kiss her again, to cover her pale pink nipples with his mouth and feel them harden inside it. And he longed to enter her once more, to feel her stretch around him and have her ripple against him as she screamed into her ecstasy. He could not have enough of her. He would never have enough of her. He didn’t have the words to describe how he felt. He didn't like grand words. He was a witcher; witchers don’t feel.

And yet.

Yennefer turned towards him, her inky curls spreading along his scarred shoulder. Her lips quirked upwards slightly, her violet eyes glinting with playfulness. “Fuck. She’s a sorceress. She can probably read minds.” He thought to himself. It didn’t matter. He leaned in to kiss her again, unable to hide his intentions. 

“I believe,” she said as he pulled away, her breath shallow. “I believe we should consider rejoining the party. They are waiting for us.”

“I am not concerned about them.” Geralt said as he cupped her breast. His cock bumped against the dip of her hips. She rolled into him. 

“Geralt...,” she giggled, breathier this time. She moaned as he brushed her core. “We, we can’t stay…” Yennefer gasped as he entered her. “We....oh...oohhh.” She rocked against him, pulling his mouth to her's as he filled her.

They stayed for another hour.

Basking in the afterglow of their lovemaking session, Yennefer hummed slightly as she traced his scars. The wind gently sang through the broken-down building and stars started to peak through the ruined beams as evening fell upon them. Geralt sighed in contentment. 

“How did you get this one?” she asked. She was referring to the rather gruesome scar he had that began under his left nipple and ended on along his ribcage. Once an angry red, time had faded it to pink.

“Courtesy of a particularly fast foglet. The damn thing evaded my moon dust bomb and I couldn’t see it, and it surprised me. My armor was destroyed.”

Yennefer was quiet for a moment, contemplating that. “And this?” Her fingers danced along the jagged mark by his navel, making his cock twitch. He truly could not have enough of her.

“That one,” he said, trying to focus. “That one was from your standard leshen. I’ll be honest with you, I really dislike dealing with them. But the money is generally better than the average pay, especially for an ancient leshen. I almost always leave those fights with a new mark, though."

"You do?" She asked dryly.

"No witcher dies in his bed. My destiny is to likely die in some swamp or forest when a contract goes wrong. It’s the destiny of every witcher on the Path.” He reached to kiss her again, but she sat up and pulled one of her discarded items of clothing to her chest. “Yen, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” She turned away. "We should get going.” She stood and began to dress. 

“Yennefer, what is it, what’s the matter?”

“I said nothing,” she stated. “Where are my damn boots?” She looked frustrated and he could hear her heart rate beginning to pick up.

“What did I say?” Geralt was confused. How had the atmosphere changed so drastically in such a short time?

“Is that how it is with witchers?" She stammered out. "A destiny of death by the hands of some monster?”

“What else would it be?”

“Nothing,” she huffed. “Nothing at all." She looked at him, her violet eyes flashing. "She wants me to say something," Geralt thought. "But I don't know what to say..."

She sighed loudly. "Let’s just go Let’s go find the others.”

“Yennefer, wait,” he grabbed her hand. She stopped, and he could hear her heartbeat racing in the chest. “Yen…,” he whispered softly. “Yen, it’s ok.” He gently pulled her into him, carding his fingers through her wild dark curls. She let out a shaky breath as she buried her face into his chest. She kissed a light scar on his collarbone. “Cockatrice,” he laughed, “But it was a baby one.” He felt her smile against his skin. He didn’t think he had ever felt anything more perfect.

“So this is how it’s going to be?” she said as she looked up at him. “This is what being with a witcher is like? No wonder the bard nearly died.” 

Gerlat chuckled. “He almost died because he’s a rash fool. But, what do you mean, being with a witcher?” Try as he might, he couldn’t hide the hope and longing in his voice.

“Well, I can’t possibly leave you now, Witcher. Not after that wish of yours.” Yennefer’s hands traveled lower on his body. Geralt inhaled sharply. 

“No, no I suppose you shouldn’t. It would be rather reckless of you, considering our fates are joined.” He started to kiss her neck and unbutton the shirt she had just put on.

“Mmmmm, my thoughts exactly," she said as got onto her knees and gave him the most deliciously dirty grin before licking the tip of his cock with her delicate pink tongue. His breath hitched as she made her way down his shaft.

"Yen...," he moaned.

Dandelion and Chireadan would need to wait a bit longer.

Chapter Text

“Geralt look, it’s from Dorregaray,” she said as she gently opened the thick envelope. “You remember Dorregaray, from the dragon hunt? He’s invited us to Ban Ard. The school is opening for a vernissage. Their collection of works is said to be unrivaled.” 

“A verni...what?” Geralt said absentmindedly as he removed his boots. 

“A vernissage,” Yennefer laughed slightly with a roll of her eyes. 

“What the hell is a vernissage and why do we have to go?” 

Yennefer had been excited when she saw the creamy parchment letter left in the foyer of her home. She and Geralt had just gotten back from shopping, and all he had wanted to do was get himself into a bath, preferably with Yennefer in it. This innocuous letter was getting in the way of those plans.

“A vernissage is an early viewing of a painting exhibition, with a select amount of guests of course. It’s an honor to be invited to something as momentous as this for Ban Ard.” She looked over at Geralt, currently fighting to remove his second boot. “I believe the occasion will call for a new ensemble for the both of us.”

Geralt looked up. “Fuck,” he thought to himself. Yennefer’s eyes narrowed. She probably heard that.

“I don’t like new doublets, Yen. They’re too tight until you break them in. My old one is just fine. Plus, why do I want to go to this damn thing in the first place?” he grumbled.

Yennefer quirked an eyebrow and slowly walked towards him. She softly ran her hand up his chest and around his neck, gently kneading her fingers into his skin. Geralt’s breath hitched. “I promise I’ll make it worth your while, Witcher,” she whispered in his ear. A tremor went through Geralt’s entire body. She took his hand and began walking up the stairs. “Let’s see about that bath, shall we?” she winked. Smiling dumbly, Geralt followed her, all thoughts of doublets and vernissages pleasantly gone. 

***

“Geralt, stop fidgeting. And for the love of the gods please stop pulling on that doublet.” Yennefer said in a sharp whisper. “We are here to look presentable.” She wove her arm into the crock of his elbow. 

“I thought we were here to look at some paintings and think about how superior we are to everyone not invited,” he mumbled.

“Oh hush, you know what I mean.” 

“Besides, I told you back in Vengerberg I hate new doublets. Yet here I am in this monstrosity.” Ignoring her frustrated huffs, he yanked the black velvet and silver threading again with his free hand. “These damn things are too tight before you break them in.”

“And yet I seem to remember you promising to wear one without complaint when we went upstairs.” She gave a wry smile.

“Well...you caught me with my pants down, literally.” He tried to sound slightly indignant, but the memory of that moment, Yennefer on her knees in front of him, was overriding any frustration he felt over a tight and scratchy doublet.

“Is it my fault your convictions are only as deep as a pair of pulled up trousers?” She looked him in the eye and bit her bottom lip slightly. Geralt swallowed. “Come on, Witcher, before anything else becomes too tight. We’ve got some paintings to view.” She unhooked her arm from his and walked over towards to viewing area, turning slightly to see if he was following her. Her black dress clung to her body, the material moving like liquid around her as she moved. Small diamonds sewn into the fabric reflected the candlelight of hall, and her inky curls cascaded down her bare back. She was stunning, and from the reactions she seemed to be getting from the other men and women at the event, he wasn’t the only one who thought so.

“Too late,” he said softly as he walked to catch up to her and claim her arm as his own once more.

****

After the fiftieth or so painting, Geralt began missing fighting nekkers. He was having a hard time imagining anything as mindbogglingly tedious as this event. Dorregaray had turned the evening into a charitable drive to support his personal passion of saving endangered species, an honorable goal, but one lost on the crowd he had invited. He cast a quick glance at Yennefer’s basilisk slippers, a style nearly all women at the vernissage were sporting. Geralt, admittedly, felt a bit conflicted about this as well. After all, it was 200 years of witchering that made most of these species endangered or extinct, and he certainly contributed his fair share. But, he liked Dorregaray all the same and did want to support his passion. 

But fuck, there had to be a better way than looking room after room of shitty art. 

“What are you thinking about?” Yennefer whispered as they moved to the next painting, this one of a man getting his entrails ripped out by a werecat.

Geralt stared at the painting, the man’s screams of agony etched on his dying face while the werecat tore into his torso.

“I’m thinking that guy had a bit of a cat astrophe.” Geralt chuckled at his joke, certain Yennefer would smack him on the arm.

To his surprise, Yennefer only snorted softly. “Well, you do make quite a purr sasive argument with that assessment.”

It was Geralt’s turn to snort. She had risen to the challenge, and he fell in love with her a little more. “This man was probably somewhere he shouldn’t have been. Curiosity killed the cat, as they say.”

She smiled and entwined her fingers into his. “I think you may be judging his actions too harshly. A leopard cannot change his spots.” 

He gripped her hand tighter. “Perhaps his wife was out-of-town and he was returning from a night out drinking. After all, when the cat’s away..”

She leaned in closer to him until their arms were touching. “Well, he certainly wasn’t lion around at home waiting for her to return.” 

Geralt could smell her perfume, lilac and gooseberries, and it was making it hard to concentrate on this impromptu pun-off, especially when she leaned up and kissed his neck. He let out a stuttering breath.

“Well, he...I....fuck. Damnit, you won.”

“Oh Witcher,” she gently bit his earlobe. “Don’t be such a sourpuss.” She laughed and pulled him into a secluded alcove. Once they were far enough away from prying eyes, she kissed him, hard and hungry. He responded immediately, running his hands up and down her sides. He could feel the heat coming off, his erection straining in his breeches  

He pulled his mouth away from hers, causing her let out a small whimper. “Take us home, Yen,” he said in a hoarse voice thick with lust. “I need you, now.” 

“But,” her voice was shaky. Geralt knew he wasn’t the only one struggling to maintain composure. “But you hate portals.”

“Now, Yen.” His tone left no room for argument. In a flash of golden light, the two lovers were gone.

It was one of the rare portals Geralt truly appreciated.

Chapter Text

Geralt

The fight had started as they normally did: Geralt had been preparing to leave for another contract and Yennefer, unable and unwilling to express that each time he left on some hunt her heart clenched in terror that he might this time fulfill his witcher destiny to die alone on the Path, had lashed out. She had belittled him, called him a fool for risking his life for mere coppers. He had viciously retorted, called her an overbearing woman who treated him like a...but Yennefer had never learned what she treated Geralt like as she had slammed the door, leaving him alone in the home they shared in Vengerburg. He had heard the sound of a portal and she was gone. 

Geralt had clenched his fists, stemming down the rage he had felt boiling inside him. He had to get out of that house, out of this circle of fury and, and...he didn’t have the words. He had grabbed his coin purse and had headed to the nearest tavern. He would drink this pain away.

He was on his third ale. The edges of his anger seemed to be fuzzing a little. In their place, that longing, that fucking endless longing he felt only for her. Was she ok? Where was she? He wanted to go back to her, to make love until the morning and forget about this fight. He just wanted to forget. 

“Geralt of Rivia? He turned towards the sound. There, in a coat of midnight blue, stood Triss Merigold of Maribor. 

He had met Triss a few times through Yennefer. Triss was, surprisingly, her best friend. The two were an odd couple. Triss reminded Geralt of a teenager, young and naive and hopeful. She was a stark cry from Yennefer’s more experienced and harsher world view. Yet she was one of the few Yennefer would laugh around. It was her true laugh, not the altered chuckle she gave when she wanted to appear polite but inside may be seething or bored. Triss brought out joy in Yennefer, and Geralt loved to see it.

“Hello, Triss. How are you? What are you doing here in Vengerburg?” He moved aside on the bench to let her sit. She gingerly sat next to him, letting her cloak fall off her pretty shoulders to reveal a cobalt-colored dress. Her skin was a creamy white, dotted with the palest of freckles. She smiled.

“I could ask the same to you, Geralt. What are you doing, alone in this tavern? I don’t see Yenna anywhere.” Her cornflower blue eyes sparkled.

Geralt grabbed his ale and took a long drag before he answered. “Another fight. She’s left. I don’t know where to.” 

Triss glenty placed her hand on his shoulder. “Oh Geralt, I am so sorry. I know Yenna can be, well, she can be….”

“You don’t need to apologize, Triss. And you don’t need to tell me how Yen can be. I know.” 

Triss was quiet for a moment, pity in her eyes. “I know you don’t need me to tell you, Geralt, but I will, just the same. Yennefer can be difficult and demanding and stubborn. It’s never easy, dealing with a person like that. She’s my best friend, but even I can admit that about her.” She rubbed a small circle on his shoulder, slowly removing her hand and placing it in her lap. 

“She just, she treats me like…”

“I know, Geralt.”

It was quiet for a moment. “You do know what she was before, don’t you?” Triss shifted, moving slightly closer to Geralt.

“I do. I knew it when we first met in Rinde. None of that matters to me, Triss. I don’t care who or what she was before.” Geralt felt the heat rising, his need to defend Yennefer and her painful youth spent as an unloved hunchback rushing through his body like a hit of adrenaline before a fight. 

Triss must have felt the shift in him. “I didn’t mean any offense, Geralt. You know how precious Yenna is to me. I only meant that because of that past, she can be cold. It affects her, even all these years later. And she’s always searching for something to fill that hole her childhood left in her. It’s why she wants….”

“I know what she wants, Triss.” Geralt let out a shaky breath. Yennefer wanted a child. The desire for the djinn had been about that need, something he didn’t realize then. And a child, a child was something a witcher could never give a sorceress. “What she wants is impossible,” he muttered and he grabbed his drink and drained the last of it.

“I know it is, but she still longs for it. Sometimes the things we long for aren’t always the most rational.” Geralt knew she wasn’t only talking about the child.

“You’re right, Triss. Sometimes what we want isn’t the most rational.” He smiled at her, and she smiled back. Her smile warmed him.

“Geralt, you know it will be ok. You know you find you’ll way back to her. You always do.” Geralt wasn’t sure, but for a moment he thought he dedicated a hint of something else in her tone that beguiled her words. Jealousy? Sadness? It was gone as fast as it appeared. Triss inclined her head towards the empty ale. “Your drink is empty, and I don’t even have one. Let’s fix that, shall we?” 

Geralt smiled and nodded. It felt good to talk to a friend, someone who knew them both, and he was grateful to Triss. She was right, he would go to Yennefer. He would make it right between them. He needed her, as irrational as it was. He truly needed her.

Unbeknownst to Geralt, Triss had whispered a small spell over that tankard as she brought it back to him. Unbeknownst to Geralt, Triss had been fantasizing about the Witcher. She couldn’t understand what Yennefer and him were to each other, what drew them together again and again, against all reason. Her curiosity had grown into an obsession. She wanted to feel whatever Yennefer felt in the Witcher for herself. She would feel it tonight.

...

Geralt felt the warm body resting beside him. “Yennefer,” he thought to himself. “Yen, I love you.” He nuzzled his nose into her soft locks, carding his fingers through her tousled hair. He inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of lilac and gooseberries. 

He froze.

Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong. 

The Witcher’s eyes flashed open. Chestnut hair, red highlights reflecting in the light of the bedside candle, a downy cheek with a spattering of freckles. 

“No,” he whispered, horrified. “No…” Geralt moved his arm as Triss stirred lightly in her slumber, a soft moan as he moved away from her. She didn’t wake as he grabbed his clothes and silently opened the door. Only once he was outside the room, the door closed, did he finally let out a breath.

What had he done? He couldn’t remember how he had ended up in the room with her. He scoured his mind but the memories were hazy. He remembered laughing, her touching his knee, his hand on her cheek, a kiss. He was disgusted with himself. What had he done??

“Fuck!” he yelled as he slammed the door out of the tavern. “FUCK!”

Yennefer. The thought of her, of his betrayal. He leaned over and wretched into the street, the smell of stale ale invading his nostrils. He wretched until he had nothing left. 

He couldn’t go back to Yennefer after this. She would never forgive him. He would never forgive himself. He would leave tonight.

He needed to get his belongings. His stay in Vengerburg was the longest he had been in one place since he began his life on the Path and left Kaer Morhen. The thought of leaving the home now, leaving Yennefer…the emptiness filled him.

It was then Geralt saw the roses, their velvet petals reflecting the silver sheen of the moon. A memory...

Yennefer laughed. It was her laugh of joy, the one she reserved for a select few. Geralt felt an absurd amount of pride he was able to elicit it from her. 

“Oh Witcher, there’s just no romance in you.” Yennefer entwined her arm through his.

“No romance? Yen, that’s cruel. Just because I’m uninterested in the particular color shade of that particular flower doesn’t mean I’m unromantic. It means I’m not a floral enthusiast, nothing more.” He stopped and gently turned her towards him. “Besides, I’m more than romantic about things I am interested in.” She nuzzled her nose with his.

“Geralt,” she giggled. “The Blue Nazair rose is one of the rarest roses…” but he silenced her with a kiss. She moaned against his mouth.

“Yen,” he whispered. She looked at him, and he slowly tucked a wayward curl behind her ear. “Yen, you know I’ll always prefer violet to any shade of blue. Always.” He kissed her again. 

 

Yennefer

 

The sunlight slowly made its way through the room, finally crossing over the eyes of the sleeping sorceress. Yennefer yawned, and for a blissful moment she reached across to feel her Witcher beside her. The bed was cold. She opened her eyes, sleep leaving her, and finally remembered the screaming match the two had the night earlier. 

“Geralt,” she breathed out. The fight had been a bad one. He had probably left on his contract, angry and unfocused. Fear twisted in her belly. What had she done? He couldn’t focus on a battle with some unknown monster right now. He could be killed! She would find him; she would teleport to him and….

She stopped. Blue Nazair roses and a folded note lay at her bedside table. Her hands started to shake. She couldn’t stop them. She picked up the letter; it was in Geralt’s script.

Yen,

I’m sorry.

G

Her breath caught, and her eyes tore around the room as she looked for his things. His satchel, his swords, his clothes, all of it gone. Unwelcome tears began to block her vision and her heart felt like it was galloping inside her chest. She could barely breathe. Yennefer rushed out of the bed and ran to the window that overlooked the stable. His mare, Roach, was missing. 

He had taken everything. The only thing that even hinted that he had been there at all was that note and those blue roses. Those fucking blue roses. 

Her sorrow and rage consumed her. The roses, the note, it all burst into a violent flame, burning them down to ash.

Yennefer vowed she would never forgive him. 

And she vowed that she would forever hate anything to do with roses.

Chapter Text

Before the Dragon Hunt


If there had been a door, she would have slammed it, but unfortunately she was in a tent that evening, and a frustrated huff while walking through a tent flap just doesn’t have the same effect.

Still, she was incensed.

Geralt had been the farthest thing from Yennefer’s mind when she had maneuvered her way onto the dragon hunt. King Niedamir had needed assistance of the magical variety and Yennefer had been only too happy to oblige. She had need of that dragon, something she had already decided she would reveal to no one in the party. She had found someone willing to try again to fix her atrophied ovaries and uterus. The chance of success was low, the cost extreme, but if there was just the smallest sliver of a possibility, she was willing to do whatever it took. So, she had agreed to this ridiculous hunt. She wanted the creature’s hoard, no matter the cost.

She had not, however, expected to run into the Witcher.

When she has walked down to the men and dwarves communing around the fire, it had been with the dual purpose to discover their plans and to antagonize them. Any discord among the rank and file hunting the dragon with her would only bode well for her purposes. But damn that Witcher. Four years and he still had the power to completely befuddle her. He had sat there, staring at her with those golden eyes, and she had struggled to remain composed. She had felt the other men staring at her figure; Boholt and those Reavers may be a problem down the line, but she knew how to handle such advances when they were unwelcome. 

Geralt though, she had felt herself grow hot under his stare. It had infuriated her.

When he had left those years ago, with nothing but a note and those damn blue roses to mark that the two of them had ever shared a life together, she had vowed to hate him forever and to never forgive him. At the first, she had failed miserably. When she discovered he had lost his swords, she had rushed to the auction house to buy them back for him. She had known he would die on the Path without those swords, and as angry and hurt as she had been, that hadn’t been a chance she was willing to take. She had planned on him never discovering it was her who did it, so of course someone had spilled the secret to him immediately. Since then, she had found herself imagining his reaction. Had he been happy she bought them? Confused? Angry? Had he blamed her? Did he have that dull ache in his soul that she did ever since he left her? He still had no idea she had been secretly padding his contract payouts. She had always felt he made too little to survive, but the man was far too proud to admit that. Did he wonder why a peasant village could somehow afford those rewards for a monster?

No, Yennefer could never hate Geralt. 

She could make herself never forgive him though.

And that’s what she had been reminding herself when he had appeared behind her as she had been preparing to bathe. She had felt his gaze upon her, traveling up and down her body, and to her frustration her body had responded with equal longing. Memories of his lips on hers, hard and demanding, had flooded her mind. It had enraged her. She had retaliated with curses and threats; he must never know how she felt. But she had been sure he did as she stormed off in righteous indignation. She had been certain she heard him chuckle slightly. 

“Damn him!” she screamed at no one. She threw out the water in the bucket she was holding. There was no way she could enjoy a bath at this moment. She needed wine, and lots of it. She didn’t know why Geralt was here. He had said it was for her, but that didn’t make any sense. In the four years since he had left her, he had not once tried to reach out to her. She had heard about his exploits with Coral, that red-headed cow. The mere thought of them making love still made Yennefer feel sick. And of course there had been rumors about Triss, but that betrayal hurt too much to think about.  

It’s not like she had been four years celibate either. There had been forgettable men, and of course Istredd, always reminding her how much sense they made. How much he loved her, how they just worked. And Yennefer couldn’t deny that they did make sense. Old school friends, they had been together for decades in an on-and-off relationship. Both were sorcerers. Both understood the world they lived in and its rules and expectations. It was easy, safe, stable. He expected nothing from her, which suited her fine. Istredd would make a good husband. She knew this.

But Istredd did not send her heart racing inside her whenever he looked at her. He did not stir emotions she didn’t even know she possessed. Istredd did not fill her with such longing that at times she felt she was drowning in it. Her skin never missed his touch. Their couplings, while pleasant enough, never reached the heights of ecstasy that she would have thought impossible had she not have experienced it herself. The moon never fell from the sky when she and Istredd made love. 

Because Istredd, Istredd is not Geralt.

And he never will be.

“Damn him to the depths of hell!” She yelled as she poured herself the bottle of wine. She reminded herself once more that she will never forgive him.


After the Dragon Hunt


The bay mare slowly made her way down the mountain, picking a careful path to accommodate the couple who sat astride her, although for all the mare’s attention to safety, the couple was too preoccupied with each other to notice the animal's diligence.

“Geralt?” Yennefer said softly. She leaned the back of her head into his chest and he responded by squeezing his arm around her waist a bit tighter. She left out an involuntary sigh. 

“Hmm?” He said as he placed a kiss near her temple. She smiled.

“Geralt, where do we go from here?” 

“Does it matter, Yen?” 

“No. No, I suppose it doesn’t.” She let out a breath and Geralt pulled her in a closer. She closed her eyes.

“How about we start with off the mountain?” He suggested, and they both let out a little laugh.

“Excellent plan, Witcher.” She ran her hand along his thigh, her nails delicately trailing their way up it. She felt his response in her backside, making her push back slightly. His breath caught. “And then to the nearest decent inn.”

Geralt gently grabbed her hands and entwined his fingers with hers. “Decent inn or djinn-destroyed wreck, you know it doesn’t matter with us, Yen.” He turned her towards him.

“Hmm, well, you do have a point.” She leaned up and kissed him softly on his lips. Geralt swallowed.

“I’ve missed you, Geralt,” she whispered quietly in his ear.

“I’ve missed you too, Yen.” He took one of her soft curls in his hand and twirled it around his fingers. “Gods how I’ve missed you.”

The mare continued her way down the mountain.

Chapter Text

She watched him walk out, coal-black kestrel still in her hand, and she was unable to stop the tears from falling. “There is nothing more pathetic than a crying sorceress,” she thought to herself, but even that age-old berratement from Tissaia did nothing to stop her tears. Geralt was leaving.

Geralt. Was. Leaving. 

And it was her fault. 

She could admit to herself now that coming to Aedd Gynvael had been a mistake. But she had needed that closure. She had needed to put an end to that safe and secure relationship she and Istredd had engaged in for years. She had known long ago that it wasn’t going anywhere, although admittedly before Geralt arrived in her life she had expected that eventually she and Istredd would settle down into some easy and predictable, if emotionally unfulling, marriage. Every one of their colleagues had expected the same. It seemed rational. 

But then the white-haired Witcher with the golden eyes had appeared in her life and turned everything upside-down and inside-out and topsy-turvy, and she had been completely lost in it. In him. Suddenly, settling down for a predictable life in Aedd Gynvael had seemed like the worst kind of purgatory. How could she go back to endless monotony with Istredd when she knew that a force like Geralt existed? He was like the sun to her, constantly pulling her into his orbit no matter how she resisted. And she was tired of resisting. 

She had not expected Istredd to propose. She had not expected him to promise he would find a way for them to have a child. She had been confused. Here was a man promising her everything she had ever wanted, and she did care for him, and caring is something, even if it isn’t love. She had come to say goodbye, to end this thing between her and Istredd, and he had responded in the one way that could threaten her resolve. She had faltered. 

She had slept with him. 

Of course she would never apologize for her actions after the fact; she was far too proud. But deep down, she had regretted it. She most certainly had not expected Istredd to call upon Geralt, for the two men to throw her infidelity in each other’s faces. She had hated them both at that moment. To her shame and embarrassment, they had agreed to a duel. Did either of them actually expect her to let them go through with that? Were either of them so stupid?

This hadn’t been in the plan. The plan had been to call it off with Istredd, and even after this humiliating debacle, she would have seen it through. Because, even after everything, she knew what her heart wanted. Geralt.

So why couldn’t they tell each other the truth? Why couldn’t they just say those words?

Geralt had asked her to say them, and she had been planning to tell him, but he started going on about being a mutant. A mutant . How she despised that word to the very depths of her being. He fell back on that tired excuse anytime his emotions became too strong for him. It was his way to force them down, to refuse they even existed. He had become so accustomed to the lie he had long ago begun to believe it himself. And seeing this had made her doubt her own feelings. She had told him she wasn’t sure. It had been a lie; Yennefer knew she loved him before he left her in Vengerberg all those years ago.

And before she could stop herself, she had begged him to say it to her. It was the one thing he had never told her. It was the one thing she had needed to hear him say. If he had only just said it, she would have fallen into his arms. She knew herself well enough to admit that. 

Instead, he had said he was incapable of feeling love.

That damn lie. It broke her. She had heard him think those words so many times. He had thought them when they laughed at some silly phrase as Geralt tried to finagle her into yet another wordplay duel. When they lay naked together, in thrills and joys after another lovemaking session that stopped the world from spinning, if only for a moment. While she slept. While she ate. He had thought it so many times. But he had never said it. Perhaps all those thoughts had simply been a lie he had told himself to keep him from leaving again? To force himself to stay? Out of guilt? Perhaps she was his prison as Istredd had become hers?

And then she had known. She had known it was hopeless for them. They were simply too broken as individuals, and two broken individuals cannot fix each other. They needed something more. She could not stay with him; they could only cause each other pain and heartache. She had to leave him as so not to hurt him anymore. 

Because the truth is a shard of ice. 

And she had to leave Istredd. She could not continue to lead him down this road. She knew she would never again consider marrying him, living together in Aedd Gynvael, growing old in complacency and rationality. Istredd was not her future. 

And that was why she had needed two kestrels.

Yennefer sat down, quill in hand, to write two letters. Two letters for two kestrels.  

To Istredd she addressed him with his first name. It would be the last letter she would ever write him.

Farewell, Val. Forgive me. There are gifts which one may not accept, and there is nothing in me I could repay you with. And that is the truth, Val. Truth is a shard of ice.

She rolled the letter up and placed it in the beak of the black bird. She pet the creature once, whispered a spell, and the bird took flight. “Goodbye, Val,” she said as she watched the bird fly off to the home of her friend and once-lover. She felt strangely numb.

Geralt’s letter was much harder to start. Her hand was shaking, tears once again seeping from stubborn eyes. But she knew she had to end this cycle of hurt both of them were too caught up in to see. She started to write.

Farewell, Geralt. Forgive me. There are gifts which one may not accept, and there is apparently nothing in us both to repay the other with. And that is the truth, my Witcher. The truth is a shard of ice.

The letter wasn’t entirely true. She would have happily given Geralt her love, if only he had been able to accept it in return. But the time of blaming was over. The pieces fell as they did. She didn’t need to add to his misery. “At least this will end it for both of them. They have no reason to fight anymore,” she thought to herself.

She called the kestrel over to her. The bird hopped onto the edge of the bedpost. 

“Please watch over him. Please don’t let him be alone,” she whispered in broken sobs. She kissed the bird on its head and recited a spell. The bird sat on the post, waiting for the Witcher to return. Outside, it began to rain. 

“Farewell, my Witcher.” Yennefer said as she opened a portal to Vengerberg. She looked back at the black bird, letter in its beak, his head cocked slightly. “I love you,” she whispered as another tear fell.

In a flash of light, she was gone.

Chapter Text

The cicadas were trilling softly as Geralt watched the moon slowly rise. The fire crackled in the center of their circle, and the rabbit Geralt had snared was cooking slowly. Geralt listened as the droplets of fat from the animal hit the fire, making it hiss. They were close enough to the sea where the air still had a salty tinge to it, and he felt the heaviness of the marine climate around him.

Of course, that could also be the company. 

The three of them, Geralt, Dandelion, and Essi Daven, still had barely spoken. Awkward glances were occasionally shared, along with a cough or sneeze, but the silence remained heavy around them. Finally, and not surprisingly, it was Dandelion that broke it. 

"Geralt, can I please talk to you for a moment,” he stared at Essi. “Alone?” Geralt looked at the girl to his left. She looked quickly up at him, her large blue eyes catching a glint of moonlight, and looked back down. 

“Fine,” the Witcher replied and slowly got to his feet. “We won’t go far,” he told the girl. She uttered a soft hmm and picked up Dandelion’s lute.

The two men walked a short ways away before Dandelion grabbed Geralt’s shoulder. “Geralt, for the love of the gods, please say something to the poor girl. I can’t take this anymore. I’m sitting in some melodramatic play I didn’t pay for and want no part of.” Dandelion huffed.

“I don’t know what you want me to say to her.” Geralt looked over at the girl, gently fiddling with Dandelion’s lute. She was humming a pleasant tune, trying very hard to appear indifferent to the Witcher and the Bard’s conversation.

Dandelion sighed and looked at the girl as well. Little Eye. His Poppet. He loved her like a niece and wanted happiness for the girl, but he knew there was no happiness for her to be found with Geralt. And although he knew why, he cursed the reason. “You’re nothing but a fool and an idiot, Geralt. A fool for that witch. And what has she done for you, huh?! What has she done other than leave you in that shit town after she bedded…” but Geralt cut him off.

“Careful, Dandelion.” His tone left no room to argue. Dandelion backed down.

“All I’m saying is that Little Eye is a sweet girl and she would care for you. She wouldn’t leave you the way, the way the other one did. She’s good, Geralt.”

“I know,” Geralt sighed. He looked down.

“Then why the hell can’t you do something about it?!” 

Geralt looked at Essi again, who smiled slightly when she caught his eye. He looked back down at his feet. “I can’t Dandelion. I...I just don’t have that sacrifice within me. I don’t want to hurt Essi. I don’t want to cause her pain, but I can’t be what she wants me to be. That person she needs? That person that she wants to make love to under the stars and hold each other until dawn? That person belongs to another.” Flashes of violet eyes and wild black curls danced through Geralt’s memories. Geralt let out a pained sigh. 

Dandelion looked at his friend. He could feel the hurt and misery radiating from the Witcher. For as often as Geralt asserted that witchers cannot feel emotions, Geralt emanated his more strongly than most people he knew. It wasn’t always this way. “That is Yennefer’s doing as well,” he thought to himself. “She taught him how to feel.”

“She means that much to you?” Geralt looked up at Dandelion. “Yennefer, she means that much?”

“That much,” Geralt spoke barely above a whisper. He let out a long and shaky breath.

“Then you need to tell Little Eye this, Geralt. You need to tell her the truth. Stop allowing the girl to believe there’s an ember of hope when there isn’t.”

Geralt nodded slowly. He agreed. Avoiding Essi was hurting her even more. He had to tell her the truth; make sure she understood. “I will.” 

The men walked back to camp. Dandelion made a show about going to fish, grabbed his rod and reel and his ever-present lute, and went to a nearby stream. It was quiet for a moment. Geralt spoke first.

“Essi, I…”

“Geralt, we have to do something about this. This is too much. I cannot bear this any longer.” She stared at him, her eyes close to tears. She gripped her knees tightly, leaving small indents with her fingers in her traveling pants. Her slim shoulders were rigged, and her golden hair caught the firelight as it framed her face. Her lips were quivering. She looked at him so hopefully. Geralt once again worried that this is what Yennefer felt like every time they were together. That he was Essi, staring at her with such longing, and that she was Geralt, unwilling and unable to make that sacrifice. He didn’t know if that was true. He prayed it wasn’t.

“Essi,” he said softly. “Essi, I do care about you.”

“You’re lying, Geralt!" She yelled suddenly. "You don’t! You don’t care about me. You’ve humiliated me. You made me fall in love with you, and for what purpose? For what purpose, Geralt?!”

Geralt said nothing. He stared at the fire. The rabbit was still slowly cooking. “It will be done soon,” he thought.

“Essi,” Geralt began again. “I am not lying when I tell you I care for you, because I do. I want the best for you, Essi. I want you to fall in love, to surround yourself with warmth and joy. But I am not the one who can give that to you. For a long time, I thought it was because I was unable to feel emotions. Witchers aren’t supposed to feel anything, Essi. We are mutants, tortured and beaten down as boys to rise up as monster killers. Our lives are lived in the hills and dales and swamps, killing beasts for a price. My only destiny was to die alone, beaten down by some fiend or leshen, and pay the final price for a life lived on the Path.”

Essi said nothing. Another grease droplet hissed as it fell into the flames.

“But something unexpected happened. Something no amount of training in the courtyards of Kaer Morhen could prepare me for. She happened. Yennefer. My Yennefer. She saw this mutant of a man and she awoke in me something I did not realize I had.” Geralt looked over at Essi. Tears were falling from her pretty blue eyes. “And I can’t put it away, Essi. I can’t. I’m not even sure I want to try, because to try that would mean losing her again, and I can’t go through that once more.”

“So, I stay here, missing her, dreaming of her, because it’s the only way I can keep her with me. And that part of me, Essi, that part of me you wish to hold you so badly, that part simply can’t, because it's still holding Yennefer. That part will always be holding Yennefer.” Geralt stopped for a moment, afraid to see the tears in her eyes. He looked at her anyway. “I’m sorry, Essi.”

Essi was silent for a long time, and when she finally did speak, it surprised the Witcher. “I think... I think I understand,” she said sadly. “I have never known a love like that. I don’t know if I ever want to.”

Once, Geralt might have argued this wasn’t love that he felt, but he knew that was wrong. He finally understood exactly what it was. So he said nothing.

“I think the rabbit is done,” she said with a smile. “Should we call back Dandelion?”

Geralt picked the rabbit off the fire and offered the first bite to Essi. “He’ll be alright. Let him strum his lute. Besides, he lost a giant catfish for me once while we were fishing. He owes me.”

“Now that’s a story I’d be interested in hearing,” Essi laughed. She passed the rabbit to Geralt who took a large bite.

“Well, it started with me and Dandelion not having anything for breakfast and deciding to catch some fish,” Geralt began, and he told her the story of how he met his Yen, the woman he would love with his whole being for the rest of his days, even if that meant he would spend them alone. 

Essi agreed it was a good tale. Maybe someday she could even turn it into a song. Because what would be a better ballad than the story of a witcher and his love for a sorceress? 

Chapter Text

Vicious white light pierced through Yennefer’s eyes, sending searing pain throughout her body. She fought to maintain consciousness and the agony rolled through her. She felt her face and could feel thick, warm liquid oozing from her eyes. She put her fingers to her lips. 

Blood.

She was too afraid to open them. She already knew, but she was too afraid to confirm it. She heard screaming; she smelled the sickening mixture of blood and burnt skin and hair. “Triss!?” she screamed in a voice hoarse and muddled with terror. “Coral?!” No answer. “Triss?!? Triss, PLEASE!” Still nothing. She felt waves of nausea going through her as fear gripped her throat. She opened her eyes.

Total Darkness. Yennefer collapsed onto the scorched earth, unconsciousness finally claiming her.

Tissaia

“Tissaia, I said don’t touch it, damnit!” Yennefer screamed.

Tissaia sighed, but she didn’t remove her hands from Yennefer’s bandages. “Stop acting like a child, Yennefer. You are far too old for such hysterical outbursts. We will do this daily until we’ve repaired the damage to your retinal cells. Now, not another word. I may no longer be your rectoress, but you will listen to me on this.” Yennefer remained silent. 

Tissaia proceeded to unwind the heavy cream cotton bandage that covered Yennefer’s eyes. She folded it neatly and placed it on the oak side table next to her. She removed the final cotton padding that covered each eye and placed them next to the bandage. Very carefully, she surveyed the damage. The skin around the eyes, once completely blackened and charred, was now healthy and alive, if a bit pinker than Yennefer’s normal pale skin tone. Yennefer’s long, dark lashes had returned, and they left half-moon shadows on her high cheekbones. She looked beautiful, and Tissaia deigned a small but proud smile. The magical grafting to repair the skin tissue had been exhausting, but Tissaia would not give up until she had healed her former pupil, regardless of Yennefer’s incessant complaining. 

“The skin is almost completely healed. The grafting worked, and there will be no scarring. I cannot say the same for Triss Merigold; she will probably be scarred the rest of her life on her chest.” Tissaia thought of the young sorceress from Maribor, still so terrified that she woke each night screaming. She wondered if she would ever truly recover from the stress of her injuries; from what she lived through on that cursed Hill. It had been four full months since the Battle of Sodden Hill, and the healing process was slow. Some mages were doing far better than others. And some, she looked at Yennefer, were impeding their own healing. 

“Poor Triss. I know how much she loved showing off her decolletage to any man or women willing to give it a second glance.” Yennefer snorted.

“Don’t be so petty, Yennefer.” Tissaia responded. “You embarrass only yourself. Now open your eyes.”

“No.”

“You have to open them so we can see if the therapies have improved anything. You cannot keep refusing. Please let’s not go through this again.”

“You misunderstand, Tissaia. I don’t care if I see again. It doesn’t matter anymore.”

“Yennefer, stop this self-pity; it’s unbecoming to anyone, but especially to a sorceress with over 90 years to her name. Now open your eyes.” Tissaia said a bit more forcefully.

“No.”

“So you would really prefer to remain blind for the rest of your days, long as they may be?” Tissaia exasperated. Yennefer said nothing.

“You’re a fool, Yennefer.” Tissaia stood for a moment, willing the stubborn mage to say something, but once more, Yennefer remained defiantly silent. She grabbed the bandages on the table. “You no longer need these,” she said as she started to walk out.

“Tissaia, wait.” Tissaia paused. “Was…was there any correspondence for me today? Anything at all?” Yennefer’s voice broke for a second, and then Tissaia knew.

The Witcher.

“Nothing, Yennefer. I’m sorry.”

Yennefer folded her hands in her lap and said nothing.

Yennefer

“Why did you bring me out here?” Yennefer asked. She could feel the sun warming her skin. The weather was like a spring afternoon, warm with a light breeze. Yennefer picked up the smell of lilacs on the wind. It must have been a beautiful day, but she wanted none of it. She didn’t want to feel beauty or happiness again. She wanted the dark. “Take me back inside, Tissaia. I don’t want to be out here.”

Tissaia gripped Yennefer’s hand a bit tighter. “No, no I will not do that, Yennefer. You need to leave that room. You need to stop wallowing in self-pity and misery. It’s time to rejoin the living, my girl.” With that, she let her hand go and walked away, leaving Yennefer standing alone in the field.

Yennefer immediately reacted. “Tissaia? TISSAIA?? Tissaia, you can’t leave me here!”

“I’m not going to leave you,” she replied. “I’m with you right now.” Yennefer’s head jerked and she immediately flung her arms out, blindly groping for where she thought Tissaia’s voice came from. “That’s not going to help you, Yennefer.” She made her voice project on the opposite side of Yennefer, causing her to stop.

“Tissaia, this isn’t fucking funny! I can’t see. Stop this right now!”

“You’re right, this isn’t funny at all. But the choice not to see is your own, no one else’s. If you want out of this field, you’ll need to open your eyes.” Tissaia’s voice was calm. Yennefer flailed her arms in frustration, grasping for purchase, for something solid. She found nothing. She screamed profanities, but Tissaia did not react. 

“Fine, Tissaia, I’ll get out of this fucking field without your help,” she scowled. 

“Do you think, Yennefer, that remaining blind will somehow bring him back to you?” Tissaia said in a soft voice.

With that, Yennefer of Vengerberg turned directly towards Tissaia and opened her eyes. Tissaia smiled into the blue violet storm within them.

***

Riots of color filled Yennefer’s vision. The sky, had it always been so blue? The grass was the most emerald green she could have ever imagined. The red poppies that dotted the fields looked like the most precious of rubies. The linden trees, had she ever seen anything more beautiful? But drowning in her fury, it was lost on her.

“How dare you.” Yennefer nearly growled.

“Well, that’s what this is all about, isn’t it?” Tissaia responded. 

“You have absolutely no right to assume....”

“Child, do not forget your place. I am not one of your petty “friends” from school. I am Tissaia de Vries, and you will respect that.” Yennefer backed down, sufficiently cowed. “Look at you at this very moment. Here you are, gifted again with sight, and yet you want nothing more than to rage into the darkness over this Witcher. Look at what you are missing, Yennefer! LOOK!”

And finally, Yennefer looked. And it broke her.

Heaving sobs filled the air. Yennefer crumbled to the ground. Tissaia watched for a moment, then slowly walked over to the crying sorceress. 

“I know,” Yennefer hiccuped. “I know there is nothing more pathetic than a crying sorceress. You don’t need to remind me.”

“It seems you have reminded yourself of that already,” Tissasia gently patted Yennefer’s hair as she laid her head in the older woman’s lap. They stayed like that for a long time.

“He never even reached out to me.” Yennefer finally whispered.

“I know.” 

“Why, Tissaia? He must have known. He must…” she stopped, a small sob escaping her lips.

“I don’t know the answer to that, Yennefer. I have not heard about his whereabouts in quite some time now.” They both remained silent for a while.

“So it’s over then,” Yennefer said quietly. “It is truly over.”

Tissaia carded her hands through Yennefer’s wild curls. “Witchers and sorceresses live a very long time, Yennefer. You know this.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“In such a long life, nothing is truly over.” Tissaia squeezed her hand gently on Yennefer’s shoulder. They both looked out into the beauty of the day around them. After what felt like an eternity, Yennefer finally spoke.

“Tissaia?”

“Hmm?”

“Do you see that linden tree in blossom over there? Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?”

“No, Yennefer, I don’t believe I have.” She continued to run her fingers through Yennefer’s hair.

“Tissaia?”

“Yes?”

“Thank you,” Yennefer whispered, and she smiled her first smile in a very long time.

Chapter Text

The scream reverberated through the night air, bouncing off the walls of the old keep as it woke the sleeping Witcher. 

Geralt cursed.

He had been having a beautiful dream and he was unwilling to leave it behind, even as he felt it slipping away like water through spread fingers. Bonfires. Stars. Passion. Love.

Belletyn. Yennefer. He felt a sudden stab in his chest, like a scorpion’s prick. The unexpected pain momentarily took his breath away. 

Another scream, this time louder. Geralt tried to focus, the pain numbing away to emptiness as his mind still fought to not let the dream go. “She’s gone, she’s gone…,” he steeled himself. Finally, he swung his feet from the bed, his body involuntarily balking at the cold stone, and he made his way to the girl’s room. 

Ciri was constantly plagued with nightmares. A black knight in a winged helmet haunted her dreams. Getting the child to sleep had become a process of patience on their end and physical exhaustion on her’s. The nightmares were starting to concern him, though. These were not normal child fears but something deeper. She had only been at Kaer Morhen for a little over three weeks and each night she woke screaming. Something needed to be done.

Geralt opened the weathered oak door, which groaned in protest. There, on top of the bed and clutching a handful of furs, sat the girl. The light from a small bedside candle flickered in the room, shining onto her clearly terrified face. Her ashen hair was partially plastered to her cheek, sweat still gleaming off her forehead. She shook slightly as she looked up at him. He walked across the room and sat at the edge of her bed, causing the hay mattress to sag. 

“Was it the black knight again?” Ciri just shook her head. "Shit," he thought to himself. "Something new is troubling her."

“It wasn’t the knight,” she managed in a breathy whisper. “At least, not just the knight. He had an army with him this time, Geralt.” Her voice picked up, sounding more frantic. “It was a skeleton army. They came out from the moat and they started after me. They were chasing me and I tried to run, I tried to run just like I always do, but one of them reached out his skeleton arm and he…..and he…..” She broke off into heaving sobs. 

Geralt took her gently into his arms and patted her hair. “It’s alright, Ciri, it was just a dream.” Those damn skeletons, he knew she saw them, he should have hidden her eyes or something when they passed. She hiccoughed and buried her face into his chest. 

He felt the fear radiating off her; the room stank of it. He needed to get her out of there, if just for a little while. “Put on your warmest coat,” he said. Ciri stared at him, wiping her tear-stained cheeks, her expression curious. “Go on, put on your warmest coat. There’s an old witcher tradition I want to show you.” At that, Ciri bounded out of bed, black knights on black stallions and skeleton hands now left to the world of dreams, and ran to her small dresser to grab some warmer clothes. Geralt left her to dress. 

Moments later the two were walking to the open courtyard of the witcher keep. The moon was high and full, and it glinted softly off the recently-fallen snow. It was still early autumn, but the weather at Kaer Morhen was unpredictable and unforgiving being so high in the mountains. Normally, Geralt preferred to avoid the snow. He had been cold so much in his life that he didn’t look for it if he could avoid it. But, these were special circumstances.

“Did you bring your gloves, Ciri?” he asked as he surveyed the courtyard. She showed him her gloves. “Ok, put them on. Good. Now this is an ancient School of the Wolf tradition. I learned this when I began my training, and Ciri, it is time to pass it to you.” Ciri nodded, enraptured at every word. “Now the key is to be vigilant, to be focused, to be brave. Do you think you can handle all of that?” Ciri nodded again, eyes wide with excitement.

At that, Geralt grabbed a handful of snow and chucked it at the girl. It hit her squarely in the chest.

“Wha...WHAT?!? What was that?!” Ciri shrieked in indignation. Another snowball, this time just grazing her arm. “Geralt, what are you doing? Stop it!!”

“Not going to fight back?” He laughed, pelting her once more, this time in the leg.

“How dare you, I…oh, I’ll get you!” she laughed. She grabbed a handful of snow and threw it towards the Witcher. He easily avoided her first toss, but the girl was a quick study. She had another snowball waiting and it landed smack in his face. “HA!” she giggled.

Geralt wiped the melting snow off his face. The girl had decent aim. “ Now you asked for it.” Ciri just laughed and threw another snowball at him, this time hitting his leg.

The two chased each other around the courtyard, scattering snow all over the worn cobblestones. Geralt hadn’t seen Ciri smile and laugh this much the entire time he’d known her. It felt good to see the child behind the scared and stubborn princess. Still, in the back of his mind, he worried. He knew these dreams were something more than simple nightmares. He felt a power rising within her, one he worried the witchers of Kaer Morhen could not contain. He would need help from someone skilled in dealing with magic. 

And he couldn’t ask her. He couldn’t after Belletyn. After Sodden. And he wouldn’t ask her, even though every fiber of his being longed for her. No, he would find someone else. 

