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1263 - 41st Birthday

Geralt never took a hunt on Jaskier’s birthday anymore. He never mentioned why. They never talked about it at all. He wasn’t hiding it, exactly. It was simply a detail so insignificant to the weave of their lives that it wasn’t worth mentioning.

It just so happened, that as the summer rolled around into the time of Feainn, work got scarce. The witcher’s eye lingered less on noticeboards. Somehow, he was never busy. Somehow, they ended up in a town or city or site with something worth experiencing when the day arrived. Rarely did Jaskier notice when their errant wandering became traveling with intent, until they were only several days away from any place of note and he could do the math himself. 

It happened like a tree flowering in spring. Silently, steadily, and then all at once.

As traditions went, this was a new one. The first couple years, Jaskier had failed to notice. And when he realized… when he saw

It started the year after that one ruined birthday. Geralt distracted him with a voyage to Skellige then a trip to the Cliffs and several nights of the islanders’ òran festivals of ancient poetry and raucous dance. And to some extent, it worked. Human memory is imperfect on purpose, and the more years that pile on, the fuzzier the past becomes. 

That year wasn’t fuzzy. It wasn’t easy, either. But the flood of new experience helped. Made him feel more full than that day did empty.

These treks, these secret surprise birthdays that Geralt did not admit he plans far in advance… Jaskier couldn’t name what they did to him. He was the only person in the world who received such treasures. The affection glowing beneath his skin defied music. Defied poetry. 

This year, Geralt led them into Novigrad. Long practice made following Roach an instinct, and Jaskier kept more or less on course as his gaze darted to shops and peddlers. Street performers tossing each other high into the air to the sharp gasps from the crowd. 

They passed squares smelling of sweets and cooked meat, the air thick with summer--and sometimes fish. 

His eye caught on the gaudy exterior of The Triple Raven, announcing a new play by Oxenfurt’s latest sweetheart, along with Sold Out banners by the door. 

Oh… a play! That would be nice. And an exclusive one at that! The Triple Raven only played the best. How would Geralt have managed it?

The wheels turned in Jaskier’s mind as they moved through the square and The Triple Raven disappeared from view. 

The road became a boulevard. And the boulevard swelled into a public square lush with greenery and a central fountain. Jaskier found himself smiling at the fountain and the wash of cool misty air as they passed by. The other scenery had changed, too. Workman’s linens and sturdy, utilitarian clothes for the peacock pageantry of the well to do. Jaskier turned in small circles to get a better look and admire a fine cut. 

And then he came to a sudden stop.

Because Roach had come to a sudden stop. 

The bard’s attention snapped forward, and he stared as Geralt swung himself down from the saddle. Frowned. And then looked up at the building in front of them.

“Why are we stopping here?”

The witcher leveled a bemused look at him. “Because this is where we’re going.”

A smartly dressed steward appeared from seemingly nowhere and extended his hand for the reins. “Sir Witcher, we hope your journey was pleasant.”

Geralt handed Roach’s reins over and started removing their saddlebags and packs.

Jaskier blinked at the tall grey edifice, its granite polished and sparkling. His stomach quivered. 

“You can’t be serious.”

Geralt cut a frown at him.

“Geralt, this is the Inbhirathad . The most expensive hotel in Novigrad. Probably the Continent!” Cold unease coiled around the bard’s spine, and he darted a sharp look at the steward, who turned and stepped away to the length of the lead. Jaskier dropped his voice anyway. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but… you can’t afford this. I know you can’t.”

The witcher’s hands stilled, and he turned.

“I’ll work it off,” he said simply, and Jaskier’s stomach dropped.

“You went into debt?” Incredulity hardly covered it. “No. Geralt… no . That’s too much!”

A small shrug. “It’s already done.” And then he hauled their things off the horse and set the saddlebags over his shoulder, the packs clutched in each hand. He slid a quick glance to the side as the steward quietly exited a clearly domestic dispute. 

Jaskier stared at him, too appalled to speak. He put a hand to his mouth and lifted his eyes to the hotel’s sign. Swiped the hand down his chin and neck like he stroked a beard. There were limits. There was a thing too far. And he got the inkling, the terrible notion that none of it had been generosity but guilt . Years of abiding guilt. Fuck .

“You don’t have to keep doing this,” he said, meeting Geralt’s concerned gaze.

“What?”

“This! The trips, the sites, the”--he gestured--”hotels.”

Geralt’s mouth pressed into a thin line as he frowned. “You don’t like it?” he asked, utterly earnest.

A sigh. “I didn’t say that.”

“So you do like it.”

Jaskier tossed his hands in the air. “I just… You don’t have to feel obligated because one birthday went poorly.”

“Poorly,” he echoed. Geralt dropped his gaze, and the muscle in his jaw jumped as he worked over a reply. He shook his head and cursed quietly, then glanced back up with an expression more solemn that Jaskier expected. “Is that what you thought all these years?”

“Well. No… I hadn’t thought it until just now.”

Geralt blinked slowly at him, the corner of his mouth twitching. “You’re an idiot.” He looked away, speaking somewhere in the direction of the fountain. “It started that way maybe. But, I need... reminders to count your years,” he said, tongue darting to wet his lower lip. “Or I’ll forget.” And then summoned the courage to look Jaskier in the eye. “And I have no intention of forgetting.”

That was… not something one should have to confess on the street. Jaskier’s shoulders relaxed while his heart beat double-time. He closed the space between them in an instant and took Geralt’s face in gentle hands. Slotted their mouths together for a sweet and endless second.

