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Yours, Dandelion

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~

 

Dear Heart,

You’re the moon
And the world is a lonely wolf;
It cries at the sight of you
For you are glorious
And so out of reach.

Yours,
Dandelion

 

~

 

“Ooh, another one from Dandelion!”

“Wha— really?”

“Where?”

“Move over, let me read!”

“That’s the second time this week! They’re being productive, eh?”

“Has anybody told Rivia yet? Oh, wait there’s— Triss! Hey! Have you seen Geralt?”

“I just got in, Duny. What is it?”

“Dandelion posted another poem at the wall.”

“Bloody hell, they’re on a roll.”

“That’s what I said!”

“Piss off, Chireadan. Nobody asked you.”

“Okay, Geralt just replied ‘on my way’. Where’s the poem?”

“It’s up there, the blue circle post-it.”

“… Oh. That’s quite painful.”

“I know.”

“They’re pining so hard they could build a forest.”

There’s a collective sigh of exasperation.

“Again, Chireadan: piss off.”

 

~

 

Jaskier slings his bag over his shoulder and closes his locker with a soft thud before going the opposite direction where the small crowd is forming in front of The Freedom Wall.

When he was in freshman year, the bulletin first gained popularity after the student council during that year proposed it to the school as a way to encourage freedom of expression amongst its students in Morhen Academy. Since then, the school never took the bulletin off, and it gradually became a safe space for students to express their thoughts, opinions, as well as anonymously divulge their secrets and desires. For Jaskier, who’s now in his last year of high school, utilising The Freedom Wall for the past year and a half as a means to share his poetry without compromising his identity has become both a blessing and a curse.

It’s a blessing because he can write and post his poetry while his identity remains safe, having come up with the moniker of Dandelion after his favourite flower. Not that anyone would think to guess it’s him. Nobody knows that Jaskier is a lovesick poet, that he has filled out dozens and dozens of pages of writing he hasn’t shared to anyone. Until that fateful day.

It’s a curse because while he pours his heart out into his notebook with prose and verses, some carrying a tune more than others — it’s not like it’ll make the object of his (albeit secret) affections notice Jaskier. Even if he puts up a large neon sign over his head, there’s just no way Geralt Rivia, resident captain of the Morhen Wolves rugby team, would look twice at him and think that those pretty words written for him could ever come from someone like Jaskier.

There’s just no way.

He’s been setting himself up for disappointment and heartbreak from the start, he knows that. He’s more than aware of that fact. But let it not be said that Jaskier Pankratz has always had a dreadful habit of hurting himself further.

 

~

 

Jaskier grows up with two parents and two older siblings. One of his early memories about his parents is that they always fought, and his siblings always bullied him just because he was the youngest.

Jaskier is six when he made his first friend.

He and one Geralt Rivia became inseparable after Geralt pushed their classmate Valdo Marx on the playground after he shoved Jaskier to get to the swing first.

They played together, had recess together. Some weekends, they would have sleepovers at each other’s place, though Jaskier preferred staying over at Geralt’s because he was scared that if his best friend heard his parents fight, then Geralt wouldn’t want to be his friend anymore.

Jaskier is nine when his parents separated.

He and Geralt still have sleepovers, but it’s Jaskier who often stays at his best friend’s place. He also adores Geralt’s mum — Visenna Rivia being an excellent baker and never failing to indulge the young boys’ every whim.

 

~

 

It’s later in the week and Jaskier has sequestered himself in his usual corner at the cafeteria. His packed lunch has always been the same since freshman year. The sandwich of the week (it’s tuna this time), a pear (it varies, sometimes it’s an apple, sometimes it’s grapes), and a juice box and bottled water.

He likes the quiet. Prefers it, really. But sometimes he’ll be joined by a couple of his friends. Chireadan, Renfri, Shani, and Priscilla are the ones who frequent his table at the corner. Triss, who’s Jaskier’s lab partner this year, as well as Duny and Pavetta, join him on occasion. But most of the time, Jaskier has the table to himself. And he’s perfectly fine with it, too.

With his creative mind, all he needs is his brown leather-bound notebook and favourite pen, and it’s more than enough. It should be.

Jaskier is munching on his pear while fiddling with a torn bracelet he’s decided to use as a bookmark for his notebook when he hears boisterous laughter across the cafeteria. He looks up, only to see the rugby team on the long table they pushed together in the middle of the area to accommodate the dozen players that make up the Morhen Wolves. They’re talking animatedly, voices loud and piercing, while others throw food at each other.

And right in the middle of it is Geralt Rivia. He’s one of the only people there who’s seated calmly, although Jaskier can see that small, upwards twitch on the corner of his mouth. The only indication that the silver-haired captain finds the whole thing amusing. Jaskier’s heart aches in that moment.

Then suddenly, Geralt looks up from his conversation with Eskel to meet Jaskier’s eyes.

Shit, Jaskier curses himself. He averts his eyes and ducks his head instead, cursing himself further when he feels his cheeks heat up with embarrassment at being caught.

He forces himself to focus on his leather-bound notebook, jotting down a few lines for a new song he has in mind. All the while, he continues to fiddle with the bracelet.

 

~

 

On Geralt’s tenth birthday, Jaskier gifted his best friend a drawing of the two of them. Before discovering his love for writing, Jaskier was a pretty decent artist, so he carefully drew a mountain with the sun rising behind it, two figures — one with chestnut hair and one with dark grey — standing beside each other on a forked road before them.

“Why is it forked?” Geralt asks Jaskier with a curious tilt of his head.

Jaskier shrugs. “I thought it looked nice. Why draw one road when you can draw two, right? And besides, that way you can choose which path to take!”

Geralt frowns. “But what if you don’t want to go in the same direction as me?”

“Don’t be silly, I’d follow you anywhere! You’re my best friend!”

“Well, I’d follow you, too.”

The two young boys share grins, and they only get up when Geralt’s mum calls them for dinner.

 

~

 

It’s the middle of November now, and since Jaskier started posting his poetry on The Freedom Wall near the end of second year, he always arrives at the school earlier than usual to put up the post-it at the bulletin.

There’s nobody in sight, the hallways void of students and teachers alike. Luckily, the bulletin is only a few feet away from his locker, which is also near the boy’s toilet. So in case he hears anyone approaching, Jaskier can make a quick escape.

Checking that the coast is clear and he can’t hear any footsteps approaching, Jaskier swiftly takes out the yellow rectangle post-it from between the pages of his notebook. Using one of the coloured thumb tacks pinned to the bulletin, Jaskier goes on his tip toes to pin the note to the upper right corner. Satisfied, he straightens with a huff of breath and takes a moment to scan the other messages posted, eyes landing on other anonymous writings pinned in the bulletin.

“My parents are getting a divorce. I might move schools next term. I don’t want to go.”

“I came out to my family last night over dinner, and for the first time I saw my dad cry. He’s a lawyer, and I can’t even remember the last time we had a heart-to-heart. But he hugged me and told me he loved me.”

“Sure, this school has a zero tolerance for bullying. But what if it’s ourselves we’re bullying? Sometimes, I’m scared of my own thoughts.”

“FUCK HOMOPHOBIA. FUCK RACISM. FUCK ISLAMOPHOBIA. FREEDOM FOR ALL!!!”

“What if one day you wake up and you find that you’re the person you’ve always wanted to be? What would you do?”

“The cafeteria needs to revamp their menu. There’s only so much baked fucking potato I can consume in a goddamn week.”

“This country isn’t for me. As an immigrant, I don’t feel like I belong. But then I remember where I came from, where my family suffered for years of poverty and oppression. And that’s when the gratitude comes. How can I be so selfish when my parents sacrificed so much for my sisters, just so we can be safe and have a bright future?”

“Anyone got any guesses who Dandelion is?”

A bubble of surprised laughter erupts from Jaskier upon reading the last one. He purses his lips and reads it a second time, eyes attentively going over the spidery scrawl of the letters. He’s half tempted to take it down, but Jaskier knows he can’t. No student is allowed to remove or discard anything that’s posted at The Freedom Wall. Nobody except the teachers and caretakers, who clear out the massive bulletin drilled into the wall every week.

Some part of Jaskier twinges in sorrow every time he sees his writing, though anonymous, be discarded so carelessly like yesterday’s leftovers. Once it’s out there, it’s never really gone, though. His words are immortalised elsewhere. What he chooses to share is only a fragment, a sliver, of the deeper parts of Jaskier’s heart.

He only ever posts at the bulletin for one person, anyway.

 

~

 

Dear Heart,

The universe is a brilliant writer;
It wrote your name in my stars
Before any of us existed
So when the time comes
They’ll light up your path —
And lead you straight to me.

Yours,
Dandelion

 

~

 

Like everyone, Jaskier is walking briskly to his next class, which happens to be AP English. He’s adjusting the strap of his bag over his shoulder, mumbling to himself about purchasing a new one that weekend. He’s fixing the zipper of his bag when he rounds the next corner, only to collide hard with a solid body.

“Oomf!”

Jaskier hits the ground on his arse. His bag, halfway open, spills the contents between him and the person he bumped into.

“Fuck, I’m so sorry,” a gruff voice says above him, sounding just as shocked.

Jaskier stiffens, belatedly realising that the figure he collided with didn’t even move from his spot. Slowly, he raises his head to meet Geralt’s golden eyes.

Swallowing past the dryness he suddenly finds lodged in his throat, Jaskier quickly stammers, “I-it’s fine!” He clears his throat. “Sorry. Sorry, I didn’t see you. Was a bit occupied wrestling with my stupid bag.”

“It’s fine,” Geralt replies in that same gruff voice, although his tone is soft.

He looks away from Geralt’s eyes, unable to hold his piercing gaze for more than a few seconds at a time. It’s akin to looking directly at the sun, and Jaskier, who’s always worn his heart on his sleeve, fears that if he stares too long that Geralt will see something he doesn’t want to see. So instead, Jaskier focuses on gathering his books, notebooks, and pens scattered on the deserted hallway.

Wait. Deserted? Since when?

Ah, fuck. It doesn’t matter.

Jaskier is shoving his History book into his bag when he feels more than sees Geralt crouch in front of him. He wordlessly passes Jaskier some of his pens, which he accepts with a mumbled “thank you”. When he catches sight of Geralt clutching a brown, leather-bound notebook in his large hands, Jaskier feels his heart stop.

His eyes drift from the notebook to the rough-looking hands, and up to the chiseled features of Geralt’s handsome face. And he is. Handsome. Breathtakingly beautiful, with his sharp jawline and the high cheekbones. Full lips that are dry but look soft at the same time, an odd juxtaposition in Jaskier’s humble opinion.

Geralt is still looking at the notebook, Jaskier notes, thick fingers slowly stroking the spine as golden eyes study the initials embossed on the front cover.