Ciri yawned. The moon was still high, but the girl was wet and shivering. It was time to go in.

“Do you feel any better, Ciri? Did the ancient training help you?”

“I feel so much braver, Geralt! I know I could beat the skeleton army. Did you know, someday I’m going to have a sword, and I’m going to be a mighty fighter like you, and I’ll beat all the skeleton armies. I’ll even beat the black knight,” she boasted. “Besides”, she said quieter. “It was just a dream. Dreams aren’t real, and this was a dream, right, Geralt?”

“That’s right, Ciri.” Geralt didn’t know why, but he felt he was lying to her. He waited outside her room while she changed into her sleeping clothes. It no longer smelled of fear. “Goodnight, Witcher Girl,” he smiled as he leaned in by the door.

“Goodnight, Witcher.” Ciri replied. As Geralt walked away, he heard her whisper softly “Witcher Girl”.

They both feel back into dreamless sleep. 

Chapter Text

She closed the door to her small shop in Vengerberg and let out a heavy sigh. 

Today had been difficult. A noblewoman, someone Yennefer had seen occasionally chattering mindlessly away in King Demavend’s court, had come into her shop today. She had worn a heavy cloak with a hood, and had moved with purpose and barely-controlled paranoia. Yennefer had not needed to read her mind to know what she had wanted; she was carrying some man’s by-blow and she wanted it gone. She had paid Yennefer handsomely, and Yennefer had given her the packet of red raspberry leaves and other herbs to induce an early miscarriage, and the woman had left, relieved that her burden was soon to be over. 

At moments like that, Yennefer hated that small shop in Vengerberg. 

She wanted to go home, close the door, pour a glass of Everluce, and forget about the noblewoman. But Demavend had requested her attendance at a banquet that evening, something Yennefer found she was beginning to detest the older she was. Petty conversations, petty people, petty little lives that passed out of memory. What was the point?. Even a sorceress needed to listen to the requests of kings, however, and so she headed home to get dressed for the evening.

She almost missed the boy running up to her. “Sorceress Yennefer? Madam Sorceress Yennefer of Vengerburg?” he panted.

“Yes…?” she replied. He was holding a letter, one that looked much worse for wear than her usual correspondence.

“Here, Madam. I have a letter for you.” The boy thrust the parchment into her hand. It was weather-stained and old. It had obviously traveled some distance to get to her. She flipped the parchment over. The envelope was sealed in black wax, and embedded in the wax was....Yennefer’s breath caught. Her heart started hammering in her chest. A wolf head, it’s teeth bared. Kaer Morhen

“Geralt,” she whispered, her voice choking out his name for the first time since she had saved Dandelion from Rience. Her lips quivered. 

“Um,” the boy was shuffling his feet, waiting for his customary tip. She absentmindedly handed the boy 10 marks, an incredible sum, and he squealed and ran off in delight. Every courier wanted to be lucky enough to deliver a message to the famous sorceress of Vengerburg. She was known to be one of the best tippers in the city. 

She stared at the letter, running her fingers over the wax wolf head. She imagined Geralt slowly pouring the wax onto the parchment, pushing the seal into its molten center, blowing softly to harden it. She let out a soft breath. Was he finally asking for her to come to Kaer Morhen? Was he finally reaching out for her help? She raced home, the noblewoman and banquet forgotten. If Geralt needed her at Kaer Morhen, she would leave immediately. 

She threw open the door to her home, her heart still racing. She ripped open the letter, courtesies with letter openers forgotten, and let out an involuntary sigh as she began reading his small and pointed script.

Dear Friend,

I hope this correspondence finds you well and in good health. I had heard in some disturbing detail that you recently suffered a period of indisposition which caused me no small amount of concern. I hope that is behind you and that you are well, for your well-being is of the utmost importance to me. 

As you know, I had recently received a gift from fate, but most unfortunately, I fear things are more complicated than I had initially assumed. I had asked our mutual friend from Maribor to come and help with this some months back, and she agreed that the next step is to ask you for assistance in examining the gift as you may know the Source of the problem.

I know this is a burden to put upon you, but I must ask it regardless. Our friend and I will be taking my gift to a safe place until you are ready to assist. I believe I had mentioned this place to you, where I nearly lost my neck once, long ago.

Thank you again for your help in this. I am certain you will be able to succeed where we both have failed. 

In Sincerity,

Geralt

Yennefer read the letter three times through, barely breathing as she did. By the final readthrough, she was incandescent.

“DEAR FRIEND?!?” she screamed at the parchment, sparks involuntary flying from her fingertips. “Dear fucking FRIEND?!” The letter fell to the floor. 

She grabbed a wine glass and chose the most expensive bottle of Everluce she had, poured it to the brim, and downed the liquid without tasting it. She poured another and did the same. 

She stared at that letter, now wrinkled and torn, on the ground of her home. She stared at it with such hatred she almost expected the thing to burst into flames. She could make it burst into flames if she wanted. The letter’s edges began to smoke. She stopped herself.

She had been waiting for over a year for Geralt to reach out to her, for them to resign their fear into the past, for them to end this ceaseless longing for each other. She had expected him to do it some point; the girl Cirilla most definitely had some sort of magical power from what she had heard about the child and what she knew about her bloodline, but being a Source was unexpected. Still, she had waited for him. She would have come the instant he asked. Even though they had left each other brokenhearted after a night of delicious passion under the stars. Even though he hadn’t reached out to her after the hells of Sodden and her resulting blindness. She thought she had mattered enough to push away all of that. 

And he had gone to Triss instead. “Triss, Geralt?!? You went to TRISS? After everything, and you went to her?!” She screamed like a wounded animal and threw the glass she was holding at the wall with a force that surprised her. It shattered into hundreds of small pieces. 

Triss was the one he trusted with Cirilla. It was only because of her failures and weakness as a mage that Geralt was forced to look elsewhere to help his Child Surprise. Yennefer let out a shaking breath, and to her anger and resentment, she couldn’t stop the tear from falling. “It’s done then,” she whispered bitterly. “Destiny truly isn’t enough.” Another tear fell.

Yennefer picked up the letter, hating every word on the page. She knew where he was taking Cirilla. He always ran to Nenneke when there was nowhere else to turn. She would find the girl in Ellander at the temple.

Even through her hurt and rage, she still could not say no to him. Even if they were done, their story closed forever, she would help him in this. She would go to Ellander and assist the child. She would pack immediately. The letter was old; it’s quite possible the girl was there already. 

Yet before she did, she would respond to his letter. She muttered a spell and the glass she had just taken out her rage upon reconstituted itself. She poured herself the rest of the bottle and sat down with her own quill and parchment.

Dear Friend…

 

Chapter Text

Yennefer

“Damnit Yennefer! She’s an innocent child! She isn’t some toy to be used in your rage against him!” 

“Watch yourself, Nenneke. You have no idea what you’re talking about! You haven’t the slightest idea about anything!” She screamed. Yennefer didn’t know if she had ever felt such a torrent of emotions running through her at once. Hurt, fear, terror, love...

“I know this, your selfishness and anger could have cost the girl her life. And for what, Yennefer? So you could twist the knife into his heart one more time?” Nenneke was picking up the bloody rags they had used to stop the bleeding from Ciri’s nose. It seemed like so much blood. So much of Ciri’s blood. Yennefer couldn’t bear to see it, but she forced herself anyway, as punishment.

“I didn’t mean…” she began, a bit quieter, still staring at the blood on the floor. On the rags. On the chair. So. Much. Blood. 

“You did mean, Yennefer. You always bloody mean. You will always find a way to hurt him, even if it means destroying a small girl in the process. And to think you wanted to be a mother.”

And there it was, Nenneke found the one thing that could hurt Yennefer more than anything else. She opened a portal, she did not know where to, and vanished. 

Ciri

Ciri knew something was wrong with Yennefer. She had put all their studying on hold. She wouldn’t look her in the eye. She only came back during the evening and avoided her completely. After a week of this, Ciri was close to her breaking point. She ran to find Nenneke.

“I want Lady Yennefer to speak with me, but she won’t! She just ignores me. What did I do?” Ciri stammered.

Nenneke barely looked up from her desk. “It’s for the best, Ciri.”

“NO!!” The girl screamed and stamped her feet. At that, Nenneke stopped and put down the quill to the letter she had been working on. “I want her to talk to me. Please, Nenekke!”

“Ciri, there are many skilled magicians who can take her place if need be. She’s already helped you with your nightmares so I don’t see a reason why she needs to continue. We can always have Triss come back and….”

“NOOOOO!! I DON’T WANT HER!” The girl was crying uncontrollably now. Tears were streaming down her face and liquid was running from her nose.”I WANT MY MOTHER!! Please, Nenneke!! PLEASE!! I NEED HER!!” 

Ciri was falling apart in front of Nenneke. She could hardly breathe. “She can’t leave me. Please, Nenneke, she can’t…”

And Nenneke saw how horribly wrong she had been, and she felt ashamed. 

“It’s ok, Ciri,” she said as she got up from behind the desk to hold the shaking girl. “I’ll talk to her. I promise I will. She won’t leave you.” 

Ciri continued sobbing.

Nenneke

Nenneke was in her study, but when she saw Yennefer approach she sat her book down and stood up. She met the mage halfway, and without a word, grabbed her tightly and held her close. For a moment, Yennefer froze, unable to react, but she quickly melted into the woman’s touch.

“Nenneke, I…” But Nenneke stopped her.

“Yennefer, I was wrong, and I am sorry. I see now what the child means to you, and what you mean to her. I finally understand.”

Yennefer laughed slightly and pulled away. “Well, I’m glad one of us does, because I am at a loss. I want to throttle Ciri one minute, take her into my arms the next. It’s very confusing.”

“Oh Yennefer, what do you think motherhood is?” Nenneke smiled as Yennefer widened her eyes.

 “How many times have you come to me over the years, pleading with me to repair your atrophied organs, hoping it would lead you here. I always knew it was a lost cause. And yet here you are, being made a mother at this very Temple. Fate has a developed sense of irony, it would seem.”

The two women sat down on the nearby sette. Nenneke looked Yennefer over. She had known the sorceress for a long time, yet she had never seen her this discombobulated. Nenneke smiled to herself. “It took a little girl of Destiny to break down that wall,” she thought. “Geralt’s Child of Destiny.”

“Yennefer, I do hope you see who gave you this gift.” Yennefer nodded slightly. “You know, he came here once, long ago. You both had separated, he leaving you in Vengerberg, acting like a coward I might add, and you fuming like an alley cat. But he still came here. For you.”

“He came to find me?”

“Not quite. He was far too emotionally childish to admit he needed you then. No, he came to give you these.” Nenneke stood up and walked to her desk. On it sat a small cherry wood box with opal inlays. Nenneke pulled out some gemstones. She walked back and handed them to Yennefer as she sat back down.

 “He wanted to give me these? But how did he earn this much? This is at least six months’ salary for a witcher.”

“A year’s salary. This was his bounty for the Princess Adda, the Temerian striga and daughter to King Foltest. He nearly died for these. But he wanted you to have them. He hoped it would pay for your procedure to fix your organs. Even then, Yennefer, even then you were everything to him.”

Yennefer slowly closed her hand around the gems and let out a shaky breath. Her lips quivered.

“And now, he’s brought you Ciri. He brought you the one thing you’ve always wanted.”

At this, Yennefer let out a choked sob. A tear ran down her cheek. Nenneke lifted her chin and looked her in the eye.

“Don’t you think it’s time, Yennefer, that you admit to yourself how much you love him? How much you need him? Hasn’t this gone on long enough?” Yennefer couldn’t speak. More tears ran down her face. Finally, she nodded.

“Fell times are approaching, Yennefer, make no mistake. I have no idea what Destiny has in store for the three of you, but I can promise you will need each other through it. Ciri will need her parents. You understand that, don’t you? Both of her parents.”

“I understand, Nenneke,” she whispered.

“Good, because the two of you have something more important than your petty and pointless squabbles now. It’s time to put that behind you and for you to be a mother to Ciri. I have a feeling you will need each other more than either of you can comprehend, and Geralt will need you both as well.”

Yennefer didn’t reply right away. Instead, she looked at the gems in her hands, fingering them gently. “Oh Geralt…” 

At that, Nenneke walked out of her study, leaving Yennefer to comprehend the family Geralt had given her. Given them. Nenneke knew that nothing was more precious to Yennefer than them. She had no doubt Yennefer would risk anything for their safety, even if it meant sacrificing her own. Ciri suddenly ran past her, making a beeline for her study. Straight to Yennefer. Straight to her mother. She heard Yennefer’s laugh as she called Ciri “daughter”. “That laugh,” Nenneke thought. “I can see why Geralt loves that laugh so much.” And Nenneke thought of Geralt, and Yennefer, and Ciri, of that small and imperfectly perfect family they made. The thought of them made her smile. 

And Nenneke, for the first time in many years, began to cry tears of joy.

Chapter Text

Ciri stopped and dropped her sword, exhausted from keeping up with the sorceress. She did not yet have the stamina and ability to control her breathing as well as Yennefer could, and it was wearing her down. She plopped herself against the crumbling stone wall and slumped over. 

“Madam Yennefer please, I am so tired! I need a break. Please.”

Yennefer walked over to the wall and carefully sat on top of it, setting her long dagger off to the side. She crossed her legs and stared at the girl slouched on the ground below her. Ciri looked up at her. “She still looks so beautiful,” she thought to herself. Yennefer’s curly hair was tied back with a leather thong, but a few locks had escaped and they framed her face in the most perfect way. Her cheeks looked slightly rosy, the only sign of their exercise; her eyes seemed to sparkle with a warm violet glow. She was wearing an oversized white shirt, the top buttons left open, tucked into deep charcoal riding crops. She had on pristine black leather boots who’s heels were still somehow unsullied with mud. “That shirt,” thought Ciri. “That shirt is far too large for her. I wonder if it’s…”

“Oh ugly one, must you slouch? Not only is it horribly improper, but it’s the absolute worst way to recover from physical exertion. The best thing to do would be to stand up tall, put your arms above your head, and take deep breaths from your diaphragm. That way you get the most oxygen to your cells to….”

“That shirt. That’s Geralt’s shirt, isn’t it?” It was one of the few occasions Yennefer seemed at a complete loss for words. Her cheeks became more flushed. 

“Excuse me?” Yennefer finally managed to reply, albeit somewhat darkly.

“That shirt you’re wearing. It’s far too big and plain and old for you. You wouldn’t wear something like that unless it meant something to you. And it does. It has to be Geralt’s. I’m right, aren’t I?”

“Hush girl! I cannot believe how ridiculously impertinent and presumptuous you are. To make such a statement to your tutor is...”

“Definitely Geralt’s.” Ciri giggled, cutting Yennefer off. Yennefer looked furious, but she said nothing. 

They sat in silence for a moment. Finally Yennefer sighed and got down off the wall to sit next to Ciri. “I found it in the drawer of the guestroom Mother Nenneke prepared for me. You know Geralt has stayed in Ellander multiple times? Anyway, I knew we would be having a physical day today and I’d rather sully his clothing over my own. That’s all, Ciri.”

Ciri looked at Yennefer and laid her head in her lap. She breathed in deeply and she could smell the faintest hint of Geralt. He smelled of leather and grass and horse and home. And she knew Yennefer could smell it too, which is why she wore the shirt. But Ciri said none of this. 

“Madam Yennefer?”

“Yes, my ugly one?” Yennefer began to play with the girl’s hair.

“Can you tell me a story about you and Geralt? Please? I miss him so much, and hearing a new story with him would make me so very happy.”

Yennefer was quiet for a moment, before she replied a bit sadly. “Most of my stories with Geralt would not make you smile, Ciri.”

“Then pick one that will. Please. Tell me about a time you were in Kaer Morhen with Geralt? Please Madam Yennefer. I promise I won’t ask again, and I know that was a happy time for you. I saw it in your eyes when you said you’ve been there.”

Yennefer stared at the weapons laying in the ground in front of her. “Just one story?”

Ciri could not believe her luck. She sat up and looked Yennefer directly in the eye. “Yes, yes please! Just one! I promise I won’t ask anymore after that.”

The sorceress simply smiled and held the girl for a moment before Ciri laid her head into Yennefer’s lap again. “Alright, I’ll tell you one story. And since it’s what we’ve been working on today, I’ll tell you how Geralt and Eskel taught me a small part of the Witcher’s Dance.  

Ciri nearly purred as she felt Yennefer’s hands begin to entwine in her hair once more. She closed her eyes and smelled Geralt’s scent of leather and grass and Yennefer’s lilacs and gooseberries, and she thought of Kaer Morhen. 

***

The sun was peeking in through Geralt’s room in the witcher’s keep, but Geralt wasn’t interested in moving. He held Yennefer in his arms, her still fast asleep, and all he cared to do was pull her closer and breathe her in. Lilac and gooseberries. “Home,” he thought to himself. 

Yennefer stirred and smiled. “Good morning, Witcher.”

He kissed her hair. “Morning, Yen.”

She rolled to face him as she cupped her hand to his cheek. “And how are you this morning?” 

Geralt shifted his eyes down to his rapidly growing erection. “I think you know.” 

“Hmm, perhaps.” He took her into his arms and rolled her on her back. She giggled slightly as he began to kiss her breasts. “Your morning beard tickles, she laughed. It gave Geralt an idea.

“Let’s see if it improves any other sensations,” he said as he traveled down, trailing soft kisses in his wake. 

“Ever the seeker of new thrills, Witcher. I think…” but anything else Yennefer might have said or thought was lost in a choked cry as Geralt’s mouth found her core.

It was another few hours before the lovers finally left the bedroom. 

***

The mountain air gently swept through the courtyard. Though it was late spring, it was still crisp and cool at this high altitude, and it waved through the grasses and wildflowers that had begun to reclaim areas of the ancient stone structure. In the bottom training yard, two witchers were practicing their swordsmanship and one sorceress on an old but comfortable wooden bench tried to focus on reading.

Yennefer stretched into the soft fur blanket wrapped around her and let out a contented sigh. She looked around the training grounds of the old keep and smiled. She loved it here. Kaer Morhen. It was so different from her place in Vengerberg. In Vengerberg, things were orderly, clean, and expensive. Here, everything seemed wild. Geralt seemed more wild here as well. A flash of their morning love-making session went through her mind as a powerful tremor shot through her body and settled in-between her thighs. She moaned softly and tried again to focus on her book. It wasn’t working. Watching Geralt practice with Eskel wasn’t helping, either. His hair had come partly out of the leather thong he used to tie it back. He didn’t bother with any armor while practicing, so at the correct angles the sun shown through his white shirt, revealing a toned and muscular body underneath. His movements were like liquid and he parried Eskel’s attacks and countered with moves of his own. She saw the sweat glistening off his forehead. Yennefer swallowed and closed her eyes, letting another long breath escape her. 

Unfortunately, lost in her revelries, she failed to realize the two witchers had stopped their practice and were watching her instead. 

“Those are some, um, interesting sounds you’ve got coming from over there, Yennefer. Good book, or are you thinking about something else?” Eskel laughed while he clapped his hand on Geralt’s shoulder. Yennefer’s eyes shot open.

“Eskel, please,” she responded in indignation. She looked at Geralt, who just smirked and, ever so slightly, licked his top lip. Another tremor rolled through her. “Damn him and that wonderful mouth,” she thought to herself. She wondered if he could still taste her on his lips. He probably could. “I am just fatigued with this grimoire. And it’s bloody hot out here,” she said as she threw off the blanket and stood up. The cool air hit her like a bucket of ice water, which, given her present condition, was for the best.

“If you’re so bored, why don’t you have Geralt teach you a few sword moves.”

“I’ve already shown her most of my best moves, Eskel,” Geralt smiled as he walked over to Yennefer and grabbed her around her waist, pulling her in close to him. She buried her face in his chest.

“Har har, Geralt. Gods you two, it’s ridiculous being around you sometimes, you know that? It’s always fucking or fighting. And if those screams of Yennefer’s this morning were any indication, you’ve already done one today, so let’s focus on the other. Not to mention, there’s some disconcerting shit going on in Novigrad with the Eternal Fire. I don’t trust that cult at all. It might be good for Yennefer to know how to fight beyond magic.”

The idea of someone hurting her must have set Geralt on edge, Yennefer thought. He was gripping her so tightly it almost hurt. Quickly, she took a small peek into his mind. She saw him butchering men, cutting them to pieces with his sword while she was chained and beaten. “Geralt,” she said quietly. “It’s alright.” She rubbed his arm, but he did not loosen his grip on her.

“He’s right, Yen. I don’t trust what’s happening out there, and the thought of something happening to you, the thought of someone hurting you...I can’t…I can’t handle that, Yen.” Geralt said softly as he tilted her chin to him and left a chaste kiss on her forehead.

“I know,” she whispered back. “I know, Witcher.” She looked over to Eskel. “What do you have in mind, Eskel?” She reluctantly pulled herself from Geralt’s embrace.

“I mean, do you have any formal weapons training?”

“Why of course. In-between course studies of alchemical compounds and harnessing magical veins at Aretuza, we obviously took time to practice swordsmanship.” She looked at Eskel, who did not seem amused. “No,” she started again. “No, I have never had any formal weapons training.”

“Was that so hard, Yennefer?”

“Excruciating.”

“Yen…” Geralt sighed behind her.

“The swords Geralt and I use will not work for you. Not only do you lack the upper arm strength to properly wield them, but physically they are too large for your physique. I’d recommend something smaller. Eskel went over to the weapons rack and grabbed the practice dagger that hung from it. “This is more of a last resort weapon for us, but it’s the perfect size for you, and still deadly.” He handed the weapon to Yennefer, who gently ran her fingers along the pommel. The blade was long, about 12 inches, and though the edge was dulled, the steel glinted in the sun. “Yes, this will work,” she thought.

Geralt walked up behind her. “How does it feel?” he asked as he covered her hands with his. 

“Right. It feels right.” Yennefer looked at Eskel. “Eskel, I...thank you,” she said, smiling at the witcher. Eskel ran his fingers through his dark hair and looked down. He almost looked embarrassed. “He would make a good partner for someone,” Yennefer thought. “He is a kind man.”

“Yeah, well, I hope it helps. Geralt knows how to use those. I’ll leave you to it.” He looked at Geralt. “Wolf,” he said. Geralt nodded. “See you both at dinner. And dammit, Geralt, because of you and Yennefer my breakfast was ruined this morning, so you’re cooking tonight,” he said as he walked off. Geralt and Yennefer both watched him leave before turning to each other, each wearing an identical smirk. 

“So, are you going to show me how to use this dagger?”

“Officially, that’s a dirk, and yes, you need to learn. You ready?”

“Best be on your guard, Witcher,” Yennefer replied as she lifted the dirk.

***

As it turned out, and to both Geralt and Yennefer’s surprise, Yennefer was somewhat of a natural with the dagger. True, she was nowhere near the level of a witcher of Kaer Morhen, but she wasn’t afraid to fight dirty when necessary. To be fair, Geralt was not the easiest of tutors. He worked her till she looked exhausted.  

“Alright Yen, next we try…”

“Geralt, the sun is beginning to set and I’m tired, I’m sore, and I’m hungry. I’m ready to call this for today.”

Geralt looked Yennefer over. She did seem rather spent, and they had been training for a few hours at least, but there was still much to learn. And if the Eternal Fire…

“Dammit Geralt, the Witch Hunters aren’t coming to Kaer Morhen tomorrow. I’m done!”

“Stay out of my head, Yennefer.” She glowered at him.

“Tell you what, if you want to call it for the day, beat me.”

“Excuse me?”

“I said, beat me. If you can win a match against me then we can…” but Geralt wasn’t prepared for the underhanded tactics Yennefer was willing to employ, especially at her current level of hunger and exhaustion. A fistful of sand landed directly in his eyes. “Yen, what the fuck was that?” Geralt yelled, wiping the dirt from his face. Suddenly, and before he could do anything about it, he was falling ass-first to the ground. She had kicked his feet out from under him. He landed with a hard bang, and she was on top of him, her light weight directly over his cock and despite himself, he felt himself growing hard. He heard a small laugh as he felt the cold metal of the practice dagger against his throat.

“Do you yield?”

“Where the fuck did that come from?” he said as his hands grabbed her taught hips for purchase. His eyes still stung.

“I said, do you yield, Witcher?” she pressed the steel in a bit harder.

He laughed. “I yield.” He felt the cooling touch of her magic as she removed the dust from his eyes. He stared up at her, wild curls blowing softly in the wind, violet eyes blazing with mischief, cheeks flushed and lips slightly parted. “Gods, you’re beautiful.”

She leaned down and kissed him softly on the lips. She tasted perfect. He wrapped his arms around her to deepen the kiss as he thrust upwards, but she only placed her finger to his lips as she raised up slowly. His cock throbbed. 

“Correct me if I’m wrong, Geralt, but didn’t you yield?”

“What does that have to do with anything?” He asked as he tried to get her to move her hips. 

“It means,” she said as she disentangled herself from his arms, “that I won, and per your rules, if I win, we can stop and do what I wish to do. And right now, Witcher, as tempting as your offer may be,” she glanced at his erection, “the only thing I want to do is eat dinner and take the longest bath imaginable.” She stood and offered a hand to Geralt. “I believe it’s your turn to cook, correct?”

“Yen, you can’t be serious right now,” he whined. 

“Oh, but I am, my darling.”

Geralt grabbed her hand and stood. “Fuck’

***

“So that’s how you learned to fight? Geralt taught you? And Eskel picked out the dagger?” Ciri picked up her head from Yennefer’s lap.

“It’s a dirk, and yes, that’s just about it. Geralt and I continued training with it until he felt I could properly defend myself. You know how stubborn Geralt can be.” Ciri nodded solemnly at that, enjoying the little secret her and Yennefer shared.

“And have you ever had to use it? Has it ever saved you?” 

“In fact, it has. It’s saved my life and Dandelion’s.”

“So it was a good thing he taught you?”

“Yes, yes it was, my ugly one.” Yennefer smiled and stood up, picking up the dirk and placing it back in the sheath at her side. Geralt had had it made for her after he felt she was sufficiently trained. Mahakman steel with a black enamel pommel embossed with white lilacs. It was one of Yennefer’s most prized possessions. “Let’s go back to the Temple. I’m certain Nenneke will be looking for us soon.”

“Madam Yennefer?”

“Hmm?”

“Was Geralt terribly upset about having to make dinner? You said when you knocked him down he was so grumpy, but you didn’t say why? Was it because he didn’t want to make dinner? Did he feel better after he ate?”

Yennefer thought back to that night, the both of them in the bath, Geralt gripping onto her hips so tightly his fingers left red marks in her skin; her screaming in ecstasy as her orgasm crashed over her like a tidal wave. “Oh yes, Ciri, he felt much better after he ate.” She smiled and breathed in through her nose, smelling him on her shirt, smelling home. “Much better.”

Chapter Text

The sun was just cresting over a small hill on the vast Hirundum farm. An early morning chill hung in the air, causing a slight mist to rise off the carp ponds that surrounded them. As the sun rose higher, the mist reflected it’s warm glow, looking like gold dust rising into the air. It was serene and peaceful, beautiful in fact, but it was lost on Geralt. All he could focus on was trying to figure out how to begin to talk to her. To Yennefer.

The night prior she had materialized like a vengeful goddess, chasing away the Wild Hunt demons with a defiant blast of her magic, before rushing to where Ciri stood. Ciri, his child surprise and her charge, had stood frozen in-between them, unsure of who to reach towards, until her legs gave out from under her and she fell to the ground. Yennefer and Geralt had rushed over then, their hesitation forgotten. She bathed Ciri in the glow of her magic, it’s warm blue highlighting her pale skin and bouncing delicately off her dark curls. He’d been certain he had never seen a sight more beautiful, and his heart begged his hand to reach for her, to tuck a strand of those wild curls behind her ear, to place his hand over hers. He did not forget himself, though. He’d remained still until she finally looked up at him. He’d seen her eyes express many emotions before. He’d seen them flash blue violet in rage, gleam a gentle warm lavender when she was at peace; he’d seen her fight back tears she refused to shed when they said yet another goodbye. But these eyes, these were something new. They were filled with love, with concern, with patience, with anger and fear. These had been the eyes of a worried mother, and they were not for him. How close had Yennefer come to Ciri? With the slightest nod, she had started to rise, cradling the girl’s head while he’d lifted her in his arms. Their hands had touched. He hadn’t touched her since Belletyn two years past and it had stolen his breath away.

They had carried her together, their Ciri, into the farmhouse. He had gently placed the girl on the bed in the front room of the house, they both sat on either sides of her, not speaking, not looking at each other, as the night drew on. Ciri had groaned and rolled lightly in her sleep, causing Yennefer to gently card her fingers through her ashen hair. Geralt had tried in vain to catch her eyes. He had needed to see her, to see how she looked at him, but she never did. It would be dawning soon and still she had refused to look at him. Finally, when he couldn’t take the silence any longer, he’d spoken.

“Yennefer, can we please speak outside?”

She had made no reply, and for a moment he’d wondered if he had spoken the words aloud. But finally, she had gently cupped Ciri’s cheek once more and stood up, still refusing to look his way, and walked out to one of the carp ponds to that dotted the Hirundum farm. Geralt had followed. She had stopped under the boughs of a tall willow, it’s long branches still in the morning air, and she waited. 

She still wouldn’t look his way. 

“Yennefer, I…” Geralt shifted uncomfortably on his feet. He was outside his element. He knew she held his actions these past two years against him, but he didn’t know how deep that hurt went. He didn’t even know where to begin. “Yennefer, I was a fool.” He waited to see if she had any response to that, but she simply stood there, gently fingering the soft leaves of the willow bough nearest to her. “I need to ask for your forgiveness for these past years, I need you to know I was wrong.”

Still nothing. Yennefer picked off the soft green leaf and watched it drift slowly to the dirt floor, catching the morning sun on its surface as it floated downward. 

“It was callous of me, cold. I hadn’t stopped to consider how neglecting you would affect Ciri, affect me. And Yennefer, I was weak. I know it does not behoove any man to admit such faults, but I was.”

And still, nothing.

“Yen, I…” 

Yennefer’s eyes shot up at the use of that name, the name only Geralt had ever called her. Her eyes glowed with a cold blue fire. Geralt’s heart sank.

“Do not call me that!” she spit out, all rage and fury. “You do not get to call me that anymore, dear friend , not after these past years. Not after you forgot about me.” Geralt balked at the tide of her anger, sickened with himself at how hurt she truly was. “Geralt, I thought you had died! For months. For months, I heard no news, and when I finally did, it wasn’t from you. You didn’t think I would care to know you were alive? Do I truly matter so little to you now?”

“Yennefer.” He was careful not to use her nickname. “You know that isn’t true. You know you matter to me. You and Ciri are the only thing that matters…”

“Stop it!” she nearly screamed, throwing her hands into the air. “You do not get to say that I matter to you, not with your actions these past years, Geralt. Stop lying to me; stop lying to yourself. You knew about Sodden. You knew what happened. But you never reached out until you needed something from me. And Ciri, do you have any idea how much it hurt, Geralt? To be cast aside for someone else, for Triss, to help teach your child surprise. Your child surprise, Geralt.”

For as long as Geralt had known Yennefer, she had desired one thing: to be a mother. It was the reason she had gone after the djinn in Rhinde, why she had gone on the dragon hunt, why she has poured countless crowns, florins, orins, and marks into solving the unsolvable. And yet, when Geralt had finally embraced the gift destiny had left him, he had been too ashamed and broken to ask for her help. Of course he had wanted to. He was grateful for the assistance Triss Merigold had given Ciri at Kaer Morhen; without her there, they would not have discovered she was a Source. But he would have been lying if he hadn’t wished more times than he cared to admit that it were Yennefer brushing the young girl’s hair, laughing as she wriggled miserably in a dress, or cheering her on as she ran the gauntlet. When he would bid Ciri goodnight, he’d think of what it would be like to have Yennefer there next to him, gently kissing her head as they wished her sweet dreams, then him pulling Yennefer into his bedroom at Kaer Morhen where they would stay tangled in the sheets together until sunrise. 

A family. A beautiful dream. 

A dream that he ruined when he invited another in her stead. 

Lost in his revelries of his dream deferred, he spoke without thinking.”Yen, it should have been you with us. I wish it was you.”

“I asked you not to call me that anymore, Geralt!” His dream evaporated into the cool morning. “It doesn’t matter anymore. It wasn’t me, and it never would have been me if Triss was a stronger mage. I never would have even met Ciri had she been better trained. So don’t pretend for even a moment you give a damn about how I feel. I highly doubt you’ve ever given a damn about me these past 10 years.” Her eyes flashed again.

Something inside Geralt broke at that. 

“Godsdamnit, Yennefer. You are doing a fine job at throwing this all on me, and I admit I am to blame. But I’m not alone in this, Yennefer. After all, you were the one who left me in Aedd Gynvael with a rain-soaked note in the beak of an enchanted kestrel. You were the one made us part on the morning after Belletyn. I would have stayed in that field forever with you, but you demanded we say goodbye. And don’t tell me I never cared, Yennefer. You don’t think that when I found out about Sodden, I wanted to die before I risked living in a world without you? Those moments I thought you’d been taken, I begged for death to take me as well. You don’t think that every fucking minute I watched Triss and Ciri together I didn’t wish it was you?” 

Yennefer, who a moment earlier had seemed ready to rant until the White Frost claimed them all, seemed to be struck silent. Geralt felt his body slightly shaking, and more frustratingly his eyes filling with tears.  He tried to blink them back. He squeezed his fists together. He had never felt so exposed. Yennefer seemed to be struck dumb by it. They stood there, in a silence that seemed to go on forever, both unsure of what to do. 

“Yennefer, do you think I wanted any of this?” he finally managed to force out, his voice a painful lump in his throat. “But you said it was over. You said we were over. So I let it be over. Because it’s what you wanted.”

The last thread that seemed to hold Yennefer in check unraveled at that moment. “Oh Geralt..” she whispered before she threw her arms around his neck. He immediately responded, pulling her into him, burying his face into the inky spill of her curls as he greedily breathed in her scent. Lilac and gooseberries; the scent of home. They held each other for a moment, trying to pull one another impossibly closer as though they both were afraid that they would lose the other if they let go. Finally, Yennefer pulled slightly away from him. She gently tucked a piece of hair behind his ear and softly caressed his cheek. 

“Geralt,” she whispered again. “I’m sorry.”

He smiled lightly and put his forehead to hers, breathing her in. “I’m sorry, too.” He pulled his head back and tipped her chin up slightly. She looked at him, eyes the warmest lilac he had ever seen. He leaned in slowly until finally, their lips met. Feathery-soft kisses immediately became more demanding. Their hands fought to touch each other, both breathing shallowly against the other’s mouth. Geralt felt his trousers grow tight. Yennefer bit his bottom lip and slowly pulled away, her teeth gently holding on until she finally let go. He swallowed.

“Take me inside, Geralt,” she said in a voice thick with desire.

"For you, Yen....anything."

Chapter Text

Geralt

It was still early in the morning when the four of them prepared to ride to Thanedd. Geralt and Yennefer both bid farewell to the Hofmeiers and thanked them for their hospitality, especially in regards to Ciri. After her fainting spell the night before, Geralt was still concerned about her welfare, but the girl seemed completely fine, almost giddy. She’d run off with Dandelion to see the carp ponds one more time while Geralt and Yennefer saddled the horses as the stable boy was nowhere to be found. 

“Do you think she’s alright, Yen? I’m concerned she might fall ill again, and on the road…” Memories of Triss and that damn caravan filled his mind. He definitely didn’t want to relive that misery. Geralt looked out to Ciri, currently pointing out some of the larger carp to Dandelion, who seemed wholly uninterested. “Although, she seems fine now. Perhaps it was temporary?”

“Perhaps it wasn’t real at all,” Yennefer responded nonchalantly. She was lifting a saddle to prep her horse, and Geralt took it from her and placed it on her gelding.

“What do you mean?”

“Geralt,” she laughed. “You don’t think she actually fainted, do you?”

“Well, I did…”

“Geralt, she was tricking us. She’s quite the actress. It was a ploy to get us to, well, to this.” She gently ran her hand up his arm, cupping his cheek before she pulled her hand away. Geralt caught it before she could and pulled it to his lips, kissing her fingers gently. “And I must admit, she was quite successful,” she sighed and closed her eyes.

Geralt pulled her into him and breathed her in. His Yennefer. He couldn’t believe he had the freedom to hold her again. He didn’t understand what blessing of Destiny granted him this moment, but he wasn’t going to waste it. He kissed her hard. She immediately melted into him, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him closer to her. Geralt would have taken her there, but she pulled back, her breath shallow.

“Witcher, Ciri and Dandelion…” But he caught her mouth again, needing her so much it physically hurt to be apart any longer. Once again, it was Yennefer who finally pushed him gently back and leaned her forehead into his. “They will be back any moment,” her voice was thick with lust. “Tonight, Geralt. I promise you.”

Geralt was barely breathing, his body tense, each muscle taut. The last thing he wanted to do was let her go, but he knew she was right; they needed to get going. “Tonight?”

She pressed her kiss-swollen lips against his own, took his bottom lip in her teeth, and pulled away slowly. She let go and Geralt felt such a jolt of desire he nearly doubled over. “I promise,” she whispered against his mouth. He smiled.

“I’ll hold you to that, Yen.”

“I would expect nothing less,” she nuzzled her nose to his and pulled out of his embrace.

The stable boy rushed in, still pulling on his shirt as he ran to help saddle the remaining animals. “I’m so sorry! So sorry! Just give me a few minutes!” he yelped as he grabbed reins and bridles in a flurry of leather. Geralt laughed and took Yennefer by the hand. 

“Hurry and get the horses ready, we need to be on the road as soon as possible.” The boy muttered more apologies, but Geralt wasn’t listening. He led Yennefer to where Ciri and Dandelion were standing, their fingers entwined together. Dandelion saw them approaching.

“If it isn’t the fated lovers,” he said as he looked at their hands. “Geralt, I’m glad you’re here. Your rather persnickety ward here is refusing to acknowledge my prodigious skills as a fisherman. She does not believe I could catch that carp in there,” he pointed in the general direction of the pool, “and I have no idea where she could arrive at such an absurd presumption. Unless she’s been spending too much time with certain individuals….” he glanced at Yennefer. She just smirked.

“Dandelion, I’ve been tutoring Ciri in the arts of magic and chaos for months now. Do you honestly believe that your name would come up when we have so many other more important matters to discuss? Please, Bard…”

“But Madam Yennefer, you did mention Master Dandelion when we were training with swords and daggers. Remember…” Yennefer shot Ciri a glance that immediately silenced her.

“Ha!” Dandelion laughed. Yennefer looked furious.

“You two did weapons training together?” Geralt asked. He stared at Ciri, who nodded happily, and then to Yennefer. His breath caught in his throat in a painful lump. “You remember what I taught you?” 

She looked at him with the ghost of a smile. “Of course I do, Geralt.”

Geralt felt hot and cold at once. He looked at this woman in front of him, this woman he had loved before he had even understood what love was. He had to tell her.

“Yen, I l……”

“Oh gods, the angst between you too. And you wonder why I created that ballad. Come on, the stable boy is waving his arms like he’s being attacked by a swarm of bees, and don’t you all need to get to Thanedd. Let’s go, shall we?” He began to walk towards the stables, the feather on his hat bouncing after him.

“Fucking Dandelion”, Geralt thought as he walked back to the stables with the others.

Yennefer

The ride to Thanedd was fortunately short, as Yennefer could hardly focus on the road. “I think he was about to say it,” she thought to herself. “He was going to say I love you.” Her stomach flipped inside her. “He was going to say it, and Dandelion…”

“That damn Bard.”

Yennefer had not meant to voice that out loud, but from the looks she was receiving, she must have.

“Excuse me?” huffed Dandelion. Yennefer just smirked at him. “Ugh, your witch is impossible, Geralt! Do you see how she talked to me.” Geralt just laughed.

“She’s not inaccurate, Dandelion,” Geralt replied. Dandelion looked aghast.

“I seem to remember you being quite conciliatory after I saved your neck from Rience. Something about, “singing my praises” in perpetuity.”

“That’s the story Madam Yennefer told me! She saved Dandelion’s life, Geralt. Did you know that? And she did it with the dagger, sorry, the dirk you gave her!” Ciri trotted a bit closer to Geralt. “It was a very good story. I’ve heard others about Master Dandelion, of course, but that one was my favorite.” 

Geralt smiled at the girl. “I’ve missed you, Ciri.”

“I’ve missed you too, Geralt.”

Yennefer sniffed slightly, and Geralt turned to her. She immediately turned her face away and quickly lifted a gloved hand to dab at the corner of her eye. “You ok, Yen?”

“She’s FINE, Geralt! Why wouldn’t she be, spreading malicious lies and falsehoods about my person to such innocent ears.” 

“What’s this about Yen needing to save you, Dandelion. I don’t recall you mentioning this….ever.” 

“You were in a fragile state. I didn’t think it appropriate,” Dandelion responded.

“Oh I’ll tell you the story”, Ciri piqued in. “Dandelion got into trouble, something about a house of ill repute, but I don’t know what that is, and then there was a secret door, but he was captured by this scary man who was going to kill him. He absolutely would have died, but Madam Yennefer came and she saved his life! She killed three men with her dirk and she also used fire magic, which Yennefer says I cannot use yet.”

“Making yourself the sole hero in this tale, I see. Ride up with me, Ciri, and I’ll set the record straight, as I am not as useless as that one would have you believe.” Ciri trotted up to Dandelion. “See, It started well before that moment, with a tale for the ages that I sang under an oak tree for lovers, for fighters, for mages, for elves, for dwarves….” his voice trailed off as he rode ahead. Yennefer was contemplating calling Ciri back to her when Geralt interrupted her thoughts.

“The burn…” Geralt said. 

“Something pulled him away from me, Geralt. I would have had him, but some power, stronger than any magic Rience could control, pulled him out.” Yennefer looked concerned.

“When he threatened you, after that, I lost control. I wanted to butcher him. I wanted to kill him one hundred times over for threatening you.” Geralt was quiet for a while after that, gripping the leather of his reins. Finally, he turned to look at her. “You never should have been there.”

Yennefer looked surprised, and slightly hurt. “Well, for the Bard’s sake, it was a good thing I was there.” 

“That’s not what I meant, Yen. You never should have been there because you should have been with me. Ciri and me. In Kaer Morhen.”

Yennefer looked away. Though she had discussed it briefly with Geralt, he had no idea how bad that betrayal had stung her. To be cast aside for Triss, it nearly shattered her. “I would have come, Geralt. If you’d have asked, I would have come.”

“I know,” he whispered.

They rode in silence for a time, before Yennefer finally spoke. “Nenneke gave me the jewels.”

He waited a moment to answer. “I didn’t know she still had them.”

“She told me what they were for. But why, Geralt, why did you leave them for me all those years ago. We were separated.”

He smiled. “I always knew you would be an amazing mother.” Geralt nodded to Ciri. “And it turns out I was right.”  Yennefer’s lip quivered. “Yen,” he said softly. “Yen, I lo...”

“GERALT! This child seriously does not believe I was instrumental in saving you from a devil! How can she possibly be so ill-informed?”

“Fucking HELLS!” Yennefer screamed internally. 

Geralt

Dandelion agreed to watch Ciri, who was none-to-pleased about not being invited to the banquet. Yennefer was none-to-pleased about the prospect of Dandelion watching Ciri and had insisted upon a magical barrier around the room they had rented. Geralt was simply bemoaning another doublet, but thoughts of that left him the minute he saw Yennefer.

He tried, and failed, to imagine a moment she looked more beautiful. She had pulled her hair up off her shoulders in an attractive updo, and her ever-present diamond choker was adorning her slim neck. Her sleeveless dress was black with geometric diamond patterns sewn into the bodice. It clung to her figure, hugging her small waist and curved hips in such a way it made Geralt groan. He thought about her promise to him in the stable. “Gods, I love her,” he thought.. 

“Are you ready, Witcher?” she said she hooked her arm through his. Her perfume filled his lungs as he breathed her in.

“I’m telling her tonight,” he said to himself. “I’m going to tell her I love her. She needs to know.”

“I’m ready, Yen. I’m finally ready.”

Chapter Text

The smell. 

It was everywhere. 

It was blood. It was vomit. It was urine. It was feces. It was rot. And now, it was her.

Once, it seemed like so many years ago, Yennefer smelled of lilac and gooseberries. Geralt would breathe her in as he buried his nose in her hair and held her tightly. She could no longer remember what lilac and gooseberries even smelled like. She could only smell death.

Yennefer had no way of knowing how long she had been held prisoner by Vilgefortz. She had not seen the sun since she fell into his trap. “How long has it been?” she thought. Days? Weeks? Months? Did it even matter? 

She thought of irrelevant things like dungeon names. An oubliette. A place of forgetting. But all Yennefer did was remember. “It’s a stupid name,” she said outloud. Her own voice startled her.

Why had she done it? To rescue Ciri? To atone for some of the misery and shame she felt after she had failed her daughter in Thanedd. She never should have brought the girl in. Of any action she had ever taken in her long life, of any terrible decision she had ever made, bringing Ciri to Thanedd ranked at the top. Yennefer knew that she would regret it for the rest of her days. She would never forgive herself. She played it over and over in her mind. The dark made the memories even brighter…

Yennefer watched Geralt walk off with Vilgefortz and smiled slightly. The mage had been insistent on talking to the Witcher; she did not know why, but it made her proud. Still, a nagging feeling she couldn’t place irked her. Something about VIlgefortz set her on edge, but she could not put her finger on it. He was the Hero of Sodden. He was part of the Chapter. “He’s just a wiry and harmless old fox,” she reminded herself as she swallowed the suspicion. It didn’t matter anyway. Ciri would be safe in Aretuza. 

Tissaia walked up behind her. “I see time has healed all wounds,” she said. 

“So it seems,” Yennefer replied as Geralt and Vilgefortz rounded the corner and out of her sight. That nagging feeling again. She pushed it aside and turned to Tissaia. “What do you think they’re talking about?”

“Who?”

“Vilgefortz and Geralt.”

“I honestly cannot say. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about that man that sets my teeth on edge. There’s something I’m missing.”
Yennefer just nodded. She would make sure Geralt told her the entire conversation tonight, after she made good on her promise to him this morning. A shudder went through her body as she thought of his lips crushing against hers, his hands running along her sides. It had been so long, so very long…

“Yennefer, I want to talk to you about something.” Yennefer jolted out of her daydream. Tissaia just smirked. “I’m sure you are aware the political situation with the kings is tenuous at best.”

“Obviously,” Yennefer rolled her eyes.

“Enough with the insolence, now is the time to listen. I do not trust Philippa. I cannot say what she has up her sleeve, but she is planning something. However, she doesn’t know everything. She doesn’t know the truth behind Dol Angra.”

“What truth is that?”

“You have been hiding away from politics for too long, Yennefer, and it has made you sloppy. Demavend ordered that attack to incite a war with Nilfgaard.”

Yennefer was quiet. Loathe as she was to admit it, she had been outside the political sphere for a long time. She had no idea Demavend, a king she had given personal council to, had ordered this. It would never have even occurred to her that Demavend was capable of such duplicity. “I didn’t…”

Tissaia cut her off. “You’re correct Yennefer, you didn’t. But, your lack of knowledge is not of prime concern. We need to expose this to Philippa. Like I said, I feel she is plotting something. She may be a talented leader, but she lacks all subtly. She needs to know exactly who the Northern Kings she so desperately clings to are.”

“You, better than most, know how deeply stubborn and arrogant Philippa can be. How do you plan to convince her of this? She will not hear you out.”

At this, Tissaia smiled. “Cirilla.”

“NO.” Yennefer didn’t even think. It wouldn’t happen. “Absolutely not.”

“Yennefer, you need to listen.”

“There is nothing that will change my mind on this, Tissaia.”