“You’re still a fool,” Jaskier said as he released him and stepped back.

“Hmm.” Geralt turned for the door. “Are you going to come into the hotel or not?”



They stepped inside, footfalls muted by thick green carpet. The interior was not what Jaskier imagined based on the gossip. The floors were light--birch or ash--setting off the grey granite. Magelamps glowed a steady white along the walls, and every wide hall and crisp line had an air of elegant lightness as befit the reputation of the Silver Lady.

A man, slightly grey himself, watched them from behind a small podium, his suit smooth and fashionably subdued.

“Sirs,” he said, with an incline of his head and such proper manners that his look betrayed no judgment of their clothes or station. 

He did not ask if they had a reservation. One did not go into the Inbhirathad without a reservation. There were no walk-ins, and there were never spare rooms. If they were there, they deserved to be. 

The manager’s eyebrows lifted in polite inquiry. “Name?”

“Pankratz,” Geralt said.

Chills rushed up Jaskier’s spine at the sound of his name, and he slid Geralt a look that could not possibly contain My name. You gave them my name for the books of the Inbhirathad in the proper shape of giddy embarrassment. So he focused on the manager instead, who nodded once and turned to a member of staff, an elf, standing silent guard by the coat closet.

“Desmond,” he said, “see these gentlemen to the top floor, north side, please.”

Desmond wheeled a small brass cart over and motioned for the packs in Geralt’s hands. “If you please,” he said, but the witcher’s grip only tightened.

Jaskier shot Geralt a frown and pointedly removed his lute case from his back, handing it over. Desmond smiled graciously, setting it down, and gave the packs a second look.

“They’ll never leave your sight,” he said.

Geralt wavered, and Jaskier hissed his name, and he finally offered the packs. The elf took them like a lady’s fine luggage, then gestured to the saddlebags as well.

The elf wheeled their things down the hall and pulled aside a folding metal lattice. He pushed the cart into a small room and turned to face them, waving them in. 

Jaskier peered around, frowning. “You… want us to join you in a closet?”

Desmond smiled, a beautiful and kind expression as only elves could manage. “It’s a lift, sirs. A bit of engineering magic from Philippa Eilhart herself.”

Geralt leaned across the threshold, glancing around, one hand on his medallion. “What does it do?”

To his credit, the elf’s smile never wavered. “It goes up.”



Desmond led them to their room, deposited their things, and bowed over the heavy coins Geralt left in his palm. 

“Should you need anything, sirs”--he gestured to a tassel hanging in an alcove on the wall--”do ring.” And then with a bow, departed. 

Jaskier flung his arms wide and did a slow, awed spin to take it all in. The light wood floors. The soft carpet. The enormous bed. Fanciful trim, gilded and brilliant. 

And oh…

Oh...

He hurried to the section of the room coated in rough granite tile. Beheld most holy of sights…

“Have you seen this tub?” It had two pumps, one hot, one cold. A hot. Water. Pump. How the hell did that work? Magic, he suspected. 

He looked up to find Geralt drawing aside the silk curtains and peering through windows that went to the floor. 

“Geralt, this tub. It’s huge! Will you look-- How many people can this hold?” Jaskier ran his fingers around the porcelain edge.

“Two,” Geralt replied, and swiveled to face him. “It’s the honeymoon suite.”

Jaskier froze and looked up at him slowly, eyes wide as his rabbiting heart took off. Color and heat rushed to his face, and Geralt laughed a little.

“That’s not a proposal,” he said, eyes fond. “It had all the right amenities.”

Right… yes… Like a tub for two. 

Jaskier straightened and cleared his throat, composing himself as he crossed the room to the bed. His fingers brushed lightly over the silk duvet and hand-carved posts, and his gaze flitted to the dresser and armoire, both large enough to hold several years’ worth of clothes. He opened the armoire doors to--

“Oh. Geralt, there’s still clothes in here. Should we call the porter?” He turned and met the witcher’s eyes. “Maybe the guests haven’t left yet.”

He scanned the various articles and paused when he spotted something suspiciously like a whip handle poking between some lace-edged satin. That-- 

Oh…  

Motes of fire lifted through his body, and with impish suspicion he pulled open the top drawer. It was lined in red velvet and held an array of phalluses in various sizes, shapes, and colors. Geralt appeared at Jaskier’s side and peered down, silent for a moment.

Then, “I don’t think they belong to anyone,” he said, voice warm with amusement.

“Did you--” Jaskier gestured at the drawer.

Geralt shrugged. “Honeymoon suite.”

Amenities indeed . Joy tickled through Jaskier’s chest, and he could have laughed. Instead flung his arms on Geralt’s shoulders in a loose hug and walked him back toward the bed. 

“So, what I’ve come to understand is that my birthday present is you, here, doing whatever I want?”

The witcher smiled, a rare and precious thing. “Technically, you can go outside.” He cocked his head and lifted a hand toward the windows.

No, the--

“Is that a balcony ?” Jaskier abandoned him to the middle of the room and hurried to it, flinging open the doors. “Is this a private garden?” He whirled as Geralt joined him, flush with new and better ideas. “If I fuck you out here, could people hear it?”

“I’m… not sure.” And he looked less sure that he wanted to find out.

Well. That could be managed. Silver-tongued bards had their ways, after all. Jaskier slid his arms around Geralt’s waist and urged him back inside, buzzing with plans. Teasing with his lips. 