“You’re finally using it,” Geralt comments, thumb lightly stroking the thin leather cord that keeps the notebook closed.

Jaskier gulps inaudibly. Give it back, give it back. Please.

“I’ve been using it for years,” he reveals quietly. Jaskier shrugs when Geralt looks up to meet his eyes. “Took you long enough to notice.”

Geralt raises an eyebrow at him before he snorts softly and — thank god — finally hands it back to Jaskier. He more or less snatches it from the other man, careful not to let their fingers graze.

“It’s not like I always have my eyes on you,” Geralt eventually says.

Jaskier finally zips his bag closed, and they rise up from their crouched positions. Jaskier opens his mouth to make a sarcastic retort, but stops himself when the words register to him.

He tilts his head at Geralt. “Does this mean you sometimes have your eyes on me?”

Geralt blinks, and he looks startled for a moment that Jaskier can’t help but chuckle. It’s so easy to push his buttons, Jaskier has almost forgotten how much fun he used to have getting a rise out of Geralt.

“That’s not— I don’t—”

“Relax, Geralt. I was only teasing.”

Geralt shuts his mouth, looking nonplussed.

“Hmm.”

Oh, he’s definitely missed that, Jaskier thinks with a pang. His earlier mirth recedes, amused smile fading from his face.

They stand in front of each other in awkward silence. Jaskier fixes the strap of his bag over his shoulder as he fixes his eyes on his black Converse shoes.

Geralt clears his throat.

“Thanks, er, for the help,” Jaskier states. He chances a glance up and fights down a flinch when he sees Geralt already looking at him.

“Sure,” Geralt acknowledges with a nod, his expression pinched.

Jaskier thinks he looks a cross between constipated and freaked out. Could be a bit of both, who knows?

“So. I’m gonna go. I have AP English.”

Geralt nods again.

“AP Biology for me.”

“Okay. Er. Bye.”

“… Bye.”

It’s with an awkward wave, and a more awkward smile, that Jaskier walks past Geralt to turn the corner and get to class. Which he’s already a minute late for, fuck.

If his heart is hammering against his ribcage, and his palms happen to be sweaty and his cheeks flushed pink, Jaskier convinces himself it’s because he hightailed it across the hallway in record time to avoid getting detention from Ms. Tissaia.

Yeah. That’s why. It’s because he ran.

 

~

 

Dear Heart,

You were the one
I wanted most to stay
But time could not
Be kept at bay
The more it goes
The more it’s gone —
The more it takes away.

Yours,
Dandelion

 

~

 

When Jaskier is ten, his parents file for divorce. James and Juliet went with their dad, the three of them packing everything they owned and moving to Scotland so dad can be with the skank he cheated on mum with.

As for his mum, well. Julianna chose to change back to her maiden name. He vaguely recalls her sitting down a ten-year-old, chubby Jaskier and carefully explaining to him about changing her name. She asks him then if he wants to keep the Lettenhove surname.

“I’m with you, not dad,” a young Jaskier states matter-of-fact. “I want us to have the same name.”

Julianna smiles and hugs him close, and if Jaskier feels his hair become damp, he remains quiet.

So that’s how he went from Julian Alfred Lettenhove to Julian Alfred Pankratz.

It has a nicer ring to it.

 

~

 

“You know,” Renfri starts one day in December. It’s after school and Jaskier is in the library doing his homework with her and Priscilla.

“What?” Jaskier and Priscilla answer in unison.

Renfri gives them a look before she continues.

“It would be nice if Dandelion revealed their identity before the school year ends.”

Jaskier is careful to keep his face neutral, despite his heart racing at the comment. It’s old news to him that Dandelion is constantly talked about in school, everyone — including the teachers — intrigued about the identity of the lovesick poet. They’re all dying to know, and it reached the point that there’s a betting pool on who it could be.

The fact that his name hasn’t come up in the ever-growing list should be a relief, but deep down Jaskier is despondent to discover that none of his peers thought that he could be Dandelion. The utter nerve.

“You want to get in their pants, don’t you?” Priscilla asks with a leer.

Jaskier snorts while Renfri throws a crumpled piece of paper at the blonde.

“No, you tit,” she answers with an eye roll. “It would be fucking priceless to see Rivia’s face if they do. Can you imagine it?”

Priscilla hums as she ponders on that. Jaskier remains silent.

“Hmm, you have a point. Who do you reckon Dandelion is?”

Renfri shrugs. “Fuck if I know.” Then thoughtfully, she adds, “Don’t think it’s a girl, though.”

Jaskier perks up at this.

“Yeah?” he asks calmly, a curious lilt in his voice. “I always kinda thought it was a girl.”

Not, he thinks with an inward snigger.

Priscilla playfully swats Jaskier’s arm before she says, “Don’t be an arse. Besides, everyone knows that Geralt likes cock as well.”

What.

Jaskier chokes on his spit, eyes wide in shock. Renfri and Priscilla look at him, startled at his reaction.

“You okay?”

No, he’s not okay.

What the shit-arse fuck?!

“Who’s everyone?” Jaskier croaks out. “I didn’t know that!”

Renfri gives him a doubtful look. “Have you been living in a cave? Geralt’s bisexual, you knob.”

Okay. But since when? How did I just hear about this now?

Jaskier realises that he asked those questions out loud, if the exasperated looks Renfri and Priscilla give him are any indication.

“Christ, you’re living too much in your fucking head,” Renfri mutters to herself, which — rude.

Thankfully, Priscilla takes pity on him and dutifully provides Jaskier with an answer.

“He’s been out since last year,” she explains, heedless of the turmoil Jaskier’s in. “He and Eskel got caught fucking in the showers after practice.”

Jaskier opens and shuts his mouth, hurt and jealousy spreading across his chest. Eskel?

“Wasn’t he with Yennefer at the time?”

The intimidating but very gorgeous brunette has been Geralt’s on-again off-again girlfriend. Not only is Yennefer the most popular girl in Morhen Academy, she’s also the president of the Chemistry Club and is an active member on other clubs like the Decathlon team (which Jaskier is also a part of), the Debate team, and the Chess Club. And she’s also president of the student fucking council. How she finds time for all those extracurricular activities, Jaskier doesn’t know and doesn’t care to know.

They’re not friends, he and Yennefer. But they’re not sworn enemies either. They’re somewhat friendly, he supposes.

But yeah. Jaskier can’t help the tiny, minuscule part of himself that hates Yennefer Vengerberg.

Well, hate is a strong word. But.

Fine, Jaskier’s green to the gills with jealousy. Can you blame him, though? Yennefer has won Geralt’s heart since the start of freshman year. Jaskier can still vividly recall the affectionate way Geralt would look at her. Granted, their relationship crashed and burned within three months of dating, but apparently that didn’t stop them from fucking each other’s brains out since then.

Jaskier would move heaven and earth, burn everything in its path, gladly give everything he holds dear to him, just to have Geralt show an ounce of affection towards him. To look at him like that. Like Jaskier is the most important thing in the world.

He’s broken from his thoughts when Renfri snorts inelegantly.

“Pfft. Like that’s stopped them from fucking other people. He and Yen have a ‘friends with benefits’ thing going on. Though I don’t think they are anymore.” The brunette adds with a thoughtful hum.

Jaskier swallows past the tightness in his throat and tastes bile at the image of Geralt sleeping with other people. Sure, he’s aware of that, it’s no secret that Geralt loves fucking around, but he didn’t know that also included fucking guys. Jeez, how could Jaskier have missed such a vital piece of information about him? Of course, Jaskier’s no prude. He’s had sex a few times, even lost his virginity to de Stael when he was sixteen. She was eighteen. And Jaskier finds that he likes sex. A lot. He loves going down on a girl as much as he loves getting fucked silly by another guy.

Priscilla smirks.

“Yeah, according to Triss, Geralt no longer wanted to have that arrangement with Yen.”

“Oh?” Jaskier asks with a raised brow, the vise grip around his chest loosening a fraction.

The blonde hums with a nod. “Yup. Since the start of term. Geralt didn’t say much — well, he really doesn’t, that silly boy — but Triss thinks it’s because of Dandelion.”

“Oh?”

There’s a flutter in his heart upon hearing that. Jaskier wets his lip, and he and Renfri exchange surprised looks.

Priscilla snorts. “Yeah, duh. I mean. Come on, all those love poems posted and dedicated for the White Wolf near the end of sophomore year? Please. Even Geralt is smart enough to come to the same conclusion as everyone that Dandelion has the hots for him. And you’re right, Renfri. I think it’d be lovely if Dandelion revealed their identity soon. It would be a shame if they don’t.”

That topic of conversation eventually dies down, and soon they’re back to focusing on their homework. As for Jaskier, it’s no surprise that he doesn’t get much work done, his mind stuck on what Renfri and Priscilla just disclosed about one Geralt Rivia.

 

~

 

To the White Wolf,

The lines stitched into highways
The never-ending seams
On roads that are less traveled
Dividing you and me
I wish I could unravel
The fabric in-between
And tear away the distance
To bring you close to me.

Yours,
Dandelion

The first time Jaskier posts on The Freedom Wall, it was Valentine’s Day during sophomore year. Everyone else was doing it, so why shouldn’t he, right? Jaskier thought that it would be a nice touch to dedicate it to Geralt. It didn’t take him long to come up with those two monikers.

But what Jaskier doesn’t expect is the traction that his poem received. By lunchtime, everyone was taking pictures of the red post-it note and uploading it to their social media pages.

“Who is he? Or she? Not judging.”

“Oh my fuck, has Geralt seen this yet?!”

“Move over, I wanna read it!”

“Damn. Rivia’s one lucky bastard.”

“He better dump Yen for this Dandelion.”

“I wonder if they’ll write more.”

Well. Jaskier found an unexpected (but welcome) audience in his peers. Who is he to stop, right?

How naïve was he to think that it would be so easy.

 

~

 

Jaskier is eleven when it dawns on him that his feelings for Geralt run deeper than friendship.

They were hanging out at Jaskier’s flat, just the two of them. Julianna was still in the middle of her shift at the hospital so the two young boys were left to their own devices for most of the day.

It’s sometime in early April, and they’re in the middle of their spring break. Jaskier and Geralt are lounging in his bedroom, Jaskier practicing strumming the guitar his mum gifted him for his birthday while Geralt is reading one of the comics he brought with him.

The late afternoon sun peeks through the curtained windows of Jaskier’s room. He’s seated in one corner of the room, plucking his guitar and humming one of the songs he’s been practicing. Geralt is slouched on the blue bean bag in the other corner, eyes glued to the material he’s reading. That’s when Jaskier remembers looking up in time to see the golden rays cast a halo over Geralt’s profile.

It’s like the air left his body and his heart stops beating in that moment. And Jaskier remembers thinking to himself —

Oh. Right there. He’s beautiful.