“Again, you are being sloppy. You are sending Cirilla to Aretuza, correct? If Philippa is in league with the Northern kings and ever needed a bargaining chip for the South, how safe do you think Cirilla would be? Do you not think Philippa would happily use the girl to her own ends? Could you stop her?”

“If I had to,” she said defiantly.

Tissaia smiled and let out a small sigh. “Yennefer, you are a strong mage, but we both know how a fight between you and Phillipa would end. She is the most gifted mage I have ever trained. You would not win.” Yennefer glared at her former rectoress. “But there is another way. Cirilla is a medium. With her gift, we can reveal Demavend’s treachery.”

Yennefer caught on. “Because mediums cannot lie while in an augury.”

“Exactly. Philippa cannot say the information has been falsified.”

Yennefer still shook her head. “But Tissaia, I am not willing to risk my daughter’s safety.” At this, Tissaia bristled, but Yennefer ignored her. “I won’t, Tissaia.”

“Yennefer, this is for the good of the mage community and the good of Cirilla. And I promise you will be with her the entire time. And we will be in Garstang where the spells of the tower prevent anyone from using magic. The girl will be perfectly safe. Yennefer, trust me, this is the only way.” 

Yennefer was quiet for a moment. Ciri’s safety was paramount, and though she hated to admit it to herself, Philippa was a greater threat than she could handle. And Geralt, he would agree that nothing mattered more than her well-being. Maybe this was the only way. “Tissaia, you have to promise me Ciri’s safety is the most important. I need that promise.”

Tissaia placed her hand on Yennefer’s shoulder. She gently squeezed it. “Yennefer, I promise.”

And Yennefer agreed. 

Yennefer was jolted awake from her nightmare. If she had an idea of days in this prison, she would say she relived this hell everyday. But time had no meaning in her cell, so it just seemed to play on an endless reel. A reel of failure.

So. Many. Failures.

Chaos and blood had erupted at the damnable conclave. Philippa had been forming a coup, but even Tissaia was unaware at how deep it went. Allegations, mistrust, accusations, and in the middle of all of that, Yennefer had brought in Ciri. And Ciri had confirmed what Demavend had done. But to everyone’s horror, she had announced King Vizimir II had been assassinated in the night. 

And then, Tissaia had removed the magical barrier. 

Panic. Chaos. Rage. Socia’tael. Yennefer had run with Ciri; she had rushed her to a secret stairway; she had told hers would be safe. Please GODS let her be safe. And she had let Ciri run. 

“My daughter. Forgive me,” she whispered. 

She had stayed behind; she would do whatever she could to deflect any attention from Ciri. She had screamed spells; lightning flew from her fingers. There had been a crushing pain.

And nothingness.

She had later learned she had been compressed by Francesca, a move which may have saved her life, but Yennefer did not care about her life. There was only Ciri. Ciri and Geralt. So she had escaped the women of the Lodge, her former colleagues, with the help of an unlikely ally: the Nilfagaardian mage Fringilla Vigo. 

Yennefer shuddered at the thought of her. She had seen her face again, but in the worst way possible: screaming in ecstasy reflected in Geralt’s eyes. The man she loved, making love to someone else.

Yennefer squeezed her eyes tight, but her breath still caught. It was a small mercy she was too dehydrated to cry as right now, all she wanted was to curl her knees into her chest and sob. “We said it. We finally said it. I love you,” she thought. In their turbulent and trauma-filled past, it was those three words that had always stopped them. It was the mountain neither had felt able to climb. But at Thanedd, amidst salmon rolls and caviar, Geralt had said it. It had come out of his mouth and it had floored her. For a minute she had  assumed he had only thought it, but no, he had Said The Words. He had said them so casually, like they were about to sit down for tea. She thought of Aedd Gynvael and how the mere idea of love was enough to fail them both, and now he said them without hesitation. Her heart had leapt and she had told him she loved him back, and then he had started choking. Perhaps not the I Love You she had dreamed of for so many years, but they were together. And that night….

Oh that night.

Geralt and Yennefer had always been passionate in bed, but that night, making love after telling each other how they felt, both had sailed to new heights. She had never felt such soul-shattering bliss. For the first time in her many long years, Yennefer of Vengerberg had felt completely whole. She had cried into his shoulder as she had shuddered her release around him, stars twinkling in her vision. His scent surrounded her as he had gasped out her name and filled her and she had known, without any hesitation, she would want no one but him for the rest of her life. She loved him, utterly and completely. 

And now, he thought she had betrayed him. And he was making love to Fringilla.

She started dry-heaving.

He had given up on her. It was the only reason he would fall into another’s arms. Did he know it was Fringilla who blinded her in Sodden? Did he know it was Fringilla who helped her escape? She knew Fringilla was using him, but if Geralt thought Yennefer had betrayed him and Ciri, he would never forgive her. He would despise her. He would hate her. She let out a sharp sob.

She had begged Philippa and Triss to tell Geralt the truth. She would have never knowingly put their daughter, their Ciri, at risk. She would never have sided with that traitorous bastard Vilgefortz. She would have given Philippa all the information to find Vilgefortz if only she would save her Witcher, but the bitch refused.

And Triss, her best friend, stood by watching it happen. 

Yennefer knew exactly what Triss had done to Geralt. She knew how it had deeply shamed the Witcher, how it was the reason he ran off. She wanted to hate her for it, but friendships among mages are complicated. She could forgive that. She would NEVER forgive this. This was how little Geralt and Ciri meant to Triss. She knew the sorceress was a weakling, a child too busy licking Philippa’s cunt to remember the man she supposedly cared about and the girl she helped in Kaer Morhen, but to see her cowardice laid bare like that. No, Yennefer would never forgive Triss Merigold of Maribor.

“And once again, you are being sloppy.” 

Yennefer startled. She heard Tissaia’s voice ring so clearly in her ears she swore it was behind her. She looked around desperately, but there was only darkness. Darkness and despair and death.

“Sloppy with a dash of self-pity, I see,” the voice said again.

Yennefer knew time in isolation could destroy one’s hold on reality, and this was without-a-doubt what was happening here, but she was beyond caring. If her subconscious felt the need to project Tissaia; fine. It didn’t matter anyway. She would die here: alone, branded as a traitor, and hated by the two people she loved most. 

“So that’s it, Yennefer? Death is all that awaits you?”

“You’re dead,” Yennefer responded. It hurt to say those words out loud. She thought of linden trees.

“That is a fair point, but it’s a pleasant discussion, nonetheless.”

“What do you want, Tissaia?” Yennefer wasn’t interested in being chided or mocked by her old recotress, subconscious or not.

“I want you to get up.”

“No.”

“Yes. You need to get up.”

“No. It doesn’t matter anymore.”

“They need you, Yennefer.”

“They don’t.”

“That’s where you are wrong, my girl. You are very much wrong. Cirilla and Geralt are incomplete without you. You need to stay alive for them. So you need to get up.”

“Ciri and Geralt have both moved on.”

“Oh you insolent and foolish child,” her Tissaia subconscious said. “How many decades have you spent on this world and you still are as stubborn and naive as the day you were shipped to Aretuza. Listen to me: a daughter will never forget her mother. A man will never give up on the woman he loves. Are you telling me you are willing to fail them? To die in this pit without a fight? You have a choice, my girl, and you are choosing the wrong one. You are remaining blind instead of opening your eyes. And Yennefer, there is a violent and raging and beautiful storm behind those eyes. A storm that would shake apart the very foundations of the world for her family.” 

Yennefer said nothing, shaking with tearless sobs as subconscious Tissaia continued. 

“You will NOT die alone in here, girl. Do you hear me? That is not you, Yennefer. That is NOT the girl I raised you to be. Yennefer, daughter, GET UP!”

***

The door of her cell clanged open. The sound was so loud it frightened her for a moment.

“Vilgefortz wants to see you. Get your ass up, you witch whore,” the gravelly voice called out.

She would get back to them. She would hold them both again; they would know she never betrayed them. She wouldn’t fail in this, no matter how much pain Vilgefortz would throw at her. They would know how much she loved them; nothing else mattered besides her family. 

“Thank you, Tissaia,” she whispered.

Yennefer stood up. 

Chapter Text

He sat there, squeezing his fists so tightly that his nails left angry red half-moon imprints on his skin. The voices from the earpiece began to fade out, and he was alone in his silence and rage.

Yennefer was a prisoner. She’s a prisoner now, at this very moment.

A servile golem. 

She hadn’t betrayed him, betrayed Ciri. She hadn’t left him alone.

And he….and he....

Thoughts of Fringilla came to the front of his mind. Of her soft pale skin, his lips on her nipples as she rode him. All the while, Yennefer, his Yen, was…

He felt sick. He felt dirty and pathetic and the worst kind of traitor. He was disgusted with himself. How had he been so fucking weak? How had he been so willing to assume that Yennefer would simply betray them? Betray the man she loved? Betray her daughter ?

He grabbed the chair he had been sitting in and smashed it against the wall of the dark room. The old wood splintered and broke to pieces. He bellowed into the silent air, his rage echoing off the walls. And he knew, he knew that once again in their long history, he failed her.

He. Had. Failed. Her.

Again. 

A laugh came from the darkness. The creature appeared, shifting in a shimmering movement. “*Greetings, Witcher,” he heard. “We’ve been waiting here for you.*”

“A Korred,” he snarled. Three more monsters crept from the shadows. 

He brandished his sihil. The weight of it felt right in his hands. It steadied him. He felt his fury channel itself into the cold silver of the blade. 

Geralt only hoped there would be a lot of blood. He was ready to make the world bleed. 

***

He had no interest in saying goodbye to Fringilla. He had no interest in seeing her again. He left a quick note; I am leaving. You know for whom. , and made his way to the stable. He felt the fog of Toussaint lifting from his mind, replaced with drive and purpose for the first time in months. He had forgotten about Ciri while he had lounged in the luxuries of the Duchey. True, the winter had been hard, and the pass of Mount Gorgon would have been impossible to cross, but if he had to be honest with himself, that is not why he had stayed in this fairytale land. In the beauty of Toussaint, it was easy to try to forget. When he had looked over the sweeping hillsides, castles and manors dotting the landscapes like decorations on an iced cake, it had been easy to forget about the hell his life had become since Thanedd. Yet try as he might, he had never been able to forget about Ciri or Yennefer. 

He had seen Ciri in the most unexpected of places. He had seen her in the streets of Beauclair, in the little girl laughing with a toy sword in hand while she skipped down a cobblestone street. He had seen her in the girl hugging her father as she rushed out to greet him returning from work. He had seen her in the girl being held by her mother, carding her fingers through her daughter’s hair. He had seen his Ciri. 

And he had seen Yennefer. He had seen her in the woman that carded her fingers through her daughter’s hair. He had seen her in the woman that rode past him on a strong stallion, sitting tall in the saddle and resolute in her goals. And he had seen her in Fringilla.

It was no secret that Fringilla looked like Yennefer. She had her pale skin, although it was never cool and electrifying to the touch like Yennefer’s. She had her black hair, but Fringilla’s was short and orderly while Yennefer’s was a wild tornado of inky curls. She did not have Yennefer’s violet eyes, but when he closed his own, he could pretend. And so he had. He had for months. When they had made love, it was not Fringilla he held in his arms but his Yen. He had imagined her as they were in Thanedd, at Belleteyn, in Kaer Morhen. He had called out for Yennefer during his and Fringilla’s couplings; he had not felt guilty for this. But everytime he had opened his eyes, Yennefer was gone; she had been replaced with Fringilla, Fringilla and sickening longing. 

Now, at long last, his eyes were open. 

Roach stood pawing at the ground at the back of the stable. The mare had grown idle and bored. She needed to run; she needed a purpose as well. He scratched her nose, feeling the velvet skin. “It’s time, girl. We’ve dallied too long.” The horse nuzzled his hand. 

They were not fast enough.

***

“Geralt!!” The scream, a mix of anger and fear, rang through the stables. The horses around him jumped, but Geralt continued to cinch the girth of his saddle. Roach didn’t react at all. 

Fringilla rushed up to him, grabbed his shoulder, and turned him to her. He looked her over. She was wearing riding skirts and a lynx fur coat. Her hair was perfectly styled, not a piece out of place. He imagined wild curls and smiled.

“*Well, well…*” she began. Her anger, her hurt, and her fear of him leaving spilled from her mouth in a torrent of accusations and pleas. Geralt understood, and he listened. Perhaps in another world he could have loved Fringilla. She was powerful, determined, and wise. She was certainly beautiful.

Her flaw was that she was not Yennefer. It was no fault of her own, but to Geralt, it was a death sentence to anything more than physical relations. How many potential partners and relationships had he avoided because of this? There was Coral. She was gone now, but she had desired him and had been vicious in her love. There was Essi. She was sweet and young and would have loved him with her whole heart. There was Triss. She had begged him to love her, she had abused and beguiled him to get it. And now Fringilla. All beautiful women willing to give him their love if he would only reciprocate with his own. 

Yet Yennefer was his True North. When she was out of his life and he was on his own, Geralt lost his purpose. He would never be able to replace her. She was half of his heart. Ciri was the other. It was time to be whole again.

“I’m sorry, Fringilla.” he finally said. He told her that if things had been different, he may have loved her. But there was Yennefer. There was nothing else to say.

Yet Fringilla was not done. She told him about what she knew of Yennefer. She knew Yennefer had fearlessly tried to rescue Ciri and had fallen into Vilgefortz’s trap as a consequence months prior. She knew she had most certainly been tortured to reveal Geralt’s location to Vilgefortz. She knew she had never betrayed either Geralt or Ciri. She only did not know if she was still alive. 

Geralt was quiet for a long moment, He could feel the adrenaline rocket through his veins. His heart began to race. “Say something,” Fringilla pleaded.

His voice barely contained his anger. “You knew…” he whispered in a gravely tone.

“Geralt, I…”

“You knew. You knew this entire time.”

“I did not want you to leave. Please, Geralt, I think I love you! You have to understand.” She tried to grab his arm, but Geralt pulled it away. He felt his rage pooling inside him. He would lose control if he let it win. He just needed something…

An idea. He swallowed and focused on a memory. Violet eyes. Lilac and gooseberries. He had a purpose, and Fringilla could be useful in that, even if she didn’t realize she was being used.

He turned back to her and gently tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. “Thank you, Fringilla. Thank you for telling me this. For being honest with me. It was overdue, but I am grateful for it now.” She did not notice how his hand shook as he pulled it back. 

She seemed relieved. Her shoulders, held so tense just moments ago, relaxed slightly. “You’re, you’re not angry?” she whispered. 

“No,” he lied. Inside he seethed. 

“I thought you would be angry,” she flung herself into his arms and grabbed the back of his neck. She whispered into his lips. “*Now, before you leave, say goodbye to me. The way you ought to say goodbye. Not with paltry letters, not with mumbled apologies. Say goodbye to me the way I desire.*” She pulled away and ripped her coat and shirt off, revealing her lack of undergarments. She grabbed the collars of his shirt and pulled him into her. Her breasts pressed against his chest. Her mouth was on his.

He pulled away, hiding his disgust under mock empathy.

“No, Fringilla. I am sorry, but no.”

She seemed flustered and angry, mostly embarrassed. “Damn you, you heartless Witcher!” she spat at him. 

“Fringilla,” he answered after a while. “*You’re a woman a man can only dream about. My fault, my only fault, is that I do not have the nature of a dreamer.*”

“You do not have a nature at all Geralt. You are a cad and a fool.” She gathered her clothes and hid herself behind them. Tears were in her eyes. “*In any case,” she added, “a broken heart, although it hurts greatly, a lot more than a broken arm, heals much, much more quickly.*”

“You gave me something with Yennefer. Allow me to return the favor. I assume, hearing your confession, that part of this was all an attempt to learn the location of Vilgefortz. To rescue Ciri?”

Fringilla looked away for a moment, then back to the Witcher. “Yes,” she admitted.

Fury filled him again, but he held it back. He had a greater need for her and the ilk she served. The lie came easily. “Then we do not share opposite goals. My goal, as you know, has been to rescue Ciri. We can work together in this. I will tell you what I have learned, as a token of good faith in this partnership between us, and as a personal thank you to my gratitude for your information regarding Yennefer.”

“*Where are you riding to?” She asked in a completely different tone and voice. “What did you find out? You know where Vilgefortz is hiding, don’t you?*”

“*Rhys-Rhun citadel, in Nazair, by Lake Muredach.*” he replied. She stared at him long and hard. Geralt kept his face steady.

“I will let the others know. We will begin plans immediately,” she said rather sadly. 

“Thank you, Fringilla.” He felt his anger abetting. She believed him. While trickery was not his preferred means of handling a situation, it did have it’s uses. An image of Yennefer tossing sand into his eyes at Kaer Morhen so many years past flashed through his mind. He remembered how badly he had wanted her at that moment. “I should have told you I loved you right there,” he thought to himself. 

Fringilla eyed him warily. “What are you thinking, Geralt? Your eyes look far away.”

“What am I always thinking about, Fringilla? You have peered into my mind enough times to know, I’m sure.”

“You love her that much?”

“Yes.”

A sad sigh escaped her lips. “I envy her. She may be dead, and yet I envy her.” Geralt said nothing. “Goodbye, Geralt of Rivia.”

“Goodbye, Fringilla.” He watched her walk away. He searched within himself to find any pity or sadness as she left the stable and walked into the night air. He found none.

Geralt finished preparing the saddle and tack and grabbed his belongings. They were few, which suited him fine. Fringilla had forgotten about the amulet she gave him, or perhaps she had not. Regardless, he decided to keep it. “It may come in handy,” he said to the horse, who merely snorted in response.

He took Roach’s reins and led her into the night. He mounted and began a wild ride to get to his friends, his hanza. “Run, Roach!” He said, feeling a sense of joy for the first moment since Thanedd.

“To Stygga,” he thought. “To Yennefer.”

Chapter Text

Act 1

Yennefer

The bonfires could be smelled from their small camp on the edge of a meadow filled with wild herbs and flowers. It was Belleteyn, the celebration of Spring and fertility and the promise of life, but they had been running from and apologizing for death for too many days. No one even realized it was Belleteyn, not until the bonfires reached up towards the clear night sky.

“What is that smell?” Ciri asked. She sat across from Geralt and Yennefer around their small fire. Geralt had caught a few fish while Yennefer discovered some edible wild mushrooms and oregano and thyme. It was all currently sizzling on a small pot over the fire. It was sparse fare, but they were together, and they were alive. Every meal, every moment, was a feast for them.  

“Do you not know what day it is, Ciri?” Yennefer asked with a smile.

“No, I have not bothered keeping track of days for some time,” she said quietly. “I failed to see the point after a while.”

Yennefer and Geralt said nothing. This girl who sat before them, watching with green eyes and hair streaked white by trauma, was not the child they lost in Thanedd. She had been through hells and horrors that neither could begin to relate to. She had nearly died in a desert, been raped by a woman she still claimed to love, she had been conscripted to a gang of deviants, just to watch them all be butchered. She’d been forced to fight for her life strung out on fisstech, hunted by the man who tried to rape Yennefer. She’d skipped through time and space to be held prisoner in Tri na Lia by the Aen Elle, eventually saved by unicorns. She’d battled for her life on ice skates. She’d been raped, brutalized, beaten, sold, hunted, harmed, and every hell in-between. She was not the little girl excited about the gauntlet in Kaer Morhen anymore. She was not the pupil in Ellander whispering to Yennefer about how to know if a man likes you. Ciri was someone else.

It killed Yennefer.

Each night, when she knew Ciri had fallen asleep, when she knew she was safe, she would cry. She would never forgive herself for Thanedd. Geralt would occasionally try to comfort her, to hold her tightly as her silent sobs consumed her, but it didn’t help. The only thing that did was holding Ciri, knowing that her daughter was alive and ok and in her arms. Only then could she stop the tears and fall into an uneasy sleep.

“It’s Belleteyn, my daughter. It’s your birthday.”

Ciri looked up at that, a bit surprised. “Belleteyn?” Yennefer nodded.

“Happy Birthday, Ciri.” Geralt chimed in. Ciri smiled. Geralt looked over to Yennefer. “And Happy Birthday to you as well, Yen,” he said, reaching over to touch her arm.

Yennefer looked up at him and their eyes met. She smiled and grabbed his hand, entwining their fingers. “Do you remember our last Belleteyn together?” he asked her.

She looked down at their fingers. Images of their night a passion danced across her eyes, sparks from the bonfires going all the way up to the stars. She looked back at him. “Of course I do, Witcher.” He gripped her hand tighter.

“My birthday,” Ciri replied, looking at the fish cooking over the fire. “I had forgotten about my birthday. I don’t know how many birthdays I’ve missed.”

Yennefer’s breath caught. “You are 17, Ciri.” 

“17,” she said quietly. She looked back to Yennefer. “And you, Yennefer? How old are you?”

She laughed. “A bit older.” 

Ciri just smiled. “Happy Birthday, Mama.”

Yennefer held back her tears, swallowing a painful lump in her throat. She reached out and touched the girl’s ashen and white-streaked hair. Ciri leaned into her touch like a kitten. “Happy Birthday, my daughter.” 

Geralt

The fish turned out excellent, and bellies full, they lay silent in each other's company. Ciri lay her head in Yennefer’s lap like she did as a girl while Yennefer leaned her back against Geralt. He wrapped his arms around her and would occasionally kiss her hair. She had not worn her perfume in many months so her lilac and gooseberry smell was gone, and yet he swore he could still breath it in everytime she was near. She moved slightly to make herself comfortable against him and he took the opportunity to hold her tighter. 

“I love you,” he whispered to her.

“And I love you,” she replied. She stretched her neck up to whisper in his ear. “Very much.” Geralt shuddered. 

Ciri sat up, still staring into the flames. “I am 17,” she stated matter-of-factly.

“Yes,” agreed Geralt, although he found admitting that painful. He still remembered the spoiled and defiant little princess he discovered in Brokilon Forest seven years earlier. He remembered how she couldn't fall asleep unless she heard a bedtime story. His chest felt like a scorpion had buried itself within it. So many years, gone.

“I have never seen a Belleteyn festival, did you know? Never.”

Geralt looked out to the bonfires. He could hear distant laughing. “Never?”

“Never.”

“Would you like to go, daughter?” Yennefer asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “Yes, I believe I would.” Ciri immediately stood up and ran to Kelpie. She grabbed her sword as the black horse danced excitedly. “After all, I am 17.”

“You are,” Yennfer laughed.

Geralt did not share in this enthusiasm. They had just gotten her back and he wasn’t willing to let her out of his sight again. “Ciri, do you think it’s wise to run off to a festival like that?”

Ciri looked slightly deflated. “But, I am old enough to go. No one is hunting me, and I have my sword to protect myself. I have been through far worse, Geralt.”

“Still, I think it a far more prudent course of action to stay here tonight and…” but that moment Yennefer shifted ever-so-slightly to rest her derriere directly over his cock. The feel of her weight on him shut him up immediately. They had not been able to be intimate since they thought they would die together in Stygga. With Ciri at camp, neither were willing to do such things. But fuck, Geralt had craved her. He would occasionally see her dressing, or walk down to see her about to bathe in a stream, or watch as she moved in her saddle, and his imagination would leave him with erections so painful he would sometimes excuse himself with a lie about needing privacy to use the restroom just to stroke himself to completion while he leaned against a tree or boulder. Ciri was none-the-wiser, but he knew Yennefer knew. She would watch him carefully when he would come back from such outings, smirking slightly and biting her bottom lip. He knew her well enough to know she was craving him as well. 

“I think,” Yennefer replied as she shifted deeper onto Geralt’s cock, hardening him in an instant. “That Ciri is perfectly capable of taking care of herself and old enough to experience Belleteyn should she desire to. Wouldn't you agree, Geralt?”

He nodded and emitted a gruff “hmpf”. With Yennefer’s weight on top of him like that, he wasn’t able to concentrate on much else.

“Be safe, Ciri.” Yennefer smiled. “And be back at dawn.”

“I shall!” she laughed and leapt onto Kelpie’s back. She didn’t even bother with a saddle or reins. She and the horse moved as one as they dashed across the meadow to the bonfires in the distance. 

Yennefer turned to Geralt. “I promise you she will be fine, Geralt. She is a grown woman…” but he pulled her mouth into his before she could finish. They kissed each other in desperate passion. He pulled back slightly, breathing heavily. “No more talking, Yen.” She grabbed him back to her and he fuddled with his laces while she lifted her skirts and fought with her knickers. She leaned back as she pulled him on top of her. He entered her and they both cried out. Tears fell from Yennefer’s eyes as he began to move inside her. Their teeth and tongues clashed against one another in blinding heat. Geralt grabbed at her breasts, still tucked inside her clothes. They had been so needy for each other they had not bothered to remove anything more than necessary. Yennefer ran her hands up both biceps and pulled him against her. He buried himself in her with a deep thrust and he could feel her core tightening around him. She lifted her hips into his and he thrusted down again, his face in her hair. “I love you,” he said. It was enough to push her over the edge and she screamed as he felt her body ripple around him, wave after wave overtaking her. It was too much for him to bear and he yelled out as he spilled himself inside her, the aftershocks of her orgasm shuddering around him. He collapsed on top of her, completely and utterly spent.

“Oh my, oh my.” Yennefer said quietly. Geralt thought of Thanedd, thought of Belleteyn long ago. All those times were just stolen moments. But this, this moment was their future. He wouldn’t let them be separated indefinitely again. He felt tears forming as he thought about the possibility of tomorrow, and the day after that, with Yennefer and Ciri. With his family. He felt her lean up and kiss them away. He did the same to her. “I know, my love. I know,” she whispered. He tried to move off her but she wouldn't let him go. “Not yet, I’m not ready yet.” He smiled and he pulled her tight to him as he rolled gently to the side. They whispered sweet nothings as they watched the sparks drift slowly to the stars. As one.

Act 2

Yennefer

“*Geralt?”

“Yes, Yen.”

“When I...When we weren’t together, did you go with any other women?”

“No.”

“Not once?”

“Not once.”

“Your voice didn’t even waver. So I don’t know why I don’t believe you.”

“I only ever thought about you, Yen.*”

Gerat and Yennefer had been holding each other, their passion sated for the moment after their desperate love making. They had been quiet for a long time, content to simply lay in one another’s arms. But Yennefer could not ignore the weight of the hurt and betrayal she still felt. She had seen Fringilla. She knew Geralt was lying. She pulled herself from his warm embrace and sat up.

“Are you cold? Do you need anything?” he reached out to touch her back but she moved away from his hand. “What is it, Yen? What’s wrong?” 

“What kind of an answer is that, Geralt?”

“What do you mean?”

“What kind of an answer is that? Is that some sort of admission that yes, you were with other women, but since you thought about me it makes it acceptable? How does that make any sense? How am I supposed to feel about that, Geralt?” She saw Geralt’s face reflected in Fringilla’s green eyes. It was one of the nightmares she played over and over in her head while being held captive.

Geralt sat up, his voice sounding strained. “Yen, I…”

She stopped him. She wasn’t interested in any excuse he had to offer. “I know, Geralt.”

“You know what?”

“About Fringilla. I know.”

Silence settled over them like a heavy blanket. Silence and resentment. Geralt stood up and walked to the other side of the camp, pacing in frustration. “I’ve asked you to stay out of my head, Yennefer. It unsettles me,” he stated.

“Geralt please, your reaction alone is proof of your lie. But if you were curious, I never was ‘in’ your head. I saw you both.”

“You saw us? How is that possible? Were you spying on me?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she stood and crossed her arms over her chest. “I saw it in a vision in Skellige. I was there to find Ciri; I needed this gem.” She stopped. “It doesn’t matter. I fell into a vision and saw, among other things, your face screaming in obvious ecstasy as Fringilla rode your fucking cock. So don’t tell me, Geralt, that it somehow doesn’t matter because you were thinking of me. Do you have any idea what I’ve been through? Do you have any idea at all?” Yennefer felt her anger, the anger she had tried so hard to repress with silence, exploding from her. She let it. 

“Stop,” Geralt said quietly. 

“I was locked in a cell for months, left in filth and shit and darkness, and when I was finally taken out I was tortured…”

“Yennefer, stop, please.” Geralt said, shaking.

“I was strapped to a chair, Vilgerfortz grabbed my fingers and began breaking them, Geralt. He broke them for information on her. I held strong, I endured for our daughter, but I was too weak to stop him from pulling out you. I wasn’t strong enough.” She was openly crying now, the memories of her pain and torment she had tried so hard to hide rushing out of her.

Geralt was shaking at this point. His hands were covering his face. “Yennefer, I can’t…”

“It didn’t end with that. They moved my cell, gave me clothing, gave me food, and did their damndest to humiliate me. And when Bonhart threw himself on top me, his hands ripping apart my dress as he grabbed at my breasts while he tried to shove his cock inside of me…”

“STOP!!!!! Stop!!!” Geralt bellowed. “I fucking can’t listen to it, Yen, I can’t take it. You’re killing me. It’s fucking killing me. You don’t think I know how I failed you? Failed Ciri? You don’t think I live with that shit every fucking minute I breathe. That I didn’t protect you both? That I gave up on you both? You don’t think it’s eating me apart inside? I can’t. I can’t…” Geralt crumpled to the ground in heaving sobs. He grabbed the pot they had cooked the fish in that evening and threw it into the meadow in a rage.

“Why did you take Ciri?” he cried. “Why? Why did you take her into that? I know you loved Tissaia, but why wouldn’t you at least ask me? At least tell me? Did my opinion mean so little to you? And you then you were gone…”

“You know that wasn’t by choice, Geralt!” she screamed through tears. “You know Francesca…”

“I don’t give a shit about what Francesca did, Yennefer. You were gone. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t want to believe that you had betrayed…”

“I NEVER BETRAYED YOU!!” she screamed.

“HOW WAS I TO KNOW THAT?? You fucking left me, AGAIN!!! You left me Yennefer. And to hear you had escaped and didn't even try to reach me, to find me. We could have worked together. Been together. Why? WHY? Why did you just leave me. I fucking needed you, Yen. I needed you more than you will ever be able to understand. Didn’t you need me; didn’t you want me with you?”

They both sobbed their rage and anger out, the accusations and hurt laid bare. They did not know what to do. Never in their long and difficult history as a couple had they left themselves so open to each other. It was such a foreign feeling both were unaware of how to react. The fire continued to crackle as the distant laughs and cheers of the Belleteyn festival filled the silence. Finally, Yennefer could take it no more. In any other instance, she would have left. Every part of her yearned to open a portal and leave. She had never allowed her inner self to be so naked and vulnerable in front of another. But this was Geralt. This was the man she loved. This was the man that loved her. She needed to be honest instead of simply running away from the pain and ugliness.

“I was afraid,” she whispered. Geralt looked up. “I was afraid you would never forgive me. I had to find her first, because I was the reason she was missing. I had to atone. For her, and for you.”

“I was ashamed,” he responded back quietly. “I was ashamed of myself. I gave up on both of you. I will never forgive myself.”

Yennefer stood up and walked over to him. The great White Wolf. How many monsters had died at his blades? How many men? And here he was, open and bare and vulnerable, for her. She took his calloused hands into her slightly crooked fingers. She had repaired most of the damage Vilgefortz had done, but some still lingered. In time, they would be straight again, but the scars they left would always remain. “Geralt,” she whispered. “I forgive you.” 

He let out a shaking breath. “You have nothing to atone for, Yen. Nothing anymore. You can let it go.” He was quiet again before her said, “I forgive you, too.”

He leaned down to cup her cheek and he kissed her tears away. She did the same for him. They kissed each other softly and lazily, in no hurry at all. The weight of resentment and hurt they had both been carrying had been set down, and Yennefer felt lighter than she could ever remember feeling.

“Let’s go to bed,” he said. Even though their sleeping blankets were close, Geralt picked her up in his arms and carried her to them. They both lay down together and wrapped their arms around each other. 

“I love you, Yen,” he whispered softly.

“And I love you, Geralt.” She gave his lips the lightest peck.

They both fell asleep in each other’s arms, and for the first time since Thanedd, neither were cursed with painful dreams. When Ciri returned at dawn, she had never seen her parents look so peaceful and content.

Chapter Text

Yennefer

The fiery edges of the portal closed, the women around the table disappearing with it. Yennefer turned away, her mouth pinched tight in fury, her fists clenched.

“What did you just do? What did you just agree to?” Ciri asked desperately. “You’re leaving again, aren’t you? You’re leaving Geralt and me!”

Yennefer took a slow and uneasy breath. How she hated those women, those vipers of the Lodge. If she could, she would whisk her family away from their grasps forever. She would destroy all of them. But she was not so foolish to believe she had that power. She could hold her own against most without any real difficulty, some would be as simple as swatting away an annoying fly, but Philippa…. Philippa was too powerful. And still, she could not fight them all alone. 

Once again, for the umpteenth time, she wished Tissaia was still alive.

She turned to Ciri and placed her hands on her shoulders. “You heard her, Ciri. It’s the only way…”

“No! No, we can go together right now! Let’s leave right now and just be done with this.”

Yennefer looked to where Geralt was sleeping. How she longed to just lay beside him, their daughter safe nearby, and forget everything but her family. Yet the Lodge would hunt Ciri down. She would never be safe from their grasps. She needed to face them, and more importantly she was ready. But Geralt, Geralt could not be alone right now.

“Ciri, you need to stay with him for now. He needs you, my daughter. He needs this time with you.”

“Geralt needs you too, Yennefer!” 

“And he has me. He will always have me. But you, Ciri, you are different. Your destiny is your own. But you both have this moment, and I will not take that from you or him. You need this time together.”

Ciri was silent for a moment. “I am ready to face them, Mamma.”

“I know.”

Ciri turned to Geralt who still appeared to be sleeping. “He will not be ok with you leaving. It will upset him, even if he agrees to it. He needs you more than you know.”

Yennefer looked at Geralt and smiled. She thought of their fight a few days back, a fight that left them vulnerable and completely exposed to each other for the first time, but that removed the weights of resentment and anger they had carried for far too long. She knew how much she loved him. She would do anything for him, including sacrificing her own happiness if it meant a moment more for him. 

“Trust me, Ciri, I know,” she replied softly. 

She ran her hands through Ciri’s hair once more and went to lay back down next to Geralt. She grasped his arms tightly around her and curled into his side. She wanted to be as close to him as possible. A dread had started to seep through her, one she would not even whisper aloud for fear it would give the evil thought life. But it was still there, a wicked seed swollen and ready to burst forth: something awful is going to happen.

Geralt

Geralt watched as Yennefer disappeared through the portal, her outline fading away against the brilliant gold of her magic, and he felt the pain in his chest rise to his throat and take his breath away. He had not wanted her to leave, though she had insisted it was for his benefit, and for Ciri’s. “You being with me, here, with us, is the only thing I want,” he had thought. He just wanted to hold her, hold their daughter, and forget about the rest of the world. He hated everything that prevented this from happening. 

He just wanted his family.

“*Where to now?” he heard Ciri ask dryly. 

“The river....”, his voice would not come out. “The river we are riding up to is the Sansretour. It leads to a country I must show you. For it’s a fairytale country.”

“Every fairytale ends badly. And they’re aren’t any fairytale lands.” 

“Yes there are. You’ll see.*”

Ciri just sighed. 

***

The pair rode on, passing into the Duchey and even Ciri could not deny the charms of Toussaint. 

They crested a small ridge and were met with a stunning view. For all of the ugliness and pain the Continent had to offer, Toussaint was the antidote. Castles and manors dotted the landscape. Rolling vineyards and lush orchards filled the valleys. The water sparkled, enchantingly blue in the glinting sun. The entire place smelled of warm apples, juicy grapes, and vanilla. “*How beautiful it is,” said Ciri, enraptured. “Those castles are like children’s toys...like icing decorations on a birthday cake. It makes me want to lick them!*”

Geralt smiled. He was glad to hear her happy once more. The pair had both been hurting since Yennefer had left them. He wondered where she was right now. Was she with the Lodge? Were they hurting her in any way? Geralt squeezed the leathers of his reins. It would do no good to focus on such things. She would be back soon. They would all be together soon. Hold to that.

“*Architecture by Faramond himself.*” Geralt told her. 

“Oh Geralt, Yennefer would love it here,” Ciri said wistfully. 

“She would.”

“Do you think you two will ever be here together? Live here together?”

Geralt smiled. Only in his most outlandish dreams could he imagine an ending as beautiful as that with Yen. But he wanted to imagine it. “Maybe someday, Ciri. Now come on, there is an inn we can eat in. It would be a fair change from dried rabbit at least.”

The two rode on and arrived at the inn within the hour. The Silver Salamander. They tethered Kelpie and Roach and made their way inside. Geralt’s stomach churned hungrily at the smell from the kitchen. Riding through Ebbing, visiting painful memories and making even more painful restitution, comfort was never a priority. Besides, it was all three of them, and for Geralt, that was all he needed. But with Yennefer gone, Geralt felt the need for some outside comfort. The sat down in the warm inn and ordered two large ales and a hearty stew with freshly-baked brown bread. The warm meal not only filled their bellies but chased away some of the melancholy both still felt. 

“Geralt, did you see the contract posted on the board outside?” Ciri asked as she sat down her tankard. She wiped her lips with her sleeve. “Yennefer would have tssked at that,” thought Geralt with a smile. She was always concerned about table manners. She had even taught him the proper, if inconvenient, way to eat a roast chicken. Even now he couldn’t bring himself to use his hands, preferring a knife and fork, though it did earn him some side glances at times. 

Ciri caught him staring at her dirtied sleeve. “Yennefer isn’t here, Geralt. I can eat as I like.”

“Fair enough,” he laughed. “So, tell me about this contract.”

“Well, it’s pretty vague, but it seems like something is attacking people on the road from here to Plegmund’s Bridge. Is that the way we’re headed?”

“Yes, it’s farther south, and we will need to cross the river there to get to Beauclair."

“So it’s highly possible that we could take on this contract?” Ciri said hopefully. 

Geralt looked her over. The truth was he did not need the money. During his extended stay in Toussaint over the winter, he had earned plenty of coin and saved it all. He only needed a bank note and could purchase whatever Ciri wanted, if she wanted anything at all. “Ciri, I really don’t think….”

Ciri looked down, staring into her empty stew bowl. Her shoulders slumped and she sighed in her disappointment. Geralt realized how long it had been since he and Ciri had spent anytime alone together. They had not practiced anything related to being a Witcher in many years. There was only killing. Human killing. They needed a new memory.

“Alright, Witcher girl, let’s do it.”

Ciri immediately perked up and proceeded to lean across the table and throw her arms around his neck, spilling the half-full ale tankard as she did. “Oh thank you, Geralt! Thank you!”

Geralt held the girl gently and closed his eyes. “Anything for you, Ciri.”

***

Geralt examined the contract on the notice board outside. After they had paid for their meal, they asked the innkeep if she had any additional information that might help them with the contract, but unfortunately that was a dead end. She told him the issuer of the contract was at Pelgmund’s Bridge, but she’d add an additional 50 crowns if he killed the damn beast since it was scaring away travel along the road and consequently business. Plus, she was missing a delivery that should have arrived four days back. 

The road to Pelgmond’s was a lonely one. They met no travelers along the route, just lush meadows and small ponds surrounded by wildflowers. Birdsong filled the sweet-scented air, their only disturbance was the occasional buzzing sound of fat honeybees, legs heavy with pollen. The sun warmed their backs pleasantly. They were close to the river and could see it slow and widen the further south they went. It was such a bucolic scene both became entranced, nearly in a daze. 

“I can’t believe places like this exist,” Ciri sighed happily. “It’s so beautiful here, Geralt.”

“Yes, yes it is,” he responded. 

Luckily, the horses were not so taken in by the natural peace. Being prey animals, they were always attune to the smell of blood. Roach snorted and stopped, pulling Geralt out of his daydream. Kelpie began pawing at the ground, whinnying in uncertainty and fear.

“Woo girl, steady now. What’s going on?” Geralt tried to calm Roach and looked around. To the naked eye, all seemed as peaceful and serene as before, but Geralt was a witcher. His eyes were created to see more than the average being. Immediately, he saw the blood trail. It was older, at least four or five days, judging by the dark rust color of the stains. He jumped off Roach to examine it. The trail went down to the river.

“Ciri, stay here. I’m going to get a closer look at this.”

“At what?” she asked. She had jumped off the horse as well and was examining the ground for tracks. 

“This trail. Do you see it? Look, can you see the old bloodstains? And the crushed vegetation? Something was dragged off, and from the looks of the indented earth on the trail here, it was dragged off by something very heavy.”

Ciri looked closely at the earth and placed her had along the stained gravel of the road. She lifted it to her nose. “How do you see all of this? I can barely see anything, dammit!” She tossed the sand to the ground in frustration. “Triss stopped me from eating those mushrooms. I could see it, see everything, if she didn’t stop me. Instead I have no heightened senses; I am not some pretend Witcher girl! I have no idea WHAT I am! I might as well be NOTHING!” 

Geralt shook his head and sighed. “Ciri, you know that isn’t true. You are so much more than nothing. And Ciri, there are many things that I disagree with when it comes to Triss, but on the subject of those mushrooms, both Yennefer and I are grateful to her. Yennefer was furious when she discovered we had given you any at all. Triss has made many questionable decisions but that? That is not one of them.” 

Ciri remained silent.

“Part of being a witcher is learning to understand and take in the clues around you. Look for tracks, for broken vegetation and trampled ground. Keep your ears open and listen for sounds. Sometimes silence, like the abrupt ending of birdsong, can tell you as much as the growl of a beast. We were not able to cover much of this in your witcher training, Ciri, so don’t be discouraged. There is still time to learn more,” he said with an encouraging smile. Ciri turned away.

“When have we ever been granted time, Geralt?”

“We are being given it right now, Ciri.” At that she sighed and shook her head, but she quickly lifted her shoulders back and nodded. 

“You’re right, Geralt. Of course you’re right. I just, I just don’t know where I belong right now,” she said sadly.

“You belong right here, Ciri. With me. And with Yen. Don’t worry about it beyond that.”

Ciri gave him a quizzical look. It was almost one of pity, like the kind you would give a small child when you did not want to acknowledge their innocence and naivete. Or maybe it was one you gave when you did not want to acknowledge the truth underneath the lie you spoke out loud. Geralt was not sure. He did not want to know the answer. 

“I’m going to examine the tracks closer to the river, right beside that ledge. Stay here and see if you can find anything else.” Ciri nodded and looked to the ground. 

Geralt followed the blood trail down to the river, and there he found the victim. Well, some of the victim. It was a horse and cart. The head, neck, and some of the hind quarters of the poor beast were missing, like something large had ripped it off. A harness was still attached to the back of the animal, and Geralt saw the shattered remains of a merchant’s cart in the reeds of the river. “Must be the delivery to the inn,” he said. He returned his attention to the horse. While the bites on the haunches appeared to be postmortem, perhaps from a pack of wolves, the injuries to the head and neck were something else. The creature that did this had to be large and incredibly strong. Looking at the carnage, he no longer feel comfortable leaving Ciri alone on the road. He began to make his way to their horses when he heard her blood-curdling scream.

Geralt began to run.

***

It took him a minute to realize what he was staring at. The beast was massive, at least 14 ft at the shoulders. It had the body of a man, but skin thick and yellow like old leather. Its arms were trunks of corded muscles with hands like large boulders. It carried a massive club that, despite its lumbering gait, it could swing with surprising dexterity. From the crown of its head hung lanky and oily gray hair, matted together with sticks and leaves. Its mouth held a row of yellow teeth, jagged and long, and in the center of its face, one hideous black eye.

A cyclops.

The horses screeched, eyes rolling back into their heads as they galloped away.

“Ciri, RUN!” Geralt yelled. He ran towards the monster who was currently lunging at Ciri. She was paralyzed, too afraid to move; she would not stopped screaming. The creature nearly reached her when Geralt pummeled into her side none-too-gently. She flew out of the way. She would be in pain from the fall, but she was away from the cyclops at least. “RUN!” he yelled again. “RUN NOW!” With that he pirouetted from the side of the beast and jammed his sword into the rib cage of the creature, aiming for the heart. He missed, stabbing the thick latissimus muscle instead. The cyclops howled in rage, dropping his club, and turned abruptly, knocking Geralt off his feet. The cyclops went to grab him, but he rolled out of the way and cast axii, temporarily disorienting it to get away. He tried to get on his feet to continue the fight but the creature knocked him down once more; he hit the ground, hard. Geralt cast quen, protecting him from what would have been a death blow from the beast’s massive fist, but the force of the blow was so hard it caused his shield to shatter. He did not have the magical reserves for another one. Geralt searched in vain for his sword, but it wasn’t within reach. The cyclops had him pinned; he could not escape. The creature raised his fist for what Geralt was certain would be his death.

“Yen,” Geralt whispered. “Yen, I love you. Forgive me.”

Geralt closed his eyes, waiting for the end.

***

He heard a far-off scream. Opening his eyes, he saw a green flash and then Ciri, standing on the shoulders of the cyclops. She held her sword Zireael in her hands, and with a glint of silver, the sword severed the spinal column of the beast. A guttural sound and the cyclops came crashing down, dead. Geralt scrambled out of the way to avoid the falling beast. Ciri gingerly pulled the sword out of its neck with a sickening slurping sound and jumped off its shoulders. 

“What...what the hell was that?” Geralt stammered. 

“That?” she said, pointing her bloodied sword to the dead cyclops. “You’re the witcher, you tell me.”

Geralt laughed. “Not that. I know what that bastard is. We have one that haunts the caves of Kaer Morhen. That is a cyclops.” He thought of Old Speartip, killer of young witchers. Evil creatures with hatred of humanity. “What I’m talking about is that flash. You were standing there, then on top of the cyclops, and not time passed at all. How?”

Ciri smiled. There was so much Geralt didn’t understand about her, about her powers. “Geralt, I move through time and space. Those laws are not barriers for me.” She smiled. “It comes in handy, huh?”

“Well, it certainly did there. You saved my life, Ciri.” 

“Of course I did, Witcher. I always will.”

Geralt reached out to her and held her. "Here you were, so concerned with not being a full witcher, and yet you are the Lady of Space and Time. So much more than a mere witcher." He held her a bit tighter and kissed her on the crown on her head. He felt so incredibly proud. He loved her, his daughter. “I love you, Ciri.”

Ciri looked up at him and smiled, then buried her head in his chest. “I love you too, Geralt.” They stayed that way for a long while.

“So,” Ciri asked as she pulled away. “How does this work? How do we prove we killed the beast to get paid?”

“We need a trophy.”

“A trophy? Like what?”

“See that cut in the spine you made, Ciri? That’s a good start.”

“Oh gods, you can’t be serious.”

“Welcome to being a witcher, Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon,” he laughed. “I’ll round up the horses. The witcher that makes the kill takes the trophy. School of the Wolf rules. Get cutting.”

“This is so disgusting,” he heard her grumble. Geralt just laughed as he went to search for Roach and Kelpie.

***

Geralt watched Ciri ride off like a demon on the back of Kelpie, making for Vengerburg and for Yennefer. He felt sick. He could hear Dandelion talking, but he tuned him out. “It’s only six days,” he whispered to himself like a mantra to calm him. “I’ll see her and Yennefer in six days. We will be together for the rest of our lives in only six days. Only six days.”

But why, why did this feeling that he would never see her again in this lifetime continue to grow and tighten inside his chest like a snake, crushing out any hope of a life beyond this endless cycle of loving and losing his family? “Only six days….” he said again. “Only six days.” 

Chapter Text

“I still do not understand why I have to dress up just to please them. I don’t understand the purpose of this mock charade to begin with. I am not going to appease them, Yennefer.”

Yennefer sighed as she brushed the girl’s hair. Upon her arrival in Vengerberg, she had insisted Ciri eat and bathe, in that order. She had looked like a wild thing, hair a mess of tangles, face and arms splattered with dirt and grime from the road. Yennefer had finally given up on trying to detangle the mess that was Ciri’s hair and had resorted to magic to tame it, but still, she continued to brush the ashen and white strands. It calmed them both, giving them a small piece of comfort to hold onto. Yennefer still felt that nameless foreboding in her, that ugly seed starting to take form and grow. She prayed it was just nerves before the meeting with the Lodge. Please let it be that and nothing more.