“What do you say…” He unbuckled the belt at Geralt’s waist. “We wash off all this road…” He nipped at his mouth, dropping to a whisper. “And forget to put our clothes back on.”



Towel-dried, they wandered out onto the balcony into the noonday sun. A smile spread across Jaskier’s face as the warmth fell across his damp skin. An arrangement of finely carved wooden chairs with upholstered cushions looked out on a garden in full bloom, petals like splattered paint against deep green leaves and the glittering grey of the hotel’s granite walls. There were windows several floors down and nothing above their balcony but the roofline. A gentle breeze swirled the tops of trees in the garden, and Jaskier felt the tickle of his chest hair drying. The wind across his arms like a touch. To be inside and outside and naked all at once. The scandal

Despite the serenity and quiet, his heart beat a little faster. 

Geralt strode by him, trailing fingers across Jaskier’s bottom, and settled himself in one of the chairs, stretching his limbs as though it reclined, and resting his hands on his stomach. His ashen hair hung in damp clumps, and there was no reason to let that stand.

A quick search in the room produced a whalebone comb finer than any Geralt carried in his pack, and Jaskier moved to stand behind him, the second step into the outside air slightly less scandalous than the first. And then he set himself to gently untangling the witcher’s hair. 

Small motions at first, for knots. 

Long, slow strokes to let it dry evenly. He’d always found it calming to give his hands such a task. And by the sighs as the comb moved across his scalp, Geralt found it something slightly more. 

“So,” Jaskier said, whispering. He did not know why. “Anyone watching?”

Geralt hummed. “Not that I can tell.”

Jaskier slid the comb around Geralt’s ear and down, a smooth line to the ends. He ran hand down the strands, mostly dry.

“Well,” he said. “Too bad for them.”

The witcher huffed in good humor, and Jaskier ran the comb through a few more times before silently declaring the task done. He brushed his fingers across Geralt’s bare shoulder, sweeping the curtain of his hair aside, and bent to place a kiss just above the scar. 

The summer sun had caressed Jaskier dry, and if he stayed out in it much longer he'd start to sweat. He padded back into the room and the relief of its shade. Set the comb on the bedside table and slid onto the silk duvet with an indecorous groan. The fabric felt cool and slick, and he spread his arms and legs just to feel it glide across his body. Shuffled up to the headboard and buried his face in the pillows.

Perfumed pillows. 

He filled his lungs with it. Vanilla and rose. And rolled onto his back, lest an inch of him not touch this luxury. Jaskier flung his limbs wide and let them rest, boneless, while the scent wrapped around him and contentment suffused through him in champagne bubbles. 

A year…

A whole year ago Geralt had planned this day. He’d thought ahead. Remembered the date. Considered his options and made arrangements. Before… before that day… that fucking dragon day… he had put this scheme into motion, and despite everything they had arrived. 

A wish made. 

A wish fulfilled. 

Jaskier closed his eyes, smiling. Affection opened in his chest one petal at a time, and his smile widened as the bed dipped with Geralt’s weight.

“What are you grinning about?”

He opened his eyes, still smiling, to see Geralt kneeling on the bed and looking down at him with one perfectly quirked eyebrow.

Another petal.

“You,” he answered honestly, and folded his limbs so Geralt could come closer. Swallowed down the giddiness in his throat.

Geralt’s eyes narrowed with a smile and he laid himself down, graceful as a dream, settling on his side. 

The room around them glowed. Bright shafts of sunlight spreading ambient beams to white walls and gilded trim. So clean. So bright. Jaskier couldn’t remember if they’d ever, in so many years, spent an afternoon in casual, carefree nakedness. Fervent nights. Furtive ones. Too hot and too cold. Brisk mornings stripped in streams. Always moving. Hunting. Hurting. Hiding. Every respite one stolen from fate’s cruel hand. 

But this… this simple being .

Geralt shifted, settling, and Jaskier rolled to meet him, joy pressing against his ribs. He felt silly with it. Drunk with it. And needed, suddenly, to touch. The bell tone of love in his heart vibrated in his bones, needing escape. Transmission. He cupped his hand to the back of the witcher’s head and kissed him through a smile. Pressed Geralt flat onto his back, tasting, sucking, scoring those lips, earning a pleased sound.

Drew back enough to look him in the eyes.

“You are… tremendous,” Jaskier said softly. That was not the scope of it. Did not encompass-- His heart hurt as it beat and he gazed--

Geralt’s hands shushed onto his back.

“A haunting moonbeam lighting my dreams,” he tried.

“Jaskier--” lightly chiding.

He staunched the words with another kiss. Shifted positions and stretched a leg over Geralt’s body. Licked into him. Touching tongues like tasting fire. Geralt’s hands swept up and down his back, spreading eldritch embers in alternating waves.

Jaskier broke the kiss, panting, and nuzzled at his cheek. “I love when you do that.” And he shivered at the sensation’s bloom fade bloom .

“I know.” A rumble in his ear. 

Affection scoured through Jaskier’s chest. Of course, of course he did. No one knew him better. He’d never had a single lover half as long. 

Another kiss. Long gentle suction on Geralt’s lower lip. “My soft,” he muttered against that pliant mouth and pressed gently. “Delicious.” Darted a tongue against the bow. “Wolf.”

Geralt huffed, and the hands sweeping Jaskier’s back slid into a light embrace.

“I don’t need your poetry,” Geralt told him. 

Jaskier eased back enough to see him properly and drew light fingertips down his brow and cheek, sweet ache pulsing through his chest.