 

~

 

He and Geralt only share a handful of classes together. AP History, AP Physics, Geography, and PE. Jaskier, who is at the top of their class, prefers to sit at the front. Geralt, on the other hand, being the popular jock that he is, prefers the back.

So it comes as a surprise to Jaskier when he enters the room designated for AP History, a week into the new year, to find that the front row is occupied. No one, not even sweet-faced Sabrina who’s seated in the third row, was willing to switch places with Jaskier.

Well, that’s just fucking great.

Jaskier huffs out in frustration and stomps to the very back of the classroom. He takes his seat in the corner with an annoyed grunt, taking out his notebook and pen in jerky motions. And the funny thing is, Jaskier was so lost in his thoughts, cursing his classmates to hell and back, that he didn’t notice the person sitting next to him until he hears that familiar gruff voice.

“You okay?”

Jolting in surprise, Jaskier snaps his neck to look at Geralt with wide eyes, the latter gazing at him with mild amusement.

It takes Jaskier a few seconds to respond coherently.

“Yeah, uh, fine,” he pronounces with a nervous chuckle. “Perfectly fine, yes.  That is me.”

Geralt’s eyebrows raise a fraction, looking doubtful.

Okay, Jaskier. Just calm down. So Geralt’s your seatmate. No big deal. Just. Relax and—

Calm the fuck down.

Jaskier slumps in his seat.

“Donna took my seat and none of those arseholes wanted to trade places with me. Which, rude.” Jaskier aims another baleful look at Donna, who’s gladly chatting with Cahir seated behind her. Ugh, no fucking wonder.

He hears Geralt huff out a laugh, and Jaskier turns to see him also looking at Donna and Cahir flirting.

“Not surprised,” Geralt comments with a smirk.

Of course. Cahir is also part of the rugby team, and they can say what they want about jocks, but their gossiping is worse than, say, hanging out at the girls’ toilet.

Which Jaskier doesn’t do. Has never done so. At all. Like.

He just knows these things, alright?

Geralt’s eyes shift to meet Jaskier’s. That’s when Jaskier realises that he, a smart young man with a GPA of 4.0, forgot that he is in possession of a brain cell because he did not look away. He was so occupied with examining that sharp jawline, eyes immediately zeroing in on the faint stubble he can see. As if Jaskier hasn’t ingrained Geralt’s face in his memory. As if he doesn't know the constellation of moles that maps the canvas of Geralt’s body; the faint dusting of freckles over his nose and under his eyes, down to the small scar on the upper right corner of his lip.

Jaskier has known this gorgeous, chiseled man since he was six. He’s known all the stages of Geralt, from chubby to skinny, and now to buff. Granted, he may no longer be Geralt’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean he has stopped being Jaskier’s.

Yes. He really does have an awful habit of finding ways to hurt himself further.

“It’s fun here, too,” Geralt adds, a mischievous smirk still in place. But his eyes, just like the Earth’s sun, carries a warmth that Jaskier feels deep in his bones.

Jaskier feels a familiar swooping sensation in his stomach, those pesky butterflies fluttering about. He takes note of them and ignores it. Heart pounding, he hides his nerves with a snort.

“Of course, Geralt,” Jaskier replies with his own smirk. “Business at the front, party at the back. Or should I say, napping at the back, hmm?”

Geralt shrugs, unrepentant.

“I’m still passing this class, aren’t I?”

“Just barely, I believe,” Jaskier shoots back playfully.

The White Wolf narrows his eyes at Jaskier, and he knows in the way Geralt’s nose scrunches up a tiny fraction that the silver-haired jock is being playful as well.

Jaskier’s chest aches at their easy camaraderie. In the years they’ve barely spoken to each other, every time they get moments such as this, no matter how fleeting, Jaskier is reminded of how effortless their friendship has always been.

Whether they’re miles apart or, in this instance, a foot apart, it only proves that Jaskier was born to love this man. In any and every way he can.

 

~

 

The first time he sings for Geralt, it was to Oasis’s Wonderwall. It was the first song he learned how to play, and despite the few fumbles between changing chords and the shakiness in his untrained voice, Jaskier feels incredibly proud of himself.

Geralt looks like he’s having the same thought, too. Golden eyes dance with joy as he slow claps at the end of his performance.

“Well?” Jaskier prompts as he sets aside his guitar. He looks expectantly at his best friend. “How was it? In three words or less.”

“Not that bad,” the grey-haired eleven-year-old comments with a small grin.

Jaskier huffs out a breath but inwardly he preens at the praise.

“Really?”

“Really, Jasky,” Geralt adds, and Jaskier flushes at the nickname Geralt gave him when they were eight. “It was good. You’re good.”

A smile slowly blooms on Jaskier’s face at the earnest look the other boy is giving him.

“Thanks, Geralt,” he answers. Then with renewed excitement, he adds, “I’m gonna practice more so I can be better! And maybe I’ll even write my own songs!”

At this, Geralt rolls his eyes with fond exasperation. Jaskier’s smile widens into a grin.

“Of course you will,” his best friend remarks indulgently.

 

~

 

Dear Heart,

If I say
“I’d give you anything”
We know it can never be
But I will give you anything —
I just hope that thing is me.

Yours,
Dandelion

Jaskier successfully pins his latest poetry, written this time on a pink post-it, at the top right corner of the bulletin. He returns the brown leather-bound notebook inside his bag. After zipping his bag closed, Jaskier turns around, only to freeze on the spot when he sees someone at the end of the hallway.

No one ever comes this early to school, except for the faculty and staff.

Jaskier feels his world come to a standstill when he meets the astonished eyes of one Yennefer Vengerberg.

Fuck.

It’s one thing to be caught pinning a love poem dedicated to someone. But it’s an entirely different ballpark when it’s Yennefer Vengerberg who accidentally walks in on Jaskier — aka Dandelion, the school’s resident mysterious poet — pinning a love poem dedicated to one Geralt Rivia.

Really. It’s just his fucking luck.

 

~

 

He proceeds to avoid Yennefer for the rest of the week. It’s not like he sees her all the time, anyway. Besides, they only share a few classes. Although they’re both in the Decathlon team, but that’s okay — Jaskier sees her only when he has to. Which is a blessing, to be honest.

That is, until a week later. It’s the end of the day and they’ve just concluded their weekly Decathlon meeting. Jaskier managed to sneak out of the room, but before he can make it to the end of the hallway, he feels a slender hand grip his forearm and Yennefer basically yanks Jaskier aside into a — ow! Is that a broom? — supply closet.

Of all the places to—

Lovely. Just lovely.

“Yennefer!” Jaskier yelps when the back of his head hits the wall with a painful thud. Fuck, this is a really tiny space. “The supply closet? Really? If I had known you wanted some sexy time—”

His voice cuts off with a pained grunt when slender hands shove him back against the wall.

“Okay. Okay, cool. This is fine.”

Although dim, Jaskier is able to make out violet eyes pinning him with an unyielding stare.

“Jaskier,” Yennefer starts with a thin smile. “You’ve been a difficult one to pin down.”

This does not bode well for him, Jaskier thinks.

“What’s up?” he says instead, aiming for nonchalance and missing it by a mile.

Unfortunately, Yennefer has never been the sort of person to beat around the bush. That’s why it makes her such an efficient student council president.

She gives Jaskier a meaningful look before she bluntly states, “So you’re the infamous Dandelion.”

And there we go. The very thing Jaskier has been endeavouring to avoid all week. But the game’s over now, he’s been caught. Jaskier is not very fond of confrontations, but even he knows when to finally give in and face the music.

He only hopes he gets to keep his dignity by the end of this engaging chat.

Jaskier’s shoulders slump and he leans against the wall with a heavy sigh. Two feet from him, Yennefer remains still, her arms crossed and one elegant eyebrow raised as she impatiently waits for him to talk.

“Yes, alright. Fine,” Jaskier finally admits with another heavy sigh. He holds out his hands as if in surrender. “I’m Dandelion. Happy?”

“Thrilled,” Yennefer deadpans. When Jaskier dares to peek a glance at her, he’s mildly surprised to find her staring at him with a look of… awe? Admiration? Jealousy?

Jaskier swallows inaudibly.

“What do you want?” he asks warily.

“I want nothing from you,” she answers with an eye roll. Before Jaskier can begin to doubt her, she quickly adds, “Although, I can think of one person who does want something from you.”

Jaskier stills.

“Don’t,” he says, tone sharp. Please don’t. “You and I both know that’s not true.”

Yennefer’s expression shifts from somewhat sympathetic to condescending.

“You and I have different versions of what’s true,” she shoots back. Then, almost as if it pains her to do so, she forces herself to speak in a calmer tone. “Jaskier, I do not say this in jest: Geralt would want to know the truth. He deserves to know.”

“I beg to differ.”

“Don’t be an idiot. The entire school knows Geralt is pining for Dandelion, and it just so happens to be you. Which, in my opinion, is a lovely coincidence.”

“Darling Yennefer, nothing good will happen if Geralt finds out it’s me. He’d rather come running back to you.”

“Why the fuck would he do that?” Yennefer asks with an inelegant snort.

“Because he chose you,” Jaskier states hotly with a wave of his arms. “Freshman year, I saw the way he looked at you the first time. Geralt already knew I had feelings for him, and his silence was answer enough. I’m not an idiot, Yennefer. He made it clear then that he doesn’t… feel the way I do for him. Not like the way he loves you.”

Yennefer huffs out a breath. “There’s a fine line between lust and love. Besides, Geralt and I agreed that it’s for the best that we remain friends. Our personalities… clash too much to maintain a stable relationship.”

Jaskier remains silent. After some time, Yennefer uncrosses her arms with a long-suffering sigh.

“What — cat got your tongue?” she surmises. “If you’re panicking, let me reassure you that I have no plans to threaten to rat you out to the entire school.”

“I’m not panicking,” Jaskier finally croaks out. He clears his throat and tries again. “Although, thank you. For not wanting to threaten me to spill my secret.”

“Were you expecting me to out you to the entire school?” Yennefer asks, and Jaskier detects a tinge of — not hurt, but uncertainty, perhaps — in her tone.

“No! No, not at all,” Jaskier is quick to reassure with a shake of his head. “I just… I’ve been doing this for two years now and I find it ironic that it’s you, of all people, who caught me in the act. Not that I have anything against you!” Jaskier hastily adds with a wave of his hands. “It’s, er, well. It’s you. You captured Geralt’s heart when we were fourteen, and. What I did — that first poem I posted — was only supposed to be a one-time thing. I didn’t mean for things to… escalate.”

“But you kept on doing it, regardless.” There’s no judgment in Yennefer’s voice, only understanding, and that makes Jaskier nod his head and continue.