Yennefer closed her eyes and breathed in the mild scent emitting from her clean locks. Once Geralt had told her that when he first met Ciri as a lost little girl in Brokilon Forest, she reminded him of the smell of a wet bird. At the time, Yennefer had thought that description strange, to put in mildly, but as she breathed her in now she understood. Ciri smelled of cedar and tree sap with a hint of flowers. It was the most beautiful smell in the world. It was her daughter.

“Mamma?” Yennefer snapped out of her daydream.

“Ciri, I know you do not understand why we need to deal with the Lodge and I know you do not agree, but sadly, that does not change the situation we are in. The Lodge is intent on trying me as a traitor. As for you, I do not know what their plans entail, but knowing Philippa, it will have everything to do with her gaining power and political leverage. We need to know what they are planning so we know how to react. Running from them indefinitely is not an option, as preferable as it sounds.” Ciri just snorted and turned her head.

“My hair is brushed enough, Yennefer,” she quipped. She bolted up, slamming her palms on the night table, and went towards to the closet, examining all the clothes that Yennefer had suggested Ciri try on for the meeting. “I hate all of these! I cannot stand a single one! I just want to wear my clothes. I refuse to play their silly games, Yennefer. Do you hear me, I REFUSE!”

Yennefer simply examined the tortoise-shell and boar-hair brush in her hands, picking out the silvery strands and magically whisking them away. She sat the brush carefully down. “Tell me, does being rude to me help? Do you feel better now that you’ve had that little outburst? Get your emotional rants out now, Ciri, as they will not help you in this meeting.”

Ciri sat down on the bed, cowed and embarrassed. “I am sorry, Yennefer. I did not mean…”

Yennefer gently shushed her. “Ciri, when you were a girl in Ellander, I told you I do not anger easily. That still holds true, my darling.” She went to the bed and held the girl to her chest. She could feel her shaky breathing against her belly. Yennefer cupped her face and smiled. “We must go to them, my pretty ugly one, but we do not need to make it a pleasant experience for them either. If you listen for a moment, I’ll tell you how we can get exactly what we want from those vicious cows.”

Ciri laughed. “You really do not like them, do you?”

Yennefer smirked and shrugged her shoulders. “I suppose it depends on your definition of like. There are some members I genuinely care for. Margarita is one I would consider a friend. And Triss…” Yennefer stopped short here, her breath checking. “Well, at one point Triss was my best friend. But a sorceress, a mage in general, is a hard person to like, Ciri. We tend to be demanding, unconcerned with the opinions of others, and incredibly selfish. These are near universal traits amongst us.”

“But you’re not like that. You’re not like that at all.”

“I am touched by your certainty, but for a very long time I was. I spent a lifetime concerned mostly with my own affairs, small bouts of altruism mixed in for sure, but I would not consider myself a selfless person. Geralt and you changed that, at least in regards to the both of you.”

“Do you miss him?”

“More than you or he knows. But I am determined to be with him again, Ciri, and you. I will not let the Lodge hinder or impede that, so let’s make sure they cannot.”

“Do you know, Mamma, that while we were in Toussaint, I asked him if he would like to live there with you. Have you ever been there? It is a fairytale land. He said he would. If I had to describe his face, I would say it was wistful.” Ciri was quiet for a moment. “He truly loves you.”

Yennefer closed her eyes. She imagined the house Geralt had dreamt of in Thanedd so long ago. It would be in Toussaint, she decided. They would have vineyards, perhaps a stream, and Ciri would come to visit often. Geralt would hold her in his arms at night and when they woke, they would both be there to greet each other before they welcomed the day. “A beautiful dream,” she whispered.

“What?”

Yennefer forced herself away from the intoxicating fantasy. They were so close. “Nothing...but yes Ciri, I have been to Toussaint before. It is a fairytale land. I would leave everything to live with Geralt there, providing you come to visit occasionally,” she laughed. 

“Well, that I can promise you.”

“Are you ready to listen, then?”

“Yes, I am ready.”

“There are ten women of the Lodge: Margarita Laux-Antille, Triss Merigold, Kiera Metz, Sabrina Glevissig, Sheala de Tancarville, Francesca Findabair, Assire var Anahid, Fringilla Vigo, Ida Emean aep Sivney, and of course, Philippa Eilhart. All of these women are products of a lifetime or more of unchecked egos, emotional insecurities, stifled rage, and petty jealousies. I mean this in truth, Ciri, trust none of them.”

Ciri nodded. Yennefer knew this would not be easy for her to hear. She knew Triss had played a role in the girl’s life at Kaer Morhen. But Triss had willingly sided with the Lodge. Yennefer was not interested in her motives; they did not matter to her. When it came between anything and Ciri, there was no option at all. Triss had chosen the Lodge over her daughter; she would never truly trust her again. 

“Of all of them, Margarita has the best of intentions. She is rectoress of Aretuza; her motives will be for her students. As much as she and Tissaia may have butt heads in the past, she did love her and she will want to continue her legacy. Triss, well Triss has her own set of morals; I will leave it there.” Ciri gave a quizzical look but said nothing.

“Better to let her discover the truth on her own,” Yennefer thought. “It is not my place to tell her.”

“Kiera and Sabrina are petty and vindictive women, but fortunately they are mere crocodiles with no bite. Sheala considers herself nothing short of a queen. She is not, do not let her arrogance fool or scare you. Francesca and Ida are elves; their loyalities will lie with their people above all else. Assire and Fringilla both hail from Nilfgaard…”

“Does one of them have a short black fringe and green eyes?

“Yes, Fringilla Vigo. Why do you ask?”

“No reason,” Ciri said darkly. She remembered her vision with Geralt and the woman. Her cheeks burned in fury.

“Oh Ciri, I know. I know about Geralt and her.” Ciri gasped.

“How?” 

“I saw them, together; the details do not matter. But Geralt and I have moved past that, Ciri. In fact, I owe a debt of gratitude to Fringilla. She is the reason I was able to escape the Lodge. Despite of everything, I am grateful to her for that. Her dalliance with Geralt does not matter, my darling. Neither of us has a perfect past to flaunt in front of the other. Yet that is all behind us; Geralt and I know where we stand. I love him and he loves me.” Ciri smiled.

“Regardless, the only person to truly fear is Philippa. She is ruthless, power-hungry, shockingly cruel, and you are her vehicle to her desires. That makes her your enemy. She may try to soothe you with pretty words and well-crafted speeches, but do not fool yourself: you are a means to an end. No more.”

“They sound vile,” Ciri replied.

“You are not wrong, for the most part they are. But you must stand strong against them. They expect cowtowing and complancey. Do not give it to them. You must ruffle their feathers and challenge their suppositions. This will anger them, Philippa and Sheala especially, and lead them to reveal more of their plans. It will not make you the most popular, believe me, but it will make you a threat. And that is what you want to be, my girl.”

“Is that what you are, Yennefer?”

Yennefer smiled. “I have never fallen in-line with the crowd, Ciri, nor do I ever intend to. The crowd makes for an easy life, but it makes for a dull one. Had I have done solely what was expected, I would have married another mage called Istredd long ago. He did love me, and though I never returned the sentiment, he would have been an easy partnership. Had I married him, Geralt and I would have said our farewells. He never would have reached out to me to train you, and I would have never become your mother.” 

Yennefer thought about that life; a life without Geralt and Ciri. She could nearly feel her heart constricting inside her chest. “That would have been a slow death for me, Ciri. A slow, comfortable death, like a small cut you can hardly feel but eventually it drains you dry. That was never the path for me. So yes, to them, I am a threat, and I wear it with pride.”

Ciri smiled. Since the moment she had first seen Yennefer, she had been both enthralled and intimidated by her. Yes, Yennefer most definitely would be considered a threat to these women, and she was Yennefer’s daughter. She would follow in her mother’s footsteps. She walked back to the closet and grabbed a gray and white outfit. Like Yennefer, just slightly different.

“I will wear this one,” she stated. “They will see exactly who the woman is they are trying to control.” Your daughter, Mamma .

“They certainly shall, my daughter. They certainly shall.”

Chapter Text

Yennefer

“Mamma? Mamma, can you hear me? Wake up.”

The voice sounded muddled, as if she heard it from underwater. She could not make out the words. It didn’t matter anyway. Sleep was easier. Sleep was so much easier…

“MAMMA! MAMMA PLEASE!”

Ciri. Her daughter. She sounded scared; frightened. Something was wrong. She tried to move her arm to comfort her, but everything felt like an impossibly heavy boulder was weighing her down. 

“Mamma, please, you have to wake . Please. I cannot stay here. I need you to wake up.”

Yennefer fought the overwhelming and completely intoxicating exhaustion and opened her eyes. The light accosted her pupils. White and green from all directions. 

“You’re back...you’re alive..” Ciri whispered.

“Ciri, I…Ciri what happened? What…?”

“You’re ok; you’re both ok. But listen to me Mamma, please. I cannot stay here with you. I do not belong here. They will find me…, they are searching for me...”

“Find you? Who? Where am I? Geralt, where…?” Flashes of blood, great rivers of deep crimson, flew to the forefront of her mind. Sobbing. Magic. So much magic. Too much. A fatal amount, but she continued on because…”

“GERALT!” Yennefer screamed! “No Ciri, NO! Where is he?? I need...I can’t...I can’t do this without him, Ciri. I won’t.” The panic was rising inside her, overwhelming her. She still couldn’t move, but she needed to run. She needed to run to him. 

“Mamma it’s ok, please calm down. Geralt is here; he is here with you.” At this, Ciri lifted Yennefer’s hand and placed it on Geralt’s forearm. She could feel his skin, warm and supple, and she knew he was alive. Overwhelming gratitude consumed her. Had she the strength to sob, she would have. “You will both be alright, but you must calm down. You do not have the energy for this.”

Yennefer remained quiet, looking at her daughter, feeling as if their roles had been suddenly reversed. Ciri gently lifted her head and placed it in her lap. She ran her fingers through her hair, just like Yennefer had done countless times with her before. “Mamma, I am leaving you and Geralt here, on this island. You will be safe here amongst the apple trees, but I cannot stay with you. This world is not for me.” Ciri continued to slowly carded her fingers through her curls. “It is not fair, is it? It is as if the entire world conspires to keep us apart. I will not let them separate you and Geralt anymore, though. You deserve this ending together, Mamma.” 

At that, she carefully lay Yennefer’s head back into the soft moss and stood up. “I love you both, so very much. I love you more than you will ever know. Please take care of each other. Please take care of him. Do you know how much he needs you, Mamma? I have never seen a love like yours and his; I do not believe the world has seen a love like that.” Ciri’s eyes shot up into the sky; searching for the source of a sound Yennefer could not hear. “I have stayed too long, I must go.”

Yennefer knew she could not stop her; she knew this was goodbye, and her heart ached with longing. “I love you, my daughter,” she choked out.

Ciri stepped into the mists. ”I know.” With that, she was gone.

***

“Do you know where she went?”

Yennefer brushed her fingers across Geralt’s cheek, running her hands along the scarred surface. She felt the beginnings of his beard; she felt the blood rushing through his capillaries; she felt his life within him. She had never imagined anything so beautiful. 

“Yen?”

“I do not know, my love. She only said she could not stay. She said we would be safe on this island, amongst the apple trees, but that she did not belong, that this world was not meant for her. That they would find her. I wish I could explain more of what she meant but I do not understand it myself.”

“Yennefer, are we…Do you think we are…” Geralt did not want to finish the statement, worried it would become true if spoken aloud.

“Dead? I do not believe so. I do not know so much about what life is beyond death, but one would assume the pains of this life would leave once you depart your mortal body, and you, my Witcher, have been bandaged with great care and you are still in pain. I myself can hardly move; I have never been so weak. I do not believe we would feel these things if we were dead. Do you?”

Geralt was quiet more a moment before he tried to sit up. He winced in pain. “No, what you just said is perfectly logical. But, were we dead? Yennefer, that wound, that wound is not one even a witcher could have lived through.”

Blood. Stained cobblestones. Tiny streams of blood rushing through the spaces between the stones, stealing his life from him; from her. She could not bear it. “Please my love, please do not speak of it. Do not think of it. The past doesn’t matter. Only this moment matters now, and we are together.” 

Geralt grabbed her hand and kissed her fingers. “We are together,” he whispered. 

Geralt

Geralt laughed as he carried in an armful of small branches into the rustic cottage he had built over the course of the past six months. He had walked in on quite a scene. In the little kitchen area stood Yennefer, cursing in frustration as she tried and failed to start a fire over their cooking stovetop. She was blowing into smoking kindling, trying to start it alight, and only managing to create billowing clouds of smoke.

“Gods DAMMIT!” She coughed. Geralt laughed louder and she shot him an angry glare. “Dammit Geralt, there is nothing humorous about this!”

“Oh, I beg to differ.” He sat the branches down next to the door and walked behind her, grabbing her around her waist and nuzzling his face in the softness of her hair. “I think it’s rather adorable,” he whispered against her neck. He could feel goosebumps raise along her smooth skin. His hand traveled to cup her breast and her breath caught. She leaned against him and stretched her head back. “Until this moment, I never realized how much mages rely on magic. It’s rather vindicating for us non-magic folks to see you so humanized.” He gently pinched her nipple and went to cup her cheek and turn her mouth to his, but Yennefer immediately swatted his hand away and stepped from his grasp.

“I beg your pardon?” She looked irate, violent eyes storming.

“What? Are you offended I called you human? That is what you are, Yen, lest you forget,” he smirked slightly and went to grab her. She stepped back.

“Do you think this is funny, Geralt? Do you think it’s somehow funny my magic hasn’t returned to me?” 

Geralt knew how sensitive Yennefer was without her magic. It was a part of her, and he could empathize completely. Without his swords, he felt like a piece of him was missing. He could only imagine how difficult this was for Yennefer. But the truth was that they had been on the island for eight months and her magic had not returned. It likely never would. He did not know if this world was compatible with magic.  Yennefer swore she could feel it thrumming in the apple trees, in the ground beneath them, in the air around them, but she could not draw from it’s source. It was denied to her and she felt it’s loss like a ghost limb; gone but still painful. Geralt walked up to her and gently grabbed her hands. 

“Yen, you know I would never make light of that. You know I understand how deeply you feel that loss. Your magic is a part of you, and I love that as I love the rest of you.”

She allowed him to hold her hands; allowed him to entwine their fingers. She stepped closer and he pulled her to his chest. “So why did you mock me?”

“Because I think it’s fucking hilarious that you are nearly 100 years old and have yet to learn how to light a stove with kindling. Good gods, Yen, it’s not that hard,” he laughed. She gasped in indignation and went to slap his chest and fire off some quick retort, but he caught her mouth in his and silenced her. She responded with equal desire as she grasped the back of his neck and pulled him into her. “Love me,” she whispered. Geralt picked her up and carried her to the bed of their small home. He laid her down and knelt above her. “Always,” he whispered before his mouth claimed hers again. 

Yennefer and Geralt

Yennefer stopped tracking time. There seemed to be no point anymore. Every blissful moment, every laugh and mocking banter, bled into the next in such harmony it seemed they had been dropped directly into paradise itself. Yennefer had accepted her magic was lost, but it was a price she would gladly pay for this life with Geralt. There was only one thought, one small nagging pain, that refused to be sated.

“What do you think she meant? When she said, they are after me? Who was after her?”

It was a conversation Geralt and Yennefer had had endless times before. It never went anywhere. She still needed to ask.

“I am still not positive you heard her correctly. Yen, for all we know, we had died. I mean, I should be dead. I don’t know about you, but I bet you should as well. You may have imagined it.”

“I didn’t, Geralt. I know I heard her. She was frightened, and she said she could not stay since they would be after her. Who?”

Geralt was silent. It did no good to try to reason or argue this out of her. They were currently sitting outside their home under a large apple tree enjoying the night sky, Geralt leaning against the trunk and Yennefer against him. The stars were a sight to behold. White, blue, red, and the rarest green dots twinkled across the inky darkness. Geralt rarely focused on looking at the stars for anything beyond navigational purposes, but even he had to admit this nighttime firmament was a sight to behold. Although, try as he might, he had never found a star he recognized from any of his travels. “Yen, have you noticed that none of these stars are familiar?”

“Yes,” she replied. 

“What do you think that means? How far can we be from the land we knew?”

“It means we must be incredibly far, Geralt. I do believe this is somewhere else entirely. If I had my magic, I could possibly do a locator spell to get a general idea, but…” she stopped short.

“You’re here with me, Yennefer. That is all that truly matters.”

She settled back against him, gripping his hands her her own. “I agree, Witcher.”

“Shall we name one of the stars?” He suggested, lightly kissing her temple. “To make it less foreign?”

Yennefer was quiet for a long time. She finally lifted her arm and pointed at a bright star, somewhat separate from some of the other clusters, that seemed to twinkle in a flash between white and light green. “Ciri.” She stated. 

He smiled, thinking of their daughter, missing her more than he could express. “Ciri,” he replied. “A perfect name.”

Geralt

Geralt woke in the early hours of the morning, spurred out of slumber by the red glow of the sunrise. He yawned and reached for Yennefer. His favorite moment of each day was this. He loved holding her and smelling the morning air in her hair and feeling the smoothness of her skin. She was his, he was hers, and all was perfect. 

But this morning, Yennefer was not there.

Disappointed, Geralt sat up. Occasionally Yennefer would wake early to bathe in the lake, loving the feel of the early morning sun on her skin as she cleaned herself. He loved these moments as well, as he would follow her into the water and join her. They would make love with the dawn around them. He stretched and got out of bed, intent on joining her, when he stopped.

The red glow of the sunrise was coming from the west.

Fire.

Yen...

Geralt ran out the door of their small cabin, screaming her name. The orchard was aflame, the smell of burning wood and apples reaching up to the sky. Sudden fear gripped him. The feeling felt so foreign, like he had forgotten what this sickening feeling felt like. Where was she? He ran, helpless, crying out for her.

“GERALT!!!”

He turned. There she was, in the arms of an armor-clad monster.

“Hello, Geralt of Rivia,” the voice said. It was cold, angry, malicious. The arm, covered in steel-gray plate, gripped Yennefer tighter. Her dress was torn. Deep red gashes ran along her torso. She screamed, terrified. “Let us hope the girl notices this.”

Eredin.

“Yennefer!!” Geralt ran to her, ran as fast as his legs would carry him. But he was too slow. Far to slow. Eredin and the rest of the Hunt rose the sky, taking Yennefer with them. She screamed for him until she was hit across her temple, knocking her unconscious.

“YENNEFER!!!!!!!!!!” Geralt cried into the air, falling to his knees in panic and terror. His wails sounded like that of man who had his soul stolen from him. He was in sheer agony. It did not matter, no one listened. Even the birds had fled. Yennefer was gone.

The island burned around him; their sanctuary was destroyed.

Geralt felt the rage consume him. All joy, all love, everything wholesome and good was gone, taken from him when the Wild Hunt had taken her. There was only one goal left within him, one purpose. 

Yennefer. 

He would find her. He would save her. He would do whatever it took, sacrifice whatever he needed, to get to her. He took one final look at their burning home, steeled himself in his quest, and wadded into the mists.

Chapter Text

Geralt

He tossed in his sleep. He could not remember the last time he slept well; he was beginning to believe he never had. When they had found him in the forest outside the Keep of Kaer Morhen, he had not remembered anything. He had not known who he was, who these men had been claiming to be his brothers, what a Witcher was, who this woman Triss had been claiming to be his lover. He had remembered nothing. He had been grateful for their patience with him. 

He could now struggle throughout the day, ignoring the strangeness of it all. He had learned his name was Geralt, he had learned he was a witcher, a monster hunter. He had no memories of holding a sword, much less wielding it well, but his body had not failed him. Upon picking up the blade for the first time in the training yard, he had wielded it like it was an extra limb. That’s how he had known he could trust these people. He had learned their names: Eskel, Lambert, Vesemir, Zoltan, Dandelion, Triss. He had understood he had a relationship with them, though he had yet to learn the depth of each.

Yes, they were patient with him, but he had felt something was missing. Something important. They had never hinted at such to him, to his immense frustration, but it was in their whispers, in what they had refused to say, that told him something was wrong, incomplete.

Has he said her name? Do you think he remembers?”

“I carried her to the boat with him. She was gone.”

“Has she returned? Has anyone heard anything about the girl?”

“She is the Lady of Space and Time. He said that once. She will not be back.”

Geralt had not understood any of this, but he had known these were the pieces he had been missing. 

And of course, it had not only been the whispers, it was the dreams.

They had come to him every night. A destroyed building that looked like it once had been an inn. A golden dragon. A jet black kestrel. An endless forest of green, and inside a clearing of trees a small girl. Bonfires and stars. A farmer’s home. Ashen hair. Kaer Morhen, something he did recognize. A banquet. A great quest with friends. A vampire. A castle. A pitchfork. Apple trees. Endless stars in a foreign sky, then fire and ice. 

Nothing had made sense, no matter how many times he had tried to explain the dreams or make any logical correlation between them. So many times he felt that he had found the answer, but it would slip through his fingers like fine sand the moment he had awakened.

And through it all, there had been the woman.

“She must have been some illicit affair,” Geralt had thought, because she was nothing like Triss. She had wild curls of midnight-black hair, smooth pale skin that felt electric to the touch, and delicate lips upturned in the hint of a smirk. But it was her eyes, the deepest violet, that had left his heart raw and his throat dry. He would see them in his dreams and he had ached for her, this nameless woman he must have secretly loved. He had felt ashamed at this. What kind of lover could he have been to Triss to allow feelings like that for a woman who was not his partner? He had tried so many times to erase this violet-eyed woman from his memory.

She had refused to leave him, or perhaps he had refused to let her go. He had not known the answer. 

Geralt reached over and held Triss, sleeping peacefully next to him. He buried his face into her hair to breathe in her perfume, which smelled of roses. Truth be told, Geralt hated the smell of roses. Obnoxiously sweet. She must not have always worn that perfume, though. He remembered lilacs mixed with something tart; a berry perhaps? He did not know. He once asked Triss why she stopped wearing the lilac perfume he had adored so much, but she only turned away quickly and hid her face from him.

He let Triss go as holding her did not help relax him; it never did. He grabbed a fur blanket and walked outside the Keep to the training yard. There was an old wooden bench there and next to it, a lilac bush grew. That bench felt right to him, like it held the answer to a question he didn’t know to ask. He sat down, closed his eyes, breathed in the comforting smell of the blooming flowers, and tried to conjure images of the dark-haired woman. He always slept better when he imagined her, as wrong as it may have been. He did not mention this to anyone. 

He did not know why. 

Yennefer

She was a prisoner, that much she did know, but her prison was not a damp or dirty place. She had a bed, plenty of books, and she was served regular meals that were of excellent quality. She was not mistreated in any way. The question was why was she a prisoner. What laws had she broken? Who had she offended? She had begged the guards to her room for any details about herself, something to hold onto, but they refused to speak with her unless it was to give her orders. Eat this, stand there. She did hear their whispers when they thought she was sleeping, however.

“She doesn’t know yet? She doesn’t remember who she is?”

“No, and it needs to stay that way. She cannot remember who she is, what she is. We can’t let her discover it. She keeps those fucking cuffs on until we are told otherwise.”

They mentioned the metal cuffs she wore on each wrist multiple times. At one point they must have been connected by a chain, but that had been removed before they were placed on her wrists. Still, they bothered her, rubbing her skin to an angry pink. She had requested repeatedly to remove them, but the answer was always the same. No.

She understood so little of what was happening, of why she was here. She was taken to a palace in a place called Nilfgaard by a giant of a man named Letho...

“I’m taking you to Emperor Emhyr var Emreis. You can be his fucking problem now. I’ve done enough for Geralt. I’ve honored my fucking oath.” He grasped her tightly, and she yanked her arm away to try and escape, but he would not let her arm go. They stood in the long hall, waiting.

A man, she could only assume was Emperor Emhyr, arrived. He was adorned in rich velvets and ermine. He was assured in his power. He stared into her eyes.

“Do you know who I am?” His voice was powerful and certain.

She racked her brain, but all there was was fog and mists. “I do not,” she replied. 

“Do you remember who you are?” 

That was even more painful to admit. She casts furtive glances at the members of court staring at her. They stared back, knowing a secret she did not. 

“She hasn’t got a fucking clue who you are, who she is, what she is, anything. She’s like a damn infant. A dangerous fucking infant. Watch out for her. I’ve got her cuffed for a reason. She’s a damn loose cannon of power without it.”

“So he still holds that grudge against me,” she thought. A few nights back she had tried to escape. She had nothing on her, no weapons to speak of, but she was a woman, and these men were constantly lusting after her figure with pure hunger in their eyes. She figured she could use that to her advantage. When she had flirted with one of the fools enough to have him agree that she could go to the bathroom unsupervised, she made her attempt to flee. The giant Letho caught up to her quickly, screaming threats and curses as he chased her through the dark trees. He had nearly grabbed her when she spun around, lifted her hands, and suddenly lightning flew from her fingertips, cool blue and deadly. She was shocked. How had she done that? Letho deflected it with some sort of spell and tackled her, knocking her unconscious. When she woke, her hands were bound in the cold metal cuffs.

Was she dangerous? She had no idea. 

Emhyr did not even acknowledge Letho. “Strange, the turns of fate. I am so very glad we meet again. You may not remember me, but I, I will never forget you or the Witcher.” At that he waved his wrists and two men came to remove her from Letho’s grasp. In truth she didn’t mind; she hated that man. As they lead her away, she could hear Emhyr and Letho talking. 

“Do not hurt her. I promised Geralt she wouldn’t be fucking hurt. She’s a crazy bitch...no idea what he sees in her,” Letho grumbled.

“Hurt her? I would never dream of it. You have no idea the gift you have handed me, Witcher Letho of Gulet. No idea at all. Do you have any inkling who this woman is?” Emhyr responded.

“I know her name, and I know she was Geralt’s lover. He traded his fucking soul for her. I watched him offer himself to the Wild Hunt just to set her free.”

“That does not surprise me. There is nothing Geralt of Rivia would not do for Y…” but she was too far away to hear anymore.

***

The sound of the door opening surprised her, jerking her attention from her book. She looked up to see Emperor Emhyr walking into her room. She had not seen him these many months, and confusion and fear gripped her. He walked in and sat at the desk across from her. He surveyed the room.

“Are the dimeritium bands more comfortable?” he asked.

She looked at her wrists. After seeing the damage the heavy cuffs had done, one of the guards had taken pity. The next day fine chain links had been created out of the same metal, wrapped multiple times around each wrist. The skin no longer hurt. “Yes, much better, thank you.”

“Have any of your memories come back? Do you know who you are?”

She thought about this question. She did not know how to answer it. When she was awake, she couldn’t remember anything with certainty, but her dreams were something different entirely. She was surrounded with love in them. White hair, strong arms, golden eyes. Was it a lover of hers? Or someone out of a story she may have read once? Some nights he would make love to her and she would respond with such aching need she would wake herself from her revelries with her own cries of pleasure. Other nights it was a child with ashen hair, the girl’s small head in her lap while she told her stories and weaved braids into her fine locks. Was it her child?

Waking from those dreams was torture. 

“I do not know,” she whispered in truth.

“Interesting,” Emhyr said. “Why is that?”

“My dreams, they are so vivid. They cannot just be dreams. I feel like they have to be more.”

“What do you see?”

She looked away, embarrassed. “A man with white hair.”

Emhyr smiled. “That does not surprise me. You two will always long for each other, even if you cannot remember who the other is. Do you see anything else?”

“A young girl with ashen hair.”

Emhyr was quiet for a moment, contemplating this. “How old is the girl?”

“She is young, 11 or 12 perhaps. I believe she is my daughter. Do you know? Is she my child?”

Emhyr stood up. He walked to the bed where she was sitting and grabbed the book from her hand. It was a grimoire. She did not know why she was drawn to it, but she loved looking through the pages. She would recite the incantations aloud and listen to the way the words rolled off her tongue. It felt right, like they belonged there.

“Interesting choice,” Emhyr said. “But not at all surprising for you.” He handed her back the book. “I find it fascinating you see her as a child in your dreams. That was many years ago. She is 23 now. And yes, you are her mother, of a sorts, and she is in danger.”

She felt a sickening terror grow inside of her. Her daughter, in danger? What could she do? Hopelessness enveloped her.

“It is time for you to come back to us, because I need your help. We were enemies once, long ago, but we share a common purpose now. I will help you regain your memories, and you will help me find Cirilla.” That name...shocks of recognition sparked through her. Emperor Emhyr took her wrists and grabbed the dagger in his belt. She instinctually drew her arms away but he held tight. He slipped the dagger underneath the metal and sliced up, cutting through the delicate links on both wrists. 

As they fell away she felt a surge of power rush into her. It came from the air, from the ground, from the fire roaring in the fireplace. Her breath caught as it consumed her, thrumming throughout her body like the steady beat of a drum. “But first,” Emhyr continued, “We need to remind you of what you are.” At that, two men walked in. “These men, your former mage colleagues, will help you do just that.” Emhyr began to walk out of her room. He turned to her as he reached the door.

“Welcome to Nilfgaard, Yennefer of Vengerburg.”

Chapter Text

Yennefer

Yennefer stared at the parchment on the desk, a mixture of anger, resentment, and most frustratingly longing in her expression.

“Damn him!” she screamed at no one. The kestrel she had conjured to deliver the letter ruffled its feathers in annoyance at her outburst, but other than that there was no reaction. Of course there would not be. She was alone; she was always alone. 

It was a cruel twist of irony that found her here, again, after everything. 

She sat down at her desk, grabbed the quill, dipped it in the ink bottle, only to throw the long black feather across the room in fury. She did not want to write this damn letter. She did not want to ask for help, especially not from him, but she no longer had a choice. Ciri came first, regardless of the pain it brought her. 

She could have never imagined that writing a letter asking help from the man she had given her life for would bring so much pain. 

Yennefer stood up from the desk and walked to the balcony. She flung open the heavy french doors to relish the cool breeze that hit her face. It calmed her, and she needed to be calm. She placed her hands on the ledge and looked out into the city of Vizima. She could see so far from this vantage, straight to White Orchard if the weather was favorable. She wondered if he was anywhere near there. Was he still looking for her? Had he gone back to Triss? She closed her eyes and tried to block the mental image of Geralt fucking Triss on their bed in Kaer Morhen.

Their bed.

Getting her memories to return had been a long and painful process. The mages had explained that the memories tied with the strongest emotions would return first, and they had been correct. Geralt and Ciri had returned to her at the same moment. It had felt like the pieces of her life had finally melded back together. She had been overjoyed, and she had begged the mages to show her Geralt. Such a stupid request…

***

“I do not know if that would be such a wise decision, Lady Yennefer,” the Nilfgaardian mage Daemond had replied. 

“I must see him. Please, I must know he is alright.” She knew begging was beneath a sorceress, but she was desperate. Was he needing her, longing for her, as she was him?

“Lady Yennefer, I do not think this is a prudent course of action…”

Yennefer stopped him. “You will show me or I will find out the information on my own. Either way, I will have this answer. Help me and we will both be able to move forward much quicker. Deny it, and I will ensure this process takes an agonizingly-long time. The choice is yours, Daemond.”

Daemond sighed. It was a simple spell with hydromancy to see where this witcher of hers was. Emperor Emhyr had warned him that she would be difficult and excessively stubborn. It was easier to give her this small mercy than fight her on it. “Follow me,” he instructed.

They went out to the east courtyard of the palace. The hour was late and they had the area to themselves. Daemond led them to the fountain and focused his thoughts on Geralt of Rivia, reciting the incantation in Elder Speech. The crystalline waters of the fountain began to ripple and an image appeared. Yennefer felt her heart clench. Part of her was unsure if Geralt was even alive, so to find him so quickly was a good sign. She peered into the water, intent to once again see the man that stayed in her dreams even after her memories had been stolen.

How wrong she was.

She saw Geralt, his face contorted in obvious ecstasy, while a woman with coppery chestnut hair cascading down her back rode him to completion. Another name came to her; another memory: Triss Merigold. She seethed.

Yennefer’s breath caught in her throat as she saw Geralt cry out. The two lovers were in Kaer Morhen, in Geralt and Yennefer’s bed. It was the room they had greeted some many sunrises together and passed the evenings away naked in each other’s arms. She turned. “Please stop,” she whispered. Daemond immediately ended the vision, but the damage had been done. “I, I am done for this evening, Daemond. Thank you.” Daemond nodded his head and left Yennefer to her grief.

She made it back to her room before the agony truly set in. Choked sobs rang out of her. Once, Yennefer would have at least attempted to hold it back, but this night she no longer had the strength. He was her teether to herself, the one beacon in the endless night that was her amnesia. She held onto his face, those golden eyes, like a talisman when all else was lost to her. But he? He had moved on from her. Yennefer let wave after wave of pain wash over her like a drowning victim. She imagined herself drowning in it, escaping the torment that betrayal had brought her. It sounded so simple...so intoxicatingly simple.

She walked to the copper tub and filled the bath.

She removed her clothes and sank into the warm water. Its soothing embrace called to her. It covered the tops of her thighs, the soft curve of her belly, her breasts, her collarbone, her lips….she sank further.

She thought about Geralt while she floated beneath the water, suspended in warmth. She thought about how the corner of his right lip would curl up when he thought he made a particularly funny joke; their pun battles; the way he would always close his eyes and smell her whenever she was near; how his calloused hands would run so delicately over her skin and every part of her would crave his touch; how he would whisper “I love you” against her lips.

Her lungs began to burn.

How he would so often come up from behind her and wrap his arms around her waist, nuzzling his nose into her hair. How they had lain together under the apple blossoms. How he would imagine beautiful scenes for her after they made love so she could read them in his thoughts. How he had dreamt of a home for them, and how they had reached it, against all the odds, only to have it stolen away, burnt to ash.

Her lungs were screaming. It wouldn't be much longer now. She began to see stars...red, blue white, green…

Green….Ciri…

She heard her voice. “Mamma, mamma please….”

Yennefer pulled herself out of the water and gasped for breath. Her body shook as the oxygen rushed into her crying lungs like a stampede, her heart pounding inside of her. She choked in giant mouthfuls of air, breathing in and out until her breath finally returned to normal. She stood and got out of the tub, whisking the water away with magic.

She was Yennefer of Vengerburg, and her daughter needed her. Nothing else mattered right now. She would not give into despair again.

“I will find you, my daughter,” she stated, her voice clear and strong.

She would ignore any thoughts of Geralt. She would be singular in her goal. He may have moved on with his life, his new life without her, but she was a mother, and she would never fail her family. 

She looked at the tub, shimmering copper and red in the firelight. With a movement of her hand, she banished it into nothingness. She would clean herself magically from now on.

“I never did like the colors of copper and red anyway,” she said with a smile.

***

From that moment, Yennefer had been singular in her goal. She had done everything in her power to find Ciri. Aeromancy, Geomancy, Oneiromancy, Telepathy, Telekinesis…nothing worked. Even worse, as her magic had grown the Wild Hunt had turned their sights to Yennefer. They had known she was searching for Ciri, much like they were. It was no longer safe to continue to push magic without potential disastrous consequences. She had to search for other means to find her daughter, and once the spies and informants under Emhyr’s employ turned up less than nothing, Yennefer had known she needed to contact him.

Geralt.

Since that night in the bath, she had refused to think of him. She had forced herself to think of something else whenever a stray memory of him flashed into her mind. She had tried, and failed, to magically banish him from her dreams, so she had decided to simply avoid sleep as much as possible. But now she had no other choice. Her daughter needed her, and she would do whatever needed to be done to save her, even if it meant swallowing her pain and asking him for help. Which was why she was writing this letter, and why she was struggling with it.

She lifted her hands as the quill came back to her; the ink trail it left when she sent it flying magically disappeared. She sat back down, focusing on the parchment. She sighed and allowed herself to think of him once more: of his smile, the flecks of gold in his eyes, the way he knew her body so intimately that even the slightest touch of his would send sparks throughout her entire person. Her skin still ached for him. The core of her very being loved him so completely that she knew she would never be able to forget him entirely, even if she was desperate to do so to avoid the hurt of his betrayal.

She let out an uneven breath and began to write. She smirked. At least she knew how to start the damn thing.

“Dear Friend…”

Geralt

He stared at the fire in his campsite, sparks popping as they floated gently to the ground. Occasionally a larger one would fly farther from the rest, as if trying to start an inferno, only to sizzle in an angry hiss as it finally died away. It reminded him of their island. The smell of apple and wood burning into the sky, reducing their paradise to grey ash.

He hated fire now. He hated the smell of apple blossoms. He hated so many things now.

When he had learned the extent of the betrayal his friends and family had committed on him, he wanted to leave them for good. He had hated them at that moment. Did they just assume he would never remember his family? Did they assume they would no longer matter if he did? He was disgusted with Vesemir, disgusted with Eskel and Lambert and Dandelion and Zoltan. He did not know if he could ever forgive them for allowing him to live life as if the two people who mattered most to him never existed. He hoped time could heal that wound, but as for right now, he only wanted to be away from them.

But Triss, Triss he would never forgive.

She had taken advantage of him in ways he did not believe even the most vile of enemies would. His time with the Wild Hunt, that spectral army hellbent on destruction and ice, was more honest than the 2 years he had spent with Triss. She had used him in the most personal of ways, invading his mind, reading his thoughts, all to pretend she was the woman he had loved. And for what? For her own sick game? For the Lodge? Because she loved him and she believed this was her chance? 

Since he had been found in that fucking forest after he escaped the Hunt, he had been tortured, abused, manipulated, accused of regicide, drawn into political battles, forced to take sides, all while being lied to about his past. And of all people, it was Letho of Gulet who finally told him the truth: Yennefer was alive and a prisoner of Emperor Emhyr var Emeris. He had taken her to Nilfgaard after they had been captured and given her to the Emperor. He knew nothing more after that, as his fate lay in destabilizing the North with the assassination of King Foltest. Letho had caused Geralt an incredible amount of pain, but in the end Geralt could not kill him. He and his brothers from the Viper School had kept and cared for Yennefer when he could not. That alone was enough for him to be granted life.

Now he only cared about one thing: saving her. 

He had been on her trail for months, searching for any signs. Was she still a prisoner? Had she escaped? Did she know about him and Triss? That lost thought sent spikes of panic throughout his body. He felt sick. Once again, he had betrayed her. True, he was being manipulated himself, but did she know that? Would it matter to her? 

Lost in his dread, he did not notice the black kestrel land next to him on the log he was sitting on, a letter tied to it’s leg. It ruffled its feathers and let out a small cry, waiting to be noticed by the brooding Witcher. Gerat turned, surprised. 

The bird looked...familiar. 

He reached out his hand and the kestrel landed on top of it, lifting the leg the letter was attached to. As he unrolled the scroll, the smell hit him. His heart gave a lurch forward and his breath caught in his throat. Lilac and Gooseberries. Home. He had not smelled her perfume in years and it clung to him. Without bothering to read the letter he crumbled it in his fists as he brought it to his nose, breathing her in. “Yen…” he whispered. Everything came back to him. Her laughing at some poorly-delivered pun as she leaned in to kiss him; the gentle way her fingertips would trace the outline of his jaw; how she would lean against him as they stared at the night sky; how soft and electrifying her skin was; the way she would sometimes whisper in a breathy voice “Oh, Geralt” when they made love; the way she made him feel whole. “Yen, I need you.” 

He sat there quietly for a few minutes, letter against his forehead as he continued to breathe in her perfume, before he finally began to read it. 

Dear Friend,

Forgive me for not asking about your health or how you have been these last years. Time is very short. 

I have important news. We must meet, and soon. Ride to Willoughby-near Vizima, and do not spare the horses. While I eagerly await our reunion, I won’t be able to wait, eagerly or otherwise, very long. 

Your dear friend,

Yennefer

PS: I still have the unicorn

Geralt read the letter over and over. He imagined her writing it, and the thought made him smile. He could almost see her perfect smirk when she wrote "Dear Friend". He would never live that mistake down, and part of him never wanted to. 

Most importantly, she wanted to see him. He did not know what this important news was, but he would not keep her waiting. And that post script, the unicorn. Another memory

***

Yennefer giggled as she unbuttoned her blouse. Geralt eyed her hungrily, torn between not wanting to look like an idiot while he took off his trousers and not wanting to take his eyes off her. When her blouse fell away, revealing her lacy black lingerie, he decided he didn’t care about being an idiot. She just laughed and walked over to him.

“Darling,” she said as she reached for his laces. “Darling, you looked distressed. Is it something I did?” She finished untying the laces for him and brushed her fingers over the head of his cock. He moaned. His erection almost felt painful, so intense was his longing for her

His hands went for her lace-covered breasts and he ground himself against her. “You know exactly what you’re doing to me.”

She just smiled and nibbled his earlobe. “Oh do I?” she whispered into his ear. His cock throbbed.

“Fuck, Yen. You’re going to end this quickly if you keep up with…” but at that Yen gently cupped him and his breath caught. “Yen…” he growled. “This is going to be over in a minute if you keep it up.”

“Well, we can’t have that, Witcher.” She nibbled his earlobe once more and licked her tongue to his sternum before reaching up to kiss him. “I have plans for us tonight. Something new.”

At this point, Geralt was dumb with wanting her. He would have agreed to anything. But he wasn’t expecting that as she grabbed his hand and led him to the room.

There, in pride of place, was a large, blindly-white stuffed unicorn.

“What, uh….what’s with the unicorn.”

She chuckled softly. “I thought it would be fun.”

Geralt didn’t like where this was going. “Fun for what?”

“Fun to make love on, silly.” At that she waved her hand and her clothing disappeared into blue and white sparks.

Geralt’s mind was thrown for a tailspin. There she was, this impossibly beautiful woman, wanting him to make love to her. A dream. But the caveat was that it would be on the back of a fucking stuffed unicorn. How did that make any sense? “Yen, you can’t possibly be serious. There's no way that’s physically even possible." 

“Oh, but that’s exactly what I plan to find out, Witcher.” Somehow still managing to stay graceful, she alighted herself on the top of the beast and leaned back, her hair falling near the animal's tail. “I plan to take my pleasure right here, with or without you, Geralt.” She winked and leaned her head back, one hand massaging her nipples while the other snaked in-between her legs. 

He was transfixed. He stared at her glistening fingers and listened to her moans. His cock began to leak. “Fuck it…” he gasped as he climbed on the unicorn. He managed to get up, a feat in itself considering how painfully hard he was, and positioned himself at the apex of her thighs. He sunk into her and they both moaned in hunger. Yennefer went to wrap her arms around him, but he grabbed the hand she had used to pleasure herself and sucked her fingers greedily. She cried out. He clenched his knees for purchase, hard to do on a damn unicorn, and thrust into her. He could feel her core tightening. He knew she was close.

Crack…

“Yen, Yen what the fuck was that?” he managed. He could feel his orgasm began to build in his stomach.

"Geralt don’t, don’t stop...I’m close,” she called, her voice high and breathy.

“But Yen that cracking sound…” but at that moment she screamed as her climax rolled through her. Geralt felt her core pulling him in, deeper and deeper, and he followed her off the cliff with a powerful thrust and sharp cry.

And then the bottom fell out, literally.

The unicorn’s taxidermied legs, not meant to be carrying the weight of a witcher and a sorceress, splintered and cracked. The lovers fell to the floor in a crash of sawdust, wood, and hay. 

“What the actual fuck?” Geralt yelled. “Yen, fuck...Yen are you ok?” He frantically wiped the hay and sawdust off her. “Yen!”

She was howling with laughter.

“Oh my heavens!” she cried out. “I do believe we broke the poor thing.”

Geralt laughed and kissed her. “Well, the creature gave us a hell of a final ride.” He wrapped her in his arms. 

She laughed at that and brushed his lips gently with her fingers. “It was certainly worth us horsing around on.” 

He just tucked the hair out of her face and looked into her eyes. How he was ever lucky enough to be with this woman? “It was, Yen, it certainly was.” He leaned down to kiss her again.

***

Geralt reluctantly returned from his revelries. “Fuck,” he said as he looked at his pants, his erection massive. Ignoring his need for release, he stood and doused the fire. Grabbing his saddlebags, he quickly tore down camp and readied Roach. Willoughby was a far way off, and Yennefer could not wait.

“I’m coming to you, Yen,” he whispered and he spurred Roach forward. “I’m coming home.”

Chapter Text

Geralt

He watched her, her body swaying smoothly to the movements of the saddle, and he felt his heart ache with need for her. She was there. His Yen was there. She was close enough to touch, and his hand itched to reach out to her, but he did not forget himself. Once, it would have been second nature. Once he would have pulled his horse aside, lifted her from the saddle, and made love to her in a clearing off the road. 

But it was not “once” anymore, and he held himself back. Instead he settled on staring at her and smelling the air around her. A slight breeze blew past her and blew her perfume in his direction. Instinctually, he closed his eyes and breathed in deep. He heard a small laugh.

“Still enthralled by my perfume after all these years, Geralt? I would have thought you’d long since moved on.” Her voice hid pain underneath a mocking lilt.

That stung. “You of all people should know I would never move on from that, Yennefer,” he replied defensively.

Yennefer was quiet for a moment, gripping the leathers of her reins. She would not look at him. Finally she spoke, barely above a whisper. “Perhaps I would have believed that once, but experience has shown me otherwise.” She straightened and shook out her hair, speaking more clearly. “But no matter, it is of no importance now. You saw the Hunt. We need to get to Vizima.” With that she spurred the horse forward, leaving him to his hurt and frustration, and bitter longing. 

Yennefer

She knew he was currently speaking to the Emhyr, so he was being informed of Ciri’s return. She wondered if he was feeling the same torrent of emotions she had when she was told the news. On their island, Geralt had once shared that one of his last and favorite memories with Ciri was the impromptu witcher contract they did together, hunting down a massive cyclops. She tried to picture it then, Ciri saving Geralt’s life with magical teleportation that did not involve portals but manipulation of the very fabric of time and space.She was enthralled and had him tell the story again and again. “I bet that will be the first memory he thinks of when he discovers she is back,” she thought. 

Of course, that was nearly 6 years ago. Ciri had just turned 17 and now she was 23, a woman grown. Yennefer walked to the desk and picked up the drawing of her. She was so beautiful. As irrational as it was, she felt she could see both Geralt and her in this picture. She held the picture to her breast. “We are coming for you, my daughter. Please stay strong,” she whispered. 

Setting the picture down, she went to the looking glass again, trying in vain to manage her curls and smooth her skirt. Though she did not act it, she had been nervous when she finally found Geralt at the Inn at White Orchard. She had wanted to know how he imagined they would meet again, but Vesemir had interjected, much to her annoyance. And then there just had not been any time. This would be the first time in nearly over 3 years she would be alone with him, and she was, without a doubt, anxious.

It did not help that felt a near irresistible pull to him. She longed for him to hold her; to feel his strong arms gather her into them and for them to forget about these past miserable years and just focus on their family, but uncertainty held her back. Triss. Had he developed any real feelings for her? Did he fall in love with her? The thought made her feel sick. If that was the case, if he had....she truly didn’t know what she would do. It did not even bear to imagine it as it only caused her pain.

“Ciri, focus on Ciri…” she reminded herself.

The door to her study opened and Geralt was led in. Yennefer took a deep breath and steeled herself for the conversation ahead.

Geralt

After arriving in Vizima and promptly preened and paraded in front of Emhyr, a man he despised, only to have his world thrown into a tailspin with the news that Ciri had returned, Geralt was bordering on desperate by the time he finally got to speak with Yennefer. He walked into her study and stopped short.

She was so unbelievably beautiful. 

She had changed from her traveling clothes into an outfit of the likes he had never seen her wear before. Her shoulders were bare, the top she wore fringed with iridescent raven feathers that sparkled green and purple. She wore long riding gloves that matched her deep leather belts along her small waist, her hips flaring out in a knee-length skirt which revealed toned legs through slits on each side. She wore thigh-highs of lace with knee-height boots. Her hair was loose, falling down her shoulders like waves of black water. Geralt bit his lip. How he wanted to run his hands through her hair, claim her mouth as his, run his hands along her thighs, past the lace…

“Geralt?”