“Well, that’s too bad,” he said, taking in every perfect feature. “Because you shall have it. You”--he held Geralt’s chin between two fingers--”are magnificent. And I’ll tell you every way I can until you believe it.”

The witcher frowned, but he did not look away. “Why?”

“Because I need you to know!” He pressed his hand over Geralt’s heart. “This feeling it… it burns me up. I am full with it. How. How do I make you feel it?” He moved to sit up, straddling his partner as Geralt’s hands settled on his sides. “Tell me,” he said. “Anything.”

Geralt gazed at him in stretching silence and then looked away. The muscle in his jaw jumped as he gave the question serious thought. Jaskier breathed ever so lightly watching him, heart furious in anticipation. And then Geralt released his hold and drew his hands above his head, crossing them at the wrists.

Jaskier stared at the gesture a moment, swallowing his surprise. Then flicked his gaze down to meet Geralt’s eyes, wide and worried. 

“Bindings?”

A nod.

That was unexpected. There’d only ever been the once…

“Anything else?”

Geralt’s gaze lowered as he considered, and after a moment lifted again.

“Make love to me?” Low and soft, like the walls might hear, an echo of sentiment across years.

Jaskier’s mouth quirked into a smile. “That’s cheating,” he said, grinning. A non-answer.

But Geralt looked away from him, wounded at the rejection, his fingers curling. And Jaskier’s stomach dropped.

It was not a thing they’d said to one another often. He’d said it once, long ago, when they were just getting started. When Geralt wanted to know what touching a witcher was like for a human. When Jaskier told him to the best of his words and took a chance on asking for what he wanted in return.

A night he had not forgotten.

Would never forget.

He reached out and smoothed the frown from Geralt’s brow in apology.

“Do you…” He waited for his lover to look at him. “... you mean like that time? When I--”

Geralt nodded, relief flooding his expression. Relief that splashed over as Jaskier sank and kissed him and found his hands, entwining their fingers. 

“Yes.” A kiss. “As you wish.” He sat back again studying his partner’s body, imagining the bend and flex of limbs. “But I don’t think your arms above your head will work.” He smiled. “Too much muscle. How about… behind your back?”

Geralt dropped his hands to his sides. “Sure.”

Sure. 

Right... Yes.

Jaskier rolled from the bed and padded across sun-warmed wood and carpet to the armoire. A little rifling through the drawers, and he found several long, thin strips of suede. He wrapped one around his hand several times and tugged. It gripped, but didn’t cut.

“Well,” he said, turning. “All the cords are leather, but they seem soft enough.”

Geralt sat on the edge of the bed, one knee folded, one foot touching the floor. Watching with such intensity Jaskier felt shyness creeping up his throat. He lifted his chin a little and resolved to be a sight worth inspecting. To let the bell of his emotion be poise. Be radiance. He did not hurry back. And while he may not have a witcher’s prowl, he too could move with power and intent. 

He slipped the bundle of suede from around his hand, watching as Geralt’s sweeping gaze focused on it, then flicked up. Jaskier held it out, and that earned a small smile.

“I’m sure it’s fine,” Geralt said, betraying no nervousness. 

Jaskier tipped his head and slipped onto the bed behind him. Geralt moved his hands behind his back.

“Right, so, two ways to do this,” Jaskier said. He dropped the cord and moved Geralt’s arms into position, wrists grasping forearms and elbows bent. “This would let you lie flat, but you wouldn't be able to move as much. Very stable. Or…” He moved Geralt’s arms straight, crossed at the wrists. “Easier to move. Not quite as comfortable.”

Geralt took a breath, considering. “Do this one,” he said, and Jaskier began wrapping. 

He made the binding tight, expecting it would stretch as it warmed, and watched in silver fascination as Geralt tested the knots. The leather squeaked but held, and Geralt sighed. The muscles of his shoulders relaxed a little more with each exhale, and Jaskier stroked his hands up the witcher’s arms and shoulders to help ease the tension away. 

Geralt moved himself to the middle of the bed easy enough and lay down, settling with another sigh and letting his eyes close. He was often pliant when contented--willing and attentive. There was excitement in ardor, yes, but sometimes, sometimes , one could have too much excitement. 

Jaskier took a moment just to look at him. Noticed the way his eyes scrunched as he drew in a breath. The pillows, the bard realized, scented for a human’s nose. Jaskier removed them, and Geralt’s eyes flashed open at the movement and sound. He lifted his head and watched the pillows form a pile on the floor.

“You didn’t have to do that.”

“Shh.” 

Jaskier pressed his head back down with a single finger on the forehead.

“Thank you.”

“Always.”

Where to start…  

Where to start.  

“How do I adore you properly,” Jaskier whispered to himself. If Geralt had ideas, he didn’t offer them.

Jaskier climbed astride, kneeling above Geralt’s thighs to keep their contact minimal. To save other things for later. Geralt gazed at him with something… new. An uncertain anticipation.

Jaskier did not want to keep him waiting. He touched with light, callused fingers, tracing around Geralt’s eyes and cheeks, learning the shape of his mouth, his jaw. The prick of rough stubble and smooth column of throat.

“You are exceptional,” he said, not hiding in whispers. Caressing collarbone and shoulders, rounding dense muscle and tracing over scars. Then he braced his hands against the bed and bent a kiss to Geralt’s sternum, soft hairs tickling his lips. “Lovely.”