“Yeah, I did,” he admits, one hand massaging the back of his neck as he ducks his head. “It felt freeing, y’know, writing down my feelings and posting them on the wall. A part of me knew what I was setting myself up for, but I couldn’t bring myself to give a fuck. I was finally able to tell him how I felt in my own way, even though it was done so anonymously. And I honestly never expected it would gain that much popularity. If I had known…”

“But you didn’t, and that’s not on you,” Yennefer finishes for him. Then she sighs. “But I meant what I said earlier. Geralt deserves to know the truth. And let’s face it, Jaskier. You also owe it to yourself to be honest. This has gone on long enough.”

Jaskier lets out a snort. “Yeah.” Then somberly, he adds, “I don’t know. Geralt doesn’t like being lied to. He and I haven’t been the same since grade school. Which you probably already know.”

Yennefer hums. “Hmm, yes. But you’ve always been Geralt’s weak spot.”

Geralt’s what now? Jaskier is gaping at her, face slack with shock. He sees Yennefer’s mouth twitch into a semblance of a smile.

Jaskier notes that it makes her look even more beautiful. More approachable.

“You’re taking the piss,” he states.

Yennefer shakes her head, and for some reason she looks unbelievably smug.

“Nope. He and I may have been fuck buddies for a while, but even I could tell that Geralt never stopped caring for you.”

“Yennefer…”

“Don’t be obtuse, Jaskier,” Yennefer snaps, and she crosses her arms again. Well, she’s definitely run out of patience now. “Listen, Valentine’s Day is a few weeks away. Geralt hasn’t said anything, but it’s obvious that he’s hoping to receive another poem from Dandelion.” Before Jaskier can open his mouth to argue, she continues on. “That being said, the poor bastard is torn between his feelings for you and his feelings for Dandelion. Because while it was funny at first to see Geralt make googly eyes at you from afar, it’s starting to look pathetic now."

Feelings? What the—

What?

“So please, Jaskier,” Yennefer concludes with a beseeching look. “You better get your head out of your arse and do something about this already, like confess. Preferably soon before we graduate, or before either of you die of blue balls.”

Having said her piece, Yennefer turns on the spot and leaves the supply closet with a resounding shut of the door. It takes Jaskier a horribly long time to do the same, mind reeling with new information and his heart somehow feeling lighter and fuller at the same time.

 

~

 

Jaskier goes through two pages, front and back, of his leather-bound notebook before he is satisfied with the poem he plans to post on Valentine’s Day. To his chagrin, Jaskier fiddled with the bracelet-slash-bookmark so much that the frayed threads ended up looking more worn out.

When that day comes, the occasion falling on a Wednesday, Jaskier makes sure to come to school a little earlier. He takes great care pinning the red rectangle post-it note to the top right corner of the The Freedom Wall.

 

~

 

I feel the end is drawing near
Would time be so kind to slow?
You are everything to me, my dear
You are all I really know

But as I sit, and wait, and fear
And watch the hours go
Everything that happened here
Happened long ago.

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear heart.

Yours,
Dandelion

 

~

 

Yennefer pulls Jaskier aside into a deserted hallway after AP English later that day.

“Geralt saw the poem,” she tells him in a low voice.

Jaskier gulps, eyes darting back and forth.

“And?” he prompts in an equally low voice.

There’s a sliver of a smile that touches the corner of Yennefer’s lips when she says, “He’s planning something, but I don’t know what. I’ll let you know after Decathlon practice tomorrow if he shares anything.”

 

~

 

He didn’t have to wait long at all.

By the time his last class ends that day, Jaskier is walking towards his locker when he glimpses a small crowd surrounding the six-foot wide bulletin. He sees Chireadan dart past him and he calls his friend before he can get too far.

“What’s going on?” Jaskier asks.

“Someone said that the White Wolf posted on the wall,” Chireadan answers with a delighted grin.

Jaskier’s eyes widen in shock, and he allows himself to be pulled into the throng of students. He understands Chireadan’s, and the other students’, excitement.

Geralt has never participated in posting at The Freedom Wall. It’s not his style. So it stands to reason that when the White Wolf himself has done something that’s out of his comfort zone, the student body would be more than keen to see what he has done. It takes a bit of manhandling and a bit of politely shoveling people aside to get to the front of the bulletin.

“Where is it?!” one yells.

“It’s up there!” another exclaims.

“There’s too many damn paper,” Chireadan complains.

Yes, where could—

Oh. Right there.

Jaskier sees it, and he gets to his tip toes to read the inscription written. When he manages to do so, he feels the ground disappear underneath his feet.

There, written in that familiar spidery scrawl on a generic yellow post-it that’s pinned below the latest poem he posted that morning, is Geralt’s message:

Dandelion,

I want to meet you.

— White Wolf

 

~

 

There are no new poems from Dandelion for the next week, nor did they reply to Geralt’s missive. Jaskier feels guilt simmer in his gut every time he catches a glimpse of the silver-haired jock.

Geralt, who is already intimidating with his height and bulging muscles, looked more ominous with the fixed scowl etched on his face. The knowing, disappointed looks from Yennefer doesn’t help matters, either. Shame twists unpleasantly in Jaskier’s gut, and he knows that he needs to grow a spine and do something about it already. Because as much as he hates to admit it, Yennefer is right.

Jaskier owes it not only to himself, but also to Geralt, to be honest. This whole Dandelion persona has gone on long enough, yes. But Jaskier also thinks that if he’s going to finally come clean with this well-kept secret of his, then it needs to be a significant gesture. Go big or go home, as the saying goes. Now Jaskier just needs to come up with a viable solution to his current dilemma.

 

~

 

It’s two weeks after Valentine’s Day and Jaskier is walking with Triss and Chireadan to their next class when he glances past a deserted hallway on the way to the laboratory.

Only, it’s not deserted.

There, he sees Geralt standing in front of The Freedom Wall. He’s dressed in all black, as his usual get-up, except for the blue and silver letterman jacket the student athletes wear. Without breaking his stride, Jaskier notices pursed lips and a deep furrow between Geralt’s eyes, a clear indication that he’s deep in thought. As if he can feel Jaskier’s eyes on him, Geralt turns from his heavy examination of the bulletin to look at him.

Jaskier’s breath hitches in the back of his throat when golden eyes, shrouded with conflict and misery, meets his.

Fuck.

Jaskier only averts his eyes when he and his friends walk past the corner.

 

~

 

The viable solution he’s been searching for comes to him in the wonderful, badass form of Renfri Woolf.

Jaskier is at the library with her, Priscilla, Shani, and Chireadan, the group reviewing for their impending tests. During a lull in-between studying, Renfri brings up the upcoming event she’s organising with the student council.

“So we posted the sign-up sheets for the Spring Talent Show last Monday,” Renfri begins as she crumples another piece of paper.

“Oh yeah, how’s that coming along?” Shani asks with a smile.

“It’s going well, yeah,” Renfri replies with a shrug. “The slots are almost full, but thank fuck that no one from the Drama Club and Glee Club joined this year.”

“Small mercies,” Jaskier chimes with a snort.

The last two years, the members of those clubs were at each other’s throats, going as far as sabotaging the members to prevent them from participating. Ms. Tissaia, who oversees the yearly event, nearly had a conniption each time.

“Fuck yeah,” Renfri snorts.

Priscilla is twirling a pencil between her fingers when she looks up from her Biology book to glance at Jaskier and say, “Aren’t you joining, Jas?”

Jaskier blinks at her. “Me? What talent would I even showcase?”

Chireadan snorts and throws him a flippant look. “Humility doesn’t suit you, my friend.”

The girls laugh while Jaskier squawks in indignation. Rude.

The gangly, exuberant senior continues. “If I recall correctly, and I know I do, weren’t you the one who helped Damian serenade Claire at the cafeteria by playing the guitar and serving as a back-up vocal when he sang an adequate version of Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours? Because let me tell you, my friend: it wasn’t Damian who Claire was looking at.”

Jaskier stammers and flushes at the memory from two years ago. Renfri hums thoughtfully while Priscilla and Shani giggle.

“He’s a got a point, Jas,” Renfri says. She looks at Jaskier with a roguish glint in her eye. “Besides, didn’t you say you needed a few extra credits to pretty up your college applications?”

“Yeah! You could play another love song or something,” Priscilla adds with an excited grin. Then she hastily adds, “Totally up to you, of course.”

“Or something by The Beatles or Led Zeppelin,” Shani adds with a shrug.

Jaskier's mind then flashes to an image of miserable golden eyes and the permanent frown on Geralt’s face these days, and he more or less makes up his mind on the spot. He has been working on something for a while now, anyway. Maybe… maybe joining the school’s talent show could be the significant gesture.

“Let me think about it,” Jaskier acknowledges with a dramatic sigh, much to his friends’ delight. He smiles inwardly at their evident enthusiasm.

There’s no thinking about it. He’s definitely going to sign-up.

 

~

 

Dear Heart,

He has me at his every whim
Everything starts with him
To all the boys I used to kiss —
Everything stops with him.

Yours,
Dandelion

 

~

 

Jaskier is thirteen when his world shifts.

It’s a chilly February night and they are doing their homework in Geralt’s bedroom. Books and notes are sprawled haphazardly on the floor, Geralt working on his English essay while Jaskier grumbles and complains while solving mathematical problems.

“This is ridiculous!” Jaskier whines. He throws his pencil and thumps his head on his book with a groan. “Geralt, I’m dying over here.”

Geralt snorts, but he sets aside his essay to poke Jaskier’s thick mop of hair.

“Don’t be so dramatic,” he says. Jaskier yelps indignantly when he feels his Math book slide from beneath his head, Geralt chuckling when Jaskier’s forehead hits the hardwood floor.

“Wanker,” Jaskier grumbles with a pout.

“Do you want my fucking help or not?”

“Yes, please, I do. I hate Maths.”

“Hmm, didn’t know that. Well, c’mon then, bring your notes.”

Geralt patiently teaches Jaskier how to solve the problems, slowly going over the equations for the next thirty minutes. Jaskier, who’s been harbouring a crush on his best friend for the two years, revels in every touch, accidental or not. Shoulders pressed together, fingers brushing against each other as Jaskier hands Geralt his pencil — Jaskier basks in the easy affection between them.

He solves half of the problems with Geralt’s help, having a better understanding now on algebraic expressions. Jaskier grins when he successfully solves another one and he looks up at his best friend, only to freeze when he realises how close their faces are. He can see the faint dusting of freckles across Geralt’s nose and under his eyes. The small wound on his upper right lip, which he gained after tripping up the stairs running after him when Jaskier wouldn’t give back his Thor comic, is starting to scab over. The apples of Geralt’s cheeks are soft and a little pink, and glancing up to meet golden eyes, Jaskier wonders what it would be like to kiss him.