He snapped out his daydream, his mouth still watering, hoping the complicated Nilfgaardian britches he was wearing did a well enough job at covering his erection. “Yen,” he replied. “It’s good,” he swallowed. “It’s good to see you again. I’ve missed you.”

She smiled, casting her eyes down to his cock quickly, then back to his eyes again. She smirked. “I am quite sure you’ve found ways to occupy yourself.”

There it was again, that insinuation. He needed to talk to her about this. “Yen, I…”

“I’m assuming you’ve talked to Emhyr?”

“I have.” He walked up behind her, feeling the heat of her skin. He heard her heartbeat pick up and he smiled. It was comforting to know he still had some effect on her. “Is it true? Is she really back?”

She smiled sadly and picked up a charcoal drawing of a young woman on her desk. “Our little witcher is all grown up. That’s more or less what she looks like now.” She turned and handed him the parchment.

Geralt stared at the picture. She was beautiful, their daughter. “I don’t know how, and I know it’s impossible, but she looks like you,” he said, looking directly at her. She lifted her head and their eyes met. Gold and violet. She cast her eyes back down.

“Funny, because I see you in her,” she said quietly.

Geralt could not take it. “Yen…” he tried to grab her hand, to touch her for the first time in years. She pulled back and stepped away. His heart sank.

“Geralt, let’s not start. We’re here for Ciri, nothing more,” she stated simply.

He felt irrationally angry at that. “So we’re going to do this? We’re going to pretend there’s nothing here between us?”

“I don’t think it’s pretending at all, Geralt.” She walked to the other side of the room. 

“Come out with it, Yen,” he said, following her. “Just say what you’ve been insinuating this entire time.”

She turned, eyes flaring. “Triss.”

There it was. She knew. Geralt took a deep breath. “Yen, I lost my memory.”

Her jaw clenched. “That’s your excuse?”

“Excuse?!” He yelled. “My fucking excuse? Yennefer, you had mages to help you. I was on my own. I was completely at the mercy of those around me to tell me about my past, and instead they fucking used me. You don’t think that hurt? You don’t think I wanted to tear the fucking world apart when I finally remembered you and Ciri and discovered that they had been hiding you both from me this entire time, and in the case of Triss used my own damn memories against me? You think I wanted any of this?!” Yennefer’s lips quivered. “Why do you think that Vesemir was with me, trying to find you? He understands, he knows how much their betrayal cut me. But you, Yen, why didn’t you come look for me? The second I found out you were alive, I left them all for you. I’ve been searching for you for six months! But you couldn’t even bother to lift a hand to look for me until you needed something.”

“I DID look for you!” she screamed, tears starting to glisten out of the corner of her eyes. “The moment I remembered you I begged the mages here to show you to me, and they finally agreed. And what did I see, Geralt? You, with Triss Merigold riding your fucking cock, on our bed. OUR BED! What do you think I did when I saw that, Geralt. That after everything, EVERYTHING we’ve been through, and there you were once again fucking someone else while I was imprisoned. And it broke me. I tried to... ” she stopped herself. “It doesn’t matter. I knew you had moved on, and so I decided to spend my time looking for the family I still had.”

“Godsdammit Yen, I was being fucking used!!” He yelled back. “Triss literally stole memories of you out of my head to use them to her advantage. Our words, Yennefer, she stole our very words. She told me of the house you and I dreamed of on Thanedd.” At this, Yennefer let out an audible choke. “She used my very feelings for you against me. And they were all I had. And intermixed with that, she did save my life more than once, so how was I to know any different, Yen? With no one to fucking help me, how was I to know?!?”

Yennefer turned away from him clutched her arms across her chest. She was shaking. Geralt walked back behind her and tentatively reached out his hand to her upper arm. She allowed his touch and slowly leaned back. Her shoulders touched his chest and he wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her into him. The both gasped at the contact, and Geralt felt cool electric shocks roll through him as her perfume completely enveloped him. Home. 

“But they didn’t take everything away from me,” he whispered as he pulled back her hair to reveal her creamy neck. “Every night, I dreamt of you. I didn’t know it was you, but I still dreamt of you. At Kaer Morhen, I would leave that bed you saw almost nightly to sleep on the bench outside the training yard. It smelled of lilacs, and you used to sit there to watch me train, remember? It was the only place in that entire fucking Keep that I understood. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was because of you.” Yennefer closed her eyes and leaned her head into him. “Even when I didn’t know you, Yen, even then, you were the only thing that made sense to me.” He placed a feathery kiss against her smooth skin and she sighed.

“I dreamt of you, too. You and Ciri. You were my beacon in the dark, Geralt.” She turned his arms and cupped his chin. “I missed you, too.”

Geralt could take no more. He grabbed the back of her neck and kissed her hard. Her body melted into his embrace and she responded with just as much fervor. “Yen…” he whispered against her lips as he held her tighter. Their kisses became heated and desperate. His hand ghosted over her breasts, reaching down to run his hands long the lace of her thigh-highs as his fingers trailed upwards to…

She pulled her chin down, gently pushed him back. Her voice was breathy and thick with need. “Geralt, we can’t.”

His lust-addled brain didn’t understand what had happened. His heart was pounding. His cock throbbed. “Wha...why?” He was struggling to maintain composure. He could sense her arousal, smell her longing, and knew she was barely hanging on as well.

“I just...I need you to show me.” 

“You need me to show you what, Yen?” He still held her tight in his arms. He knew she could feel his erection against her core. A powerful tremor went through her body at the thought of him so close to her and she moaned slightly. 

“I need you to show me that it’s just me. Me and no one else, Geralt. I’m done with it all. I’ll not accept sharing any part of you with anyone else from now on. I want all of you to myself. I’m more selfish than I once was.”

“You have all of me, Yen,” he stated as he tried to pull her in to kiss her once more. She allowed it.

She gave him a long kiss before nipping his bottom lip and pulling gently away. “Prove it,” she whispered in his ear as she stepped out of his arms.

***

She explained that Ciri had been seen in three potential places so far: Velen, Novigrad, and Skellige. She had already begun the search in Skellige to examine a magical explosion so she would start there and he would meet her when and if he had discovered anything new. That left Velen and Novigrad to him. Velen was a miserable shit hole, and he would have to deal with a masquerading warlord down there called the Bloody Baron. Fucking great. Even worse, in Novigrad his best contact was Triss Merigold, someone he would have happily avoided for some time. And the fact that Yennefer knew about him and her made it that much worse. He did not look forward to spending time with her again. 

Everything set, Yennefer turned to him once more. She leaned into his arms and placed her hands along the sides of his face. “Please be safe,” she whispered as she placed a chaste kiss on his lips. “Be safe and come back to me.” With that she opened a portal and stepped through, leaving Geralt alone in her study, the scent of her perfume still in the air around him. 

Geralt sighed. “Soon,” he thought, and with that he began the journey to Velen.

Yennefer

The portal she opened sent her directly to her rented room in Skellige, which was perfect as she was so uncomfortable and needy with want for him she could hardly be in public in the state she was in. She immediately threw herself on the bed and positioned her hand between her thighs. She imagined Geralt’s hands touching her instead of her own, imagined his prodigious erection she had felt earlier. Within mere moments she was screaming his name, her back bowing off the bed, as the waves of her release crashed over her.

“Please hurry, Witcher,” she muttered, her heart pounding as bliss coursed through her body. “Please.”

Chapter Text

Geralt left the Elihal’s shop outside of Novigrad, holding the fox and wolf masks in his hand. The absolute last thing he was interested in was going to this damn party at the Vegelbuds with Triss, and he had told her as such, but she had begged him for his help, and he did feel like he owed her...something...after what she was willing to undergo with Menge and the Witcher Hunters, not that he let them touch her. He and Triss were done, but torturing women was a line Geralt would never allow to be crossed. He butchered the entire group. Regardless of his personal feelings for Triss, he was grateful for her help there, especially after she set fire to the place, razing the entire complex. The Witch Hunters were a problem for all magic users and non-humans, and that included Yen, so culling that nasty herd was only to his benefit. He wasn’t willing to play around with Yen’s safety. Ever.

Still, this party wasn’t helping him in his goal to find Ciri and reunite with Yennefer in Skellige, and so to him, it was a waste of his time. He had bought the damn masks, but he wouldn’t buy fancy new clothes like she had requested. Fuck that. He made his way to the Vegelbud Estate, running Roach through as many mud holes as possible on the way there.

***

He had been following Ciri’s trail for almost two months, and he had precious little to show for his efforts. Velen was still the shit hole he had remembered it being, and the Bloody Baron, aka Philip Strenger, had been a deeply flawed individual. But he had taken care of Ciri when she had been brought to him, hungry and scared, fleeing from the Ladies of Woods. The Ladies had turned out to be three monstrous crones that were worshiped as gods by the local townsfolk as they feasted on the bodies of unloved and forgotten children. In a cruel twist of irony, the people of Velen thought them responsible for fertility. 

What a disturbing tale that all had turned out to be. He had heard stories of parents sending unwanted children into the swamps to follow The Trail of Treats, but to have seen it first hand, to have found that village deep in the heart of the Velen swampland, where children had lain in wait to die, was awful. And even worse, it had been him that ended up condemning those children to their deaths. He had chosen to kill the evil spirit under the ancient oak to save the village of Downwarren, save Anna Strenger from the Crones’ curse, and save the lands of Velen in general from its evil, but in doing so, he knew the orphans of the swamp would pay the price. Innocent lives were lost, and he had played the part of judge, jury, and executioner. 

He still wondered if he made the right call. He suspected he would never really know.

He had discovered one thing relatively useful, however, from a wholly unlikely source: Kiera Metz. She had been hiding from Witch Hunters in the backwater hamlets of Velen as a village witch. Geralt had laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of it. She had helped him though, and he had learned that an elven sage had been with Ciri at some point but wasn’t there when she met with Philip Strenger. Even worse, the Wild Hunt had been after her. 

Kiera he had ended up sending to Kaer Morhen. Her decision to go to Radovid with a cure for the Catriona Plague in exchange for her life had been at best foolish and at worst suicide. She was a petty, difficult, and manipulative woman, but he still didn’t wish to see her die. He had relished turning her down when she offered herself to him, however. She had not expected that. Geralt had no desire for any other woman than Yennefer anyway. 

But fuck , he had desired Yen. Too many nights he had pictured her smooth skin and soft curves as he finished himself off alone at his campsite or at an inn. Just the thought of her gently grabbing his lower lip in her teeth had been enough to harden him. His time with her in Vizima had not been enough, not nearly enough, and his own hand had been a poor substitute for her warm body. He had wanted her so badly it physically hurt.

For all this pain and death and longing for Yennefer, he had learned that Philip Strenger had given Ciri a horse and sent her to Novigrad. That she had been alone at the time, injured but alive, and she had been looking for someone. He assumed it was Yen and him. 

And so, he had traveled to Novigrad.

***

He had figured he might as well eat the frog and tried to find Triss. The quicker he could locate her, the quicker he’d hopefully find Ciri and leave for Skellige. He had not expected to find the former advisor to the late King Foltest reduced to a rat catcher. He had enjoyed the poetic justice of it. Countless times, he had imagined her scurrying about his head, pulling out memories to steal like a rat steal’s morsels of food.

He had not felt any empathy for her to see her like this now.

He had, however, offered to help, since he had figured it the best way to discover if she had known anything that might help him. Once he had placed the rat traps, they sat. The conversation was awkward and relatively unhelpful as she had not heard anything as to Ciri’s whereabouts, but she had pointed him in the direction of an oneiromancer, one Corinne Tilly, who might be able to help. She had asked about Yen, too. Just hearing her name on Triss’ lips had made him seethe.

“How’s Yen?” she asked.

“Yennefer.” he replied curtly.

“Excuse me?”

“Yennefer to you. She’s my Yen. Do you understand, Triss?”

Triss looked away at that, shame evident on her face.

“She’s fine. Are you asking about anything in particular?” he said.

“Nevermind. I already got my answer.”

“Good,” he thought. “I hope it sticks this time.”

Corrine Tilly had been an experience in itself, reliving his past with Yennefer and Ciri. It had left him feeling weak with need to hold them both, to reunite with his family. He had walked to the docks after that, staring longingly at the ships bound for Skellige, thinking of Yennefer and wondering if she was thinking of him as well. He had nearly bought passage on the Atropos that night; he had been so desperate, but he had known he needed to stick this out for Ciri. 

“Soon, Yen,” he had whispered, watching the Atropos as it left the harbor into a red sunset. “Soon”. He promised himself he would be on that ship the next time it returned from the Isles.

***

In her attempts to save the mages, Triss had embroiled herself deep with the crime bosses of Novigrad. Unfortunately, Sigismund Dijkstra had been one of them. He liked to talk, a lot, and interject his opinion. Geralt had enjoyed watching him limp around on his good leg, the one he had broken at Thanedd still unable to move correctly. As Dijkstra had gone on ad nauseam about him and Triss as a couple, Geralt had contemplated breaking the other just to shut him the fuck up. But, he was another lead to Dandelion.

Fucking Dandelion. Of course he was entangled in this shit. Somehow he and Ciri had been tied together, and of course he was missing. Geralt and Dandelion had been on many adventures in their long history as friends, but after his betrayal during his amnesia, Geralt had been ready to end their friendship permanently. Yennefer had saved the ungrateful bard’s damn life, and to thank her for that he had tried to convince Geralt that their relationship was nothing other than toxic. But as big of a fool and a charlatan as he had been, he too may have known what happened to Ciri, so Geralt had to find him. That led him to Zoltan.

Zoltan, another friend who refused to tell him the truth. Finding him in the rundown whorehouse that reeked of piss, booze, and stale sex that Dandelion had inherited had been…interesting, but before he could think of mending fences with Zoltan, he had needed to confront him. Luckily for Geralt, Zoltan had been the first to bring up Yen. 

“Geralt, uh, before ya go, can we talk a wee bit?’

Geralt was studying Dandelion’s planner, trying to figure out which of the scorned lovers he’d have to meet first. “Sure Zoltan. What’s on your mind?”

“Well, eh...hmm..well ya see, it’s about Yennefer.”

Geralt stayed silent.

“We...no I, I was wrong. I should’ve mentioned her to ya, her and Ciri. We thought it’d be wisest to let yer memories return on their own, ya know? But I can see now, see that was wrong. I knew how much Yennefer meant to ya; I knew how much Ciri meant to ya.” Zoltan rubbed his large hands over his scalp. “I remember our last conversation in Rivia ‘for that damn pogrom. I remember yer plans then. I shoulda been honest with ya. What I’m trying to say, Geralt, is I’m sorry.” Zoltan had looked down for a moment before meeting his eyes again. “I’m sorry, mate.”

Geralt had looked at his friend. Zoltan had never even met Yen or Ciri, and here he was, offering a heartfelt apology, one he was happy to accept. Geralt had smiled.

“Thanks, Zoltan.”

“And I, I want to help ya. Help ya find Ciri and get back to Yennefer. So whatever ya need Geralt, ya know where to find me.”

“That means a lot, Zoltan, truly. Thank you.”

And just like that, the fence had been mended.  

***

Triss was not pleased with his choice of attire, not that Geralt minded. She had obviously spent a lot of time preparing her outfit, a tightfitting velvet green gown with pearl inlays, and she did look nice, which Geralt let her know. Still, he wanted to get this over with. He handed her the fox mask.  “You ready?” he asked.

“We need to find Ingrid Vegelbud,” she told him. “Come on.”

The party was extravagant. The Vegelbuds were obviously extraordinarily wealthy, and they had spared no expense for this masquerade. The grounds were beautifully decorated with lanterns strung across walking paths, tents for food and drinks, and people in animal masks milling about, enjoying the freedom to talk and gossip in anonymity. Geralt even heard there would be fireworks. He smiled at that, thinking of the sparklers Yennefer had shot into the air at their first Belleteyn. “I wish I was with her,” he sighed.

“Who?” Triss asked.

Geralt only smiled. 

After some drunkard thought Triss may have been a whore named Vivan (which, given the low cut of Triss’ dress was not too surprising), they made their way to Ingrid Velgebud who told them that her son, Albert, was wearing a panther mask. The fool boy had decided that now, in the middle of a damn witch hunt with accused magic users being burned at the stake, was a good time to take up alchemy. Ingrid Velgelbud feared for her wittless boy’s life, and had offered to fund Triss and the rest of the mages passage out of Novigrad to Kovir as long as Albert joined them. It was the break Triss needed.

Grabbing drinks, they searched for a boy in a panther mask and found him surrounded by women and bragging about turning objects into gold. “What an idiot,” Geralt thought. 

“Meet me in the maze by the fountain,” the boy drunkenly explained. “It will be easiest when the fireworks are going off and we can slip away.”

Triss had taken a few sips of wine and started giggling as she danced into the maze after muttering something about nude statues, calling his name. “Geralt, oohhh GERALT!” she laughed. “GERALT...coming?”

“Fucking hells,” he thought. He just wanted to leave, but he followed her, at least wanting to make sure she wouldn’t get drunk and lost. How much wine had she had anyway? It seemed like she only had a sip or two. She couldn’t possibly have gotten drunk off of that. He found her teetering on the edge of a fountain. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” As he walked near her, she suddenly slipped, and instinctually his arms went out, catching her. The fireworks began to go off at that exact moment, and she looked at him longingly in the eyes, leaning closer to his lips. Closer, closer…

He dropped her in the fountain. 

She landed with a loud splash. The water was deep, the fall short, so she wasn’t injured, but she was sopping wet and utterly furious.

“WHAT THE HELL, Geralt!!!” she shrieked. “Why did you...what did you FUCKING do? Look at me, my dress is RUINED!! Why, why did you drop me?!?”

Geralt laughed and knelt down. “Funny, you seem pretty sober all of a sudden. Either that cold water was just what you needed, or it was all an act to begin with. I’m betting the latter.”

“What the fuck do you mean? I can’t believe you just let me go. You’re a callous, cruel ass, Geralt.”

He laughed again and stood up. He offered his hand to help her out, but she just shrieked that he better not fucking touch her and stood up on her own. Fine by him.

“Before you dry yourself off, Triss, listen. I’m done with this shit. What you did to me? What you stole from me?? THAT was fucking cruel, Triss, not dropping your horny, pretend drunk ass in a fountain to cool off. You went into my head and you took my memories with Yen and used them to your advantage.” He could feel his anger start to rise. “You took advantage of me in my most helpless state. You allowed me to think you were Yennefer. You allowed me to think we had this lifelong love, and you allowed me to act on it in my ignorance. And she knew, Triss! Yennefer knew, and it’s killing me to think that that is a memory she’s going to have now, forever. Of you fucking me in Yennefer's and my bed. It’s fucking tearing me apart. And it’s because of you!! I thought you were my friend, Triss. I thought you were Yennefer’s friend! Why...why did you do this to me? WHY?!”

Triss was sobbing, her hands covering her face. “Geralt, I….”

“There’s nothing you can say that will make this better, Triss. Nothing. I needed you to help me. I was at my most vulnerable and instead of being a good friend and a decent fucking person, you used me. I’ll never trust you again. So I’ll help you finish this damn mission, and then I’m done. Go to Kovir. Get on the boat. Make some fucking better decisions. Try not to use people you claim to care about. Whatever you do, just leave me the hell out of it.”

He walked away, feeling enraged. Triss was crying in the background, water running down in rivlets over her velvet gown. At one point, Geralt would have apologized and told her he overreacted. At one point he would have felt some level of empathy for her. 

That point was gone. 

The fireworks continued to light up the night sky as they waited for Albert Velgelbud to appear. 

***

Geralt watched the ship sail off on the bloodied dock, tuning out Dijikstra as he called him a fool and a cad for letting Triss go, “Keep talking, fat man...give me a reason to break your other leg,” he thought. All he could feel was an overwhelming weight lift from him as he watched the boat leave. So many wrong decisions, so much hurt and frustration, so much pain, it all sailed off on that boat. 

He would be heading to Skellige next. He had already bought passage on the Atropos . It was back in port, ready to leave for the Isles tomorrow. It had cost him 1000 crowns. He didn’t care; Yennefer was on the other side of those 1000 crowns. He’d have paid ten times that if that’s what it took to get to her. 

For the first time since he left her in Vizima, things were beginning to look up.

Chapter Text

Geralt

He had made it to Skellige. At last.

It had been 87 days since he had left Vizima. 87 days since he had held Yennefer in his arms. He’d worn himself to the brink of exhaustion hunting after their daughter. He’d dealt with warlords, witches, rats, curses, crime bosses, witch hunts, old relationships, old grievances, a serial killer, and to top it all off, a damn pirate attack and shipwreck on the way to Skellige. But none of that mattered now; Yennefer was here, somewhere. 

He had walked in on a funeral. King Bran had finally passed, leaving the leadership of the Skellige Isles in question. The Isles would be engaged in finding a new king, though he wasn’t sure if that would help or hinder his search for Ciri. He watched the funeral barge sail out into the harbor, the archer pull back his bow, and the pyre engulf in flames. The sun had set and the air had a violet tint to it, stars just beginning to peak out in the sky. It was a strangely sad and beautiful scene, a fitting end for Bran.

And then she was there.

She wore her customary black and white, her curls blowing wild in the sea wind. Her skin was dewey in the salt-laden air, a slight flush colored her cheeks. She turned to him and smiled. 

“*You look beautiful,*” he whispered softly.

She grinned at that. “*Thank you,*” she responded. He could hear her heart pick up and he stepped closer to her. She didn’t move away. “*It’s nice to see you again.*” She leaned slightly closer to him. Ermion started to speak and they both turned to look up at him on the cliff-side. “*The eulogy.*”

Bran was a good man, and Geralt would mourn him in due time, but Yennefer was by him right now, at this moment, and he had no intention of wasting this precious gift. “*You smell wonderful.*”

“*Geralt, we’re at a funeral,*” she chided jokingly. 

“*You smell wonderful at this funeral,*” he replied. They could be in a sewer surrounded by drowners and water hags; Yennefer would still smell wonderful.

She just smiled and turned her head. Her heartbeat picked up. 

“*Haven’t seen each other in two years. I want a solitary cottage by the sea. I want to lock myself inside with you. Stay there for a week.*” Geralt smiled as her flushed cheeks grew slightly pinker.

She replied with a breathy whisper. “*And what would we do there for a week?*”

“*Got so many ideas…*” How he wanted to ravage her, endlessly. He imagined her naked in the sun, making love in the sand as the waves crashed at their feet. He saw himself thrusting into her, her back against the wall and one leg curled around him, toes flexing, as she screamed through her release. He imagined a rope, tying her hands gently above her head, her breasts bare, while he was on his knees feasting on her…

“*The one with the rope you use for trophies, that one seems interesting.*” 

He laughed. Of course she would dig into his head right now. He wondered if she knew how hard the very thought of her had made him. She probably did. “*Reading my mind again?*”

She just smiled. “*Mhm. What’s more, I like what I see.*” Her eyes glanced down to his erection and back up to him again. Suddenly the distance between them seemed far too much. He had waited 87 days to be with her. He couldn’t wait any longer.

“Where have you been staying?” he asked. The eulogy was over and people were beginning to leave. Geralt wanted to avoid conversations with Crach An Craite and Ermion if he could. There would be time for those later. Right now, he just wanted her. He grabbed her hand, relishing in the feel of her skin after so long. He ran the pads of his finger over her knuckles and inner wrists, and she sighed and closed her eyes.

“The village of Kaer Trolde, the inn there,” she managed, eyes still closed. 

He leaned closer to her, pressing himself against her. He heard her sharp intake of breath. He gently brushed her curls away from her neck and leaned in close, kissing the shell of her ear. “Take us there, Yen. Right now.” He lightly nipped her earlobe and she moaned.

“But,” her voice was heavy with need. “But you hate portals.” 

“Yen, I’ve waited 87 days to hold you again. I’m done waiting. Take us there.” In a flash of gold and white, they were gone.

***

The portal opened into Yennefer’s room in Kaer Trolde, revealing an impressively luxurious abode for a land as cold and hard as Skellige. Heavy tapestries hung from the walls, the furniture was of rich cherry and oak, and delicate magical instruments like her megascope lay carefully placed throughout the room. In the far corner stood an impressive white unicorn. All of this was lost on Geralt, however. Immediately upon them falling from the portal, Geralt grabbed her and pulled her mouth to his. When their lips finally touched, the passion they both had been trying so hard to restrain finally broke through. They grasped for each other, holding onto one another like they were both liferafts in a storm. Geralt tried to control his breathing, to calm himself down, but when Yennefer pulled back and whispered “Take me” against his mouth, the last thread that held his need in check frayed and broke and he acted on instinct and desire alone. He picked her up and carried her to the bed, intent on making love all night.

“The wake,” she moaned out loud, her breath hot. “We have to go to the wake. We mustn't,” she gasped as Geralt nipped at her neck and began to unhook her fur collar, “...miss it, as there is something we need in Kaer Trolde.” 

Geralt only heard “wake” and “have to go”. “How long do we have?” he growled. His blood was pumping in his ears so loudly it felt like the world was underwater. He didn’t care. With his hands running along Yennefer’s sides, unhooking the delicate metal latches that held the outer garment to her, he was happier than he had been in too long to remember. Their island? 

“Two hours, if that,” she sighed as he began kissing down the middle of her chest, sometimes biting the skin lightly before soothing the spot with his tongue, causing her to yelp and squirm beneath him.

“Two hours,” he replied, his mouth quirking in a sideways smile. “That’s time for a few rounds at least.”

“My thoughts exactly, Witcher.” She unhooked the front clasp of her bra and smirked, her breasts heaving, nipples erect and practically begging him to touch them.

Geralt smiled, staring at her breasts, a sight so familiar to him he could close his eyes and remember every detail. She had a small mole right above her left areola. Her nipples were such a pale pink they were nearly invisible. He looked her in the eyes and grinned. “Gods I missed you,” he whispered as he bent down to take her breast in his mouth. 

Yennefer

She moaned as he sucked and bit her nipple. She bowed her back into him, her body urging him to continue, to touch her everywhere. Too many nights she had twisted and turned with need wanting him to be there and make love to her. Her small hands were never as skilled as him, and no matter how many times she tried to ease her need herself, she would just end up wanting and missing him more. She felt her desire pooling in-between her legs and the thought of him kneeling between them, running his tongue along her core, made her cry out. She could feel his erection straining against his laces and she tried to reach for it, but he pushed her hands aside. “This is about you right now. Let me make love to you.” He redoubled his efforts and she moaned loudly. His hands traveled down her stomach, lightly over the buttons in her pants, and she pulled him to her. She needed to feel his skin on her as she ripped his shirt off over her head. He let her with a small laugh. “I see patience still isn’t your strong suit.”

“Oh hush,” she muttered as she pulled his lips to hers. She ran her fingers along his bare chest, intent on feeling him against her, skin to skin. Her hands glided across his back.

She stopped short and her hands pulled back. Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong.

“Geralt, wait. Stop.”

Geralt was busy licking her neck as his hands worked the final button of her pants. “Yen…” he breathed out, oblivious to her as his hands reached into her pants, tracing the lines of her lingerie, feeling the dampness of her center. 

“Geralt,” she said again a bit louder. “Geralt, stop.”

He snapped out of his revelry and pulled away immediately. “Wha...what’s wrong. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have...” He obviously thought she was referring to him caressing her. He couldn’t have been more wrong. She ached for him, for his touch, but still…she needed to see. 

“No no, darling, not that. Your back, something’s wrong with your back.”

“My back? What?”

He was obviously confused. She pushed him lightly and he moved off of her. She immediately missed his weight. “I need to see it, Geralt.”

Geralt seemed to understand that. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “Yen, trust me, you don’t…”

“Now.”

He sighed and sat up. She turned to sit behind him, to get a good view of what she thought she felt. When she saw it, she let out a small shriek and her hand flew to her mouth to cover the sound. “Oh, Geralt…”

Yennefer knew Geralt’s body better than she knew her own. She knew every freckle, every ridge of muscle. She had spent countless hours laying naked with him, drawing patterns along his skin with her fingertip, connecting an errant mole or freckle, and asking him to guess the shape. She knew by heart every story of every scar. It was one of their very first memories together in the destroyed inn in Rinde. She cherished all of them.

But this back...this back she did not know. 

Huge gashes criss-crossed his skin all down his spine and ribs and across his shoulders, like some giant beast had torn through him. Had that happened? She touched one, and Geralt flinched. “A pain memory,” she thought to herself, as if his body still holds the pain and torment that created the scar. And she knew; she knew no animal did this to him. This was a different kind of monster. This was done by a human. Torture. A whip? A flogging perhaps? She tenderly ran her hands up his body, learning these new scars. She felt Geralt shaking slightly under her touch “When?” she finally whispered.

“Temeria. They don’t take kindly to suspected regicide there. I was the one they blamed for Foltest, and this was the result.”

Yennefer was quiet for a long moment. “Yen, I...I mean you don’t have to look at them. I know they’re bad. It’s done though. I’m ok now.”

At that, Yennefer bent down and kissed a particularly gruesome scar on his right shoulder. He shuddered. She moved down to kiss one closest to it, across his upper spine, then another that crossed along the left side of his ribs. She kissed them all while his body shook beneath her. 

“I will never let anything like that happen to you again, Geralt. I promise you.” She moved to face him, lifting his head in her hands as she had him meet her gaze. Stubborn tears were gathering in the corners of his golden eyes. She gently cupped both sides of his face.

“I love you, Geralt.” She moved her forehead to his. “I love you and I will never leave you again, my darling. I’m here.”

At that Geralt broke. He gulped a choked sob and clung to her, hot tears falling onto her skin as she held onto him, whispering how she was here and would never leave him again and how sorry she was that he had been in so much pain for far too long. His entire body was shaking violently as he held her. She knew he was releasing all the hurt, the betrayal, the confusion, the fear and anger, the evils that he had been through without her. She would hold him close until they finally left him. 

“I just,” he hiccuped. “I just needed you, Yen. I needed you so fucking much. Without you, it felt like a piece of me was just gone, and I couldn’t get it back. You’re a part of me, Yen. I’m not whole without you.” He gulped some air to try to calm himself. “Love doesn’t even describe it, Yen. You are so much more than love to me. I don’t, I don’t have the words.”

She kissed him gently as he continued to cry, releasing everything in the safety and comfort of her arms. “I know, my love, I know. You are a piece of me, too. You and Ciri. We will find her, Geralt. We will find her together.” Geralt gripped her tighter

“Our daughter,” he said with a smile.

“Our daughter.” She kissed him softly again. Geralt continued to hold her tightly as the jumble of repressed emotions finally left his body, that hurt and rage to be replaced with love and security of his family. Soon, the weight of exhaustion overwhelmed him. He fell asleep with his head in Yennefer’s lap, his arms still around her. She carded her fingers slowly through his hair, watching his chest rise and fall in deep slumber. She weaved a small spell above him to ward off painful dreams and memories and hummed quietly to calm him. She would need to wake him soon; Bran’s wake was important and something they both could not miss, especially considering she needed to steal Ermion’s mask. But for now, she would hold the Witcher while he slept. 

Loved. Secure. Whole

Chapter Text

Geralt

“Geralt? Darling, wake up,” she whispered. She ran his fingers across his temples, speaking softly. “We must get ready.” 

Geralt stirred, squeezing his eyes. He had his head in her lap, his arms around her, and he didn’t really give a damn about a wake at this moment. He pulled her tighter to him. “I’m perfectly content right here. Let’s just skip the wake and stay in bed.”

“*We’ll do no such thing,*” Yennefer replied as she unhooked his arms from around her waist and stood up. “We cannot miss this wake. Now come on.” 

Geralt grumbled, contemplating pulling her back down to him and picking up where he had left off earlier, but he knew how stubborn Yen could be. He stood and stretched, feeling lighter than he had felt in ages. 

“*I took the liberty of laying out some clothes for you,*” she called from behind the dressing screen. He looked over to see a few Skellige-style doublets laying out for him to choose. He grabbed the black one with gold threading and sighed.

“*Yen, you know I can’t stand new doublets. Just too tight until you break them in…*”

“*Stop whining,*” she laughed. “*We’re not here to enjoy ourselves. We’ve matters to resolve and should dress appropriately.*”

Geralt grumbled and walked over to the clothes. He started to dress when she appeared from behind the screen. She was wearing nothing but her underwear, pulling on her lace thigh-highs that had caused Geralt more wet dreams than he cared to admit. He was transfixed by her. “*You look….dazzling.*” 

She turned and smiled at him, switching legs as she began to pull up the other stocking. “*I’ve missed those awkward compliments of yours.*” She walked over to him and pulled his mouth to hers. “Truly,” she said, kissing him softly. He went to grab her but she smirked and danced out of his reach. He cursed softly and threw his head back. 

“Yen….” he growled.

“*Did you learn anything in Velen?*” she said, changing the subject as she started dressing. He told her about the Baron and the Crones and all the misery there.

“You’ll never believe who I ran into there?”

“Who?”

“Kiera Metz,” he replied, pulling on the Skelligan britches she had laid out.

“*What on earth is Kiera Metz doing in Velen?*”

“Posing as a village herbalist. She had some crazy idea about going to Radovid with a cure for the Catriona Plague.”

“Does she have a death wish?”

“Apparently she misses clean sheets without bed bugs. I sent her to Kaer Morhen.” Yennefer quirked an eyebrow at that. “Not like that, Yen. I sent her there to be safe. Plus, with everything chasing after Ciri, who knows what help we will need. I ran into the Hunt there.” Yennefer sighed and he told her about his chase through the caves. “She’s had help from someone, no idea who. She made it to Novigrad though, injured but alright.”

Yennefer, who was currently attaching her brassière, stopped short. “*Injured. Nothing serious I hope?*”

“I don’t think so. She met up with Dandelion and got involved with some underground crime boss there, Whoreson Junior, and ended up getting into another scuffle, but she made it out. I recovered a phylactery.” He pulled on his britches and grabbed the doublet, slipping it over his head. Not surprisingly, it fit like a glove. She knew him better than he knew himself at times.

“*Great. I’ll look at it later.*” She was quiet for a moment, buttoning her overcoat. “Did you speak to Triss?”

Geralt looked at her and felt his heart fall. She looked so nervous, as if she somehow still feared that he may be unsure of his feelings for her. He stood up and walked behind her, grabbing the back of her black silk skirt and buttoning it. “I did,” he said softly.

She crossed her arms across her breast. “And?”

He leaned down to kiss her neck and turned her gently. “And I made it very clear what I felt and where she and I stood.”

She looked up at him, her violet eyes searching for any doubt in his. She would find none. “You did?”

“I did. There’s no way she could have gotten a mixed message. I dropped her in a fountain after she tried to kiss me.”

Yennefer tried to repress her laugh, but she failed. “You what?”

“I told her exactly how I felt before, and she ignored that and tried to kiss me. She was teetering on a fountain ledge after pretending to be drunk, I caught her when she slipped, and she tried to kiss me. So I dropped her. She was just fine, but I’m not interested in being used by her or anyone else anymore. She’s off in Kovir now.”

Yennefer looked at him for a moment. “I’m glad you stood up for yourself, Geralt. What she did was wrong and cruel to you. I know she was your friend though, I know she has saved your life on numerous occasions, and I certainly owe her for Rivia. I hope...I hope, someday, there can be some level of reconciliation.”

That surprised Geralt. “You do?”

“What she did was awful, horrible in fact. But...” Yennefer looked down. “But she was my friend, once. She was my best friend. That’s what made it hurt all the worse.”

Geralt lifted her chin and kissed her slowly. “I love you,” he said as he grabbed her fur wrap and hooked it around her collar. She smiled.

“And I love you.” She reached up and kissed the tip of his nose.

“*Come to the wake with me?*” he asked as he extended his arm to her.

“*Gladly.*” She hooked her arms with his and made their way to Kaer Trolde.

Yennefer

As per usual, the wakes of Skellige ended up being loud and boisterous affairs rather than somber gatherings, but that was fine by her. She needed the Mask of Uboros to discover details about the magical explosion north of here, and the drunker the group was, the less likely they’d notice her and the Witcher’s absence. The Druid Ermion had been completely worthless when it came to helping her. She had asked multiple times, nothing but a resounding no from him in return with dire warnings about the end of the world should it be used. “Druids and their damn superstitions,” she thought. 

But Skellige had become infinitely more enjoyable since Geralt arrived. She thought of his mouth on her breasts and a powerful tremor went through her. His hands along her had inflamed her body with longing, a longing she had yet to release. He grabbed her hand at that moment and the feel of his warm, rough skin against hers caused her to audibly gasp. 

“You ok, Yen?”

She tried to compose herself. “Perfectly fine,” she replied hoarsely, trying to ignore the smirk on his face. He rubbed his fingers along her hands, knowing full well it was driving her wild. She pulled her hand away, hoping that would help focus on the task at hand. Her skin was on fire and she felt she was meer seconds away from pulling him aside and making love to him against the stone wall. She was positive he’d allow it.

“*Looks like they’ve set us with the sons of jarls, exclusively.*” Geralt commented.

“*Cerys An Craite is the daughter of a jarl, Geralt. Jarl’s daughters are in no way inferior to their sons,*” she replied as she sat down. The table began introductions, the sons and Cerys arguing amongst each other over who would be crowned king. A challenge went out, asking Geralt to race to the top of the mountain to pull out an axe. He laughed and agreed. 

“Cold air would do me some good anyway,” he smiled and winked at Yennefer. Before he stood, he quickly let his hand travel up her thigh, stopping directly on her core and pushing his thick fingers against her, circling them slightly. He stood up and walked out with the sons and Cerys, leaving Yennefer to sit at the table, desire pooling slick between her legs, itching for his hands again.

“Damn him,” she sighed. They had both promised not to drink to keep a clear head, but at this point, alcohol would do her more good than not. The mead tasted sweet as it went down her throat.

***

“Were you the victor?” she asked as he came back in. From Cerys’s grumpy expression, she guessed the answer. He sat down close to her, agreeing to toast to the challenge. Obviously he had forgotten about their decision not to drink too, not that she could judge him. He looked at her and smiled. “*To my beautiful companion,*” he said as he drank down the mead in one swift motion. 

She rolled her eyes with a smirk and looked to the table. “*You’ve been great company. Sadly, it’s time we moved on.*” she said as she stood up.

“*Really?*” Geralt responded.

“*Indeed we must. We must talk. But not here. You will learn all beyond that door,*” she smiled and pulled him towards the exist.

Unfortunately, they did not get far. They came upon an argument between Jarl Donar Al Hindar and Jarl Madman Lugos. The two old fools were arguing about raiding each other's lands and plowing each other's priestess. It would be nice to see Skellige under the lead of someone not so ridiculous.

“*The Emperor would be very pleased to hear you quarrel,*” she told the two men.

“*His Imperial Majesty is more than welcome to visit,*” Donar replied.

Lugos responded. “Let ‘im sail over here. We ain’t afeard o’ the Black Ones.*”

Yennefer sighed. How could these men consider themselves any sort of leaders. Idiots. “*Raiding coastal villages is one thing. Total war with the empire is another.*”

“*Awfully mouthy, this one. Go stir your cauldron and pierce some boils, witch. Don’t talk when you haven’t got a fucking clue.*” Lugos sneered back.

That seemed to end it for Geralt. She knew that look; he was furious. He had always been protective of Yennefer, and the quickest way to guarantee a fight from him was to threaten her or Ciri. He had killed three men for following them, once, long ago. She smiled, knowing he still felt that passion when it came to her. “*Know what Lugos?*” he sneered. “*Just realized I don’t give a damn about your hallowed rules of hospitality.*”

“*Finally some diversion. Here I was about to piss from all the boredom. Let’s see what you’re made of, freak.*” Logus responded. Yennefer knew this wouldn’t end well for the man, not that she minded. 

The fight was short, and Lugos made it out with all his teeth, impressively. Geralt demanded he apologize to Yennefer, and inside she swooned. Another tremor ran throughout her body at the thought of him defending her honor. 

“Come on, darling,” she smiled, pulling him through the doors. 

“*Now, we sneak into Ermion’s laboratory.*”

“*Didn’t know we’d been invited,*” he replied. 

“*Because we’ve not been.*”

She explained about the Mask of Uboros and Geralt just laughed, pushing open the door for them to the lower reaches of the Kaer Trolde keep. He had long ago gotten used to Yennefer’s methods, something she loved about him. “*Now you’re going to tell me why we need this Mask.*” he said. 

“*Oh I shall, in due course.*”

She had not expected the guards though.

“*Guards! Quick, hide behind the tapestry.*” She pulled him behind the large thick red and green tapestry. Luckily there was a small alcove behind it, perfect for a place to hide away from prying eyes.

She was also keenly aware of how close Geralt was to her. She could feel the arousal coming off of him, thick and heavy, and the thought of it flooded her body with need. These past 3 months had been an extended aphrodisiac for her, and him standing there, so close, his breath coming out in barely-controlled pants. He glanced over to her, his eyes hungry for her, and her gaze flickered to his lips. 

It was just too much.

“Geralt,” she whispered, and he was on her. He kissed her like a man possessed. His hands explored her everywhere, grabbing her breasts and pinching her nipples. 

“Yen....” he said, barely audible under his hoarse breath. He kissed up her bare neck and she gasped, earning a warning nip from him. He soothed the spot with his tongue, gently sucking at her skin. She knew he’d leave a mark, and she loved it. 

He worked the buttons on the back of her skirt he had done up earlier and it fell away, fluttering softly to the floor. His hands grabbed her rear and she moaned at the feel of his straining erection as he lifted her against the stone wall. She yelped and the cold contact and he silenced her with a kiss. She pulled back and whispered against his lips. “Touch me, Geralt.”

He groaned at that and placed his hands against the soaked fabric of her lingerie. He cursed, feeling how wet she was. “This is what you do to me. Only you,” she said in his ear. He growled possessively and pushed the lace aside to find her pleasure, that delicate bud that had been aching for him to touch her. She moaned as his hands pushed down, rubbing softly at first but pushing harder the more she writhed into it. “More,” she sighed and he thrust two fingers inside of her. She closed her eyes and threw her head back as he found that spot deep within her and started rubbing. No man had ever known how to pleasure Yennefer like Geralt, and to be with him again like this, was like coming home after being lost and alone for years. She needed all of him now. She needed to feel him inside her, have that one final contact they had been denied since their island. She reached for him, trying to free his erection that pushed so enticingly against her thigh, and he once again tried to move her hands away.

“For you,” he groaned. She could tell her was barely hanging on.

She pulled his face to hers, softly kissing his lips. “No, Geralt, for us. Make love to me.”

He moaned once more and let her untie his laces, grabbing his cock firmly. He felt heavy and full, veins thick, his velvety head wet with precum. She ran her thumb down the underside of his member and he jerked in her hand as he growled softly. As he knew everything that drove her wild, she knew exactly how to pleasure him. It was a rare gift, to be with someone so long, to know someone so thoroughly, that you can anticipate their needs. Yennefer cherished it. 

“Yen....” he begged.

“Make love to me, Witcher.”

At that he groaned again and lifted her, lowering her inch by agonizing inch onto him.

As they came together, they both cried out, concern over the guards long forgotten.

Geralt began to move and Yennefer gasped; it had been so long, so incredibly long, since she had felt him. She had not been with anyone since him and the stretch made stars flash behind her eyelids. She danced on the knife’s edge of pleasure and pain. She had nearly forgotten how utterly perfect he felt inside her, and she was suddenly overcome with emotion for him and their journey together. Tears fell lightly from the corner of each eye and she cried his name as he thrust into her again. She buried her head in his shoulder, nipping at his collarbone and squeezing the rigid muscles of his back; anything to be closer. She could feel her orgasm starting to build in the lower reaches of her belly, and by the jerky motions he was making, she knew he was close. “I love you,” he whispered as he pushed deep inside her again. He kissed her passionately as he dropped his hand to stimulate her one final time.

The dam broke.

Her vision went black. Pleasure seared through her body as her toes curled and she saw flashing lights behind her lids; her breath stopping for a moment as her whole body surrendered to the delicious release. He didn’t stop massaging her until she fell off the cliff again, this time taking him with her. She felt him harden as her walls contracted against him. He groaned out loud and he filled her, thrusting hard and crying out her name.

The world stopped. Time stopped. It was only them, chasing one another’s breath. Neither dared to move, dared to speak, unwilling to lose this connection they had craved since the moment it had been ripped away from them in fire and ash. 

So they stayed there, as one, kissing away each other’s tears, until the world started moving again

Chapter Text

Geralt

He cupped her cheek, softly caressing the soft down, and she leaned into his touch. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

“I’m alright, Geralt. It’s just...necromancy is...it’s awful,” she sighed slowly. “I feel dirty all over, and incredibly tired.” Her shoulders slumped and Geralt pulled her to him, wishing he could somehow will his strength into her to help her through. “*Imagine putting wriggling cockroaches in your mouth, or swimming through manure...that’s more or less how it felt.*” She pulled away slightly, looked up at him again, searching his face for judgement against her. “*I know it seemed real, but it was no longer human. Do you understand?*”

He just pulled her close again and kissed the top of her head. “You know I do, Yen.”

He never doubted the lengths she would go for her loved ones; even death and the dark arts would not scare her away. But everything required a toll. In Rivia, she paid for her love of him with her life, pouring her own life energy into him to try and stave off death. Here in the Garden of Freya, she paid with her reputation. Her name would be cursed in the Skellige Isles now, all doors would be closed to her, all hospitality denied. It was a price she was willing to pay for Ciri, just as she had paid in pain with Vilgefortz. 

Why did everything have to be so hard?

Reanimating Skjall, as horrid it had been, and decimating the Garden of Freya to do so, had been worth it. It  had provided another clue to Ciri’s whereabouts. The deformed creature he had seen at Crow’s Perch, the one the Baron had referred to as Uma, was somehow connected to Ciri. They had another trail to follow at least.

“*Geralt, I know we should talk, alright. But not here. I don’t wish to stay a moment longer.*” She looked into the direction where the angry Skellige priestesses had cursed her. Geralt tilted her chin up to him, but she kept her eyes down. 

“Yen, look at me.” She finally did. “Yen, it doesn’t matter. You did what needed to be done. For Ciri.” He kissed her gently. “Let’s leave this place.”

They walked outside the garden and the air already felt lighter. He held her hand tightly, trying desperately to reassure that he did not judge anything that happened back there, in that awful and cursed place.

She turned to him. “*Now tell me, do you? No, never mind.*” She tried to turn her head but he caught her cheek once more and turned it back.

“*You were gonna ask me something. What was it?*” 

Her lips quivered slightly. “*Tell me. Do you think....is there a chance that thing might be Ciri? That...well...she’s been transformed by some curse?*”

He pulled his hand down. “*Don’t even want to think about it.*”

“*Geralt, we must.*”

“*Might be. From what I know she was looking to cure a powerful curse while in Novigrad. But I’ll lose it if I try to deal with that possibility now. We have to do what we can, see what happens.*” He was quiet for a moment as he looked back to the garden. “*Ugh. Makes me wonder what she’s gotten herself into.*”

It was Yennefer’s turn to comfort him. She reached for his arm and entwined her fingers with his. He looked over to her, smiling despite the dread that had settled in his stomach. “*I can’t even begin to imagine. But we will pull her out of it, safe and sound. That I promise you.*”

At that, she pulled him to her to kiss him, a soft, lingering kiss meant to comfort him. He held his forehead to hers and breathed deeply. “I couldn’t do this without you, Yen.”

“As I couldn’t without you.”

They held each other, trying desperately to quell the fears and anxiety over their missing daughter. They stayed that way for a long time.

“*What now?*” He asked, gently kissing the top of her head. 