He dragged wet, open lips across one pec. Breath hot. “You’re a thunderstorm.” Lick. “Power.” A laving kiss. “A force of nature.” 

Jaskier swirled his tongue over skin and soft hair, tasting his way to one nipple. He kissed. Sucked. Nipped lightly, and Geralt jerked with a small gasp. Exhaled hard, and Jaskier smiled against his skin so he could feel it. 

Words, images gathered in his mind. Geralt. Fighting and fierce. His face by camplight. The hard lines of guilt he so often carried. The soft wanting when he set it down.

Jaskier licked and moaned at the sensation tingling on his tongue. 

“You are a flashing blade,” he said. Pressed his lips. “The winter wilds.” Found the other nipple and licked hard. Set it between his teeth and pulsed his jaw, eliciting another gasp.

Then letting go.

“Dangerous…”

He looked up. Met Geralt’s eyes. “Beautiful.”

The witcher’s lips parted, but he said nothing. Looked… exposed. His shoulders tightened as he flexed against the binding and swallowed, but he did not look away. Hearing it. Fighting it, but affected by the possibility of believing. 

His look begged to believe.

Jaskier smiled, a small, seductive thing as he sat up. Placed his hands lightly on Geralt’s chest. And crawled slowly backwards, stretching his arms. Folding like a penitent in supplication, his mouth so close to Geralt’s cock he was almost kissing it. 

And so he did.

Ever so gently, on hot, stirring skin. A promise.

I won’t forget.

His palms and fingers worked in slow circles over chest and nipples, teasing. And he turned his attention to the crease of Geralt’s hip. Dotted a line of butterfly kisses up sensitive flesh.

“My guard,” he whispered. Rubbed his cheek against Geralt’s hip bone.

Then worked a line across Geralt’s body just above the groin. Wet, quick flicks of his tongue. The witcher shivered and tugged, and Jaskier brought his fingernails to those hard nipples, pressing like pins.

A low, breathy moan.

Delicious…

He smiled as he came to the crease on the other side. Slid his tongue straight up while his hands turned gentle. 

“My keep,” he muttered, and drew his hands down as he sat up.

He adjusted their bodies, nudging Geralt’s legs apart to make room for himself between them now. He gave no thought to what came next. His hands found their way to his lover’s thigh on their own, and he stared in rapt wonder as his fingers curved over muscle.

Such shape…

Such power…

He could not span the girth in two hands, and so rubbed up and down. Strokes and circles, handling with reverence. He did not notice his own breathing go light. 

Geralt bent his knee to aid questing fingers, and Jaskier moved his hands underneath, sliding between silk and skin. He took the weight of the left thigh in his hands, stroking coarse hair and delicate skin.

“How does anyone have thighs so heavy,” he said, tone hallowed and honeyed. “So strong and perfect.” And when he had mapped every centimeter and swell twice--thrice--gazing with aching devotion… “I’m a druid at worship.”

The words slipped out before he studied them, and he winced at their foolishness. Expected to hear a snort or scoff. But he glanced up at last to find Geralt watching him, entranced. The witcher drew an unsteady breath, the same confusion and disbelief flitting across his features as always. But no words of scorn. And so Jaskier held him with both hands and placed a kiss just above the witcher’s knee before setting his leg back down.

He moved with purpose to the right thigh.

“Twice blessed,” he said over a smile. 

Then splayed his fingertips slowly until his palms touched and his hands burned with arcane sparkling fire. Jaskier’s eyes fell shut, and he let out a sigh of satisfaction that cracked with a moan. He did love touching. And then put his hands to work. His thumb traced the scar on the outer thigh--a claw slash that didn’t quite miss. On impulse he bent to kiss it and sucked as though he could draw out the memory of pain, cradling the muscle in his hands. 

Geralt sucked a sharp breath, and Jaskier released him. Ghosted his lips from the scar to the spot above the knee, holding the back of the thigh in both hands. Kissed to stop time and stroked with his thumbs, like this was the crowning of his meaning.

And yet… he was not done. The flower of his affection not quite full to the sun.

He set Geralt’s leg gently down. Trailed fingers lightly along the inner thigh and felt his heart thud when he heard Geralt’s throat click and felt his leg tremble. 

Jaskier crawled back and off of the bed, running his palms down both legs until he was standing. Then took Geralt’s left foot in both hands.

“And these,” he said. “So neglected.”

The witcher pulled away from him but quickly relented when Jaskier’s grip tightened, and he did not let go. He rubbed his thumbs up the arch in several slow, heavy strokes. The softest part of a warrior’s thick, callused sole. And then he lifted Geralt’s foot and placed it against his chest. Ran his hands like spilling water over ankle bones and tendons. Resilient and intricate workings, ignored. Unloved. He shaped his hands up the calf and closed his eyes to memorize the shape by feel alone. 

Breathing.

The hushing touch of skin. 

He sighed as he drew his hands back down toward the top of the foot and covered it with his palms, warming and rubbing. An echo of what such contact gave to him. He paused. And pressed. And cupped the heel in his hand to set it back down.

Moved to the right. And again a cupped hand, a gentle lift. 

“They’ve carried you by my side all these years, haven’t they,” he said, his gaze focused on the touch.

Geralt’s breath rushed out, harsh, as he resisted withdrawing his ugliness--what he thought was ugliness.

A few circles of Jaskier’s thumb around the arch, and then he settled Geralt’s foot on his chest again, above the heart. Closed his eyes and worked by feel, caressing long muscles in slow, tender strokes. Until at last he opened his eyes and met his lover’s gaze. Jaskier dipped to kiss the top of Geralt’s foot--eye contact broken only briefly--and watched distress fracture across the witcher’s expression. Discomfort pulled at his mouth. 