So he does.

Driven by instinct and curiosity, Jaskier darts forward and plants a wet kiss on Geralt’s dry, slightly parted lips. He feels the other boy stiffen, and before Jaskier can begin to contemplate what to do next, he feels Geralt shift and then two hands roughly shove him away.

Jaskier blinks a few times as he gapes at Geralt. There’s a shocked, conflicted look in those golden eyes, and Jaskier slowly sits back up.

“Geralt,” Jaskier starts apprehensively. His voice breaks, and he curses puberty in that moment. He clears his throat and tries again. “Geralt, I… I’m s—”

“I don’t like you like that,” Geralt suddenly blurts out, face turning red.

Jaskier’s breath hitches. A weight settles in the pit of his stomach and there’s a twinge in his heart.

It hurts.

“I… Geralt?”

Geralt is no longer looking at him, his shoulders tight with tension and eyes focused on his essay.

“Jaskier, I… I don’t like you like that,” he repeats quietly, still avoiding Jaskier’s crestfallen gaze. He purses his lips for a moment, and then, “But you’re still my best friend.”

“O…okay,” Jaskier says, his voice small. There’s a stinging behind his eyes that he tries hard to blink away.

Geralt bites his lip but doesn’t say anything further.

They spend the rest of the night in silence.

Slowly, gradually, Geralt pulls away from him.

Jaskier, although ashamed of his actions, couldn’t bring himself to regret kissing his best friend. In a way, it was better that it happened the way it did, instead of letting Jaskier fall deeper for Geralt.

Because now he knows.

Geralt doesn’t like him the way Jaskier does.

It hurts, and he’s lost count how many nights he went to bed in tears, his mum unaware of his turmoil.

He still proudly wears the friendship bracelet Geralt gifted him two Christmases ago. The black, yellow, and blue threads starting to fray around the edges, a bit of dirt starting to stick longer no matter how mindful Jaskier is. He knows that Geralt can see Jaskier still wearing it, can see him fiddle with it when Jaskier is either listening attentively to the lecture or is deep in thought.

Jaskier remained steadfast by Geralt’s side and gave him the space he needed. Don’t stand too close, don’t stare too long, keep your calm became his mantra. But it seems that he probably gave him too much space.

More than a year after that first kiss, it’s on their first day of freshman year when Jaskier’s heart breaks a second time when he sees Geralt fall in love with another person.

Because unbeknownst to Jaskier, while he was busy pretending everything was okay between them, Geralt was slipping away from him.

And it only dawns on him that he lost his best friend when Geralt walks into school one day, holding hands with Yennefer. He pointedly avoids looking at Jaskier when he walks past him, as if the past eight years meant nothing to him.

 

~

 

This time, it’s Jaskier who seeks out Yennefer.

When he spots her slender figure leaving the girls’ toilet during lunch break, Jaskier makes sure the coast is clear before he calls her name.

“I joined the talent show,” he tells her once they manage to find a deserted classroom to talk.

If Yennefer is surprised, she hides it well.

“Are you going to make a fool of yourself, then?” she asks, the corners of her mouth curling upwards into a small smile.

Jaskier is beginning to see why half of the school wants to get in her pants, heedless of the chaos in her heart. Underneath all that prickly exterior, Yennefer’s actually a pretty decent human.

“Well, Geralt’s going to feel like a fool anyway once he finds out that it’s me,” Jaskier answers with a careless shrug. “So I might as well go all out, right?”

He blinks in shock when Yennefer raises a hand to pat his cheek.

“I doubt it, but good luck,” Yennefer says, and Jaskier’s pleasantly surprised to know that she means it.

 

~

 

Dear Heart,

You were none
And now you’re all
Your worth will rise
The more I fall
Like these mementos
We have stored
Once were things
Now so much more.

Kaedwen Auditorium, April 9, 4pm

Yours,
Dandelion

 

~

 

There’s a ripple of excited anticipation amongst the students of Morhen Academy after word got out that Dandelion has posted their second poem that week at the bulletin.

He’s still standing by his locker when he hears the whispers increase. Jaskier looks up in time to see Geralt, dressed in black and silver-white hair fixed into a messy man bun, stride purposefully down the hallway. The students milling in front of The Freedom Wall immediately break up to make room for the White Wolf.

Jaskier watches the tense line of Geralt’s shoulders loosen as he reads Dandelion’s post. After several moments, Jaskier’s grip on the locker door tightens as everyone waits with bated breath for Geralt’s reaction. A few more seconds tick by until finally, Jaskier sees Geralt exhale loudly before a smile slowly blooms on his beautiful face.

It’s like seeing the sun peek out on the horizon after the storm has passed.

Jaskier’s awe in seeing that smile diminishes when Geralt turns around and meets Jaskier’s eyes. He notes how Geralt’s smile freeze on his face as golden eyes lock on cornflower blue. The look of surprise on Geralt’s face quickly shifts to a conflicted, almost shamed, expression. It’s a look that’s so achingly familiar that Jaskier feels his chest tighten.

Geralt turns and walks back the way he came from, a lightness in his step that Jaskier hasn’t seen since Valentine’s Day.

 

~

 

Jaskier has filled out more than half the pages of his thick, brown leather-bound notebook. Written in his cramped, loopy script, the journal is filled with verses and paragraphs, interspersed with random lines scrawled on the edges of the lined pages. He writes about life and love and seeking adventures in unlikely places. Sometimes, especially at night when he feels more maudlin and introspective, Jaskier writes about broken families and forgotten friendships. And when the mood calls for it, he writes about the concept of death and time.

The crumbling of an era.

The small moments that make up a memory.

The demise of a relationship.

The fractures that form around the hour glass that signifies the mortality of humankind.

If people were given the chance to look and read the passages that Jaskier has written over the years, they would all come to the same conclusion:

His words are mostly about Geralt. In fact, they’re all for Geralt.

Because despite the years that has passed since their falling out, and regardless of the inconsistent behaviour that Geralt has demonstrated towards Jaskier, Jaskier has remained devoted to him.

Like the drawing he made for him when they were kids, Jaskier meant it when he told Geralt that he would follow him anywhere. He gladly welcomes the heartache only being in Geralt’s orbit constantly brings. Jaskier is more than aware that subjecting himself to this kind of torture for the last four years is the very definition of a horrible habit, and he can’t bring himself to regret it.

He loves Geralt. He’s in love with him. Truly, maddeningly, hopelessly in love with the bastard.

Jaskier is weak, yes, and he is wanting. Constantly.

In a race against time to finish composing the song he’s been working on for the past several months, Jaskier can only hope that after he performs it at the talent show in a few weeks, with the promise that Geralt will be in the audience (he has to, Jaskier thinks, because Dandelion left him that message), that Geralt will finally see what has always been in front of him.

 

~

 

Dear Heart,

With you, I’ve fulfilled
Our destined meeting
My tired hand
Against your chest

This is the heart
That keeps mine beating
These are the eyes
That mine know best.

Yours,
Dandelion

 

~

 

Jaskier, who has been practicing his song persistently for the past couple of weeks, thinks that he’d rather run around the race track a dozen times than stand in front of a few hundred people and sing his heart out. Literally. He’s never performed in front of a crowd before — that bit about helping Damian serenade Claire notwithstanding. And so Jaskier sends a prayer to every deity he can name off the top of his head that he doesn’t fuck up.

It’s not a life or death situation, but it might as well be.

Still, he knows he has to be strong for himself. There’s no backing out now.

Once more unto the breach.

 

~

 

April 9 finally dawns bright and clear.

Everyone is buzzing with excitement, both for the talent show that afternoon and the reveal of Dandelion’s identity. According to Yennefer, Geralt is beside himself with anxiety and anticipation at the prospect of finally meeting Dandelion. Eskel and Lambert, as well as a couple of his teammates, have been teasing him relentlessly about it for weeks now. Of course, Geralt has no clue that Jaskier will be revealing himself on stage, so the rugby captain has no other choice but to exert a bit more patience.

By the time the bell rings to signal the end of the day’s classes, the Kaedwen Auditorium slowly fills up with students, teachers, and parents alike. Unfortunately, Jaskier’s mum couldn’t make it since she has a shift at the hospital, so he enlisted the help of Chireadan to film his performance so that his mum will be able to watch it when she arrives home later that evening.

Jaskier enters the auditorium with his friends, guitar case in hand and his bag slung over his shoulder. He paid attention to how he dressed that morning, electing to wear black jeans and a beige floral shirt his mum gifted him last Christmas. He considered combing his hair but thought better of it, instead opting to go with the artfully tousled look he’s perfected over the years.

After finding a good spot where his friends have a decent view of the stage, Jaskier bids them goodbye to go backstage where the rest of the contestants are getting ready. Priscilla, Shani, Triss, and Pavetta hug him and wish him luck, while Duny and Chireadan clap him on the back with encouraging smiles.

According to the list that Renfri posted backstage, Jaskier will be the twelfth person to perform his act. There are twenty contestants overall, and he thinks that being placed in the middle is a good choice.

Before long, the program starts and Jaskier looks at the clock every few minutes as he and the other students wait for their turn. He goes to the loo a few times to relieve his bladder. It’s the nerves, he tells himself. Hopefully he doesn’t wet his pants in the middle of his performance. That would be a tragedy.

It’s on his fourth trip to the loo that he bumps into Geralt. Jaskier is on his way back to the auditorium when he sees him about to go inside the toilet.

“Jaskier,” Geralt greets, surprised. Looking closer, Jaskier is shocked when golden eyes slowly roam over his form with what can only be described as a stunned expression. “You, uh. Look different.”

Jaskier can feel a blush heat up his cheeks, so he ducks his head and clears his throat.

“Yeah, I. Um. I joined the talent show, so.”

“Oh.” When he glances up, Geralt is looking at him oddly. “Are you going to play the guitar?”

Jaskier smiles lopsidedly at him. Oh, my dear, dear heart. You have no idea what you’re in for.

“More or less,” he replies, aiming for ominous but missing it by a mile.

Geralt looks amused, almost fond.

“Well, good luck,” he says. “I’m sure you’ll do great.”

Jaskier’s heartbeat picks up at the small smile Geralt aims at him.

“Thanks,” Jaskier mumbles shyly. Before Geralt can walk past him to enter the toilet, he quickly adds, “You’ll be there, right?”

Geralt looks at him over his shoulder, and this time Jaskier can’t decipher the expression on his face.

“Yeah.”

“Okay. Cool.”

Jaskier nods and then smiles at him. He walks away before Geralt can say anything else.

When Jaskier returns backstage, he discovers that he’s five acts away from his turn on the spotlight. He takes a seat beside a timid-looking freshman who looks to be on the verge of passing out and goes over the lyrics of the song he’s going to perform. He doesn’t need to, he has it memorised already. After all, they’re his words. Still, Jaskier finds it calming, so he goes over the lyrics again while humming the tune under his breath.