“*Well, I’m due to appear in Vizima. We must report to the Emperor after all.*”

Geralt stiffened at that. He had once cared for Duny the man, but Emhyr the Emperor was ruthless and conniving, and someone he did not trust. The fact that Yennefer had been working with him and developed some sort of camaraderie while he was without his memories made him all the more uncomfortable. It only reminded him that he wasn’t there for her when she needed him. He pulled back. “*Ciri’s our concern, and only ours.*”

“*At heart, perhaps, but it’s not what we agreed with Emhyr. We must see him.*” She looked at him quizzically.

“*Awfully loyal to your patron....*” he muttered defensively.

“*He happens to be your patron as well, darling. You’d do well to remember that, otherwise he might feel compelled to remind you.*” 

Geralt just scowled.

“*We wouldn’t have known Ciri had returned if not for the Emperor and his agents. It’s the least we can do.*”

Geralt let Yennefer go and walked a short distance away, pacing in frustration. “*If you gotta go, go.*”

“Geralt, out with it. Why are you so upset about this? You know we have an obligation to Emhyr right now, and he may even be able to help. His mages were able to help me, afterall. Daemond is...”

“It’s fine. I’m fine. I’ll get Uma from Crow’s Perch and meet you in Kaer Morhen. I’m sure there’s some dusty tome in there that could help.”

“Geralt…”

But he walked back up to her and kissed her gently. “I’m fine Yen, just anxious for Ciri.” She looked at him hard for a moment, like she was trying to gauge if he was telling the truth or not. He held her a bit closer. “I’m fine,” he lied.

She pulled back. “*I shan’t be gone long....*”

“*Better not be,*” he said as he kissed her one last time. Maybe if he kept kissing her enough he could hide the rage boiling inside of him that Emhyr was the one who ended up healing her, not him. That when she was lost and alone, it was he who pulled her back. That Emhyr was the one to discover Ciri had returned, while he had forgotten her very name for a time. That he had a burning jealousy over both these facts, irrational as it was, and that everytime she even mentioned his name he felt his own failures.

As the fiery edges of her portal disappeared, the shame and envy hit him again. “FUCK!” he yelled as he grabbed Roach’s reins. 

The horse remained calm; she was used to this emotionless Witcher’s emotional outbursts. She led them to the nearest harbor to make for Crow’s Perch while Geralt sat astride and stewed. 

Yennefer

Geralt was lying, that much was obvious, but she was not positive about what. She knew he disliked Emhyr, understandably considering that he had not only ordered their deaths at one point, but had a wholly vile plan to impregnate Ciri, his own biological daughter. It still made Yennefer feel physically ill, and part of why she wanted to remain near him was to ensure that was no longer in the cards. As she walked to her audience with Emhyr she cursed her decision to stop reading Geralt’s mind. It would have been so much easier, but she promised herself that she would end it; that their relationship needed to move forward without that intrusion, although she would make an exception for the moments after they made love and he would imagine beautiful scenes for her to enjoy. The thought filled her with warmth, a nice distraction in the cold and sterile halls of Vizima.

***

“Yennefer, at last. I was beginning to get concerned you had lost focus on the matter at hand,” Emhyr stated.

She sighed. “Considering my name and reputation is effectively destroyed in Skellige at present, I fail to see how you have arrived at that conclusion.”

“Yennefer, I am less interested in your insolence and more concerned with the search for my daughter. Tell me you and the Witcher you insisted on including have uncovered something of use. That this all hasn’t been an extended play to get two lovers back together. As romantic as that idea is, I care little and less about your love life. I am only interested in results.”

She took a deep breath, seething inside. “As a matter-of-fact, we have learned a great deal. We know Ciri isn’t in Velen, Novigrad, or Skellige. We know the Wild Hunt had chased her throughout those areas, and that she had help from an elven sage. We know there’s a powerful curse involved, and Geralt is currently heading to Crow’s Perch to acquire the being Uma, likely the result of that curse.” And we learned all this on top of having the best sex of our fucking lives, you arrogrant prick , she thought.

“Steward” Emhyr yelled. A man appeared. “Get a message to Commander Voorhis. Have him pick up the Witcher and that creature and bring them to Vizima immediately.” The man ran out. 

“Geralt and I were planning on heading to Kaer Morhen…”

“I will speak to the Witcher first before anything else, Yennefer. I plan to examine this creature myself, and have my mages do the same. You may remember they are quite skilled at fixing broken things. And I am not certain Cirilla has been your primary concern as of late.”

“Are you somehow insinuating that I do not have Ciri’s wellbeing at the forefront of my mind, Emperor?” She gripped her fists.

“I think when it comes to the Witcher, the “forefront” of your mind is relative. However, I will not deny that you and the Witcher have produced far more than the lackeys in my employ. I will examine the creature and decide where to go from there.”

She closed her eyes, frustration coursing through her as she turned to leave.

“I am not done with you yet, Yennefer. You will wait to be dismissed.”

She stopped, remembering again how much she hated courts and politics and anything to do with inflating large egos of power-hungry men. 

“When Cirilla has returned, I plan to have her join me here and take her place as Empress. There will be no arguments with this. I do not know what happy fairytale you and the Witcher may have conjured up, but rest assured Cirilla will not be part of it. My daughter will remain with me.”

Yennefer turned and scowled. “Geralt and I have been too preoccupied trying to save Ciri’s life to have time to dream up any happy fairytales together, Emperor. That is how much our daughter means to us. Is there anything else?”

Emhyr looked her over, a smirk on his face. “You may go,” he replied.

At that, she left, careful to maintain a blank face while inside she wanted to explode in rage. 

Geralt

Geralt and Emhyr stood looking at each other, the air thick with hostility. 

“*I gave you three solid leads, trails as fresh as morning dew, the aid of my spies and my court sorceress. Yet in my daughter’s stead you bring me this....monstrosity? I hope you have more to say, for your sake.*”

My sorceress ? Geralt sneered. “*I pursued those leads you gave me. Ciri first reappeared in Skellige. With a mage, an elf. Yen knows more.”

Yennefer was about to speak but Emhyr cut her off. “Yennefer has already informed me of this. I do not need to listen to this again. What of this monstrosity?”

“*This “monstrosity” might well be your daughter. It’s body is the product of a curse. Someone hides inside it.*

Emhyr turned to Yennefer. “*Can you lift this curse?*”

Yennefer looked at Uma, concern evident in her face. Geralt knew she was terrified Ciri hid in that misshapen form. “I’ve done a great deal of research, made inquires...but to lift it, I would need to know the words used to cast it, and that…”

Geralt stopped her, speaking the incantation he had heard. Yennefer looked up at him, her face breaking out into a wide grin as she watched him. “*Dandelion told me. Ciri talked to him about it.*” He gave her a small smirk.

“*At last. You provide a pleasant surprise. Lady Yennefer, my question stands.*”

“*Yes, I believe I can, but I must…*”

“I’ve told you before, Yennefer, details do not concern me, only results. But first, I want my other mages to look into this. They were able to heal you, Yennefer, perhaps they can help with this….creature. Daemond!?” With that, the mage took Uma and left the room. “He will be returned you tomorrow if no answers can be found.” Emhyr looked at Geralt. “*You’ve achieved precious little, but admittedly more than the bumblers in my service. I will give you half your promised reward. You’ll receive the rest when you bring me Ciri.*”

“*Wouldn’t count on that happening.*” Geralt retorted.

“*That was not a request. It was an order. And Geralt, I advise you well...do not disobey me.*” Emhyr was silent for a moment. “*This audience is over. Till the next.*”

Geralt turned and walked out, not looking back to see if Yennefer was following him.

***

“Geralt” Yennefer called, trailing after him. “Geralt, stop.”

He turned, upset. “*Could’ve used some of that biting wit of yours. Where’d it disappear to? I mean, you were as meek as a novice at Aretuza called to the dean’s office.*” 

Yennefer was taken aback at that. “*I merely know when I can indulge my pride and when I must swallow it.*” She glared at him. “*Unlike some others I know....*”

“*Ah, I see, so you show your claws to me since I’m a lowly witcher but…*” Geralt was fuming.

“*Do you really wish to do this now, Geralt?*”

“Yes Yennefer, yes I really fucking do,” he yelled back.

At that she grabbed his hand, pulling him down the halls and into her study, away from the prying eyes and eager ears of Emhyr’s court. As soon as she pulled him inside she slammed the door and recited an incantation.

“There,” she said once the spell was complete. “At least we can have some semblance of privacy.” She looked at him, eyes cold. “Now dammit Geralt, what is wrong with you at the moment? Why are you so angry?”

“Why do you think, Yennefer?”

“I haven’t a clue. You shut down completely after the garden, you were furious from the start here, and you’re been picking a fight with me since you’ve arrived. If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were…” she stopped, smiling suddenly. She walked over to him. “Geralt, are you jealous of Emhyr?”

She knew him too damn well, and it infuriated him all the more. “Of course I’m not jealous of Emhyr. I’m just annoyed that the bastard thinks he can speak to me like I’m his page or dog. And “my sorceress”? What the hell was that about, Yennefer? What the fuck gives him the right to say that to you?”

She smiled at him and tucked a piece of loose hair behind his ear. “I believe the term he used was “my court sorceress”, and in that case he was correct: I am the court sorceress to the Emperor of Nilfgaard. But Geralt, you know that that is where it ends with Emhyr.” She walked closer, directly against him, and he sighed at the feel of her. “Geralt, my love, I’m yours. You’re mine. Remember?” She kissed him softly for a moment, pulling away slowly. “Mine,” she whispered again in his ear as she took his earlobe in her mouth. 

Geralt felt his erection, hard and full, straining against his laces. He pulled her mouth to his and lifted her in a quick motion. He carried her into her sleeping chambers, laying her on the bed as he lifted her skirt and pulled down her lingerie. He looked at her, eager and glistening, and licked his lips. “Mine,” he growled, as he bent down to cover her core.

Yennefer

They lay together in thrills and sighs, the sheets still warm with their lovemaking. Neither bothered to move. Yennefer traced designs on his skin while he placed soft kisses in her hair.

“*I missed you,*” he said contentedly.

“*And I missed you,*” she said as she smiled against his skin. She kissed him a few more times. “Now will you tell me where this jealousy of Emhyr came about?” 

Gealt let out a small sigh. “Not only was he able to discover Ciri had returned when I had thought her lost for good, but he was able to help you and return your memories while I was…” He stopped for a minute. “I know it’s foolish, I know it’s wrong, but at times I feel like he’s a better father to Ciri. That he was there for you when I wasn’t. And it kills me.”

Yennefer pulled herself up to rest her weight on her hand and brushed his cheek. “Darling, you cannot possibly believe that for a moment. It makes no sense. You have spent the past 3.5 months looking for our daughter while Emhyr has been more focused on winning the war with the North. Not to mention the hell you went through searching for her before; the friends you lost. Let’s not forget that he also had fully intended on impregnating Ciri at one point.” She saw Geralt grimace in disgust at that. “You are more of a father to her than he has been or ever will be, Geralt.”

“As for me,” she continued. “Geralt, I don’t hold it against you that you weren’t there at that moment. I know you were lost yourself. And you came for me the second you could. So stop.”

He smiled and reached his hand to touch one of her long curls. “I’ve don’t doubt how I felt about Ciri or you, Yen. I tried to run from Ciri and our destiny for how long? What a fool I was, running from my daughter.” he looked at her. “Our daughter,” he corrected himself. “I’m just so worried about her. It’s like before, and I’m terrified I might be too late this time.” 

Yennefer wiped a small tear from the corner of his eye. “We will find her, Geralt. We will find her and rescue her, I promise you. I refuse to accept anything less than that, Witcher, and you know how stubborn I can be.” He laughed at that.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever fully forgive myself for not being there for you when you needed it, Yen, no matter the circumstances. But I plan to do everything to make it now.” He gave her a light kiss.”

“So no more of this jealousy, alright?” She smiled and tucked her head into the crook of his neck. He wrapped his arms around her. She kissed him once more as she drifted off to sleep in his arms.

They both knew tomorrow would start anew with them throwing everything at the search for Ciri, and with that would come the anxiety, the fear, the stress, and the potential pain and sorrow. 

But for this small, precious moment, they could be together, as they were in the apple trees, and hold the terrors at bay, if only for a night.

Chapter Text

Lambert

Lambert set alone in the kitchen, staring at the salted pork he had on his plate and wishing he had caught that deer by the stream. It was a beautiful doe, fat with spring grass, and he had been craving venison for weeks. He had aimed his crossbow perfectly, right at the heart for a fast and clean kill, but the damn thing jammed when he pulled the trigger. The noise alerted the animal, and by the time Lambert had reloaded, the deer was gone. Lucky day for the doe, salted pork again for him.

He fucking hated it here.

Kaer Morhen was a wreck, a stone monolith celebrating a bygone age. Witchers were a dying breed, the knowledge of how to make them long-forgotten, and good riddance for that. “What kind of sick profession is being a Witcher, anyway?” he thought to himself as he shoved a piece of pork in his mouth. Killing creatures for a pittance, living on a Path, just waiting for your turn to die. For the innumerable time, he cursed his father that had sold him to this life in exchange for his own. 

Of course, some witchers weren’t destined to live a life of emptiness on the Path. Some were contracted by kings and paid in jewels. Some had legends told about them, ballads composed about them, women fawning all over them. Some like his brother: The White Wolf, The Butcher of Blaviken, Gwynbleidd, or whatever other fucking nickname he has.

Geralt of Rivia.

While Lambert was busy killing drowners and water hags for some backwater shithole, Geralt was dining with kings and queens. His reputation proceeded him wherever he went. Women would literally throw themselves on him, begging him to make love to him. He had watched Triss Merigold, beautiful Triss Merigold, do that in this very hall. He couldn’t fucking believe it. Lambert was usually relegated to paying for a whore while sorceresses were on their knees begging Geralt to suck his cock. It was pathetic. It was unfair. It pissed him the fuck off.

He ripped another piece of pork with his teeth and took a large swig of ale. It was going to be another bad night.

***

He was so angry he missed the sound of the front door opening. “Hello?” a clear voice rang out. Lambert’s ears perked up. A woman. He had not heard a woman’s voice in so long, stuck here in Kaer Morhen waiting for the snows to melt, and it made him smile. But why the hell was a woman here? She must be lost...but how fucking lost can you get to accidentally find the Witcher’s Keep of Kaer Morhen? He walked to the hall to see if he could get to the bottom of this mystery. 

He stopped.

He had never seen a more beautiful woman in his life. She was wearing a traveling cloak, deep black with the edges lined in white fur, and when she removed the hood she shook her head slightly as soft obsidian curls fell down to her back. He could see the outline of her figure, her thin waist flared to shapely hips and her pants revealed slim and toned legs. Her skin was perfect, smooth as marble, and he suddenly ached to touch it. Her cheeks were slightly flushed and her eyes the most striking shade of blue, the light almost making them purple. He felt himself growing hard at the sight of her. She turned to him, smirking a bit. He swallowed.

“And who might you be?” she said. Strange question for a woman lost in the wilds of the Kaedwen. 

“Lambert.”

“Ah yes, Lambert. We haven’t had the pleasure yet.”

He was confused, and beginning to feel less certain this was a lost woman. 

“And you’re….”

“Yennefer,” a deep voice coming from behind him. Eskel.

“Ah Eskel, looks like you’ve remembered me, at last,” she retorted, her eyes glaring at the older witcher next to him.

Yennefer. That name, how did he know that name? Then it hit him...Geralt. This was Geralt’s Yennefer. This was the woman he was in love with; the woman he’d loved for decades; that he’d exchanged his soul for; that he forgot with his amnesia. Ciri’s mother. This was her. 

Of fucking course it was. 

Lambert cursed.

Yennefer

It was strange being back in Kaer Morhen, especially considering a year ago she thought she might never see this place again. She had portalled into the courtyard rather than the main keep, thinking she might find the witchers at their swordsmanship, but she had been greeted with nothing but wind. As she had walked towards the castle, she had run her hand along the old wooden bench she had sat on time and again watching Geralt train and he had apparently slept on dreaming of her when he couldn’t remember her name. “Thank you,” she had whispered as she trailed her fingers along the worn wood. 

“What brings you here, Yennefer. Geralt isn’t here.” Eskel looked her over. She wondered if she thought he had imagined her here to seek revenge, either on them or Geralt. She sighed a bit sadly, wishing she knew where in their relationship things had gone so wrong.

“I know Geralt isn’t here, Eskel, as I just left him in Vizima. He is riding to Kaer Morhen as we speak and will hopefully arrive within a fortnight.”

The younger witcher, Lambert, just stared at her, eyes narrowed. She removed her cloak and he made a small groan. She ignored him. 

“Why are you here, then?” Eskel pressed.

“We’ve a curse to lift, Eskel. A curse that will be the clue to finding Ciri. I assume you remember her, correct? Geralt’s and my daughter? She lived here as a child. Ring any bells?” She glowered at him. It hurt knowing they had intentionally decided to reveal nothing of her existence to Geralt when he had amnesia, but to ignore Ciri as well…

Eskel groaned. “Obviously I remember Ciri, Yennefer…”

“All evidence points to the contrary. Frankly, I’m surprised you remembered my name, as you had seemed to have forgotten it for nearly two years.” She stared at him, eyes piercing. 

Eskel closed his eyes and pursed his lips. “Yennefer, we didn’t know if you and Ciri were even alive. We thought the kinder thing to do was just let his memories come back naturally since…”

“Since it was easier to pretend we didn’t exist at all, especially for Triss.” Eskel opened his mouth again but Yennefer shut him down. “I’m not interested in your excuses, Eskel. You made your choice, and Geralt paid the price. He’ll be here to thank you for that in person soon, at any rate. In the meantime, I have a curse to lift and my daughter to save. You could start making things right by helping me.”

She whispered a spell and trunks she had left in the courtyard vanished to Geralt’s old room. “I’ll be in Geralt’s quarters preparing. See you at supper?” She made her way up the stairs, trying desperately to ignore the hurt and rage, and overwhelming sadness, inside her. 

Lambert

“That’s Yennefer?” Lambert said after the woman had left the hall. 

Eskel sighed. “That’s Yennefer.”

“She’s..” Lambert tried to think of how to describe her. Nothing felt sufficient.

“Oh trust me, I know,” Eskel replied.

“She’s gorgeous.” Lambert hadn’t meant to say that out loud.

Eskel laughed. “Oh I know that too. She’s one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. But trust me when I tell you, just stay away. There’s nothing but pain down that road, Lambert. She’s with Geralt. There are literally ballads sung about the two of them and their love.”

Lambert smirked. “You don’t know that for certain. Geralt and Triss got pretty close here.”

Eskel laughed. “Yeah, when Geralt had literally forgotten Yennefer existed. The second he found out she was alive, he broke it off with Triss in an instant and went to hunt Yennefer down. There is no scenario where Geralt of Rivia would choose Triss over Yennefer. None. I guarantee they’re back together.”

“Think she knows about Triss?”

“Obviously. Did you see the way she mentioned her name? She knows. And she’s pissed. So now we’ve got a pissed off sorceress and a pissed off Geralt coming to Kaer Morhen.” Eskel muttered. 

“If they’re back together now, which we still don’t know for sure, why does it matter? No permanent harm done.”

Eskel laughed out loud at that. “Lambert, you have a fucking lot to learn about wo…” but he was cut off by a massive crash outside. It sounded like a battering ram, and for a moment Lambert was worried the keep was being attacked. 

“What the fuck was that?” he yelled as they ran to the side courtyard where the sound originated. In front of them, in a sad pile of broken planks, hay, and feathers, was Geralt’s bed, the best bed in Kaer Morhen. “Did she just throw the damn bed out the balcony?” Lambert said in amazement.

Eskel was shaking his head. “Like I was saying, you have a lot to learn about women.”

***

“You want to tell Yennefer supper is ready?” Eskel asked Lambert as they sat around the kitchen. After hearing there was nothing but salted pork, Yennefer promptly conjured up some venison and boar meat, both of which were roasting on the open fire in the center of the kitchen.

“Not particularly,” Lambert responded. He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her, and it was making him uncomfortable, especially considering her relationship with Geralt.

“No need,” Yennefer said, walking into the kitchen. She had changed from her traveling clothes to something a bit more comfortable. She wore a long and flowing black skirt with a white blouse tucked in, showing just a hint of cleavage. Her hair she wore loose down her back, falling in wild ringlets. She smelled of flowers and something a bit tarter. 

Lambert groaned. He was grateful to be sitting as just her presence seemed to be enough to harden him. “Fuck...:” he whispered.

“Hello to you too, Lambert. Eskel, is there anything to drink?” 

The three of them set, quietly drinking and eating, unsure how to dance around awkward conversational topics.

“Where’s Vesemir?” Yennefer finally asked.

“He’s been out for a couple weeks now to gather some supplies for the keep. We ran low on things during the winter. He should be back soon.”

“That’s good. I asked him to hold onto some extra megascope crystals for me the last time I stayed here. I wasn’t able to find them in Geralt’s room so I’m assuming he’s stored them elsewhere?”

“They may be in the study,” Eskel replied. “I can check tomorrow.”

“Thank you, Eskel.” Yennefer smiled. She looked around. “It’s strange, being here again. Nothing’s changed…”

Lambert watched her, an almost wistful look in her eye. “Wishing Geralt was with you? Miss the White Wolf already?” he smirked.

She turned to him, eyes a warm violet, and he felt his cock jerk. “He’ll be here soon enough,” she replied. “I’ll make sure to welcome him properly when he arrives.”

“Gonna be hard to do that without a bed, won’t it? We both saw what you did to that piece of furniture.” 

“How incredibly sad for you, Lambert, that the whole of your sexual vision is encompassed in a bed. Geralt and I are far more experimental than that.”

Eskel laughed. “Having stayed here enough listening to the two of you, I agree.”

Lambert burned in a strange mixture of jealousy and embarrassment. He wanted to hurt her for making him feel this way. “It must have been awkward, after all, seeing that bed. I’m not positive if the sheets have been changed since Geralt and Triss rolled around in them. The screams Triss would make...”

The atmosphere of the room immediately went dark. Yennefer glared at Lambert, her eyes an angry blue fire. “*Not cool, Lambert,*” Eskel replied. “Knock it off.”

Yennefer stood up and walked to the door. Her voice was cold and austere.“I need both of your assistance in finding Ciri. I need the spinal fluid of a forktail and I need to recharge a phylactery. I do not care who does what, as long as it gets done. It is, after all, for Ciri, the girl you both knew as a child yet cared so little about you failed to mention her existence to Geralt. Perhaps you can start making up for it now.”

“Now wait a fucking minute…” Lambert stood up, ready to fight, but Yennefer simply walked away.

“What the hell is wrong with you, Lambert? Was that really necessary? Geralt would have kicked your ass had he been here, and you would have deserved it.”

“She’s a bitch and I don’t like her,” he replied. 

“Your fucking pants tell a different story. Look, she’s with Geralt. Deal with that and let’s try to at least be civil.”

Lambert had no plans on being civil, and he had no plans on killing a forktail or recharging a phylactery. He did, however, know how to make her megascope malfunction, and he looked forward to knowing he was the one causing her frustration. At least then he could get her back for the frustration she was causing him.

Yennefer 

(one week later)

“FUCK!” She screamed as the third megascope crystal exploded. She was furious. She could not understand what was causing this. The only logical explanation was that there was some sort of magical disturbance causing the anomaly, but everyone had refused to help her look for it. Vesemir was too worried about the structural integrity of the Keep and Lambert, she had decided, was nothing more than an asshole. To his credit, and perhaps out of guilt, Eskel had been busy preparing to hunt the forktail, something she was grateful for. Still, the atmosphere between all of them was cold. She hated that Triss could be in a situation like this and fit right in. “Maybe that’s why they never mentioned me,” she sighed. “Maybe they thought he’d be better off.”

Above all else, she felt her nerves fraying more and more as she thought about Ciri. She felt like a pot of water over a flame, slowly starting to boil. The panic and dread for her daughter increased with each day. She needed help, and yet in this place she once felt such love, she now only felt like a stranger. 

“Please get here soon, Geralt,” she whispered quietly. “Please.” 

She felt very alone.

Chapter Text

Geralt

Geralt smiled as he crested the ridge and Kaer Morhen came into view. He had not seen the old Keep in some years, and even though parts of it were a crumbling ruin, it was still good to see it again. Plus, Yen was in there, and he had missed her more than he thought he would on the trip up here with Uma. He looked forward to holding her again. He missed the feel of her smile against his skin.

A forktail suddenly swooped low, spooking Roach and scaring Uma. He axiied Roach to calm her. “*Forktails this close to the fortress? Someone’s been slacking off…,*” he muttered.

“*Ummaaummamummamaa,*” responded Uma. 

As he entered the Keep, Vesemir greeted him. “*Well, look who the wind blew in. Been away quite a while*”

“My last memories here weren’t the most pleasant,” he thought to himself. But it was in the past now, and he’d be lying to say he wasn’t happy to be back. “*Too long,*” he replied as he shook Vesemir’s outstretched hand.

They stared at Uma, who was at the moment rolling in the dirt. Geralt shook his head. “*Yennefer was right on one thing,*” Vesemir said as he bent down to get a closer look at Uma. “*The thing sure isn’t pretty.*”

“Yen’s here?”

“*And how.*”

Geralt sighed. In truth, he hadn’t wanted her to come to Kaer Morhen alone. He knew how difficult it would be for her, what with everyone in his family conveniently forgetting that she existed for two years. How would it be to face those people, and to face them alone? But she had been insistent. Ciri needed them, her discomfort be damned. She would happily set that aside for her daughter. “*You two argue?*”

“*Geralt, I understand that she’s a, well, how do I put this? Emancipated, strong-willed woman, but do manners count for nothing? She teleports in, not even a “nice to see you”. She jumps right into, uh, “We’ve a curse to lift. There’s this to do, and that, so Eskel and Lambert get going. Then she went to the guest bedroom to rearrange things. Threw the bed off the balcony…*”

“Fuck,” Geralt thought. He could only imagine how upset seeing that bed probably made her. 

“*Solid oak frame, down mattress,*” Vesemir went on. “*Triss always said…*” Geralt looked at him, his shoulders slumping. Vesemir stopped, understanding at last. “*Ahh, now I see.*” Geralt felt the shame of it rising up and decided it was best to just change topics. 

“*So, what’s Yen planning?*”

“*Wish I knew,*” Vesemir grumbled.

“*You mean she didn’t tell you?*”

“*She told us what she needs to lift the curse, not what she plans to do with it. Despite our asking.*”

“Well, considering how you all treated her and Ciri when I couldn’t remember them, I can’t say I’m surprised. Haven’t given her much reason to trust you.”

Vesemir sighed. “Geralt, you and I have been over this. I know it was wrong not to mention Yennefer or Ciri while you had amnesia, and I’ve apologized…”

“You have, Vesemir, and I appreciate you helping me find her, although I’ll tell you that betrayal cut her as deeply as it did me. But Lambert and Eskel have not. Yen doesn’t know Lambert, but she sure as hell knew Eskel. I’m not surprised she’s closed off and doesn’t trust anyone here.” Geralt glanced to the side courtyard where he could just make out the remains of his old bed and shook his head. “Where is she?”

“Your old quarters in the tower,” Vesemir sighed. 

“Thanks, Vesemir.”

“I’ll keep an eye on Uma for you. Give you two a moment alone.” Geralt nodded and walked up to the Keep. 

***

A loud explosion rang out as he walked up the tower stairs to their room. “*GODSDAMMIT!!*” 

“*Uh-oh..*” He knew from her tone she was furious.

“*Damn crystal!*” she coughed, trying in vain to fan the smoke out of her eyes. 

“She looks exhausted,” Geralt thought to himself. She wore her hair up, tied in a messy pile on top of her hair with a leather thong. A couple errant strands had escaped to frame her face. Her hands looked like they had been stained with ash and she had slight bags under her eyes. She wore one of his old tunics, off-white and giant on her, tucked into a pair of tight black pants. Her eyes sparkled that particular shade of blue-violet they always did when she was stressed. Still, she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. “*Trying to blow us all up?*” he laughed.

She looked up at that, surprised to see him. “*Geralt, I’m sorry but I’m in no mode for jests.*”

No, she obviously wasn’t.

He walked up behind her, pulling her into him, and she allowed it. He could feel her body practically melting into his touch. She took a long breath and grabbed his right hand in hers, leaning her head against his shoulder. He kissed her temple lightly and she sighed. “*What’s eating you?*” he whispered softly.

“*Well, let me think, that was the fifth crystal to explode. It’s been a week and Lambert still hasn’t done what I’ve asked. Vesemir spitefully insists on repairing the wall beneath my window and starts hammering at the crack of dawn. And Eskel…*” but Geralt pulled her in before she could continue and kissed her softly. 

“Been waiting too many days to do that,” he laughed, and she smiled. He let her go, looking at the shattered crystal. “I know this couldn't have been easy, Yen. That’s why I told you to wait for me to get here.”

“And like I told you, all that would have accomplished is us losing another week in the search for Ciri. I’m fine, Geralt, just…”

“Frustrated?” he offered. She glared at him. “Why aren’t you telling them your plans? They aren’t exactly happy with you.”

She snorted. “Like I fret over what the likes of fools like Lambert think. They couldn’t be bothered with me at all for two years, Geralt. Besides, like I have told them numerous times, *I will explain everything when the time is right. But first, we must finish our preparations.*”

He looked around the room, noticing a pile of sleeping furs where an oak bed once stood. “Saw the bed in the courtyard. What’s left of it, that is. Sure you prefer sleeping on the floor. You know it gets awfully chilly here.”

She sneered at that, her eyes cold. “*Frankly, I prefer a chill to sleeping in a bed littered with red hair.*”

Geralt walked over to her and pulled her close. “Yen, you know she means nothing to me. That it never should have happened, and it never would have happened had I had my memories.” 

She leaned into him before slightly pulling away. “I know, Geralt. I just didn’t want to see it. I don’t need to stare at that reminder each day. I just...I need to focus, and I’m not getting any damn help. And we’re wasting fucking time while Ciri...” She cut herself off. He could feel her anxiety rising. 

He tucked one of those flyaway ringlets behind her ear. “Like we’ve ever needed a bed anyway,” he smirked as he gave her a small kiss.

“That’s exactly what I told Lambert.” He laughed at that. “Who, by the way, is a complete and utter ass. At least Eskel has gone out to hunt the damn forktail but Lambert stubbornly refuses to do anything but putter about the main hall. You would think he’d be interested in helping the girl he’s known since she was a child but instead he seems more intent on spiting me. I don’t know what I have done to get in his ill-graces, but it’s annoying and counterproductive.”

“Lambert’s a prick to everyone. He’s always been that way.”

“Well, I couldn’t care less if he likes me, but I’ll be damned if he gets in the way of or delays me finding Ciri. I’m half tempted to turn him into a small rodent. At least in that form he may be of some use to something. A hungry eagle, perhaps?” Geralt laughed.

“Yen, don’t be so dramatic. I’ll talk to him, and Eskel too.”

“Also, *as you can see, my megascope is acting up...in a rather spectacular fashion. I’m certain there’s an energy source nearby, generating disturbances, making the crystals malfunction. We must find it and neutralize it, quickly...I must contact someone. It’s urgent.*” She looked at him. “*Ida Emean. Remember her?*”

“*Member of the Lodge. Elven sage.*”

“*Exactly. A sage. I’d like to ask her for advice on Uma.*”

Geralt wasn’t sure he trusted Ida, or any other sorceress outside of Yennefer, but he didn’t press it. 

“So this disturbance? How do I find it?” She pulled out a strange device with two large tongs sticking out, almost like a tuning fork. “What the hell is that?”

“A protestaquisitor.”

“A protesta-what?”

“A protestaquisitor. *It’s ever-so-simple. Grasp it firmly, move it around, and the louder it squeals the closer you are.*”

Geralt grinned at that, smirking at Yennefer’s unintentional innuendo. “Mhmmm…” he said, imagining doing the same with her riding him. 

She scoffed and rolled her eyes. “*Spare me your juvenile wit, please.*” But Geralt grabbed her and pulled her to him.

“I don’t think I will,” he whispered against her lips as he started kissing her. Yennefer threw her arms around him, moaning softly as she opened her mouth and deepened the kiss. He began to knead the firm flesh of her rear, his cock responding. Yennefer ground herself once into him and he groaned. He went to massage her breasts, but she pulled back. 

“*Well, what are you waiting for?*” she giggled lightly.

“Yen, you’re seriously making me do this right now? Surely we can spare a few minutes?” He reached for her but she danced out of his embrace.

“Darling, you get this done and I promise to thank you properly, multiple times over,” she winked. She palmed him through his pants and his cocked jerked in her hand. She kissed him, pulling his bottom lip out as she pulled back. “ Multiple times.” She stepped away from him.

Geralt groaned. His mind was so lust-ridden he could barely think beyond the feel and smell of her. “Just grasp it firmly?” he said, sounding dazed.

“And move it around,” she responded softly, her voice deep.

“And the louder it squeals...”

At this she leaned into him and nibbled his earlobe before whispering, “The closer you are.”

Geralt gasped. “Fuck…”

Lambert

Lambert sat in the main hall, dumping the potatoes in with the yeast to ferment, and he stewed. Geralt was back, and after a quick hello, he had gone upstairs to find Yennefer. “I bet he’s fucking her right now,” he scowled as he turned the mash. In his dreams, he had imagined taking Yennefer up against the stone of the Keep, or in a pleasant meadow he knew of near the river, her screaming his name as she came. He’d woken up too many times with spoiled bed-sheets, and he’d been growing fouler by the day.

“Not that it’s any of your business, but no...not yet anyway,” Geralt smirked behind him.

“Fuck Geralt, I didn’t see you. Why the hell are you sneaking around anyway? And what is that? Some new toy?” Lambert was secretly glad he hadn’t said anything more incriminating. 

“It’s a protestaquisitor. It’s supposed to help find the magical disturbance that’s messing up Yen’s megascope. She needs to contact Ida to ask some questions about Uma.” The crazy machine beeped slowly. “Looks like nothing magical’s here, though.”

Lambert smirked, knowing Geralt was looking for the dimeritium bombs he stored in the hall to purposely cause her instruments to malfunction. “I take offense to that, Wolf. My hooch is second to none, and as magical as anything you’ll find in Kaer Morhen, barring any sorceresses lurking about.”

“Yeah, I heard about you and Yen not exactly getting along. Look Lambert, Yennefer is extremely important to me, and I’d appreciate it if you at least tried to be helpful. I know you haven’t bothered to help her.”

“Important to you like Triss?” Lambert sneered. “Sorry Geralt, I’m not interested in helping out self-righteous witches. Not my thing. Guess that’s why you get all the sorceresses, huh?”

“Careful, Lambert,” Geralt warned, eyes dark with rage. “This isn’t just some girl to me. I know you don’t know Yen, but she and Ciri mean more to me than anyone else. You got it?”

“What makes you think I care about your love life, Geralt? It changes by the week.”

“I don’t give a fuck what you think about me, or what fucking issues you have with your own lot, Lambert, but you leave Yennefer out of it. Alright?”

“Wish I could, but she’s about as demanding as a bout of the shits, and just as pleasant,” he replied. Geralt cocked his fist back at that, and Lambert braced himself for the punch, but it didn’t come. Instead, the little machine Geralt was holding, the protesta-something, started beeping faster. It had obviously picked up the bombs. Geralt stopped and turned away from him.

“You’re not worth it,” he muttered. He made his way to the bombs, following the increasing beeping from the machine. He stopped in front of the crate that stored the weapons, a lopsided smile on his face. “The louder it squeels…,” he muttered with a dumb grin. 

“Excuse me?” Lambert replied.

“Nothing.” Geralt pried open the box. “Dimeritium bombs.” Lambert chuckled at that. “Don’t suppose you know how these got here, Lambert?” Geralt stared at him

“Sure I do. I put them there.”

“And you had absolutely no idea that dimeritium interrupts magical energies?”

Lambert’s smirk grew wider. “How would I know that, Geralt, lowly backwater witcher that I am?”

Geralt sighed. “Just get this crap out of here so Yen can use her megascope, alright? Lifting the curse for Uma will lead us to Ciri. You may not give a shit about Yen, but I know you care for Ciri, and this is all for her.”

Lambert picked up the box, feeling slightly embarrassed again. He was so worried about making Yennefer’s life hell as she was making his that he forgot why she was even here. He grabbed the box. “Ok, I’ll move them outside, and then let’s go get that phylactery charged. She needs that done as well.”

“She does,” Geralt stated. 

“She’s just, she’s a lot, ok. She’s not the easiest person to be around. But she’s just…”

Geralt laughed. “I know, Lambert. I know exactly who Yen is, and I love her.”

Lambert looked away from Geralt, jealous of the ease in which he could talk about Yennefer, talk about anyone. “You really do?”

“Yeah, I really do. Now come on, she’s promised me something for getting this shit done and I intend to collect.”

“I told you I didn’t want to hear about your love life, asshole.” Lambert grunted, setting the box down. He thought about that road of pain Eskel had warned him about earlier. He was on it. 

“Too late for that, Lambert. Let’s go.”

Geralt

It had taken the whole day, but Geralt had finally gotten the phylactery filled and the spinal fluid collected, on top of solving the problem with the megascope. Lambert knew the bombs would mess with her megascope, that much was obvious, but he did it anyway. It didn’t make sense at first, other than Lambert just resorting to his natural prick state, a bit more understandable after Lambert had explained some of his family history while they had waited for the phylactery to fill, but still, it was too calculated.

Geralt did have experience with men lusting after Yennefer, though. He had seen it in their eyes when they looked at her, when they spoke about her, and he saw it in Lambert’s as well. It made perfect sense, and Geralt couldn’t exactly blame him, Yennefer had a way about her that few could just ignore. But it did make the situation all the more awkward. He hoped something could be done for him.

“Ahem…” he stated as he sat the phylactery and spinal fluid down. Yennefer turned, eyeing him up and down hungrily. “The witcher has returned from his contract. One forktail spinal fluid collected. One phylactery filled. Dimeritium bombs removed to prevent megascope disturbance.” He took off his scabbards and jacket, walking towards her. “I’m here to collect my reward, My Lady.”

Yennefer smirked, walking towards him as well. She took the thong out of her hair, letting it fall down her back, and began unbuttoning the tunic that she wore. “And what was the agreed upon reward, Master Witcher?” she responded coyly. The tunic fell to the floor, and Geralt was happy to discover she was without a bra.

“Something about ‘multiple times,’” he replied as he discarded his shirt. He reached her and pulled her to him. He could feel his cock straining against his britches.

“Multiple times, hmm?” she said as she began to untie his laces. “Witcher fees have gone up I see.” At that she pulled him out and stroked him. Geralt groaned and began massaging her breasts. 

“Yen…,” he whispered against her mouth as he kissed her. 

She lifted her hand and her clothing vanished in a shower of blue sparks. “Well, what are you waiting for, Witcher?” She smiled as he picked her up and pushed her against the wall.

“I love you,” he sighed once more.

“And I love you, Geralt,” she said with a laugh as she softly kissed him. “But right now, I just really need you to fuck me.”

“As My Lady commands.” And with that, he sank into her, causing them both to cry out.

Lambert

He could hear them, try as he might to avoid it, and he drank another shot of his hooch to dull the pain of it. Yennefer sounded exactly like his dreams, better even. He felt the burning liquid draining down his throat and hoped, not for the first time, that somewhere there was someone for him as well.

Chapter Text

Yennefer

Yennefer watched as Vesemir and Uma left for their night in the woods and sighed. “Another evening lost, my daughter. Please forgive me,” she thought to herself. She knew she had been short with Vesemir, and she regretted the jab about “howling at the moon”, but she felt herself like a cord, held together by the finest thread, and that thread was about to snap. It didn’t escape her that it took Geralt to get the witchers to anything to help her. Admittedly, she could have been more open with her plans, but why? Lambert had spent the week being an unmitigated ass, and from the sound of it had intentionally planted the dimeritium bombs simply to spite her. Eskel and Vesemir, two people she’d known for years, thought her unworthy of even a mention to Geralt for two years. Even now, none had bothered to apologize. That had not escaped her either. She felt her shoulders slump, suddenly feeling immensely tired.

“*Vesemir’s gotten a bit grumpy in his old age.*” Geralt muttered as he sat down next to Yennefer. He grabbed her hand she had resting on the bench and gently ran his thumb over her knuckles. He was trying to comfort her, and for that she was grateful. At least, with him here, she didn’t feel so oppressively alone.

“*That was nothing,*” Eskel said. “*You should have been here last winter when Lambert tried to convince him that we oughta abandon Kaer Morhen for good.*”

“*What good is this old ruin anyway? Moldy walls, leaky roof, and it’s one big fucking ice cube in the winter.*” Lambert replied bitterly.

Yennefer looked around; Lambert wasn’t wrong. Even in the 15 years since she had last been here, the Keep had taken a beating. It’s outer wall had been breached, a tower had fallen down to ruin, and another was held up only by scaffolding. 

“*Vesemir didn’t say a word. Stood, grabbed his sword, and slammed his door on the way out. Didn’t come back for a month.*”

She could understand that too. Long lifetimes were a blessing as well as a curse. Vesemir could remember when Kaer Morhen was a beacon to Witchers of the School of the Wolf, standing proud in its mountain home. Its walls would have been strong then, its courtyards neat and orderly. Yennefer had lived nearly two of the average man's lifetimes, and she was nowhere near the age and experience of Vesemir. It made her laugh the first time he referred to her and Geralt as “young people” after he caught them making love in the stairway once, their room just too far away to stay the tide of their passion for each other. 

To live long enough to see something you love wither and die: a curse inflicted on everyone, but especially those who defied nature and tried to live forever. It was the price one paid for a long life, and Vesemir had lived an exceptionally long life.

Nature always did have the last laugh.

She thought of Tissaia, wondering if her mentor had felt the same. She probably had. Is that what caused her to take her life in the end? She would never truly know. 

Geralt snapped her from her revelries. “*So,*” he said as he stroked her thumb. “*Got the evening off. What do we want to do with it?*”

“*Vesemir mentioned some roof beams in the tower that need replacing. Maybe we could see to that?*” Eskel suggested. He was met with silence and groans. “*Or...we could have a drink.*” 

“That sounds a hell of a lot better than beamwork,” Lambert grumbled. “And I’ve just finished brewing some new hooch.”

Geralt laughed at that. “That shit can strip paint.”

“And it will get you fucking drunk. Stop whining.”

Yennefer stood. All this talk of age and ruin had made her crave vitality, and she knew exactly how to get it. She pulled Geralt to his feet. “*Do as you will, but in a moment. Geralt and I must talk.*” 

“*Ohh...sounds serious. C’mon Lambert. See you in a bit, Geralt.*”

She pulled him away from the others, and he wrapped his arms around her. “*Alright, what did I do this time?*”

“*No, nothing. I just wanted to take you aside, without cluing the others in to what we’re up to.*”

Geralt pulled her closer to him, his hands moving from her waist to her rear. “*Mhhm,* he grumbled softly in her ear. “*And what are we up to?*”

“*Sneaking upstairs to make love,*” she whispered as she ran her palms over the broad expanse of his chest.

He chuckled. “*Wow, you don’t exactly mince words.*” He started kissing her neck as he moved his hands to unbutton the top clasp of her shirt.

“*I’m too old to play the blushing bride...unless you ask nicely.*” She cupped Geralt through his britches, feeling the hard length of him against her. She felt flush as her body responded, desire pooling between her thighs. He nipped at her neck and she let out a small yelp. “*Shall we go? You can rejoin them in an hour...or two.*”

“*Or three…*” Geralt groaned, his forehead against hers. He leaned over and in a swift motion picked her up, carrying her to their room as if she weighed less than a child. 

“*I’ll hold you to that,*” she giggled as she began to kiss him. 

Lambert

“Un-fucking-believable. They’re at it again?” Lambert sighed, putting his head in his hands.

“Geralt and Yennefer? What do you think?” Eskel laughed as he took a sip of Lambert’s hooch, nearly spitting it out immediately after. “Good gods, Lambert, this could kill someone. White Gull is more pleasant than this crap.”

 “It’s meant to be shot, not sipped, jackass, and yes, Geralt and Yennefer. How many times a day can two people fuck?”

“Not sure there’s a limit, but if there was, Geralt and Yennefer would have discovered it. Like I told you before, stop thinking about her. You’re not doing yourself any favors.” At that moment, Yennefer screamed in obvious ecstasy, followed shortly by a sharp cry from Geralt. Eskel just laughed.

“I fucking hate enhanced witcher hearing, you know that,” Lambert muttered.

“Wait till they come back down and you get to enjoy that enhanced witcher smelling. Guarantee Geralt is going to have Yennefer all over him, and it’s going to drive you mad,” Eskel chuckled,

“Go fuck yourself, Eskel.”

“I’ve got a better chance with fucking myself than you do with Yennefer fucking you, Lambert.” Eskel patted him on the shoulder and shot the rest of the hooch in his glass. “You know what? It does taste better shot.”

“I hate you.” Lambert grumbled.

Geralt

True to his word, when Geralt came back down, he did smell of Yennefer, sharp and tangy with a hint of lilacs, and it pissed Lambert off. 

“*Well well, looks like one of the lovebirds decided to join us. Enjoy yourself?*” Lambert chided.

Geralt just smirked and licked his lips. “Immensely.”

“*You heard the answer to that question, Lambert. Besides, not our business.*” Eskel looked behind Geralt. “Where’s Yennefer?”

“She’s going to turn in. She’s pretty worn out.” Geralt replied with a satisfied grin

“Ha, I bet. Could fucking hear the marathon you two put on from down here.”

Geralt chuckled. “You know, once someone even clapped for us, in Thanedd. That was a long time ago, right before we lost Ciri.”

The mood changed in the room, and Eskel finally spoke. “Geralt, I, uh…” Geralt looked at him sharply. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mention Yennefer or Ciri to you and…”

“And it was fucking wrong, Eskel. You knew Yen. Both of you knew Ciri.”

Lambert turned away. “Yay, I...I know we should have said something.”

“You both have no idea what it felt like to find out you had this past, these people that mean more to you than your own life, and to discover your brothers kept it hidden from you. I hope you’ll never experience that kind of betrayal.”

Lambert and Eskel were silent.

“And fuck, you both let me carry on with Triss.”

“We were wrong,” Eskel replied. “And we’re both sorry, Geralt. Truly. We fucked up. We fucked up big time.” Lambert agreed. 

“You did,” Geralt responded. “I’m not the only one you both need to apologize to. You guys have been nothing but dicks to Yennefer.”

“Now wait just a fucking minute…” Lambert started, but Geralt cut him off.

“Lambert, I’ve seen the way you look at her. I know what your problem is with Yen.” Geralt glared at him, fists clenching. Lambert was dumbstruck.

“And Eskel, you’ve known Yen for years. Years . And you know how much she means to me. Why wouldn’t you just help her?”

Eskel said nothing.

“I know you feel she wasn’t being the most forthcoming with you, and you know what, I agree: she wasn’t. But why the hell would she be, coming into a place where people she thought of as friends conveniently forgot about her for two years. And she did mention to both of you this was for Ciri. CIRI. Her daughter; MY daughter; the child you both helped raise here. But you all just decided to let her deal with it, and you Lambert decided to antagonize her over your fucking crush and issues with me.” Lambert tried to speak again but Geralt shut him down. “You do understand, underneath all the bravado and poise is just a mother terrified for her daughter, right? You get that? So maybe offer to be a little more helpful.”

Lambert and Eskel looked awkwardly down. The Keep was uncomfortably silent. 

“She’s going to do the first half of the Trial of Grasses to cure Uma,” Geralt said quietly after a time.

“*SHE FUCKING WHAT?!*” Lambert screeched.

“Calm down, Lambert. Let’s hear him out for a minute,” Eskel said.

“And you wonder why she didn’t mention it before,” Geralt shook his head, looking at Lambert. “Like I said, she’s going to use the first half of the Trial of the Grasses. Apparently it allows the body to become more malleable to change.”

“What are the chances Uma will even survive?” Eskel asked grimly.