Jaskier rubbed a hand over the spot his lips had touched, warming the thin skin before pressing his luck against that distress and kissing his way from ankle to the inside of the knee as he mounted the bed again. And then let go. 

In a heartbeat he lay at Geralt’s side, gazing into gold eyes through pregnant silence. Jaskier beheld a strange, uncertain innocence. A wide look of… not fear…

Vulnerability.

I could destroy you , he thought. With a misplaced word or an unkind gesture.

He touched Geralt’s dark brows and drew a finger down his jaw.

What a gift ...

“I know you find no beauty in this face,” he said, and Geralt closed his eyes. Started to turn away, but Jaskier held him with a press to his cheek and eased him back. “Look at me.” He waited while doubt furrowed that lovely brow, and the witcher gave in, meeting his steady gaze with a deerborne fleeing heart. “ But …” he said, “there is no sight more beautiful to me. You are striking. Devastating. The most gorgeous man in any room.”

Geralt’s gaze flicked askance, and Jaskier turned his hand, drawing the backs of his fingers down that stubbled cheek.

“You…” he said, pouring ardor in his voice, “are a work of art. Painters and sculptors should strive to capture it, though their efforts fail.” 

He circled a finger from brow to temple to cheek, and Geralt looked at him again like words burned in his throat. Not laughter, at least. Denials, maybe. He pressed on.

“These eyes… lovely, like sunlight. Liquid amber warmed in a fire’s glow”--caressed cheek and jaw--”Geralt, they are you , and I would not change them for anything.” Their gazes locked like lightning down his spine. “Your eyes may be my favorite part, save for one,” Jaskier said, and smiled.

Geralt lifted an eyebrow. Opened his mouth to speak. And Jaskier darted in to kiss him. To silence protests. Kissed and ran a hand from chest to thigh and up to cup his jaw, groaning at the pleasure of the witcher’s yielding and pulling away, leaving him breathless.

A wry smile touched Geralt’s lips, and he arched his eyebrow again. “Should I guess which part?” His voice came out tremulous and breathy.

Jaskier snorted in amusement. Shoved at his chest.

“Your heart, moron.”

His fingers found their way into the witcher’s ashen hair, carving light devotions through the strands. He grew serious as he gazed into Geralt’s eyes. “I have never known anyone more universally compassionate.” A petting stroke. “Loyal…” Another. “Honorable.”

Doubt burrowed across Geralt’s expression, but he held the gaze. And Jaskier offered him no escape. Eventually, the corner of his mouth quirked.

“That doesn’t sound as fun,” he said, voice threaded with a waver. A minor parry that was as much instinct as the way he carried a sword. 

The bard hummed thoughtfully at him and traced a finger around Geralt’s sternum. 

“Well…” Jaskier said gently. “Bodies might have sex, witcher, but hearts make love.”

He felt his face heat instantly in embarrassment and dropped his gaze to his hand, shoulders tightening against a scolding laugh… But it never came. And he smiled almost shyly. “That’s what you asked me for, isn’t it?” 

He glanced up to meet Geralt’s gaze, finding an inscrutable emotion flayed open there. Something raw Jaskier could not name that siren-sounded for his protection. 

“How are your hands?” he asked, and withdrew his own from its roving. 

“Fine.”

“Geralt.”

With a roll of his eyes, Geralt planted his feet and arched enough to take pressure off his bound hands for a moment before lowering back down.

“Mobile,” he reported. “Not going numb.” And lifted his brows in a succinct look of Satisfied?

Yes.

No…

He could only smile. Smile and slide his hand to the back of Geralt’s head. Smile and lean toward his partner’s parted lips. Smile and kiss, soft then harder. He made a sound as a dam inside broke, flooding passion and want into his veins. The quality of his energy and motion shifted from chaste and venerating to something carnal and needy. 

I love you.

I love this.

Used both hands to hold him in place.

Please…

Crawled astride, hot bodies sliding together.

Understand me…

Scored with his teeth, heart pounding. Delved with his tongue.

Understand…

Jaskier kissed the prickling shadow on Geralt’s cheek and jaw. Returned to his mouth with red stung lips, knees squeezing at his thighs and cock against his belly infusing with arcane fire. Sweat broke out across Jaskier’s lower back as the afternoon summer heat stoked the conflagration. 

He kissed down jaw and throat. Nudged the curve of his lover’s neck open. Licked and flicked his tongue on sensitive flesh until Geralt sighed out a moan. Hitched a breath. Moaned again. And now… now … they found familiar ground.

Jaskier felt the body beneath him writhe for more, subdued and frustrated by the bindings. Geralt’s cock started to stiffen as his pulse quickened..

“You’re a song,” the bard breathed, and switched sides. Pleasure and pride swelled up his throat as Geralt stretched to give him more access to his neck and shoulder. Bucked when he flicked a nerve. And let a soft, weak moan escape on each exhale. Jaskier nuzzled up to his ear. “The very best song.”

Jaskier rolled off him and onto his feet with a tumbler’s finesse, and scanned the room. The porter left their humble luggage in front of the dresser by the door, and he searched through Geralt’s potion bag for the oil of meadowsweet and bee balm, a favorite they had settled on when Jaskier was a younger man. He turned, heavy glass bottle in hand, and looked at the bed. Geralt lay, breathing hard, wanting and watching him. 