The next thirty minutes pass by at a slow pace. The contestants who performed so far actually had talent. There was one who happens to be a ventriloquist. A sophomore girl showcased her magic card tricks, which actually caused the audience to react favourably. Someone sang a wonderful rendition of a famous Whitney Houston song, and another showed great potential for a career in stand-up comedy.

Before he knows it, it’s Jaskier’s turn. He picks up his guitar and checks the strap and tuning one last time. When he hears Renfri call his name, Jaskier releases a loud exhale and says a prayer before he makes his way to the stage to polite applause.

“Good luck, Jas!” Renfri says in a hushed tone when they pass by each other.

Jaskier nods at her with a smile before he approaches the lone chair placed in the middle of the stage. Two microphone stands are set in place — one for him and the other for his acoustic guitar. The heat of the spotlight is making him sweat in places he didn’t know he could sweat, and Jaskier takes deep, calming breaths as he sits on the stool and positions his guitar over his lap.

When he looks out to the crowd, he takes in the hundreds of faces looking back at him. Some look bored, others look curious, and Jaskier wets his lips as he seeks out the person he’s doing this all for. It doesn’t take long for him to find Geralt, the silver-white hair distinct amongst a sea of dark- and light-coloured. He’s seated beside Yennefer in the aisle near the back, and though he can’t make out the expression on Geralt’s face, Jaskier thinks he looks… expectant? Intrigued? Hopeful?

Then he catches sight of Geralt smiling at him, followed by a small, encouraging nod, and Jaskier is momentarily taken back to that time he first performed for him. He finds strength in that simple gesture.

He can do this.

Jaskier makes some final adjustments to the mic stand before he addresses the crowd.

“Hello, I’m Jaskier,” he says, his voice strong and even despite the nerves still fluttering in his belly. “I’m going to perform a song that I wrote. It’s about someone who’s incredibly dear to me, so. Please enjoy. This song is called Fair.”

There’s a smattering of applause and someone yells “Go, Jaskier!”. He huffs out a laugh and waits until the auditorium falls silent once more.

Jaskier’s eyes immediately fall on Geralt, and after taking one last deep breath, he begins.

“It’s what my heart just yearns to say / In ways that can’t be said
It’s what my rotting bones will sing / When the rest of me is dead
It’s what’s engraved upon my heart / In letters deeply worn
Today, I somehow understand the reason I was born”

Jaskier’s long, slender fingers swiftly change between chords as he plucks the instrument with remarkable finesse. It’s like the air was sucked out of the auditorium the moment he started playing, his voice carrying out across the wide expanse of the room with the aid of the sound system. Jaskier feels more than sees his audience become still upon hearing the raw emotion in his voice.

He has their attention. Good.

But it’s Geralt’s slackened expression that Jaskier is after.

“Oh darling, please be mine,” Jaskier sings, and there’s a breathy quality to his voice that makes more than a few people gasp and whisper. “It’s not fair, it’s not fair how much I love you…”

Jaskier is more than confident that he can play this song in his sleep, so he doesn’t see the need to look down at his fingers. It’s only through sheer force of will that he doesn’t miss a chord when he sees Geralt’s eyes widen when he sings the chorus.

A part of him smiles at the reaction, but Jaskier knows that the big reveal will come in a minute.

“‘Cos darling, I was born to press my head between your shoulder blades at night when light is fading.”

“Fuck,” someone blurts out loud. Jaskier hides a smirk when a ripple of laughter goes through the audience. Others make shushing noises and Ms. Tissaia, who is seated in the corner of the first row, stands up to glare at the student who cursed.

Jaskier continues to pluck his guitar and sing his heart out in front of these people. These people who are unaware of the sweat that’s trickling down his spine, or the way his heart is racing as the seconds close in to the moment.

This moment.

Here.

“And say ‘dear heart’,” Jaskier stops playing his guitar then. His eyes are still trained on Geralt, who hasn’t looked away since Jaskier started playing. A cappella, he breathes out the next lines like a confession. “Dear heart, it’s me. It’s me. You don’t need to pretend to be someone you’re not…”

Jaskier starts plucking his guitar again, and this has the desired outcome.

There are several gasps as the whispering starts up again. Someone exclaims, “He’s Dandelion?” while another — a junior from the front row — utters, “Holy shit, he’s Dandelion.”

He sees dozens of heads swivel to look at Geralt, the mutterings becoming louder. But Jaskier pays them no mind. From his peripheral vision, he discerns the astounded faces of his friends, Chireadan’s jaw hanging open and clutching his phone in front of him. A part of him is guilty for deceiving his friends like this, but Jaskier files that away for later because right now, there’s only one person’s reaction that matters.

Jaskier’s heart jumps in his chest when he sees the dumbfounded look on Geralt’s face. His mouth is agape, and beside him, Yennefer is looking between him and Jaskier with a smug, triumphant smile. Jaskier sees her lean towards Geralt and whisper something to him. Whatever she said caused Geralt to blink and look at her in astonishment. He says something to Yennefer, who rolls her eyes in reply before gesturing to the stage, at Jaskier. Geralt looks away from her and meets Jaskier’s eyes once again.

This time, it’s like a lightbulb switched in Geralt because he’s sitting with his back straight and there’s something bright in the way his eyes crinkle as a lopsided smile forms on his handsome face.

A lightness he hasn’t felt in years touches Jaskier’s heart, and he sings the last verses of the song with an ache that no longer feels painful. It’s more… cathartic.

“I’ll spend my days so close to you ‘cos if I’m stood here, then I’m stood here…” Jaskier allows himself to smile tenderly at Geralt. He distantly hears a chorus of “aww” as he sings with unrestrained affection in his voice. “And I’ll stand here... I’ll stand here with you.”

When the last chords he plucks trails away, Jaskier is met with silence. A split second later, someone starts to clap. Another follows soon, and another, then another, until everyone in the auditorium is on their feet and clapping. Others are whistling and cheering, and Jaskier’s chest feels like it’s going to burst. He stands up from the stool, his knees a bit weak just then, but Jaskier manages to take a small bow. If possible, the cheering grows louder and this time, he can recognise what the others are shouting over the deafening applause.

“Way to go, Jaskier!”

“Dandelion!”

Jaskier loses sight of Geralt, so he takes one final bow and exits the stage. He sees Renfri waiting for him on the side and the hug she gives Jaskier is tight. But before he can hug back, the brunette pulls away and then punches him on the shoulder. Ow.

“Ow!” Jaskier yelps.

“You sneaky arse!” Renfri cries as she slaps Jaskier’s other shoulder, but she’s grinning so Jaskier thinks he’s safe. For now. “That was incredible! Where have you been hiding all that talent, huh?!”

Jaskier ducks his head to hide a grin. “Thanks.”

“So. Dandelion.”

“Yup, that’s me.”

“Damn.” Renfri whistles and then shakes her head. “Geralt, huh?”

Jaskier nods sheepishly. “Yeah, Geralt.”

“But since when? You never gave any indication—”

“Since we were kids. It’s a long story but. Yeah.”

Renfri looks impressed before she shakes her head again. “Shit. Wow, okay. Well, I have to go but good luck, Jas. Really. I think what you did was really brave, very ballsy of you, mate.”

Jaskier laughs and rubs the back of his neck. “Thanks, Ren.”

Renfri goes back onstage and Jaskier walks further back. He ignores the blatant stares he can feel track his movements as he puts his guitar back in its case. After wiping the sweat from his face and arms with a paper towel, Jaskier slings his bag over his shoulder and picks up his guitar case. He’ll just text Chireadan to e-mail him the video tonight.

Jaskier has finally done what he set out to do, and there’s no reason for him to remain until the end of the program. The ball is officially in Geralt’s court.

 

~

 

He leaves the auditorium and walks through the deserted hallways, his footsteps a resounding thump on the white tiles. Rows of silver lockers stretch on to the end where he can glimpse the wide doors of the school, and Jaskier is debating whether he should leave a few of his textbooks inside his locker or not. It would be a pain in the arse to commute home with a heavy bag and an equally heavy guitar case. He’s nearing the corner to where his locker is when he hears footsteps approaching. Jaskier looks up over his shoulder in time to see Geralt appear from around the corner he just came from.

The silver-haired jock looks frantic, head swiveling back and forth as golden eyes roam both corridors in search for someone. Then his eyes fall on Jaskier’s still form, and Jaskier feels his heartbeat pick up when he sees Geralt come to a stop upon the sight of him. Not even the distance between them can prevent Jaskier from noticing the small slump on Geralt’s shoulders when he sighs in relief.

“Jaskier.”

“Geralt.”

Jaskier turns to properly face him, and he swallows, hard.

“You…” His voice trails off but Jaskier remains silent, giving the other man the chance to collect his thoughts. His patience is rewarded when Geralt clears his throat and then tries again. “You— you’re Dandelion.”

He has heard that proclamation, directly and indirectly, no less than fifty times today. But the way Geralt says it — hesitant, disbelieving, hopeful — as the hitch in his voice indicates that he’s holding on to the last vestiges of his composure.

“I’m Dandelion,” Jaskier confirms with a nod, the hand that’s grasping the handle of his guitar case becoming damp.

Geralt doesn’t say anything for a few seconds, but he does take two careful steps forward. There’s an inscrutable look in his eyes that Jaskier is unable to read when Geralt eventually says in a rough voice, “After all these years?”

Jaskier blinks back the sting that builds in his eyes. He nods. His voice is shaky when he responds, “Yeah. Of course.”

Geralt opens and shuts his mouth several times, chest heaving as he takes in Jaskier’s confirmation. Insecurity washes over Jaskier the longer Geralt doesn’t say anything.

Did he fuck things up further between them?

“Are you disappointed?” Jaskier finds himself asking, uncertainty laced in his tone. He spoke so quietly, but his voice carries to where Geralt is stood still.

The jock blinks at him, and it’s like an invisible string was cut because his taut form loosens.

“No,” Geralt admits. And he looks so distressed when he adds, “I was scared that it wouldn’t be you.”

Oh.

“Oh,” Jaskier breathes out, face going slack as Geralt continues.

“I wanted it to be you, Jaskier. Because I— fuck. It was my cowardice that ruined us and I will always regret that. I wasted four years, and we’re never going to get those years back and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Holy shit, this is the most vulnerable that Geralt has displayed to Jaskier in a very long time, and he absolutely abhors the miserable look that’s overtaken that gorgeous face.

“Geralt, it’s okay,” Jaskier reassures him. He takes a step forward. “I— that was a long time ago and I’ve forgiven you. Of course I’ve forgiven you. How could I not? All those poems I wrote for you as Dandelion, I didn’t do them to get your attention. Truly. It was supposed to be a— a way for me to get my feelings out in the open without drawing attention to myself. I never meant to drag you into this when it got popular, and I— I’m sorry about that.”