“*Not great. But we’ve no choice.*”

“*Unless Vesemir can do the trick with his hemlock.*” Lambert responded, swigging down another glass.

“You both know that’s not going to work. This curse, I don’t even know how ancient it is, but it’s well beyond any witcher tricks we might have. This needs elven magic.”

“*It’ll be the first trial in years. Decades…*” Eskel sighed.

“It’ll be the last,” Geralt replied. “One way or another, it’ll be over after this.”

They looked around the Keep, its stones crumbling, its halls abandoned. It was time.

“Let’s drink to that,” Lambert replied. He passed Geralt a mug. 

“That, Lambert, is the smartest damn thing you’ve said since I’ve been back.” Geralt drank down the hooch. “Lambert, this tastes like shit. What the hell is in this swill?”

“Go fuck yourself, Geralt.” Lambert scowled. 

“Don’t need to. I’ve got Yen for that.” Eskel started howling at that one and poured himself another.

“I hate you both,” sulked Lambert.

“Hey, chin up little brother, I invited someone up here you may like.” Geralt smiled and put his arm around Lambert.

“Oh yeah?” Lambert perked up.

“Yeah, her name’s Kiera. Kiera Metz. She’s as conniving and selfish as they come. You’ll love her.”

Yennefer

She had ensured the elven sage Avallac’h was stable enough to leave for the night before heading back to their room. Geralt was preparing to leave again, this time to recruit help and follow Avallac’h’s trail to their daughter. It was the final piece that was missing; and Yennefer felt so close to her she could nearly grab her, and yet...she was still so far away. She thought about how she would so often brush her hair. She felt her hands shaking. 

“When are you leaving?” she asked as she watched Geralt pack his saddlebags.

He stopped and walked over to her, taking her into his arms. “First light,” he whispered as he held her.

She nodded her head, fighting back tears. “I don’t know who I thought was in Uma. Part of me prayed Ciri wasn’t in there, and another part of me prayed she was.” She stayed quiet for a moment, resting her head against his chest. “I’m just so worried about her. I need my daughter back.”

He tilted her chin up and softly kissed her lips. “I know, Yen. Me too. I’m going to bring her back home to us. I promise you.” She just clung to him. 

They held each other tightly that night, whispering sweet words in each other's ears: words meant to calm; words meant to love; words meant to hold onto in the lonely nights ahead of them both. They each willed the night to end quickly, such was the need for their daughter; as they equally willed it to last forever, if only to hold each other for that much longer.

***

“I love you,” he said as he mounted Roach to take to the Path again, this time for Ciri.

“Come home to me, Geralt. Come home to me with her.” She clung to his hand, savoring the rough calluses and strong fingers for a moment more. Roach started to move and he let go.

“You know I will,” he smiled at her.

“I love you, Witcher.” She watched him ride off into the dawning sun.

***

The black wax dripped slowly onto the parchment as she waited, lost in thought. She pulled out her seal, a raven, and pressed it into the molten liquid. The letter had not been easy to write, but she had no other option. She knew they would need help to stave off the Wild Hunt. Her magic was strong, but she alone would not be enough. Geralt had mentioned Kiera was coming, but she had no idea where she was; Kiera traveled at her leisure. She had not heard from any other sorceresses in years. She had no idea where Margarita had gone; Fringilla was missing too. Sheala was gone, and Philippa was currently being hunted by Radovid. She only knew of one other sorceress she could contact, one other she knew would help...though she loathed to do so. Ciri’s safety ranked higher than her pride, however, and it had to be done. She whispered the spell in the kestrel’s ear and it took flight for the distant shores of Kovir.

She only hoped Geralt would forgive her. 

Chapter Text

Triss

She held the letter with shaking hands, reading it again for at least the tenth time. That pointed script, that smooth and controlled flow of the ink, she would know the sender of this letter from anywhere:

Yenna. 

Once, before Geralt of Rivia had entered their lives, Yennefer and Triss had been the best of friends. She remembered those letters, all those years ago. They would fly between each other on swift wings, sharing the latest faux pas at court, secret dalliances, scandalous gossip, and complaints about whichever lover had taken their fancy at the moment. But then Geralt arrived, Geralt and his white hair and golden eyes, and suddenly Yennefer stopped writing as much, and when she did deign to send a letter, it revolved around one subject: the Witcher 

Triss could not understand this relationship; it made no sense to her. She had watched the anguish her friend seemed to go through after every break-up, and the euphoria she was in with every reconciliation. Triss had become obsessed over it; craving just a piece of it for herself, and one moment, when the timing was right and Geralt had been at his weakest, she took it.

Geralt had left Yennefer then, and Triss thought it was for the last time, but they found each other once more, as they always did. They found each other again and again and again. She knew she would never be enough for Geralt, not when there was Yennefer in the world.

And then, Yenna was gone.

So Triss took her chance. She held the Witcher as her own. She had loved him, she had saved his life, she had cared for him. Geralt’s friends played into this deception. They had decided amongst themselves it would be a mercy. Why remind him of a love that might be dead, a daughter lost to the cosmos?

Triss hung her head, gripping the letter tightly. How selfish could one be? How unbelievably selfish? And Geralt had been the one to pay the price.

Because of course, death and amnesia were not enough to stop Yennefer and Geralt from finding each other once more. Triss had never been sure if she believed in destined love, but watching them find one another again...how could she not?

She had so many wrongs to right. Her actions had hurt Geralt, hurt Yennefer, had she somehow hurt Ciri as well? She shuddered at that thought. She remembered Geralt’s anger when he dropped her into the fountain. She had been shocked, but he had been furious. She’d seen then, seen how hurt he’d been by her actions. The fall had injured nothing but her pride, yet it had forced her to step back and admit that she had hurt a friend more than she had helped a pretend lover. 

She had a long way to go to make amends to Geralt and Yennefer, but this letter could be the start of something. Ciri needed her help now and Yennefer, despite everything, was asking her for it. She would go. She’d leave at once.

It was a small step, at least. 

***

She saw the bed first.

She knew that bed; those ruined sheets, now covered in leaves and debris, had once held Geralt and her in passionate embraces. She had no doubt how it arrived in the courtyard; thrown with a force powerful enough to splinter the thick oak boards. She sighed. This would not be easy.

“Triss?” 

Of all the voices that Triss expected to find at Kaer Morhen, Kiera Metz was not among them. She squinted for a moment, surprised. “Kiera?”

“It’s been a long time,” Kiera replied. “I’d ask what brings you to this pile of stones, but of course I know the answer already.” 

“What are you doing here?” Triss was surprised. Yennefer had never been close to Kiera...

“Geralt, actually. He found me in Velen, hiding out as a village witch...and yes, yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds so you can stop your mocking before you start. Anyway, long story, but he invited me here.”

“I was a rat catcher in Novigrad for a while. I’ve no place to judge.”

Kiera snorted. “Rats? Ugh, I thought I had it bad. Anyway, I helped Geralt find a clue to Ciri, and he took pity on my sad predicament, so he sent me here. Not much of an upgrade, if I’m being completely honest, but it could be worse I guess. At least there’s no bed bugs.”

Triss looked around the old Keep. So many memories…

“Some people seem to always land on their feet though,” Kiera huffed. Triss looked at her confused. “Yennefer. Haven’t you heard, she’s the Court Sorceress to Nilfgaard now. I cannot even believe it. Bitch dies, and somehow manages to not only resurrect herself but does so in one of the best power plays I’ve ever seen. I must hand it to her, even I’m impressed. No wonder Sabrina always hated her.”

Triss swallowed hard. “Yennefer is the reason I’m here. She asked me to come to help with Ciri.”

“She must really be desperate, resorting to asking you.” Kiera nodded to the bed. “Lambert shared the news about that. Thought you’d have a go at Geralt while Yenna was away, hmm? Impulsive, but not exactly surprising. He is rather handsome, isn’t he? Don’t tell Lambert, he’d just get jealous. Still, I doubt you’ll find yourself in Yenna’s good graces now. You know how viciously jealous she is about her Witcher. Remember Thanedd? Oh well, of course you do…”

“Thanks, Kiera. Good seeing you.” Triss wasn’t interested in hearing how much Yennefer hated her at the moment. 

“Playing pretend here won’t help you up there. She’s up in Geralt’s room. I’m sure you remember where that is, don’t you?” Kiera laughed and continued her way down the path. Triss stepped inside. 

Triss knew the route up to Geralt’s room well, but she had never shaken so much walking up it. As she neared the top she could smell her, that lilac and gooseberry scent that followed Yennefer wherever she went. That scent that was so ingrained in Geralt’s memories he could remember it before he could even place her. She rounded the corner and there she was.

“Yenna?”

Yennefer turned, and Triss drew in her breath. She was there. She hadn’t seen Yennefer in 6 years, and there she was. Her hair fell in wild ringlets down her back. She wore a close-fitting white button down with black onyx for buttons, tucked into a pair of black riding crops and dark boots that went up to her thighs. Her ever-present diamond choker clung to her graceful neck and her violet eyes shone at Triss, cold as gemstones.

She was infuriatingly beautiful.

“Triss,” she stated. “I see you got my letter.” 

“I did,” Triss replied. She took off her deep blue traveling cloak, shaking out her chestnut locks, intent on hanging it on the side of the dressing screen, but a hard glare from Yennefer stopped her. She was not welcome in this room. This was not her domain any longer. She had only ever been a guest here anyway. She tucked the cloak under her arms. “Yenna, it’s good to see you again,” she muttered awkwardly.

Yennefer smirked at that. “Triss please, I’m the last person you wish to see.”

“That’s not true, Yenna. I haven’t seen you since Rivia, since...”

Yennefer flinched slightly. “I do not wish to be rude, but that is a memory I would prefer to not relive, especially at this present moment.”

Triss was quiet. She looked at her old friend, so poised and proper on the outside. But Yennefer never showed her emotions through her words, not with anyone but a select few: Geralt, Ciri, Tissaia, even Triss once...long ago. With everyone else, you had to read her differently. Yennefer was like a song, but instead of listening to the notes that were being played, you learned who she was by the spaces in-between them. A flinch there, a squint of the eye here, a breath drawn up too short or too long. That was how she spoke to you, and few knew how to read it. Triss had known her a long time, though; longer even than Geralt, and she was fluent.

“I can see you’re not ok, Yenna…” she stated.

Yennefer looked at her, her eyes flashing. “Thank you for your concern, Triss, but I’m fine.”

Triss didn’t want to drop it that easily. “Yenna, I…”

“Stop it, Triss. Stop calling me that. Stop acting as if you give a damn about me or my feelings. I am not so blind or naive to think that is the case, not while we are standing in the very room where you fucked Geralt and stole our memories together.” Triss shuddered, shame enveloping her. “Of course I knew about that; and of course he told me.”

Triss tried to speak. “Yenna-Yennefer, we thought you had died…”

“Please Triss, stop running to that tired excuse. You sound exactly like you did long ago, claiming the Lodge was just trying to save orphan children. You knew exactly what you were doing; you saw your chance and you took it. You took him. And you hoped I was dead as it would make it that much easier for you.”

Triss looked away, too humiliated to even look at her. 

“I am grateful that you have come for Ciri, but let us stop trying to pretend that there is any friendship left between us. For now, the best we can do is stay out of each other’s way.” She turned from Triss then, continuing her work of carving runes into two long poles.

“Alright, Yennefer.” Triss turned away and headed down the stairs, trying her best to hide the tears.

Yennefer

She felt it, that small touch of magic. It was as familiar to her as her own, and far more cherished. She had not felt it in so long, another lifetime now, but she had not forgotten it. She never would. She started running.

***

CIIIRRRRIIII! She cried. She was there, her daughter was there. She saw her through the gaps of the stone and she ran as fast as she could, leaving the panic and dread she had carried for so long behind her. Ciri ran to her, calling for her.

“Mamma!!”

They crashed into each other. Yennefer’s breath caught in her throat and she choked back tears. She had not held her daughter in her arms in so long. Many times she feared she would never again. Yet there she was, safe, whole. “Mamma, mamma I’ve missed you so much.” Ciri cried into her shoulder, her shoulders shaking.

Yennefer pulled her gently back, looking her over. Her hair was almost pure white now, her ashen strands few and far between. Her face was sharper than before, her green eyes wiser, but she was still her daughter, that wild girl she had trained so long ago in Ellander. “*My my, you’ve grown beautiful, my daughter.*”

Ciri just nuzzled herself back into Yennefer’s arms, squeezing her tightly. “Mamma…I thought I would never see you again. I thought...” she stopped. Yennefer felt the tears fall on her shoulder, and held her closer. “Sshhh, my daughter, you’re home now. We have you.”

They stayed that way for a long time.

Geralt finally walked up, and Ciri let her go, smiling at everyone else who had come down to say hello. Lambert, Eskel, Triss, Hjalmar, Zoltan. She went to give them all hugs and greetings. Geralt pulled Yennefer to him, smirking a bit. “I told you I’d bring her back,” he said with a lopsided grin. He tucked a curl behind her ear. 

“I love you,” Yennefer sighed and she pulled him to her to kiss him, not caring in the slightest that everyone was watching them. 

She knew that it wasn’t over. She knew they had the Hunt to face. She knew Eredin would still want Ciri, and they would need to fight to keep her. But for the moment, none of that mattered. For the first time since Ebbing, her family was whole, and she would hold onto this feeling, no matter how tenuous it was.

Triss

She heard the scream, even as the chaos ensued around her. The explosion on the upper courtyard rang out, and the barrier that Yennefer had projected around the Keep began to dissolve. In its place hoards of densions from the Wild Hunt swarmed in: the hounds, the soldiers. Triss watched as the witchers resumed their attacks, hopelessly outnumbered by the oncoming waves of foes. She threw her fireballs, trying her best to place them anywhere they would do the most damage.

“TRISS! TRISS!!!” She heard him and turned. It was Geralt, screaming her name. He cut through another Hunt warrior and called to her again, throwing aard at a pack of hounds about to attack him. “Triss, check on her, PLEASE. She can’t, she can’t be....if she used up too much magic...” there was pure dread and anguish in his voice. He was terrified, and she knew why. Yennefer would always push herself to her breaking point for the ones she loved. In Rivia, she had poured her life essence away in an attempt to save Geralt. She had no doubt Yennefer would do that again. “TRISS PLEASE!!” He called as another warrior attacked. She looked down. Vesemir and Eskel had Ciri so she was protected, but Yennefer would be alone, if she was even alive. She nodded and ran in search of her former friend.  

***

She was there, sprawled on the stone ground, a large gash sliced through her forehead from where she had hit the courtyard floor. Blood gushed from it, pooling along the stones, and Triss saw Rivia in her mind’s eye. She rushed to her. The rods she had used to project her protection spell over the Keep were blackened and destroyed. They still felt hot to the touch. Triss knelt and and gently picked up Yennefer’s head, cradling it in her lap. She heard the smallest of gasps and Triss let out a relieved cry. She was alive, thank the gods.

She touched Yennefer’s brow where the gash, deep and to the bone, spilled her blood along the cold stone ground. She whispered a spell and blue-green light emanated from her fingertips. The bleeding slowed, finally ceasing all together. She whispered another and the cut began to close. 

Triss carefully wiped the blood off Yennefer’s brow, the wound slowly knitting back together. She ran her fingers through her dark hair, soft as down, and she sighed. “You know, you were wrong about one thing, Yenna. I did take him for myself. It was selfish and cruel, but I didn’t care because I wanted him. Do you know he would whisper your name in his sleep? I don’t even think he realized it, but he did. He would call out to you, and I would silently scream into my pillow, because even when he couldn’t remember you, he wanted you. So yes, I wanted him for myself, and part of me, to my shame, hated you for making that impossible.”

“But I never wanted you dead, Yenna; I never wanted that. You were my best friend. I loved you. I love you still, and I am so sorry, so incredibly sorry, that I hurt you.” Triss leaned down and softly kissed her brow. “I will forever envy the family you have made, my friend, but I promise you I will never intervene in it again. And no matter what happens here, no matter where our futures lie, that is a promise I will keep.” With that, she gently placed Yennefer’s head down on the stone floor of the balcony, placing her blue cloak underneath it to protect it from the ground. Geralt or Ciri would find her, the bleeding stopped and the wound mended, and they would hold her close. As it was meant to be.

Geralt

“YENNEFER!!” Geralt cried out, running up the stairs to the upper courtyard. Ciri was alive thanks to Vesemir. He had given his life to save her, something Geralt could not begin to start comprehending. The pain would need to wait, though. Vesemir was gone, but he still did not know about Yennefer.

He saw her there, lying in a pool of blood, her head nestled on a deep blue traveling cloak. He knew that garment. Triss , he thought, and he smiled. He knew Yennefer was alright then, that she was alive and that Triss had healed her. Nothing else mattered anymore. The past was done, it was behind them, and it was time to move on. He would be forever grateful to Triss for this kindness.

He knelt beside her, searching for any open wounds, but there were none. He picked her torso up off the stone ground and cradled her in his arms.  “Yen, Yen it’s me.”

Her eyes fluttered open, confusion flashing across them. “Geralt?”

“I’m here,” he whispered as he kissed her softly.

“Geralt, what happened? The spell, it was too much. I…” She stopped there, panic spiking through her. “CIRI! Is Ciri alright?? Geralt, where is she?!?”

Geralt held her tighter. “It’s alright Yen, she’s ok. She’s here. The battle is over; I’ll tell you more later, but Ciri and I are fine.”

She let out an uneasy breath, looking around for the first time. She saw the blood-covered stones and touched her brow. “Magic…” she whispered. She saw the blue cloak. “Triss.”

He nodded. “She healed you. I was so worried that it would be like Rivia…” Geralt buried his face into her hair, whispering against the smooth skin of her neck. “I can’t lose you, Yen. I just can’t. I don’t know…”

Yennefer stopped him. “I’m here, darling. I’m here.” She held him close as he breathed shakily, both of them finding comfort in each other’s embrace.

Yennefer and Triss

She found her tending the wounds on Geralt’s commerads, those friends that had answered his call and came to help Ciri. She looked exhausted, her chestnut hair in disarray, her clothing dirty with soot and blood. 

“You really have become quite skilled at that, you know.” Yennefer smiled as she walked behind her, touching her hand to the deep gash that had been on her forehead, the gash Triss healed.. Triss turned, soft blue-green magic flowing from her hands.

“Well, I’ve had some practice at healing at this point.” She nodded her head to Yennefer. “How does it feel?”

“It’s perfect, Triss.” Yennefer was silent for a moment and Triss heard her breath catch. There it was, the space between the notes. “Thank you.” Slowly, hesitantly, Yennefer put her hand on Triss’s shoulder. Triss reached hers up, grabbing it lightly. 

“Always, Yenna.”

They stayed that way for a moment, living in that space of healing and forgiveness.

Triss swallowed. “Now go on, I have this. Geralt and Ciri need you right now.” She gripped Yennefer’s hand a bit tighter, and Yennefer responded the same. 

“Of course,” Yennefer smiled as she pulled her hand away. She turned to leave, searching out the family she had torn the world apart to build. 

Triss just smiled, wiping a small tear from her eye, as she felt a heaviness she hadn’t been able to even speak before lift from her, carried away by the cool breeze with all the shame and regret she had clung to for far too long. She let out a small sigh and returned to her work.

Redemption.

Chapter Text

Yennefer

She sighed happily as she brushed the fine strands of Ciri’s hair. How long had she been dreaming of doing this? She tried to remember the last time. “It was right before that gods-awful meeting with the Lodge,” she thought to herself. “And now I need to form that den of harpies again…” Her grip on the brush tightened.

“Ow! Mother, you’re pulling!” Yennefer immediately loosened her grip.

“Apologies, Ciri, I was lost in thought.”

“About what?”

Yennefer took a deep breath. “Triss, Kiera, and I were not enough to stave off the Wild Hunt. Those projection rods were some of the strongest magic I could master, and even then I could only hold back the hordes for a limited time. I am not strong enough to try that again, Ciri, and I fear Geralt would do everything in his power to stop me after the first time. The consequences of pushing it further would likely be disastrous, and ultimately pointless.” 

Ciri looked down for a moment. “I know. I watched what happened before. I remember…”

“It’s alright, Ciri. We’re alright now,” Yennefer smiled, touching her fingers to her daughter’s hair. Ciri stood and turned around, grabbing her hand. 

“I have to apologize to you about something, Yennefer; something that has been bothering me for far too long.” Yennefer looked at her; Ciri seemed stressed, ashamed. “I, I...well, when you were trying to bring Geralt back I yelled at you. I called you pathetic. I called your magic pathetic. And then you were gone and I…” tears began to well up in her eyes.

Yennefer grabbed her and pulled her in a tight embrace. “Ciri, darling, have you been carrying that about all this time? I didn’t even hear you. I was so focused on Geralt I couldn’t have noticed anything other than him, and then of course, everything went dark. All I remember of you, my daughter, is waking up on our island.”

Ciri took a deep breath. “You’re not angry with me?”

Yennefer smiled. “Of course not.”

“What was it like, on your island?”

Yennefer thought of the apple blossoms and their sweet scent. She thought of laying under the stars with Geralt, of making love on the shores of the lake under the riotous reds and oranges of the sunrise. “It was perfect, Ciri. It was our own paradise, if only for a moment. But it was missing you. I hate that it was stolen away from us, but at least that allowed us to be with you again.” She kissed her forehead. “I’ve missed you, daughter.”
“I’ve missed you too, Mother.”

They held each other for a long while.

Geralt

When he walked into his room, he stopped, smiling contentedly at Yennefer and Ciri. Yennefer was combing Ciri’s hair and Ciri was telling her that made-up story about the world where people have metal in their heads. Yennefer, Geralt was surprised to see, was entranced by it, taking it all in as Ciri went on and on about her travels. She was asking questions: “What on earth is an automobile?”, “Explain ‘electricity’?”, “How many people live in that city? Millions? How is that even possible?” He chuckled.

“Trying to fill Yen’s head with those crazy stories too, huh?” He took off his scabbards and crossbow and sat them on the side of the room before walking up to Yennefer and kissing her lightly on the temple. “I figured she’d be smarter than to believe you, though.”

Yennefer scoffed. “I think you of all people should know that there is more out there than our limited understanding, Geralt. I find her adventures fascinating. Just because you happen to be a bore with no imagination doesn’t mean the rest of us are.”

Geralt laughed at that and pulled her up off her chair. “I think you’d be the first to admit I have quite an active imagination, Yennefer,” he smirked.

At that she smiled back, gently running her fingers up his cheek. “Fair point, Witcher.”

“Good to see things haven’t changed too much since I’ve been away…” Ciri groaned. “Need me to leave? Although I will say, you are missing a bed in this bedroom. And Yennefer, you’re the one who told me about the importance of beds. What happened to it?”

Geralt turned away, not wanting to tell Ciri about his amnesia; about them being apart; about his betrayal, unintentional as it was.

“I threw it out to scare Lambert. He was being incessantly annoying and I felt he needed a lesson as to whom he was dealing with.” Yennefer stated.

Ciri laughed. “You don’t think that was a bit extreme?”

“A sorceress never needs to explain her actions, Ciri. He certainly shut up after he saw the bed crushed to pieces. Besides, now that he has Kiera to fill his, he’s been far more pleasant, thank heavens.” Geralt held her tighter at that, falling in love with her all the more. 

“I love you,” he whispered. Yennefer just smiled and gave him a small wink.

Ciri shook her head, laughing slightly. “Speaking of bed, I’m turning in as well. I’m exhausted. Avallac’h wants me to keep working on my powers, learning to control them, and it's so damn tiring. But I can’t let what happened after Vesemir...” she stopped, looking down. “I can’t let that happen again.”

Geralt let go of Yennefer and walked to hold Ciri. “Ciri, Vesemir would have made that sacrifice a thousand times over. He loved you. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty over it. Few witchers die a hero.” He held her close.

Ciri took a deep breath and stood up. “Alright, I’m turning in. I love you both. And remember, the walls in this castle reverberate sound too damn well, so please try to keep it down.”

“No promises,” Yennefer smirked and Geralt laughed.

***

They made love that night in sweet sighs and stifled moans, moving passionately and tenderly amongst the furs. Both held each other tight, fear and anxiousness for their daughter gone; replaced only with a need to feel each other, alive and whole and together. And the world stopped and the moon fell from the heavens, as they always did, but this time it took far longer to begin again. And that was fine with them, coiled together as one. They would stay there forever, wrapped in thrills and love, if the world would allow it.  

Of course, the world rarely grants such wishes.

Yennefer

“I have to go to Novigrad,” she whispered sadly. They held each other tightly, still naked from their love making. Geralt was wrapping her curls and his finger and touching her breasts. He stopped.

“No,” he replied.

Yennefer sighed. “Geralt, I must.”

“Absolutely not, Yennefer.” He sat up, staring at her. “There’s no way you’re going there.”

She could feel the tension rising in the room, the sour tang of panic ebbing into their serenity. 

“I do not have a choice..”

“Of course you have a damn choice, Yennefer. You have no idea what kind of hell that place is now. Ask Triss if you want. Radovid is fucking burning mages alive at the stake. THE STAKE, Yen! I watched that evil bastard do it. If you think there’s any way I’m letting you go near that cursed place, you’re crazy.”

Once, Yennefer would have fought him over that. She did not need his permission to go anywhere. But she knew Geralt, and she knew his words came from a place of fear, not control. She couldn’t fault him for that; she felt the same.

“Darling,” she said softly. “Do you think I want to go? But I know my limits, Geralt. I may be an accomplished mage, but I am not strong enough to hold back the Hunt alone. We need more mages, powerful ones at that, and that means the Lodge. I’m going to have to rebuild it; I need to find Philippa, Margarita, Sheala, Fringilla. It’s the only way we stand even the smallest hint of a chance at victory against the Hunt.”

He was silent for a while, staring at the moon outside. It was full and fat. “*Say something,*” she whispered quietly.

“*I wouldn’t like to lose you, Yen.*”

“*But you have me.* Like I told you once before, you have me.” She ran her hand up his scarred back. 

Geralt chuckled bitterly. “That was for a night, Yennefer, followed by the worst fucking years of my life until I found you and Ciri again. I’m tired of stolen moments with you. I want something more.”

She sat up and wrapped her arms around him, holding him tightly as she pressed her breasts into his back. He grabbed her hand and closed his eyes, his breath slightly broken. “I know, Geralt. I want the same with you, but Ciri needs us right now.”

He grabbed her hand and kissed it softly. “Dandelion,” he whispered.

“Hmm?” Of anything Geralt could have said, that was not what she would have picked.

“Dandelion inherited an old brothel and turned it into a cabaret, The Chameleon. You can go there, portal right inside, and stay hidden from the witch hunters. Get the information you need.”

“I won’t be going alone, Geralt. Triss is coming with me, which is strange, working close together again, but nice in a way. Regardless, she knows the Novigrad streets well and we can find what we need without getting caught. And you can help Ciri with what she needs. And then we can meet up and end this together.” She was quiet for a moment. “Have you thought about after, at all?”

“After what?”

“After this is over. Ciri safe, the Hunt defeated…”

“Quite a positive outlook you’ve got there.” He laughed and started to lay back down. She moved slightly and he pulled her down on top of him, relishing the moonlight as it danced off her hair.

“Better than the alternative, one would think.” She smiled and kissed him softly.

“I still want that house with you, Yen. I want a big house, with room for guests so Ciri or Dandelion or anyone can come and stay with us. I want it on a piece of sun-drenched land that’s warm all year long; not too hot, but no more frozen winters. I want a place where we can have apple trees, so we can sit together beneath them and remember our island. I want a clear view of the stars. I want a stream that runs through the land where I can fish, maybe deep enough where we could swim naked together like we did in the lake, making love in the shallows and on the shore. And most of all, I want you there: Every morning, every afternoon, every evening. I want you with me.”

Yennefer smiled. It seemed a paradise too perfect to even imagine. She imagined it anyway. “Love me, Witcher.”

Geralt pulled her on top of him and began to kiss her. He stopped. “Oh, and I forgot one thing, I want a damn bed. A big, giant, glorious bed so I can stop sleeping on the floor. I’ve done enough of that for two lifetimes.” Yennefer laughed and was about to smack him, but he covered her mouth in a kiss and silenced any retorts she might have had. 

***

And so they found themselves coiled around each other again, under the fat and heavy moon, making love amongst the furs before morning would pull them apart once more. But brighter futures were on the horizon, and that was something to hold onto. 

Chapter Text

Geralt

He turned over in the furs, grumbling to himself. Yennefer had left in the morning for Novigrad with Triss to look into the whereabouts of the ex-Lodge members, and he had been fighting low-grade anxiety ever since. The idea of anything happening to her made him sick. If the witch hunters took her, he had no doubt he would burn the city to ash to get her back. If he could not, he would dive into the flames with her. 

He wanted her here with him now. The furs were far less welcoming without her warmth in them. 

On top of Yennefer, he was fretting about Ciri. He kept playing the conversation over and over in his mind.

***

She grabbed her satchel and he watched as she waved her hands, trunks vanishing. 

“Where did you send them?” he asked

“To Dandelion’s new cabaret, as instructed by you.” She gave him a small smirk.

He moved off the ledge of the window he was reclining against and went to hold her. He took a deep breath, smelling her hair, and let it out slowly. “I still don’t want you to go, Yen.”

She cupped both of his cheeks and lightly kissed him, “I know, Geralt. But it is only for a little while. I promise you I will not put myself in any undue harm.”

“What if it’s like before, when you left Ebbing for Vengerburg…” but Yennefer stopped him.

“It’s not like before, darling. Let’s not think of that awful time. Let’s think of the house instead. Our house, in that sun-drenched land you spoke of.”

He laughed and pulled her closer. “Toussaint,” he said. “That’s where I want it to be. Ciri and I traveled there together, before, well…”  He stopped for a moment.  “She asked me then if I would ever want to live there with you, and the answer is I do.”

She smiled against his collarbone. “Toussaint,” she whispered.

Geralt just hmmed in agreement. He imagined Yennefer, lounging in the sun, without worry or fear weighing her down. She leaned up and gently kissed him on the soft skin of his collarbone and neck. He grinned in approval, until she suddenly bit him and giggled softly.

“*Ow! What was that?*”

She smirked. “*It can’t be all sweetness and light.*”

“Why the hell not?” He responded, rubbing his neck while pulling her against him. He was certain he had an absurdly stupid grin on his face, not that he worried about that with Yennefer.

“I hope no one ever confuses which one of us is the soppy mess in this relationship, Witcher. I think I would die of shame.”

“Soppy mess?! I’ll show you “soppy mess”. Come ‘ere…” and he pulled on top of him, Yennefer laughing as she fell into his arms.

***

“Will you take her to see Emhyr?” She was buttoning her traveling cloak while he stayed laying naked in the furs, arms behind his head, watching her dress and dreading the moment she would leave.

“No, absolutely not,” replied Geralt.

She sighed. “You should give her the option, Geralt. She is a grown woman and has the right to decide.”

“Why the hell would I take her there? So he can see the daughter he abandoned and planned to impregnate? How does that make any sense, Yen?”

“He wants her to take over as Empress, Geralt. That’s why he wants to speak with her.”

Geralt was silent for a moment. “He told you that?”

“Yes, he did. And I cannot say it is a bad plan. Having Nilfgaard out of the hands of that wretched man intent on conquering the entire Continent would not be a bad thing. It could put an end to this awful war. It would also ensure her safety, which has always been our utmost priority.” 

He sat up, lost in thought for a moment. “It’s funny, you know, I’ve never even thought about what she would be when she grew up. I’ve always been so focused on keeping her alive I’ve never stopped to imagine something beyond that. It seemed like too great a luxury.”

Yennefer stopped and knelt beside him. “No matter what path she takes, it is our duty to support her through it. We must at least give her all the options and let her decide for herself. She deserves that, after so long of being a pawn of others plans. You thought she should be a witcher; I thought a sorceress; Vilgefortz wanted her womb; the Lodge wanted her child; everyone has always wanted something from her. It’s time we let her choose her own path.” 

She leaned over and kissed him, tugging on his bottom lip. Geralt held her, feeling himself harden at the taste and smell of her, and he made his intentions known, but she pulled back. “Absolutely not, Geralt. I need to go and I’m late enough as it is. I’m going to say farewell to our daughter.” She gave a cursory glance at his cock and patted his cheek. “I suggest you get dressed, darling.” With one last chaste peck on his lips, she stood and left the room.

Geralt cursed softly and grabbed his pants. 

***

Yennefer had left in her portal of golden light and he had tried to push away the anxiety clawing up his throat like some foul creature, but it hadn’t done much good. Ciri had been on edge all day as well, and between Yennefer leaving and Avallac’h’s training, she had been in a particularly sour mood. Geralt had remembered how snowball fights had always cheered her up as a child, and it certainly seemed to help this time as well. Still, both of them had been tense , so he wasn’t particularly shocked when Ciri called out to him in the early morning hours.

“Geralt,” she whispered. “Geralt, wake up.”

“Not asleep,” he groaned.

“Couldn’t sleep either, huh?” Geralt just ‘hmphed” and rolled over.

“C’mon Geralt, I want to leave before Avallac’h wakes. I want to go after Imlerith, now.”

Geralt wasn’t expecting that. “What? What do you mean?”

“Imlerith. We’re going after him,” she stated simply.

“What the hell is with you and Yennefer and your suicidal ideas lately? Ciri, you cannot possibly think I’m letting you go after him. He almost killed you. He DID kill Vesemir. Absolutely not.”

“Which is exactly why we are going after him. Notice I said we, Geralt. Tell me you don’t want vengeance for Vesemir?”

Geralt was silent with that. He did, of course he did. 

But first…

“Alright Ciri, let’s do it. I’ll go with you.”

Ciri broke into a grin at that. “Excellent. C’mon then, let’s go.”

“Ciri wait, before we go, we need to talk.” He sat up, grateful he had fallen asleep wearing his shirt and pants. He took a deep breath and stood up. “Ciri, someone wants to see you first. It’s important”

She arched her brows. “Who?” 

“Emperor Emhyr.”

Revulsion filled her face. Geralt knew she was thinking of the last time she met with Emhyr and his plans for her then. He tensed at the thought. “*Why would you tell me now?*”

“*Cause this could be the last chance to see your…*” Geralt swallowed, bile rising to his throat “*...your father.*” He looked away. Saying those words about Emhyr made him feel sick. 

Ciri looked at the floor. “*Think I should go?*”

He thought about Yen, about what she had told him. Every part of him wanted to tell her no, to tell her to tell Emhyr to fuck off, but Ciri needed to make her own choice. Finally. “*Oughta decide for yourself.*”

She walked to the window ledge and sat down, arms crossed against herself. “*What if he wants something from me?*” She looked worried.

“*He promised me he wouldn’t force you to do anything.*”

Ciri was quiet for a while. “*Vizima is on the way. I suppose we can drop in.*” She looked Geralt over. “Let’s go, it will be dawning soon, and I want some leagues between me and Avallac’h before it does.” She walked out, leaving Geralt alone to his thoughts.

Ciri

She watched Geralt walk away. Her hand still felt his fingers where he grabbed hers, and she already missed his comforting presence. She turned towards Emhyr, seated haughtily on the bench before her.

“It is good to see you again, Cirilla. It has been some time.” Emhry began.

“Ah yes, such a pleasant memory. You, sending Geralt and Yennefer to their deaths while planning on how you would marry and impregnate me. Lovely.” She scowled at him.

“I see you are still as insolent as ever. I would have hoped time away from the Witcher and Yennefer would have broken that trait of yours, but it appears I am wrong.”

“Yes, it appears you are.”

Emhyr glared at her, then shook his head and stood. “My plans then were...ill-thought out. It does not matter now. I have moved past them, and I expect you to do the same.”

“You presume much, Emperor Emhyr.”

“As you have so kindly reminded me, Cirilla, I am Emperor. That is my right.”

She crossed her arms and turned away. 

“Cirilla, the past and the animosities between us no longer concern me. The only thing that does is the future of Nilfgaard.” She turned back to him. “I intend to offer you this kingdom, daughter, as it is your birthright. You will be the Empress of Nilfgaard.”

Ciri stopped short. She had not known what Emhyr had wanted with her. Perhaps to apologize. Perhaps to tell her about her biological mother Pavetta, a woman who’s features she could sometimes remember, but could find no love for. All of that belonged to Yennefer. What she did not imagine was to be offered Empress. “Why?” she whispered.

“I had thought I made that clear. It is your birthright.”

“That can’t be the only reason.”

“Cirilla, I have been at war for a long time. I have worked hard to expand this kingdom into the glory it deserves. But all of that is for naught without legacy. Legacy, daughter, is where true power lies.”

Ciri laughed, ugly and cold. “So it has nothing to do with me? It’s only about you? Of course. Well, Emperor Emhyr, thank you for the offer, but I am wholly uninterested in continuing your legacy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find Geralt.” She began to storm off, fists clenched and skin boiling in rage.

“Cirilla, I would not be so rash. As Empress, you would have the power to end wars, to help your citizens live better and more fulfilling lives, to end the witch hunts that endanger those you love. My spies inform me that Yennefer is in Novigrad as we speak. Dangerous place for a sorceress, even one as powerful as Yennefer of Vengerberg.” Ciri stopped, heart pounding in her chest. “And then of course we have the Witcher. Wouldn’t it be a gift, Cirilla, if Geralt no longer needed to protect you? If you were finally safe?” She closed her eyes. “You need not answer now, daughter, but there is something to consider: One is far more proficient at effecting change when one has the power to do so.”

She turned to him, eyes blazing. “So you would hold the ones I love over my head?!”

He chuckled slightly at that. “No, Cirilla, I am simply telling you exactly how the world is, not how you may wish it to be. In the end, it is your decision. The rewards, and the consequences, are yours alone, daughter.”

“I will not give you my answer yet,” she mumbled. “But understand this, Emhyr, I am not now, nor have I ever been, your daughter.” With that she stormed out of the courtyard to find the man who's daughter she was. 

Geralt

They swung their legs over the cliff-side. The morning sun was slowly starting to burn away the mists that hung in the forest around them. The air felt lighter, the ground purer, like the malaise that had coated the land like a thin slime was finally being burned away. 

“I couldn’t get the last Crone,” she finally whispered to him. “I thought I had her, but she turned into a murder of crows before stealing Vesemir’s medallion.” She looked away. “I’m so sorry, Geralt. I failed him.”

Geralt put his arm around her. “You did not, Ciri. We avenged him. He died a hero, and we avenged him. Few witchers get such an ending.”

“But what about her?”

“She doesn’t matter. We fought for Vesemir, that’s what matters. “Imlerith is dead. That’s one more general of the Hunt destroyed. You were smart to come here.”

“I still think I should have fought Imlerith,” she snorted. “It was, after all, my idea.”

He laughed. “Don’t question the fates, Ciri.”

“The fates?! You won at rock-paper-scissors, Geralt. Let’s not bring destiny into this.”

“Same thing.”

“Oh, you’re impossible.” She leaned her head on his shoulder and he pulled her in closer. They were quiet for a while. “What are you thinking of?” She asked softly.

He smiled. “Yen. I’m trying to think about how to tell her I took you to fight a general of the Hunt alone. I can only imagine the response I’m going to get from her.”

“She may surprise you. You never know.” Geralt just grinned. “You know, you tend to get a stupid, dreamy look on your face when you think of her. She would get the same one when we were at Ellander and I would mention Kaer Morhen.”

“Well, that was like a little piece of home for use then. We both treasured it.” Geralt thought back on those years long ago and smiled.

“You think you’ll have a home again, someday, with her?” Ciri was watching him closely.

“Toussaint. We’ve talked about Toussaint. Remember when we both traveled there?”

The land of fairytales, with its castles like icing sugar. The land that smelled of sweet fruit and honey and flowers. “I do,” Ciri smiled.

Geralt turned his head to look at her, a flash of fear ghosting over his features. “Think she would like it there?”

She cracked a lopsided grin. Geralt looked almost nervous, dreaming of this final home for him and Yennefer. She grabbed his hand and held it tightly. “I do, Geralt. I absolutely do.”

Geralt let out a contented sigh.

Ciri

They rode back to Novigrad together, Geralt trailing the black stallion behind Roach. Pure Nilfgaardian stock and he was still unwilling to give up the bay mare. “He’ll make a perfect horse for Yen,” he replied as he scratched Roach’s nose. “I already have my mount.”

She had never known Geralt to make plans before, to dare to dream of things beyond survival the next day. When had they ever had time for luxuries like that? But how would he be able to live such a blessed life if he was always chasing after her, trying to protect her?  If Yennefer was always worried about being one step ahead of the witch hunters? If the land was always tormented with war? She knew the truth then, they couldn’t. That house in the fairytale land they dreamt of would never come true. Her breath caught at the thought.

Once, she had dreamed of becoming a witcher. Witcher Girl. She would say it so often she began to believe it herself. But how would she become a female witcher? She had never gone through the Trials. She had traded away her magic long ago. She knew no signs. Her childhood dream sounded silly on her lips now. Would Geralt even want that life for her? She knew the answer to that. 

And then she knew; she knew exactly what she wanted to do. She would have them stop at the nearest Nilfgaardian outpost to send Emhyr her response. 

She would give them the life they deserved, and she would finally live without being a hair’s breadth from death.

A life she chose.

Chapter Text

Finally, after what felt like an age, they arrived in Novigrad. The first thing they both noticed was the stink of burnt flesh. Ciri began to gag.

“Geralt…” she whispered, “Geralt, do you…?”

“Don’t say it, Ciri. Don’t even think it. We need to get to The Chameleon. Now.”

They spurred their horses to a run.

Geralt

Geralt threw open the door and burst into the cabaret. “Yen!!” He cried out. “Yennefer?!?” 

“Geralt?” Dandelion stepped out for the behind the bar area. He had been cataloging bottles of wine. “Geralt, what are you…?”

“Yennefer, Dandelion. Where is she? Is Triss here? We saw…”

“Relax...friend, relax. Everything is fine. I saw Yennefer this morning. She was charming as ever, complimenting me on my fine new silk tunic. I jest of course, she told me I looked like throwaway bordello bedding. Really, Geralt, I know she’s still upset about the whole amnesia thing but…”

“Shut up Dandelion and tell me where she is.”

“Geralt?” He looked up the stairs to see Triss.

Geralt let out a sigh of relief. “Triss, you’re alright, thank the gods. Is Yen with you? Is she upstairs.” He started to walk up to her.

“She’s not here, Geralt. She went to Crippled Kate’s to follow up on a lead to Margarita.”

“FUCK!” he yelled. Triss stepped back, surprised. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean...but fuck Triss, I thought you two were going to stay together. I thought neither of you would be going off alone.”

Triss smiled. “Geralt, you should know the sheer futility of trying to tell Yenna what she can and cannot do.” He grumbled. “She’s fine, Geralt. She’s probably still there. She left less than an hour ago. Go to her.” He turned, but before he left she grabbed his shoulder. “Geralt, when you’re done, when you’ve found her, I need your help.”

Geralt turned and she pulled her hand away. She looked nervous and scared. “Triss, you know that Yen and I…”

“It has nothing to do with that, Geralt. Nothing at all. It’s about Philippa.”

“Philippa?”

“Yes, Phil, I can’t find her and well....Geralt, I need to find her.” Her voice broke. “I need to make sure she’s ok. Please help me. I’ll wait.” She looked terrified, almost sick with worry. If anything, she looked like Geralt did worrying over Yennefer. 

“I’ll help you, I promise.” She let out a shaky breath, nodding her head.

"Thank you," she whispered. Geralt noticed her hands were shaking.

Ciri walked in. “Thanks for leaving me the horses to deal with, Geralt. I just stabled them in the back. Hey Dandelion. Hey, Triss.”

“*Lil’Sis,*” Triss smiled, shaking off her concern over Philippa, and she went to give Ciri a hug. 

“Ciri! You’re back and safe and sound! I knew you’d be fine. I told Geralt…” Dandelion started. 

“I’m leaving. She’s at Crippled Kate’s?” Triss nodded. 

“Watch Ciri.” he said to no one in particular. 

“I don’t need watching, Geralt, and where are you going?”

“Where do you think, Ciri? Who is he always running off at breakneck speeds for....” but Geralt didn’t hear the rest, running as he was to the brothel by the river. 

***

He made it to the brothel in a time that surprised even him. Throwing open the door, his eyes immediately adjusting to the light. And he found her. 

Relief washed over him like a soothing balm. She looked up and smirked slightly. He went to her, ignoring the dancing women on the stage, and sat next to her, gripping her hand. “Yen…” he whispered.

She squeezed his hand back. “I’m fine, darling.”

He wanted to take her in his arms there, pull her towards him and not let her go. “I saw the pyres, I smelled the bodies…”

Yennefer grimanced. “Novigrad has become a wretched place, but I promise you, we’ve been careful. But tell me Geralt, how is Ciri? How are you?”

He told her everything; their trip to Emhyr, the fight with Imlerith, the Crones. She listened intently. “*Imlerith, I’m glad you went with her.*”

“*I thought you’d be angry.*” Ciri was right after all, he thought. 

“*Angry? Why? Because you supported Ciri in her decision? Or because you fought by her side and won?*”

“*What if we’d lost?*” he said.

“*We wouldn’t be having this conversation. And the female part of the Continent would be drowning in tears* Me especially. *But you won. No point bothering in “what if’s.*”

He held her hand tighter. “I love you, you know that?”

She smiled. “I do.”

Geralt took a moment to look around. Crippled Kate’s was as seedy as he remembered it from his days on the Path. The floors felt sticky on his boots, the smell stale. “*Hmm, charming place. Why’re you here?*”

“*I was able to establish Margarita’s whereabouts-Deireadh prison in Oxenfurt. I also learned of the identity of a man who escaped from there. He should arrive shortly.*” She nodded once to the door.

“I spoke to Triss about Philippa. She seemed...concerned. Very concerned.”

Yennefer chuckled slightly. “That’s hardly surprising. Lovers tend to worry about one another when they are in danger, as you well know.”

“Excuse me...lovers?”

“Geralt, they have been lovers for years. Obviously they have taken some, shall we say, breaks,” she looked at Geralt, “but they always find each other again. I even had the unwelcome surprise of finding them in flagrante delitco once, long ago.” Yennefer stopped, not wanting to remember the sheer desperation she felt at that moment, begging them to clear her name with Geralt, to save his life, anything, only to be denied. She took a breath. “Anyway, of course Triss is concerned with her welfare.”

Geralt looked dumbfounded. “I had no idea…”

Yennefer laughed again. “I know, It’s quite a pairing. Frankly I don’t know how Triss puts up with her. Philippa is a pain at the best of times, a raving bitch the rest, but the two of them make it work somehow.” She stopped and nodded towards the door again, which had just opened. “Look, he just walked in.”

***

“So, you sure this will get us underneath the prison?” He was staring down the well.

“Of course. Oxenfurt was built over elven ruins. Hemmelfart went to great lengths to cover that past, but the sewer systems were left intact. They’ll connect directly to the prison.” 

Geralt tried to peer inside. The drop looked pretty deep, at least 20 ft, directly into water. “Well, you ready?”

“Excuse me?” she replied.

“Ready to go in there…”

“In there? Mucking about through sewers seems to be more your thing.”

“Oh no you don’t. I’m not leaving you out here alone, and having some extra back-up could be helpful in there. I don’t know what’s down there. And you know how I feel about sewers, Yen. Shall I remind you about the zuegel? Once, I had to fight a zuegel in waist-deep sludge...”

She groaned. “Ugh, fine, but promise me you’ll never bring up that tired old story again. I swear every time you do the sewage level gets higher and higher.” Geralt just laughed and grabbed her, holding her close. 

“Deal,” he said, and he kissed her. She kissed him back, soft and sweet, and then sighed. “You go first?”

“You think I’m falling for that, Yen? No way.”

“I’ll just portal in…”

“And how are you going to do that? You’ve never been in there before and you have absolutely no idea where to open that portal.” She cursed. “Come on, Yen, we jump in together.”

“I hate you,” she huffed.