What a sight. His hair free and tousled. Cock hard and waiting to be touched. Pale skin stark against forest green fabric. Jaskier’s tongue darted to his lower lip as desire coursed to his groin. 

“Best not ruin the silk sheets,” he muttered, tearing his eyes away. 

He fetched a towel and several clothes from the racks near the tub and hurried back, setting his prizes on the table. He picked up the towel, and without a word Geralt planted his feet and bridged his back, making space for Jaskier to spread it under him. A wordless exchange of looks and actions. 

The bottle opened with a hollow pop, and Jaskier worked the greenish oil on his right hand, stroking some on himself to help it spread. He watched Geralt’s eyes track the movement with unabashed anticipation, his legs spreading wider as he waited. Jaskier smiled at him, not sure if he was conscious of the silent invitation.

Careful of his placement and hands, Jaskier crawled, kneeling, onto the bed. Left hand on Geralt’s stomach, muscles twitching at the touch. Right hand barely grazing through the hairs along his balls. Geralt shifted his hips. Planted his far foot. 

Jaskier pressed slick, searching fingers to the cleft of that glorious ass, and turned his gaze to his lover’s face. He worked by feel, rubbing against the tight rim of muscle. Geralt’s expression went calm. His breath hitched once at too hard a press, and then he slipped into practiced, measured breathing. Let his head loll as his eyes fell closed. 

Up…

Down…

Gentle coaxing…

Jaskier felt it when the tension in him released, and he slowly pressed a breaching finger inside, his thumb on Geralt’s stomach sweeping in calming circles. The witcher barely reacted as Jaskier slid to the knuckle. Jaskier reacted enough for the both of them. He hummed low in his throat as tingling crept through his hand, like it melted from numbness into sensation. 

He stroked, gently teasing and unhurried, watching Geralt’s face for flickers of emotion. Judged by the relaxation when he would be ready. And then added a second finger.

Geralt’s lips parted. His meditative breaths came a little harsher.

Another stroke, deep. A slow withdrawal. 

Stroke. 

Jaskier crooked his fingers, and a fragile groan of pleasure escaped on Geralt’s exhale. 

“Beautiful,” he whispered. 

Geralt lifted his head to look at him through half-lidded eyes, and his jaw shuddered as he took a breath. Jaskier stroked into him hitting that spot again, and he dropped back down with another moan as small spasms rippled through his legs and belly. He was as ready as he needed to be. 

The bard withdrew his hand and wiped it clean. He moved to get the bottle on the side table and applied fresh oil to his cock, taking the time to tease himself full to aching. Making a show of it as he worried his lower lip. Rocked into his own sloppy, slick grip.

Satisfied, he reached out with his messy, oiled hand. Stroked Geralt’s cock from root to tip to clean the excess. A light touch to the slit each time to send his breathing jagged. Hips rolling. 

With a low keen, the witcher dropped his head to the side, and Jaskier released him. He crawled again between Geralt’s legs, a dry tinderbox of passions, every centimeter of skin waiting for ignition. Cock throbbing for attention. 

He lifted Geralt’s leg to his shoulder and gripped thigh and hip. Then hauled him into position with brute strength. A small smile crossed the witcher’s face at the manhandling, and Jaskier’s chest sparked with pride. He was no one’s fainting flower. 

A little concentration. 

A nudge. 

He stroked Geralt’s leg with one hand and pressed into him across an endless breath. Exquisite tightness and heat greeted him. It bloomed through his groin. Up his spine. 

“Oh… f-fuck…” he breathed, his grip going tighter. 

Control was always the hardest. Time and practice yielded few techniques to defend himself against the chaos in a witcher’s skin. It warmed beyond heat. Burned like starlight. And he had always been weak to it, seduced by it as it compounded his pleasures. When his job was to last , it was impossible. 

Jaskier bit his lip and sheathed himself completely. Took a moment to catch his breath.

“Are you… flexible enough for this?”

Another small smile and lifted brows. In a low growl, “Try me.”

Jaskier huffed and complied. He shifted Geralt’s leg to his other shoulder first to get alongside him, then let it slide down his arm until the crook of his elbow slotted to the back of the witcher’s knee. He laid down, flexing his hips to keep them connected. Slid one arm beneath Geralt’s shoulders, gathering him close, the other stretching him open as he moved his hand as far toward Geralt’s chest as it would go. Then settled to holding the shell of the witcher ribs.

Sweet Melitele, he had never been on this side of it. Embracing. Penetrating. They enveloped each other, and if he moved, surely he must die from it. His body rang with silent chords from so much contact and sweat trickled between their skin. 

Instinct screamed for motion. 

He flexed his hips and thrust back in with the slow rolling motion of a tide. Geralt shuddered and searched for leverage. But Jaskier was in no hurry. 

And with a quiet “C’mere,” added soft kisses to their fire. Drank Geralt’s sighs. Opened to the insistent motion of his tongue. He felt Geralt’s jaw quiver while their lips locked and snapped his hips for a deeper thrust, groaning. 

He lost track of time, floating on sensation while his heart beat sweet affection through his veins, its heat like an afternoon sun. Between panting and kissing, glowing with the hitching of the witcher’s breath, Jaskier, impossibly, tasted the salt of tears. 

His heart jumped, and he froze, pulling back to get a better look.

“Are... you…”

Those were definitely tears.

“Don’t stop,” Geralt managed, voice thick. “Please.”