“Don’t be,” Geralt tells him, then he ducks his head and peers at Jaskier from underneath his lashes. Jaskier has never seen Geralt look this timid before and he sucks in a breath at the sight.

Then Geralt’s earlier words register in Jaskier, and those pesky butterflies make itself known again by fluttering wildly in his stomach.

“You… you wanted Dandelion to be me?” he asks disbelievingly.

The corner of Geralt’s mouth twitches into a smile.

“Yes.”

“But you… I— we weren’t speaking and you dated Yennefer. And slept with other people.”

“I know.”

“I mean, I slept around too, but. But you still wanted it to be me?”

“Yes.”

“But why?”

He sees Geralt clench his jaw and breathe slowly through his nose as he steels himself for… something. Then instead of replying, Jaskier becomes mildly alarmed when Geralt takes a step forward, and then another. He closes the remaining distance between them in five strides and Jaskier is holding his breath and bracing himself for what will happen next.

Jaskier is unable to hide his gasp when he feels large, calloused hands frame his face. His fingers loosen and he distantly hears the loud thud of his guitar case meeting the ground. The muffled noise coming from the auditorium falls away as all of Jaskier’s senses focus on Geralt. Their close proximity and how their noses brush lightly against each other. Their breaths intermingle and Jaskier can make out the faint smell of onions and mint. He breathes it in and it’s such a bizarre combination but he finds it pleasing, for some unfathomable reason.

He realises a second later that he’s clutching the front of Geralt’s black shirt. Jaskier’s eyes flicker from those full lips to the faint stubble on his jaw, then up to meet Geralt’s soft gaze. This up close, it’s plain to see the emotions that dance in those golden eyes.

Wonderment. Reverence. Affection.

“Because I’m a fool and it took me a long fucking time to see what’s already been in front of me,” Geralt answers, his voice rough with emotion.

Jaskier gulps. “And what’s that?”

“That it’s always been you.”

Then Geralt leans in. Jaskier’s eyes fall shut, and he sighs when dry lips meet his. All his fantasies about kissing Geralt and getting a taste of those lips once more pale in comparison to the actual thing. It’s not fireworks in the distance or hearing your heartbeat in your ears. It’s no Harlequin moment, either.

Kissing Geralt actually feels a lot like being bathed in sunlight. Warm and comforting. There’s an ease between them, heads tilting and mouths slotting against each other sensually like they’ve been doing this their whole lives instead of just the second time. Jaskier can happily stay in this position forever and never tire of it. It feels like the most natural thing to do.

It feels a lot like coming home.

 

~

 

“Do you want to come back to my place?” Jaskier asks after they break away for the third time.

Geralt traces his thumb on Jaskier’s cheek. When he smiles and nods, Jaskier feels his knees weaken at the warm, open expression on the other’s face.

“Okay. Great. Wonderful,” Jaskier blabbers with a breathy laugh. And because he’s allowed to, he leans in again to press a soft kiss to those plush-looking lips. “Mum won’t be home until after nine, so we have the house to ourselves for the next— oh, four and a half hours or so.”

Geralt hums before he leans in to press his lips to Jaskier’s forehead.

Oh my, he’ll be the death of me. Jaskier’s insides melt at the affectionate gesture, and he’s certain he’s making googly eyes but he doesn’t give a flying fuck.

“We can order food,” Geralt suggests before he reluctantly pulls away to pick up Jaskier’s guitar from the ground. “My treat, of course.”

Jaskier playfully grins at him. “Of course. Wait, is this like a date?” He adds, curious.

“It can if you want it to be,” Geralt replies, and Jaskier can detect the faint flush in his cheeks.

“But do you want it to be a date?” Jaskier enquires further.

“I— hmm. Yes.” Geralt clears his throat. Upon seeing Jaskier’s eyes light up, his face softens and he further admits, “Yes, I want it to be a date.”

“Then it’s a date.”

As the pair walk towards the school’s entrance, their shoulders brushing against each other, Jaskier tentatively takes Geralt’s hand in his. There’s a sudden rush of warmth that floods through his chest once more when Geralt threads their fingers together. He lightly squeezes Jaskier’s hand. Jaskier squeezes back, and he doesn’t care that his cheeks are starting to hurt from how wide he’s smiling.

 

~

 

“So when did you realise that you… you know…” Jaskier’s voice trails off as he finishes chewing his food.

Geralt ordered Chinese takeaway for dinner, the pair seated together on the sofa of Jaskier’s living room. While waiting for their food to arrive, they spent thirty minutes making out and reacquainting themselves with one another, and Jaskier looks unbelievably smug at the love bite he left on the spot above Geralt’s collarbone.

Geralt takes a drink of his soda before he replies.

“Not sure. I, uh, I know that I felt something when you gave me that drawing on my tenth birthday. And then that night you first kissed me, I… I panicked.”

“That long?” Jaskier gasps, eyes wide.

Shame and guilt swim in Geralt’s eyes, but he smiles when Jaskier sets a comforting hand on his knee. Jaskier’s not mad, just… shocked. Stunned. Holy shit, that long?

“You just— it was so sudden. And I didn’t understand what I was feeling then, so I said the first thing that came to mind.”

“That you didn’t like me like that,” Jaskier supplies in a soft voice.

Geralt purses his lips and nods. He takes Jaskier’s hand on his knee and threads their fingers. Jaskier’s heart swells when Geralt starts to pepper soft kisses on his knuckles, golden eyes looking tenderly at him.

“I’m so sorry,” Geralt murmurs on Jaskier’s skin. “I didn’t mean that. I don’t know why I even said it. I just…”

“You panicked. It’s okay,” Jaskier soothes, but Geralt shakes his head. “That was a long time ago.”

“Yes, but that doesn’t make it okay. I hurt you.” Jaskier gulps but doesn’t say anything, so Geralt continues. “I hurt you,” he repeats. “And I was so confused with what I was feeling for you that I didn’t realise we were drifting apart. I thought you hated me.”

“I could never hate you, you idiot,” Jaskier says fondly with a roll of his eyes, causing Geralt to snort in amusement. “I admit, I didn’t know what I was doing, either. I thought that if I gave you some space then we would be okay. But I was so obsessed with pretending that I didn’t have feelings for you, that I could still keep you, until it was too late. And I’m sorry for that, Geralt. I should’ve said something sooner. Or maybe held on longer.”

“You did, though,” Geralt affirms with a sad smile. “You’ve held on for four years, Jasky. I was so focused on myself that I forgot that it wasn’t just me who was hurting. By the time I realised it, it was too late. You were… you stopped talking to me, and I didn’t blame you. You wouldn’t look at me, either. Then you stopped wearing the bracelet I gave you, and I thought… maybe you finally realised that I wasn’t worth the effort.”

Jaskier’s heart breaks at the uncertainty in his love’s voice, and he doesn’t miss that bit when Geralt called him by his childhood nickname, either. So he sets aside his orange chicken and carefully plucks the container from Geralt’s hands as well. Then he leans and wraps his arms around those bulging muscles, Geralt’s body stiffening for a split second before it he melts in Jaskier’s arms. He’s quick to return the hug.

“You will always, always, be worth the effort, Geralt Rivia,” Jaskier whispers against his neck, breath tickling a few strands of silver-white hair. “You’re not completely to blame, either. After all, it’s because of me that we drifted apart in the first place. Although, now it seems that this whole thing could’ve been avoided if we just simply talked. I’m only sorry that it took us this long.”

Geralt huffs out a breath against his neck. Jaskier fights back a shiver when he feels soft lips press on his pulse point.

“Hmm,” Geralt hums, and Jaskier can detect the smile on his face at the sound. “And the bracelet?”

“Never gonna let that bit go, huh?”

“Did you throw it?”

Jaskier scoffs, offended, and he reluctantly pulls away from the hug, only to get up from his seat to pluck the leather-bound notebook from his bag on the floor. He flops back to Geralt’s side, who doesn’t hesitate to wrap an arm around Jaskier’s shoulders. Flushed together from shoulder to knee, Jaskier doesn’t hide the goofy smile that forms on his face, and he lifts his chin to meet Geralt halfway into another lovely kiss. Tongues tangle together and Jaskier lets out a low moan when Geralt sucks on his lower lip.

“Mm, stop distracting me,” Jaskier whines when they finally part after several seconds.

Geralt smirks. “Then stop looking so distracting.”

“Never.”

“Hmm.”

Jaskier winks at him before he places the journal on their laps. From the corner of his eye, he sees Geralt’s attention shift downwards to look at the last Christmas gift he gave Jaskier. Geralt saved up for months and even borrowed money from his mum, just so that he could buy Jaskier something the young musician wanted when he mentioned it to Geralt in passing.

At Jaskier’s encouraging nod, Geralt uses his free hand to disentangle the leather cord that keeps the journal closed. Thick fingers trail over Jaskier’s initials embossed on the front cover before slowly opening it to the first page. When he sees that it’s blank, Geralt turns the page and this time, Jaskier notes how those fingers freeze mid-air.

There, pressed on the second page that’s filled with Jaskier’s loopy script, lies the bracelet. The black, yellow, and blue threads are frayed, the ends torn. But it’s clean, void of the dirt that used to be present when Jaskier used to wear it.

He hears a shaky exhale beside him, and Jaskier turns in time to see an ardent look pass over Geralt’s face. He looks down to see those fingers trace the worn threads in an almost reverent manner.

“I forgot to take it out of my pocket when mum did the laundry,” Jaskier explains in a hushed tone. He chuckles under his breath. “Mum freaked out when she heard me cry out. Probably thought I hurt myself or something, but it was so much worse. She knew how important this bracelet is to me, and I had no fucking clue on how to get it fixed. Then I realised: it may no longer serve its purpose, but that doesn’t mean its value lessens.”

“So you made it into a bookmark,” Geralt points out, his voice gruff with emotion as he looks up to meet Jaskier’s gaze with a small smile.

Jaskier’s lips twitch and he hums with a nod.

“I made it into a bookmark.” Jaskier lays down a hand near Geralt’s that’s still splayed on the journal. He trails one finger from the paper to the threads of the bracelet-slash-bookmark, and then to Geralt’s before the latter entwines their fingers. When Jaskier glances up at Geralt, it’s to see a tender expression fixed on him. He remembers longing and wishing for Geralt to give him that same look. Through all the years of heartache and pining, here they are. And now that he knows firsthand what it’s like to be the recipient of that stare, Jaskier never wants to look away again. “I keep these two close to me. Not because they serve a purpose, but because they’re the most precious things I own.”

And it’s like there’s a part of you that’s always with me, Jaskier adds to himself.