“And I love you, too,” he laughed as he kissed her again on her forehead. “You ready?” She grumbled. They walked up the ledge of the well and sat down, legs dangling above the water. “We go on three, ok?” She grumbled again. “One, two…” and he grabbed her hand and pulled her down into the abyss.

***

They hit the water with a splash. It was plenty deep to cushion the fall, which was closer to 15ft than 20ft, so the drop was relatively short, not that that made Yennefer any happier.

“Fucking HELLS, Geralt! You said 3!” She was spitting out water and frantically looking for the shore of the subterranean lake they had fallen into. Spotting land in the distance, she made a beeline for it. Geralt, meanwhile, dove to the bottom. He had caught a slight glimpse of what looked like an old wooden box, and he hoped it wasn’t locked. Luck was on his side, and he pulled out a couple potion recipes he could use.

When he finally made it to shore, Yennefer was standing, perfectly dry and poised, and fuming. “You said 3!” 

He laughed. “True, I did say 3.” She glared at him. “You gonna dry me off, too?”

“In your dreams.”

“Well, my dreams of you usually end up being wet, so…”

“Geralt!” Yennefer laughed, and he smirked. She whispered a spell and Geralt felt the water lift away from him, his clothes dry.

“Thank you,” he smiled.

“Hmpf” she muttered. “And what took you so long anyway?”

“Treasure,” he smiled, producing the two potion recipes to show her.

“Of course you’d find treasure in that rancid lake,” she quipped. 

“Hey, that water was pretty clear, all things considered. I’ve been in far worse. Like that time with the zeugel…”

“Don’t. You. Dare.”

“You know I jest. C’mon, let’s find the entrance. But first…” and he grabbed her waist and pulled her against him. “Thank you for coming with me, Yen.” As he expected she softened at that. He held her a bit closer, relishing the feel of her in his arms again after being apart for the last week.

“Come on,” she whispered. “Let’s go, Witcher.” She flicked her hand and balls of light shot into the sky, illuminating the cavern in a blue-white light. 

“No Gavella Glan? I felt like that was Kiera’s favorite spell. In Velen in that cave, that’s all she could say.”

Yennefer snorted softly. “Like I would need anything as rudimentary as a novice Aretuza student’s first spell. Please, Geralt. I’m insulted.” Geralt just laughed. Of course. 

The structure was old, stalactites dripping down the carved stone, but beneath mineral buildup its elven origins were obvious. Old columns, still reaching towards ceilings long since fallen, had carefully carved vines and leaves wrapping around them. Windows that opened to nothing but stone shown from decrepit walls. It had a haunting beauty, heartbreaking in its loveliness. 

“I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve been to Oxenfurt, yet I’ve never imagined this was underneath it,” he said. Geralt felt a strange melancholy overcome him. 

“Most cities are built on top of ruins like this, but I will admit coming face-to-face with it is a bit...jarring.” She delicately touched the wall, tracing her fingertips over the carvings. “Geralt, look at this.” He went over to her, examining where she was touching. “Doesn’t it look like some sort of mechanism to open the door?”

“Hmm, it does, but it's broken. Look, *it’s missing a piece. Replace it with something else, maybe?*”

“That may work, but…wait, Geralt, where are you going?” But Geralt had started headed through an archway to find the missing lever. He could see the claw marks on the walls. Likely some creature ripped the thing off. He found the trail easily enough. 

“Damn,” he sighed, “gotta get wet again.” He dove under the water, following the trail as best he could. It was older, that much was for sure. The sunken hallway opened to another small room of the same design. Luckily, the trail led to a discarded lever, slightly gnawed on at the edge but otherwise serviceable. As he bent to pick it up, he heard the snarls.  Three drowners and a water hag stood by him, jaws open, viscous slime running off their teeth. 

“Shit.”

He grabbed his silver sword while he threw igni, but the monsters were desperate. Obviously in their hunger they had mistaken the lever for something to eat. They wouldn’t be letting Geralt out without a fight to someone’s death. The drowners shrieked in rage and swiped at him. A claw hooked his armor, but Geralt was able to pirouette out of the way before any real harm was done. He cast aard, knocking the bastard down, while he sliced through the skull of another. 

He had forgotten about the hag. 

She cackled and tossed her poisonous slime, which landed directly in his eyes. “FUCK!” he yelled, trying in vain to clear his eyes. She lunged. Geralt braced himself, ready to fight blind if need be.

She never made it.

Yennefer stood there like a goddess of vengeance. Lightning flew from her left hand; the water hag screaming in agony as it’s skin began to char. She finally went silent as the bones from her burning jaw leached through her ruined body. Dead. With her right hand Yennefer had raised the two remaining drowners high to the dilapidated ceiling, only to throw them down with enough force to crush them on impact.

Geralt stood, mouth ajar, in pure awe. Slowly her magic returned to her and the lights she had conjured in the other room appeared above them, their pleasant glow illuminating the chamber.

She rushed to him. “Are you alright? Are you hurt?” She touched the leather of his ripped gauntlet. He still couldn’t speak. “Geralt, what is it? Please…” she touched his face softly. “Please tell me you’re not hurt.”

“You are…,” he took a deep breath. “You are incredible, Yen.”

“Are you just now realizing this, Witcher?” she smirked. But he pulled her to him and held her tightly before she could respond. 

“I love you.”

“You’re all mush, darling,” she laughed as she placed a soft kiss on his lips. She pulled away gently. “Come on, let’s find that lever. And next time, Geralt, if you’re going to drag me into a damn sewer, at least wait for me before you run off. I’m all wet again.”

Geralt grinned widely, and she rolled her eyes. “What did I say about that juvenile wit? Anyway, did you at least find something useful before nearly getting killed?”

“Yup, found the lever right here,” he said as he picked it up. “The damn things must have thought it was a bone or something.”

“Will it still work?”

“I hope so. Come on, let’s find out.”

Chapter Text

Luckily, the gnawing on the lever had not impeded its ability to fit back into the mechanism and the door opened easily enough. It led to a small, dank chamber. As the lights flew in to guide them, they both noticed the brickwork. 

“Look at that, not exactly elven design,” he nodded his head towards the wall.

“That must be the sewer entrance. We’re close.” Geralt threw aard against the bricks and they shattered to the ground. “Allow me.”

Yen smirked. “I remember Ciri knocking down a shack when I was teaching her magic at Ellander. I can see where she gets her destructive side from.”

“Yay, I think she’s a bit more like us than both of us care to admit.” He was quiet for a moment. “I’m pretty sure she’s agreed to be Empress, Yen.”

Yen looked to the ground for a moment, then back at him. “How do you feel about that?”

“I...I don’t know. I can’t stand Emhyr, you know that.”

“If I know anything about our daughter, Geralt, she isn’t doing it for him. Trust me.”

“Still, I don’t know if it’s what’s best, and she hasn’t mentioned it again, even on our ride up here. She hasn’t even told me what they spoke about in Vizima.”

“She will. Give her time.” She cupped his cheek and pulled his forehead to hers.

“I don’t want to lose her again, Yen. I just got her back and I don’t want to lose her...” he whispered.

“We won’t, I know we won’t. She needs to choose her own path forward, and we need to support her. But Geralt, she is still our daughter, regardless of where her future lies.” 

Geralt laughed bitterly. “I thought once we found her, things would be fine. I was a fucking fool.”

“So was I,” whispered Yennefer. They held each other for a moment, trying their best to push aside worries over saying goodbye to the daughter they had just welcomed back home. 

Geralt

A scream, wretched and ugly. They pulled away, and Yen’s breath caught. 

“That was no monster…” Geralt said, walking in front of Yennefer as he pulled out his steel sword.

“Rita,” she said in a breathless whisper.

Geralt nodded, anger seeping through him, and they crossed into the sewers. Yennefer immediately began to gag and covered her nose and mouth with the rim of the hood she was wearing. The smell was overwhelming, and it was one Geralt knew too well.

Decay. Corpses. Death.

Around them, in various states of decomposition, lay bodies. Most seemed human, but Geralt noticed the rotted face of a halfling, its lips pulled back into a hideous grin, the skin around them black.

“Looks like the Eternal Flame is just as strong in Oxenfurt.” 

“Will it never end?” Yennefer whispered behind him, choking on the smell of the bodies, the putrescence of it all. Geralt thought of Ciri, of what she could do as Empress. 

“Yes…,” he replied. “It will.”

The scream rang out again. “Geralt, we have to get to her. Please.”

He saw hole into a small room, likely how the jailers dumped the bodies into the sewers. Easy disposal away from prying eyes. No wonder the drowners and the hag were so desperate. They could probably smell the rot from that cavern. “There,” he whispered. “I’m going in.” He stopped and turned to her. “Look at me, Yen. Do NOT go up until I say it’s clear. Those are witch hunters in there. The walls may be covered in dimeritium, and Yen, I am not willing to risk it with you.” He swallowed. “Please.” 

To Geralt’s relief, she just nodded. “Be careful, Geralt.” She grabbed his hand and he squeezed hers softly. With a last look, he vaulted into the jail. 

Upon seeing him, two witch hunters immediately attacked, but luck was on Geralt’s side. They had been drinking while playing gwent, and their reaction times were slow. Geralt dispatched them easily. He went back to the hole to offer Yennefer his hand up. “Stay down here until I come back. If I don’t, run.” 

“Geralt, don’t be ridiculous. I would never leave..” He grabbed her by the shoulders. 

“Yennefer, listen to me. I cannot do this if I am worried about you. I need to know you’re safe. Do you understand?” Panic was sinking into his skin, a sickly malaise of fear. He needed her to understand how terrified he was. 

She nodded, lips pursed and eyes large with worry.

“I’ll be fine,” he whispered as he went upstairs. Two more hunters, again easily butchered, but the worst were the jail cells. 

Rita and Sheala. 

He remembered Thanedd, how these beautiful women shined like stars in that hall. Margarita Laux-Antille. Golden hair and blue eyes, a smile that could melt the hearts of most men. Sheala de Tancarville, one of the proudest women Geralt had ever seen. 

Both of them were emptied husks of their former shelves. Broken and beaten, bloodied and dirty. Hated.

“Rita? Rita can you hear me?”

“She looked up, her blue eyes, once the color of a turquoise lake he had seen in the mountains near Kaer Morhen, were now cloudy with film and grime. “Ger...Geralt? Geralt is that you? AM I hallucinating?”

“I’m here, Rita.”

“H..how?” Her voice was cracked with pain, hoarse from thirst.

“Yen.”

Rita swallowed in shock. “Yenna? Yenna’s back? Where…”

“Rita, is Sheala…?” he looked down; Sheala wasn’t moving. “Is she gone?” 

Rita’s eyes looked downward, her voice weak. “Nearly.”

“How do I get you out?” 

“The key. It’s in the warden’s office, but that’s outside the courtyard and there are so many…”

Geralt gave a wicked grin and grabbed his sword. He downed a bottle of thunderbolt and felt the potion run through him like a hit of adrenaline. He thought of Margarita and Sheala. He thought of Triss. And he thought of Yennefer; what these men would do to the sorceress of Vengerberg if they could get her. “Good,” he growled. “Some good news.”

Death came to Deireadh prison that night.

Yennefer

She heard the men screaming in agony. She heard the witcher sword, it’s metallic length slicing the air, she heard the explosions as crates of gunpowder were set ablaze. She heard all this and fought against every instinct to go to him. At one point, a yell from Geralt, she stood and nearly ran to the sound of the battle. But she stopped herself. She knew if she did, and he saw her, it would distract him. He would lose his concentration over her, and that could cost him his life. He remembered the look in her eyes; the way he had pleaded with her. So she let him fight alone, and she waited, worry and fear coursing through her like a poison.

Geralt

He walked back into the jail cell, holding the key. Margarita balked at him, but he could hardly blame her; he was covered in blood spatter and could still feel the potions running through his veins, his battle rage only now subsiding. He didn’t even know how many men he had killed. 10? 15? The warden had not been easy; the brute was used to battles and had a wicked aim with his crossbow. Only a fast quen had saved Geralt’s life. But that had just enraged Geralt all the more.

He had taken the most pleasure in killing that evil fuck. 

“Rita, I got it. It’s alright.” He unlocked the cell, calling for Yennefer as he did. She ran up the stairs.

“Rita!” she cried as she ran to her, throwing her arms over her friend. “Rita, are you…?” But Rita just closed her eyes and held onto Yennefer, crying tear-less sobs. They held each other for a long moment, two friends so long separated. 

“What have they done to you?”  Yennefer whispered softly as they pulled apart. Rita’s lip quivered. “Sheala?”

Rita turned her head. “She’s there,” she sighed.

Geralt walked over and knelt beside her. Yennefer saw his face and her eyes widened in shock, her breath cut short. “Not mine,” he told her. He touched Sheala’s arm. “Yen, she’s too weak. She’s not going to make it.” 

Yennefer knelt by Sheala’s side. “*Hold on. You must hold on…*” she let out a sob.

Sheala struggled to sit up. “*I’m dying, Yenna. I’m a sorceress. Let me die with dignity.*” Yennefer turned her head, tears glistening in her eyes.

“*Yen, get Rita out of here.*”

“*Geralt…*”

“*Yenna, for once, don’t argue with him.*”

She stood, taking Rita by the hand. Yennefer stared at Geralt, her body shaking. “*I can’t pass through the portal…*”

Geralt stopped her. “You know I don’t like portals anyway.” She reached over and grabbed his hand, holding it for a moment.

“Come back to me,” she whispered.

He nodded his head and gripped her hand tighter, gently running his thumb over her knuckles. “Go, Yen.”

She looked back at Sheala once, then grabbed Rita tightly. In a flash they were gone.

Geralt turned to Sheala. 

“*Funny, there was a time I’d asked you not to do this…*” her voice cracked. Geralt thought about the hell she had put him through when she was with the Lodge. There was a time he would have wished for this moment. But now? Now it was done.

“*No, you’d never have asked. You’re too proud.*”

She nodded once, then closed her eyes, leaning her neck down. A clean cut directly through the spinal column. He took out his sword.

It was a painless death.

***

By the time he made it back to Novigrad, it was late. He had taken a quick dive into the lake again, if only to clean off the blood and make him less suspicious to the guards and witch hunters in the city, but the cold water felt like it had set into his bones. He wanted a steaming hot bath and to forget the misery of that fucking prison.

The Chameleon was still busy, even at the late hour, and Dandelion was downstairs. Geralt smiled at the seat next to him. 

“Geralt, you look like shit,” Dandelion exclaimed. He sniffed once and a pale of disgust shaded his features. “And you don’t smell much better. You need a bath.”

“That I do,” Geralt sighed. “Ciri ok?”

“She’s fine, a bit prissy at the moment, but otherwise fine. Avallac’h arrived, and the arrogance of that elf... Can’t help but thinking of the Valley of Flowers. Remember that?” he patted his lute.

Geralt nodded. “Filavandrel aén Fidháil. Seems like another lifetime ago,” he mused. 

“For you, it kind of was,” Dandelion replied quietly. They both sat in silence after that. Finally Dandelion spoke again. “Geralt, we need to talk…”

“Yennefer,” Geralt stated sadly.

“I was…”

“You were wrong, Dandelion. You let me believe we had some sort of toxic relationship that should have ended long ago.” Geralt shook his head. “You’ve known her from the beginning, Dandelion. Why? Why did you lie to me?”

Dandelion looked away. “You know, before Priscilla, I didn’t have a clue what love was. I sang about it, sure, but I didn’t understand it. Even everything with Little Weasel ended ugly; I’m still not welcome in Toussaint, just so you know. It’s been 7 years and....well, I digress. But after Priscilla, after understanding how much a single person can mean to you…” He took a deep breath. “What I’m trying to say, Geralt, is that I’m sorry. I should have told you how much Yennefer meant to you. I should have told you about Ciri. I was a shit and selfish friend.”

Geralt sat for a minute, taking it all in. Dandelion was the last person he had to talk to about this, but in a way it hurt the most. Dandelion had known Yennefer from their first moments. He had no personal agenda against her. He had known Ciri as well. It felt...freeing...to hear his apology. He smiled at his oldest friend and nodded his head slightly.

It was done; they could move forward.

“Priscilla, how is she? Healing alright?”

“She is, thanks to you, Geralt. I can’t tell you how much…”

Geralt put his hand on his friend’s shoulder. “I know, Dandelion. I know.”

“She may even sing again, someday,” he whispered with the hint of a smile.

“I think, when she does, I want to bring Yen to hear her. She would love her song.”

Dandelion smiled at that. “Did I ever tell you she thanked me once? Yennefer?”

Geralt pulled back and chuckled. “I sincerely doubt that, Dandelion. You must be the one misremembering now.”

“But I’m not. It was a long time back, Ciri was still a little girl and you both were in Kaer Morhen. Yennefer had just saved my life from the ruffian Rience, curses on his name. Anyway, we were in a tavern, and she’s eating chicken with a fork and knife and looking her Yennefer self, and then she thanked me. She thanked me for being with you, thanked me for making sure you weren’t alone. Her eyes were glistening with moisture and I swear it, Geralt, I thought she was about to cry. I’ll never forget it, this cold sorceress whom I always thought only looked at you as some plaything, crying at the idea of you being alone.”

Geralt looked down and took a deep breath. “She never told me that,” he said quietly.

“Well, I told her I was probably more of a pain than a help…”

“You were.”

“Be quiet. Anyway, she thanked me none-the-less.” Dandelion smiled, lost in the memory. They sat in a silent peace for a long moment.

“I’m thankful you were with me too, Dandelion. You made life on the Path a lot easier and a lot less lonely. Not many witchers can say that.” Geralt cleared his throat. “Truly.”

Dandelion swallowed slowly there. “Even when it was you saving my ass multiple times?”

Geralt laughed. “Even then.”

Dandelion stood up and poured each of them an ale. “A toast to friendship, Geralt of Rivia,” he said as he handed Geralt his mug.

“To friendship,” he said with a smile.

And they drank.

***

He found her, heating the bath with her fingers, gently skimming them over the surface. “How’s Rita?” He said as he closed the door behind him, laying his swords to the side as he began taking off his jerkin. 

Yennefer looked up and smiled. “She’s going to be ok. She’s with Triss right now. You’re right, Triss is a bit frantic over Philippa.”

Geralt sighed. “Looks like I’ll have to deal with that tomorrow.”

“You will, because loathe as I am to admit it, we need her. But tomorrow is not right now, Witcher. Bathe with me?”

“Always,” he said with a grin.

They began to undress. Geralt relaxed into the warm water, watching in contentment as Yennefer finished removing her clothes. “Come’ere,” he muttered.

She smirked and slipped into the water in front of him, resting her back against his chest. She let out a small sigh. “I must admit, this does feel divine.”

“Mhhmm,” Geralt hummed as he stroked her arm.

“Are you alright, Geralt? After that fight, and Sheala…”

“I’ll be fine. Less witch hunters is a good thing, especially for the people I care about. That’s you, Yen.”

She “hmmed” lightly and nuzzled into his chest a bit closer. When her head turned, he could feel her smile against his skin, his favorite feeling in the entire world.

As the steam from the bath rose, they both felt the pains and heartaches of the day seep from their bodies. Geralt soon felt the steady, slow breathing of Yennefer on his chest. She was asleep. He held her close, closed his eyes, and gave a quick thanks to whatever god favored him enough to get this feeling with her once more. He closed his eyes and imagined apple blossoms.

They slept.

Chapter Text

Yennefer

The three of them stepped out into the light, grateful to leave the lab behind them. They didn’t learn much beyond Avallac’h’s unhealthy obsession with the Lara Dorren gene, not to mention Ciri herself. Seeing the elf woman inside hadn’t helped either, and to help stem her rage, both Geralt and Ciri had taken to wrecking the lab. Tables were overturned and books and chairs went flying. Yennefer herself even got into the spirit, though not quite in the destructive way the rest of her family did. She smirked at the thought of Avallac’h finding his picture with a new mustache. Was it childish? Absolutely. But, it was nice to see Ciri smile. She had hardly seen her smile since she’d been home. 

But now Ciri had asked to see Skjall, and dread had crept into Yennefer. Of course Geralt had agreed to take her, and she had opened a portal for them to Hindarsfjall. She had caught Geralt’s eye before he left, and she had tried to show him, beg him, not to tell Ciri about what happened with Skjall. Ciri had enough on her plate; she didn’t need this added pain. Plus, though she was loath to admit it herself, Yennefer couldn’t take Ciri’s hurt if she discovered about the necromancy Yennefer had to perform to get to Ciri. 

As the two walked into the portal and out of her sight, Yennefer gripped her gloved hands together. She felt sick with dread, her breath ragged. She prayed Geralt got the message. She prayed he wouldn’t slip up. 

***

“HOW COULD YOU!?” Ciri screamed as she protalled into the small cabin, her voice bouncing off the wooden walls. Yennefer had been talking to Triss, Philippa, and Margarita, trying to figure out their next move forward. Even with the four of them, they were still too weak. Kiera had disappeared, not that Yennefer was exactly surprised with that. Even with the rescue of Philippa and Margarita, they were still too weak. They needed another sorceress, and their best bet was Fringilla Vigo.

Yennefer closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She knows , she thought wearily. She turned to look at both Geralt and Ciri, and her heart fell. Ciri looked enraged, her fists clenched and eyes narrowed. Geralt just looked to the floor. 

“Phil, Rita, Triss, I think we are done here for the moment,” Yennefer stated.

“Done?! We are not done , Yennefer. We have important matters to discuss. The Lodge does not care about your petty family disputes,” Philippa retorted.

“Fortunately for us, this is not a Lodge meeting, Philippa,” Yennefer replied icily. “So I’ll say again, leave.”

Philippa sneered. “I believe your new position has gone to your head, Yennefer dear. I look forward to reminding you of your proper place.”

“Funny, Philippa, because as of late, your proper place has been on a bird post eating crackers. I must say, the little hat quite suited you.” The two sorceresses glared at each other in rage.

“Just GO!” Ciri screamed again. Geralt let out a long sigh.

“Ciri…,” he began, but she cut him off.

“LEAVE!”

“Come on, Phil,” Rita said as she stood. “We don’t need to be here for this.” Triss stood as well, trying to take Philippa’s hand, but the older sorceress shoved it away and stormed out, leaving the younger two trailing behind. 

“Did you think I wouldn’t find out, Yennefer, what you did? What did you do Skjall?” Ciri went on after the three women had left. 

“Ciri, you do not understand…”

“There’s nothing to understand! You used dark magic on my friend! My FRIEND, Yennefer! How do you think I would feel about that?”

“Ciri, you don’t understand everything…” Geralt began.

“Don’t defend her! She hurt my friend. She used forbidden magic on his body. It’s disgusting!” she yelled again.

Yennefer stood and walked over to her. “We had no other choice, Ciri, but I promise you, your friend was gone. He wasn’t there anymore. That wasn’t Skjall.” She reached her hand out to touch her.

“DON”T TOUCH ME!” Ciri shrieked and pulled away. “You don’t get to ever touch me again, you…”

“ENOUGH!!” Geralt bellowed. Ciri stopped short, her breath caught in her throat. Anger emanated from Geralt; Yennefer could feel it filling the small room. It didn’t matter. Her hand hung there, suspended in the air for a moment before she pulled it back slowly. Looking once more at Ciri and Geralt, she closed her eyes and turned away, opening a portal and walking through without looking back.

Geralt

“What the fuck was that about, Ciri?” Geralt was furious. He had seen the look on Yennefer’s face, one of hurt and betrayal. He had never wanted to see that look again.

“She’s the one…,” Ciri began.

“Stop it! Stop acting like a child. If you had a question there, at the funeral, you should have asked me first. I don’t even know how you figured it out, but you should have come to me before you attacked her.”

“I know you never meant to let that slip, Geralt. That little comment that he looked at peace at least, not like last time. How would that make sense, if you hadn’t seen him in pain. And I remember how Yennefer looked when I asked to go to him. It wasn’t too difficult to put two and two together.” Ciri crossed her arms across her chest, glaring at him. 

“I don’t really care how you figured it out, Ciri, you have absolutely no right to speak to her that way.” 

“And she had no right to do THAT!”

Geralt laughed at that, though the laugh had little to do with joy. “Do you have even the slightest idea the mountains she has moved to find you, Ciri?” 

Ciri remained silent. She turned her head, refusing to look at him. Good , he thought. Let her listen .

“She reached out to me, Ciri, after we hadn’t spoken in over two years.” He watched her. Nothing. “We hadn’t spoken because I lost my memory when you rescued me from the Wild Hunt and no one, not Triss, not Dandelion, not Eskel or Lambert, not even Vesemir, mentioned you both to me. They thought it would be too painful. Regardless, I ended up in a relationship with Triss during that time, thinking she was the sorceress I knew I had strong feelings for but couldn’t remember.”

Ciri’s eyes were wide. “Does Yennefer know?”

Geralt nodded slowly. “That was the hardest part. She knew. She knew about Triss and I, and after everything that happened in the past, well...she thought it was over. I can’t blame her. She didn’t reach out to me to reconcile, Ciri. She reached out to me for you.”

“How did she find out?”

Geralt shook his head. He couldn't bring himself to talk about that with Ciri. “Imagine the worst possible way, and that was it. Regardless, it hurt her more than anything we had ever been through before. Of course, you have to remember, this was also an issue of misunderstanding. My memories of her and you were gone. When they started to come back, everyone thought she was dead. It wasn’t till just under a year ago I learned that she was alive. I searched for her for six months before she found me. She needed help finding you.”

“You didn’t know I was back?”

“I didn’t know anything. I had been on the Path in the wilds for months when she sent me a letter saying she needed to see me. In the end, she found me.” Geralt smiled at the memory of seeing her for the first time in so long standing in front of that inn at White Orchard. “She told me you were back, that she tried everything to find you, but has been using so much magic she was calling the Hunt to her and magic was becoming too dangerous. She needed me at this point. See, Ciri, once again it was you who inadvertently brought us back together.”

Ciri smiled a little at that.

“But Ciri, that moment with Skjall…” Ciri grimaced but Geralt kept on, “that moment, we were out of options. There was no other way. If she didn’t use necromancy to revive him, we never would have discovered the key was Uma. We never would have known Avallac’h was hiding in that cursed form. You would still be forever on that Isle.” Geralt let out a deep sigh and sat down.

“She hated it, hated how awful it felt. ‘Swimming through manure’ and ‘cockroaches squirming in her mouth’. Those were the phrases she used to describe it. And she paid the price for it as well. The priestesses of Freya’s Garden cursed her, cursed us both actually, but Yen wouldn’t let me take any of the blame. So now all of Skellige hates her, Ciri.”

Ciri looked down, staring at her fingers.

“And then she faced dealing with the very people who hid her from me, my brothers, and performed the fucking Trial of the Grasses to reverse the damn curse. She had to stay awake all night holding a stabilizing spell over Uma’s form, because if she didn’t he’d die and we would lose him. At one moment, we thought he had died, and Yen panicked. She was terrified, because you could have been on the other end of that curse, Ciri. But finally she lifted it, and Avallac’h gave us the clue to you.”

Ciri’s bottom lip began to quiver.

“She did all this for you, Ciri. She went through this whole litany of miseries solely for you. Without a doubt she’d do it again, too.” Geralt stood up and walked towards the door.

“Where are you going?” Ciri whispered. She was crying lightly now.

“To find her. I don't want her to be alone right now.”

“Do you want me to come....” but Geralt closed the door behind him, blocking out anything that she had to say.

***

He found her, sitting in the rented room of Kaer Trolde. Since she didn’t trust her magical instruments on the ship and certainly didn’t trust them anywhere near Kaer Morhen after the prank call incident, she had rented the room again to store everything. She sat there now, carefully polishing a piece of her megascope.

When he walked in, she looked up but didn’t say anything. As he closed the door behind him, she looked back down.

“Yen, I…”

“How?” she whispered 

“Me, apparently,” he said softly. “I made a comment that she somehow correctly inferred.”

She smirked sadly at that. “She always has been too clever.”

“Yen, she’ll be fine…” 

“I don’t want to talk about it, Geralt,” she sat the megascope piece down and stood up, walking towards the small window in the room that looked out onto the sea. She wrapped her arms around herself, a move she always did when she was upset and feeling vulnerable. It was an old habit of hers. Once, he would have let her stay there, closing herself off from him and the emotions they brought out in each other. But Geralt was tired of that same song and dance. He walked up behind her, gently uncrossed her arms, and turned her to him. 

“That’s not us anymore, Yen,” he whispered as he tucked a curl behind her ear. “We’re done with that.” She looked up at him and smiled slightly and nodded. He pulled her to the bed and held her close, carding his fingers through her hair as he breathed in the smell of her. Lilac and Gooseberries.They didn’t say anything for some time. 

“I told her about Triss, about everything,” he said softly. 

Yennefer was quiet, pressing her cheek into his chest. “What did she say?”

“To be honest, I didn’t give her much of an opportunity to speak. But she needed to know. She shouldn’t be kept in the dark. She’s our daughter, Yen, but she’s not a child anymore.”

Yennefer pressed her face harder into him at that. He could feel tiny motes of wetness on his shirt. “I know,” she whispered. She wrapped her arms around him at that. “Hold me, Geralt,” she said, barely speaking. 

He wrapped his arms around her, kissing her hair. “Always.”

***

They both almost missed the knock at the door, it was so quiet. Yennefer was nearly asleep in his arms once more, while Geralt was simply enjoying the feel of her against him. The knock came again, gentle but pleading, and he knew who it was. “Come in, Ciri.” Yennefer set up, trying to straighten her clothing as Ciri walked in through the door. She stood there, somewhat sheepishly, shuffling her feet, waiting for...something.

Yennefer sighed slightly. “Ciri, I…”

“I’m SORRY!” she cried out as she ran towards Yennefer, barreling into her arms and effectively pushing Geralt off the bed. She buried her face into Yennefer’s shoulder and broke down into heaving sobs. “I’m so sorry, Mamma. I’m sorry....” she muttered between hiccups. Yennefer stroked her hair and held her close, whispering soft words into her ear as Ciri continued to cry. 

“It’s alright, daughter. Ssshhh, it’s alright,” she said soothingly. 

Geralt stood there for a long time, letting them hold each other, not wanting to interrupt. Yennefer finally grabbed his arm and pulled him softly onto the bed again, leaning her head against his shoulder.

“I told you once, long ago, that it is very difficult to make me angry, Ciri. That still holds true.” She was calming, and Ciri clung to that, feeling like a child again safe in her mother’s arms. It had been so long since she felt such comfort. 

“I didn’t think. I overreacted…”

“Skjall was a friend, Ciri, that’s to be expected. Gods know I am not immune to overreaction myself occasionally.” At that, Geralt let out a stifled chuckle, earning him a glare from Yennefer.

“It’s not that, I blamed you for what, what you did to him after…”

“I know,” Yennefer said quietly. “Ciri, that wasn’t Skjall. Skjall was gone. And necromancy is a vile magic. I can promise you I took no joy in it.” She stopped and took a small breath. “But, I would do it again, without hesitation, because it’s the only way we found you.”

Ciri was quiet at that. They all knew it was true.

Ciri

“I told Emhyr I would be Empress.” 

They were still on the bed, Geralt sitting with his legs off the side, Yennefer resting her head on his shoulder, and Ciri with her head in Yennefer’s lap.

“We thought that might be the case,” Yennefer said after a long moment.

“Is that what you want, Ciri? You don’t feel pressured into this?” Geralt tried to keep his voice neutral.

She sat up, staring at both Geralt and Yennefer. “I don’t. This is my decision, and only mine. I know it might seem strange, and no, I have no love for Emhyr, I never will. I am not naive enough to believe that he has any compassion for me, either. He sees me as a means to an end, his end. I know this.”

“But, what he may not see, and what I do, is that this is an opportunity to change things. I know he doesn't care about the fate of his subjects, but I do. Look at what this war has done to this land? Look how the witch hunters are continuing to kill anyone with magic? Now they are attacking non-humans as well. I know I can make a difference. And I’m tired. I’ve been running and fighting for so long, for my whole life, if I’m being honest. I want a moment of peace as well. A moment to stand still. I know I can’t find that on the Path.”

She wouldn’t tell them the whole truth of it though, that she wanted them to finally have their peace together while knowing that she, their daughter, was safe. She had thought she’d given them that peace on their Isle, but it was stolen from them and burned to nothing; their memories of each other were stolen with it. Hearing Geralt relay the whole story of what happened with Triss was difficult to hear. It left a serious distaste in her mouth, and she wasn’t sure how she would deal with that the next time she saw the woman. But that didn’t matter at the moment. She looked at them both and smiled a worried grin. “Nothing to say?”

Geralt’s face was hard to read, but Yennefer had a small smile. Ciri was certain she knew more than she was letting on, not that it mattered. Yennefer could have her suspicions as to all the driving forces behind her actions, but the outcome and benefits were the same. “I know,” Yennefer said after a long while. “That you can make a real difference in the lives of everyone, Ciri. If this is what you want, you know we will support you.”

Geralt looked up at her and smiled. “*Traveled half the world to find you, but I never intended to force anything on you.* If this is what you want, you know we’re both behind you.”

At that, Ciri’s lip quivered and she wrapped her arms around them both. She held them tightly, fighting off a new wave of tears. “Thank you,” she whispered. “Thank you for understanding.”

The family held each other like that for a long time.

Geralt

“Say something,” Yennefer whispered. They had gone to bed a few hours back, but sleep had alluded both of them. 

“I don’t know what to say. I don’t even know how to handle this. I’m grateful she didn’t spring this on me last minute and just leave, but fuck Yen, what am I supposed to say?”

She reached over and ran her hand along his shoulder. His skin alighted at her touch and he turned towards her and took her hand in his. “I don’t know what I was thinking, in the end. ‘After’. How many times in our lives have we ever been able to plan for an after, Yen? And I just, I just didn’t think that I’d lose her again so soon.” He left out a deep sigh.

“How are you losing her, Geralt?”

“How will she have time for us as Empress? I thought maybe, if I trained her, took her on the Path with me...” Yennefer reached over and traced the scar over his brow. He closed his eyes, enjoying the feeling of her fingertips on his skin.

“I know we would fight endlessly about this once, but I don’t know if I ever told you why I would be so upset when you’d leave for your Path.” She ran her hand across his chin, her fingers running through his short beard. “I was terrified, Geralt. I was terrified you’d be killed, or injured so severely and left for dead on a roadside somewhere, and I wouldn’t know for weeks or months. I couldn’t even begin to think about it without becoming sick with dread. It was easier to feign indifference, not that I was ever exactly skilled at that, either.” She was quiet for a moment. “It’s not easy, Geralt, to love a witcher. If we could save our daughter that life, and us that worry...well, that’s something worth exploring to me.”

Geralt ran his hand along her smooth cheek. “Why didn’t you ever tell me this before?”

“You wouldn’t have been ready to hear it, and I wasn’t ready to say it,” she replied softly.

“And what’s changed now?”

Yennefer smiled at that, large and bright and beautiful, and Geralt felt his heart clench with longing. “Everything,” she said at last. “Love me, Witcher.”

He pulled her to him, covering her mouth with his own, and they tangled themselves in the sheets again, just as they always did, finding joy and love in the comfort of each other’s embrace.

Chapter Text

Yennefer

The force field fell away and she stood up, running towards the flash she saw at the top of the tower, running as fast as she possibly could. “GERALT! CIRI!” she screamed into the wind. The flash disappeared instantaneously, as if the light itself was sucked into a portal. The sound disappeared with it, leaving behind an eerie stillness. She ran faster.

“GERALT! CIRI! PLEASE ANSWER ME!!” she cried again, terror coursing through her. She reached the steps and rushed up them, nearly slipping on the frozen ground. There, at the top, she found Geralt on his knees, staring directly into what looked like a destroyed elven portal. Ciri was nowhere. 

“Geralt?” she choked out, her voice small and cracking. “Geralt where…where is she?” She knew before she uttered the last words. She knew before she heard them from her mouth, empty and desolate in the still air of the tower. She was gone.

Geralt turned to look at her slowly, shaking his head almost imperceptibly, but she saw it anyway. That empty expression in his eyes. The heartache and loss. 

“No,” she whispered. She could feel her rage and terror start to boil inside her. “No, No , NO. NOOO, NOOOOO!!” She began to scream. 

Geralt looked alarmed, standing at once. “Yen…,”

“NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!” she bellowed in primal rage as she raised her hands, directing everything inside her to reopen the portal. Thick blue bolts of power shot through her hands. The portal began to fickler, she saw white, but it wouldn’t stay open. If she could just....if she could push a little harder. She felt the magic draining out of her, out of her like Rivia.

“YENNEFER NOOOO! STOP!!!!” Geralt screamed in terror and ran to her, but she didn’t pay him any heed. Her daughter was on the other end of that portal. Her daughter needed her. Just a little longer…More flickers of endless white behind that portal....

“She’ll kill herself!” another voice cried. “No mortal can maintain that power!”

Just a little...her arms began to twitch, her lids close.

“NOOOO YENNEFER!!!!” the voice sounded underwater, maybe it was Geralt, but it didn’t matter because Ciri…

Something hard barrelled into her, knocking her down. She felt a weightless moment, then all went black.

Geralt

“How much?” Triss asked as she gently touched Yennefer’s brow.

“I don’t, I don’t know. It was so fast. She screamed and tried to open the portal…”

“Yennefer knows that’s ridiculous and impossible. No human mage can open one of those portals.” Philippa retorted. “What was she thinking?”

Geralt swallowed the cold lump of dread in his throat. “Ciri, she was trying to get to her. She went into the portal and…” Geralt couldn’t speak anymore.

“Yennefer managed to activate it, if only for a moment. I did not think it was possible for a human mage to do anything like that. Even the strongest elven mages of yore would struggle. To see her nearly open Tedd Deireadh...I would not believe it had I not been there,” Avallac’h replied. 

“She’s a quadroon,” Triss whispered, gently running her hand on Yennefer’s cheek. “And she was trying to save her daughter. I have seen how far she’s willing to go for the people she loves.” Geralt only looked away, fighting back the terror rising within him that he may have lost the two most important people to him in the span of an hour. That his family may be gone. 

“Is she going to make it?” Geralt said, his voice shaking with uncertainty and fear. “Is she going…” he closed his eyes.

“It doesn’t look like last time, Geralt. Last time it was too late. Now she’s just very weak, but she’s still alive. I think you saved her. Another few seconds and…” 

“I know, Triss.”

“How did you stop her?”

Geralt shook his head, the memory painful. She had hit the ground hard when Geralt had rammed into her, stopping her from releasing all her magic by knocking her unconscious. Geralt had picked her up and raced to the ship still in the harbor, the ship he knew the mages were on. Triss was a healer. Philippa was a powerful mage. Surely they could help. It had been his only hope and he had pressed Yennefer into his chest, begging her to hold on, begging her to stay with him and not leave him alone. “I can’t do this without, Yen,” he had whispered as he pushed Roach faster than he ever had before. “I can’t without you and Ciri. Please don’t leave me. Please.” 

If Yennefer had heard his plees, she had given him no sign. 

“I knocked her down. It was the only way… I think she may have hit her head but I, I didn’t know what else to do.” He hated himself for hurting her. He hated himself with every fiber of his being.

“Geralt,” Triss sighed and put her hand on his shoulder. “Geralt, don’t blame yourself. You saved her life. I promise you, any longer and she would have died. You saved her.”

“It’s true, Witcher. Yennefer is foolish enough to give all of herself without considering the consequences.” Philippa smirked and shook her head. “Fortunately most mages aren’t so inherently impulsive when it comes to matters of the heart.”

Geralt ignored her. “Can you help her, Triss?” 

Triss looked down sadly. “There’s nothing any mage can do now. Even the most skilled healers cannot fix her immediately. She’ll have to recover with time.”

“Her magic will return to her,” Avallac’h replied. “Her being a quadroon will prove quite useful in that. No wonder she is still alive. Her elven blood is the only thing that saved her. Keep her here, Witcher, on this isle. The isle will repair her.”

“Come Triss, it’s time we were off; Kovir is waiting. There’s nothing here for us.” Philippa walked onto the ship. 

Triss looked once more at Yennefer. “Bye, Yenna,” she whispered quietly. Then she looked to Geralt. “Geralt, I…”

“Thank you for helping with Ciri, Triss. Thank you.” He smiled, glad to be ending on better terms than before, but it was time for them to go their separate ways. “Go on, Philippa is waiting.”

Triss looked back to the boat, seeing an angry Philippa crossing her arms. “She’s, she’s just…”

“I know,” he interrupted her. “Now go.” She walked onto the boat, taking Philippa’s hand.

“Va fáill, Geralt of Rivia.” Avallac’h said as he boarded the ship.

“Going with them?” Geralt was surprised.

“I shall part once we reach the Continent. My path does not lie with them.”

Geralt nodded. “Tir ná Lia?”

“Eventually, but not yet. Geralt, Zirreal is not lost. She may come back. Do not lose all hope.”

Geralt looked at Yennefer again, hardly breathing, and he closed his eyes. “Hope is all I have left, Avallac’h, and I don’t have much of it. Va fáill.”

Geralt picked up Yennefer and carried her back to Roach. The Nilfgaardians had already left, Emhyr expecting Ciri to meet him in Vizima. Geralt and Yennefer would be alone for the time being. 

Another island, and Yen without her magic

***

Luckily, when the Nilfgaardians left, they did a relatively poor job at packing. Tents, supplies, and other materials were abandoned on the shore, and fortunately Geralt found food and water in excess. He made their camp against the rock buff close inland from the sea’s edge, setting up the tent as best he could. While Roach happily ate the seaside grasses, Geralt sat inside the tent with Yennefer, tenderly caressing her head in his lap while he tried to coax her to wake up to drink something. 

“Please, Yen. Come back to me,” he whispered over and over. She only slept, the smallest breaths coming from her lips to let Geralt know she was still alive.

Yennefer

The first thing she felt for sure when she woke was him. The feel of him, his body wrapped around hers, comforting her and keeping her warm. Before Geralt, Yennefer had never wanted to be held. She hated men trying to hang onto her after sex, and would usually leave immediately to escape the overwhelming claustrophobia she felt around them. Even with Istredd, a man she had known for decades, she refused to let him hold her. He would storm and complain, but it never mattered. She wanted nothing to do with his embrace.

But with Geralt? She craved his touch.

She could not begin to count the times they had fallen asleep in each other’s arms. She would ask him to hold her long into the night, just to feel that much closer to him. When they parted, it was the memory of his touch and the way her skin became alive with it that refused to leave her, try as she might to forget it.  And it’s what she felt now, dazed and completely drained as she was, and she pushed in closer to his warmth. The small movement exhausted her.

“Yen?!” Geralt moved immediately, sitting up and holding her. “Yen, are you alright?” 

“What happened?” she muttered, unable to move. She hadn’t felt this drained of life in years. Since Rivia, since the apple trees. Why was she so weak? It came back to her at once, hitting her with a tidal wave of fear. “CIRI!” she screamed. “Geralt, Ciri! Where, where…” she couldn’t move to sit up.

He just held her tighter. “She’s gone,” he whispered. 

And though she had nothing left in her, Yennefer began to sob.

3 Days after the Tower

Geralt had finally succeeded in getting Yennefer to take in a bit of broth, but she outright refused anything else to eat. He knew she could get like this; her health was never a priority when Ciri was at risk, but Geralt was insistent she eat something. Still, Avallac’h had been correct; the island did have a strong magical reserve and Yennefer’s body was recovering quickly from the devastation she had wrought to it earlier. While still not at her full strength, she was at least no longer on death’s door.

Not that Yennefer found any comfort in that. 

The nights were the hardest. They would hold each other, and the gut-wrenching agony of not knowing if Ciri was alive or dead, if she was coming back to them or if they had lost her forever, would consume them. Their only solace was the sharing of their grief, at least they were not alone. Fleeting thoughts would invade Geralt’s mind like a virus at that: Why did I not try to stop Ciri from going in? What if I hadn’t stopped Yen? What if she was gone as well?

He knew what he would do if he lost them both. 

He held Yennefer tighter.

5 Days after the Tower

“Talk to me,” he sighed. They were sharing a pot of broth he had made, and he had cut up some apple slices and hard brown bread the Nilfgaardians left behind. 

Yennefer looked up at him, her eyes clear and hard. “It’s time to leave, Geralt.”

“What?” Geralt put his bowl down.

“It’s time to leave. We won’t find the answers here.”

“Yen, we can’t leave.”

She stood up, setting the broth aside. “We have to leave and we must do it soon. There has to be something, some elven artifact that can help. We need to open the portal to get her.”

Geralt looked at her in shock. “Are you insane, Yen? Have you forgotten that you almost died?”

“I’m perfectly fine,” she retorted. “A minor setback, true, but I’ve recovered. Just a bit tired, really.”

“A minor setback? A bit tired? Yennefer, you almost died! Another few seconds and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

“Don’t be so overdramatic…”

“YOU ALMOST FUCKING DIED!! How can I get that through to you!? Do you have any idea what it’s like to hold someone you love in your arms thinking they’re going to die?” Geralt regretted the words the instant they came out.

She glared at him, her eyes cold. “You have the audacity to ask me that?” she was nearly whispering she was so angry. 

“Yen, I…”

“I WILL NOT lose her again, Geralt! I refuse to. I REFUSE! I just got my family back and I’ll not lose it, I’ll not give up on her. I can’t go through it again. I’ll go face the fucking White Frost myself it will…” but she couldn’t finish. Geralt grabbed her and pulled her into his arms, her body shaking with rage and fear. She grasped him, her fingers clinging to him like he was her only lifeline. At this moment, he was.

“I know, Yen,” Geralt said in a broken voice, holding her close to him. “I know.”

She pulled slightly away, looking at him with tear-filled eyes. “I have to try, Geralt. I have to try to bring her back.”

He cracked a pained smile. Here they were once more, desperately searching for the daughter that was lost to them yet again. It was a cruel irony that the world required that for him to be with Yennefer, they both had to lose Ciri. It made him want to scream in fury and curse the workings of destiny. But what good would it do? What good had it ever done? So he pulled her back to him. “I know,” he whispered once more. He could feel her trembling against him.

Yennefer pulled away, her face confused. “Did you feel that?”

He felt the trembling again, which was obviously not her. “My medallion…,” he said.

“Ciri,” Yennefer replied, her voice barely above a whisper. They looked at each other, hardly daring to breathe, and Geralt gave the slightest nod. The Tower. Tedd Deireadh. She turned immediately and opened a portal, both of them forgetting about her weakened state, not that it would have stopped her. They ran through it together. 

Geralt

The wind was still in the tower, and the sound of Yenenfer’s portal opening seemed to reverberate across the crumbling stone. The two ran out, rushing into the broken and frozen Tedd Deireadh, desperate for any sign of her. 

“CIRI!!” Yennefer cried, her scream tearing out of her throat. “CIRI where are you?”

“I’m here, Mamma.”

Geralt and Yennefer stopped immediately and turned. There, on the edge of the platform, looking exhausted but whole, stood Ciri. Their daughter. Alive.

“Ciri…,” Geralt whispered, his voice thick with emotion. Yennefer ran to her, throwing her arms around her in joy.

“You’re alive. Oh my, you’re alive. My daughter.” She held her close.

“I’m ok, Mamma, I’m home.” She buried her face into Yennefer’s shoulder.

Geralt came to them, wrapping them both in his arms, and they all grasped onto each other. And it was beautiful. It was like the ride to Thanedd, listening to Yennefer talk about the daughter he had brought to her and being desperate to tell her the truth he had been unable to say for so long, that he loved her. But the coup had stolen that happiness from them. It was like Stygga, when Yennefer and Ciri each had rested their heads on Geralt’s shoulder and he had wished more than he had ever wished before that it could always be like that. But the bloody stairs and the pitchfork had stolen that hope. And it was like their island, drenched in the sweet smell of apple blossoms, the soft touch of spring grass, and the song of goldfinches. But the Hunt had stolen as well, burning their paradise to ash.

No, this was better than any of those, because this was his family. They were whole. They were safe. They were together.

And nothing could ever compare to that.