Jaskier’s fingers curled around the witcher’s shoulder as he stared, thunderstruck at tear tracks and red-rimmed eyes--his lover looking wrecked. Fear struck an arrow in his chest, and his expression must have clouded with dismay, because Geralt reached for him, mouth seeking more.

“Please,” he said again, strained with desire.

And the bard’s fever of fear broke. He leaned back in, swiping his tongue across salted lips but did not kiss. Then let instinct guide him back into motion with new urgency. Geralt liked quick, short strokes--a relentless building of pressure, and Jaskier gripped him hard as he strove to provide. The witcher’s breathing turned to panting, and he twisted trying to bury his face against Jaskier’s chest. 

The bard himself started to keen from the effort as his skin ignited. His cock throbbed with pleasant fire. He thought of cold and ice and mountains and tried not to hum a song. 

Moans cracked from Geralt’s throat as he writhed. And then sobs punched through those beautiful sounds. 

Jaskier stopped, breathing hard and heart wild. This couldn’t be good. This couldn’t be right . But again Geralt lifted his head with a desperate look and strained against his bonds to be closer. To kiss. And he had said not to stop. Jaskier let the press of his lips be his apology. 

He did not understand. But he would not make him beg.

The arm hooked under Geralt’s leg stung with the effort of holding him open, and Jaskier relaxed it. Moved his hand from ribs to cock. Stroked on oil-slicked velvet skin. Geralt jerked into the motion and bucked back onto Jaskier’s cock inside him, and that was an idea. The bard squeezed a little tighter and held his hand steady so his partner fucked up into it on the crest. Impaled himself as he came down.

Geralt set his own pace, groaning into Jaskier’s mouth in urgent pleasure.

This must be good, he thought. It must be. 

His distress melted under the weight of coiling heat in his belly. Sweat slipped down his back as he held himself still. Resisted the swelling glow. But Geralt’s tongue invaded his mouth. Chaos invaded his body. And goddess damn his cock hurt with untenable ecstasy from each clench and stroke of that body.

Perfection in flesh. 

A whine rose in his throat. And he couldn’t-- couldn’t .

He opened his grip. Pressed his hand to Geralt’s stomach, and strove hard against him. Those deep, strong thrusts that Jaskier felt to the soles of his feet. That burst red stars against his eyelids. 

Panting. Bitten lip. Jaskier’s control ripped finally from his grip, and he withdrew. Dropped to the bed. Arched as he stroked himself to completion, seed splattered across his stomach and hand. 

He lay for a moment. Just a moment, before reaching for one of the cloths on the side table and wiping himself clean as best he could with one hand and Geralt’s distracting breath hot across his skin. His body heavy on Jaskier’s embracing arm.

The bard turned to him and ran his hand down his chest and stomach. Reached for the crease of his hip. Adjusted his position to keep reaching until his fingers found that slick, warm hole. He slid two in effortlessly, and Geralt cursed, his foot sliding across the silk as he tried to lift his hips. 

He struggled. Flexing and mewling as Jaskier curved his fingers and strummed the spot with quick musician’s hands. Gasped. Gasped. And arched hard as he came, squeezing tears from the corners of his eyes. He blinked out more as he collapsed, boneless, and sighed.

Jaskier withdrew his fingers and pressed a kiss to Geralt’s damp forehead as he slid his arm out from under his shoulders. The bard grabbed a fresh cloth to clean his hand and swab the seed and sweat from his partner’s body.  

“Roll,” he said, nudging at Geralt’s arm. 

The witcher complied languidly, exposing his bound wrists. Jaskier picked at the knots until they came free and watched with cautious interest as Geralt rolled onto his back again and slowly stretched his arms and shoulders. He flexed his hands.

Jaskier lay next to him, head propped on one arm. Silence spread creeping tendrils. And then golden eyes turned his way in the company of a soft smile. One prowling, sinuous motion and Geralt lay curled against him, head pillowed on his shoulder. Jaskier stroked his sweat-streaked hair.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” he asked. “I wanted you to feel adored, not cry.”

A moment passed, and he wasn’t sure he was going to get an answer.

“What makes you think those are different?”

Oh…

He thought about it more. To be so loved it moved you to tears…

Jaskier pressed their heads together and stroked Geralt’s cheek with the backs of his fingers in rhythmic, soothing strokes. 

That vulnerable look…

The physical restraints…

“The bindings… help somehow,” he said. 

A nod, and Geralt pressed against him harder, trying to curl his big frame into something small. Something easy to hold. That protective urge flared in Jaskier’s chest, and he tried. Drew one of the witcher’s legs between his own so he could hold there, too, though eldritch pins danced through his flesh at the contact. 

Small motions and held breaths told him Geralt had something to say and hesitated saying. So Jaskier drew back and looked at him with lifted brows. Watched him struggle with whatever it was and tried to divine it based on expression alone. The clairvoyant’s gift escaped him. 

Eventually… “Don’t”--a frown--”tell anyone.”

The bard stared at him, surprised and little wounded. Tell anyone… that he… had cried... during sex? There were a lot of blanks to fill and several ways to fill them.

But in the end, he saw the shape of this fear. “No… no, of course not. Safe with me, I swear it. No songs.”

Geralt heaved a deep breath and relaxed, dropping his head back to the bard’s chest.

“Happy birthday, Jaskier,” he muttered.

Jaskier hummed as he resumed stroking his lover’s ashen hair. “Hmm.” A mischievous smile. “Not yet… we haven’t christened the balcony…”