“I love you,” Geralt tells him gently as he continues to gaze at Jaskier, face soft and eyes tender with emotion.

There’s a lump in his throat and his chest feels like it’s about to burst. Jaskier smiles at Geralt, knows that his face looks just as besotted when he says, “I love you, too.”

 

~

 

He’s washing the utensils and glasses they used when he feels Geralt press up against his back. Strong, thick arms wrap around his waist, and a smile slowly blooms on Jaskier’s face. He’s about to lean back against a firm chest, but his breath hitches when he feels Geralt’s forehead settle between his shoulder blades.

I was born to press my head between your shoulder blades at night when light is fading.

He doesn’t move, neither does Jaskier. Their breaths are almost in sync, and there’s a peaceful silence that settles over them in that moment. After some time, Jaskier clears his throat.

“Geralt,” he manages to whisper around the permanent lump that’s lodged in his throat. “Dear heart, you’ll be the death of me.”

Jaskier feels more than hears Geralt snort against his back. Then Geralt straightens his posture, because they’re almost the same height. Next, there’s a hot breath against the back of Jaskier’s neck and his heart stutters when dry lips start to pepper kisses across his nape. Jaskier’s knees weaken, and it’s only thanks to Geralt’s brute strength that he remains upright while the latter proceeds to kiss a trail from one shoulder to the other.

“You’re one to talk,” Geralt rumbles after he’s finished lavishing kisses on Jaskier’s neck and the curve of his jaw. His breath is hot on Jaskier’s ear, and a shiver runs down his spine when Geralt adds, “I’m making up for lost time, Dandelion.”

Jaskier likes that idea, so they end up making out in the kitchen, and then the living room, for a long time, dirty dishes be damned.

 

~

 

When Geralt leaves that night, Jaskier presses the leather-bound notebook to his hands.

“Read it,” Jaskier says when Geralt aims a confused look at him. “Most of the stuff I wrote there is about you, anyway. There are about a hundred others I didn’t post on the wall because it was too personal. But, um. I want you to read them. If you want to.”

“I want to,” Geralt replies. He takes the thick notebook from Jaskier’s hands and carefully puts it inside his bag. Then he pulls Jaskier closer and wraps his arms around him, Jaskier melting and lifting his arms to circle around his shoulders. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, love,” Jaskier says against his neck.

“Can I pick you up tomorrow?”

Jaskier smiles. “I’d love that.”

Soon, they pull away and Jaskier shares another lingering kiss with Geralt before he steps out into the cool, spring air.

 

~

 

The following morning, Jaskier walks into Morhen Academy with Geralt by his side. Their hands are entwined together as they walk past the wide doors of the school.

Whispers and gasps echo on the corridor as the two of them walk past the gossiping students. In the distance, Jaskier catches a glimpse of Yennefer watching them, and he’s momentarily taken back to a time four years ago when he thought that this was a distant dream. The smile on Yennefer’s face is both smug and proud, and Jaskier returns it with a wink and a broad grin of his own.

All of a sudden, someone at the back whistles. Then there’s clapping. And cheering. Before they know it, Jaskier and Geralt are being given endless pats on the back, Jaskier receiving more than his boyfriend.

And holy shit, they are.

He, Jaskier Pankratz, and his childhood best friend Geralt Rivia, are boyfriends.

Boyfriends.

It only took— what? Four years of mutual pining and miscommunication to get here?

Fuck it. It was worth it. And Jaskier would do it all again if it meant he’d get to hold his dear heart’s hand at the end.

 

~

 

“I can’t believe you didn’t tell us!” Priscilla exclaims after slapping his shoulders. Then she pulls a bemused Jaskier into a hug before squealing, “But congratulations! I never thought Geralt was capable of smiling for more than two seconds, and yet.”

And yet, indeed.

“That was fucking ballsy, Jas,” Shani adds, impressed.

“Two years!” Chireadan whines, much to the group’s amusement. “I spilled to you my thoughts about Dandelion, and it’s you all along!”

Jaskier grins and pats his distressed friend on the back. “Don’t worry, mate. I’ve heard kinkier ones.”

 

~

 

When the bell rings to signal the end of week’s classes, Jaskier meets Geralt at the school’s entrance so he can drop Jaskier home before he drives to his part-time job at the auto-repair shop.

The drive to his place was spent in comfortable silence, their hands entwined in the middle. After kissing him goodbye, Jaskier is about to step out of the car — a black, beat-up truck that he discovers Geralt fondly named Roach, of all names — when Geralt stops him with a hand on his wrist. Jaskier turns back with a curious look.

Geralt clears his throat before he speaks. “There’s something I want to show you.”

“Okay?”

“Under your seat, there’s a box. I want you to retrieve it.”

Jaskier silently does as he’s told, confused and intrigued as to where Geralt is going with this. It takes a bit of maneuvering but he manages to grab hold of the edges of what appears to be a small keepsake box. It’s light and made of pine wood, and Jaskier realises that Geralt most likely crafted this during shop class.

He looks up from inspecting it to meet Geralt’s steady gaze.

“What do I do with this?” Jaskier asks.

Geralt purses his lips, eyes twinkling with amusement.

“Open it,” he simply replies.

With an exasperated eye roll, because duh, Jaskier sets the box on his lap and carefully lifts the lid. He freezes in shock when he sees its contents.

“Geralt,” Jaskier’s voice is choked with emotion, eyes trained on the box filled with hundreds of coloured post-its.

Post-its with Dandelion’s — Jaskier’s — handwritten poems. For Geralt. He finally looks up, eyes shining with unshed tears, to see his boyfriend staring at him with a fond smile.

“How?”

Because it’s a policy that no student is allowed to take anything from The Freedom Wall. And yet, in this box lies the proof that Geralt managed to not only disregard the rules, but he was successful enough to not get caught.

Geralt shrugs, and he looks so damn pleased with himself when he tells Jaskier, “Made a deal with Herbert. He gives me the poems you wrote at the end of the week when he clears out the bulletin, and I help fix whatever equipment he needs fixed. Which is a fucking lot, but it’s fine. I got the better end of the agreement.”

Jaskier gapes at him. “You made a deal? With Herbert?”

That old coot is notorious for reporting to Headmaster Vesemir about every single stunt the students get up to. The fact that Geralt got to get on the caretaker’s good side is a wonder in itself.

Geralt hums. “I took pictures of them before, but it’s just not the same. It felt less personal. At least this way, I have proof that it’s real.”

“But what if you found out that Dandelion wasn’t me after all?” Jaskier asks with a curious tilt of his head.

He’s happy. Of course he’s happy that Geralt kept them, that he broke one of the important rules in school just so he can keep these scraps of paper that contain pieces of Jaskier’s heart and soul. But he can’t help the part of him that doubts, on whether Geralt would choose to pursue Dandelion if they happened to be someone else.

Geralt’s sigh is exasperated, but he’s still looking at Jaskier adoringly.

“Don’t be an idiot.” Jaskier makes an undignified noise because rude, but Geralt carries on. “We’ve known each other for years. I know you like I know the back of my hand, and your handwriting barely changed at all.” Jaskier’s mouth falls open because he didn’t expect that. “I guess a part of me always knew Dandelion was you. I had my doubts but. I wanted it to be you. It never crossed my mind to consider anyone else to be Dandelion, because… because it’s only ever been you, Jaskier. You’re all I want, and I love you.”

Jaskier doesn’t care that his face is wet with tears and snot. He closes the box and sets it down between his feet before he takes Geralt’s face between his hands to capture dry lips into a searing kiss. Jaskier nibbles on that plush lower lip and traces his tongue across the seam of Geralt’s lips, causing his boyfriend to whimper against his mouth.

“I love you, you grumpy wolf,” Jaskier says between kisses, heedless of the uncomfortable position. Fuck that, snogging his man takes precedence, thanks. “You absolute idiot, you’re all I want as well. Always have. I love you so much, baby.”

“Mmm, I— fuck, Jas, I— shit — love you too.”

Geralt was late to his shift, but he had no regrets.

 

~

 

Following his reveal as Dandelion, Jaskier still posts regularly at The Freedom Wall. He still dedicates his poems to the White Wolf, but sometimes Jaskier would also share short pieces about life and friendship, and going on adventures into unlikely places. It’s received popularly as well, but it’s obvious that the students (as well as the teachers, who are they kidding?) much prefer Dandelion’s tender proses and flowery words for his dear heart.

Unsurprisingly, nobody wins the betting pool, so the money — which has gone over five-hundred quid — was donated instead to the student council’s budget, much to Yennefer’s delight.

The rest of the school year passes by unhurriedly, and in-between studying for their GCSEs, sending college applications, date nights, part-time work, and practicing for the last game of the rugby season, Jaskier and Geralt continue to bask in each other’s company with every chance they get.

After all, they have four years to make up for, but that’s okay. They have all the time in the world.

 

~

 

The last poem that Jaskier posts on The Freedom Wall is on Geralt’s birthday, which happens to fall on their final week of school.

Students are milling about when Jaskier finishes pinning the yellow rectangle post-it on the top right corner of the bulletin. He’s just straightened his shirt when a pair of strong, thick arms wrap around his waist. Jaskier grins goofily when he feels soft lips press to the back of his head.

“What did you post this time?” Geralt asks as he nuzzles Jaskier’s temple.

Jaskier leans back against his boyfriend’s firm chest.

“A poem for the White Wolf,” he replies. Then with a dramatic sigh, he adds, “Also my last post on this wall. Ever.”

Jaskier watches Geralt look up to read the poem, sees the way his eyes scan the words that Jaskier carefully wrote that morning. A beatific smile forms on Geralt’s face, and he ducks his head to meet Jaskier’s smitten look.

“Hmm. I like it.”

“Of course you do. I wrote it.”

Geralt chuckles then, a rumbling sound that Jaskier can feel reverberate on his back. Jaskier cranes his neck to plant a kiss on Geralt’s chin.

Somebody, probably Lambert, makes a gagging noise. A ripple of laughter echoes along the corridor. Jaskier and Geralt ignores them.

“Happy birthday, gorgeous,” Jaskier whispers.

Geralt kisses him on the lips this time. A few others join Lambert in making gagging noises, but they’re ignored once again. Jaskier hums when Geralt pulls away with a soft smile.

“Thank you, love.”

Linking their hands together, Jaskier and Geralt step away from the bulletin and make their way towards their first class of the day. They’re unaware of the small crowd forming in front of The Freedom Wall, heads craning up to read the latest, and last, poem of Dandelion.

He is the thought behind the feeling
The swelling in my chest
The starlight in the evening
The yearning when I undress

He is the sound behind the sighing
The song in every bird
The tears in all my crying
The ache in every word —

Happy birthday, Dear Heart.
Here’s to the beginning of forever.

Yours,
Dandelion