Vesemir halted mid sentence in his reading when a quiet snoring began to whistle its way through his ears.
Looking up from the pages of his book, he could see Jaskier had been alerted as well, and the damn bard was smiling at the sleeping wolf sprawled out on the couch as if he were a kitten and not a witcher.
“Aww, I do believe one of us has bored him to sleep.” Geralt’s lark jested, still casting an adoring gaze over Lambert, his lute lying forgotten and only halfway stringed against the stone fireplace.
“Hmm.” Vesemir smirked slightly, shutting the adventurer’s log he’d been entertaining them all with and setting it aside on the inn table next to his armchair. “He’s had plenty to drink tonight.” He complained, rising from his seat slowly, his stiff and aching bones offering up an uncalled for reminder that he was no longer in the prime of his life.
The bard’s eyes shifted to him quickly, and now they were filled with a worry that Vesemir both appreciated and despised.
“I’m sure Geralt can move him once he’s come back from the stables. Eskel’s just gone down for a bath. He shouldn’t be long either.” Jaskier tried to stop him, dancing around the words that were truly circling his mind. “You’re old.” The elder witcher could read between the lines just fine. “Let the young men do the heavy lifting.”
Yes, he might be old, but he was still a witcher, still strong enough to pull a griffin from its nest or best a basilisk one on one, and he still had strength enough to carry his boy up the stairs, dammit!
“I’ll move him.” He insisted, voice firm enough to stop Jaskier from protesting any further. “Best to do it quick or else his neck will ache in the morning and we’ll never hear the end of it at breakfast.”
He walked to the couch and reached out for Lambert, sliding one arm under his pup’s shoulders and hitching the other carefully around the backs of his knees.
No protest was given but a sleepy groan and Lambert’s head fell against Vesemir’s chest as the pack leader lifted him up.
“I’ve been feeding you lot enough, haven’t I?” Vesemir grunted, admitting only to himself that Lambert was much more of a weight to carry now than he had been years before. He wondered briefly how long it would be before he couldn’t pick any of them up any longer. How long until age corrupted his body so much that he could hardly even rise from his chair to make them their dinner. How long until time claimed him entirely and his sons were left without a father...
“Pop? Where we goin’, huh?” Lambert slurred, eyes still closed as he drooled against the front of Vesemir’s shirt.
The old wolf chuckled, ascending the stairs with his drunken burden in tow. “You’re going to bed.” He spoke softly to his pup.
“Want another drink...” Lambert continued to mutter.
“No.” Vesemir hummed. “No more of that tonight. You’ve got work to do in the morning. Sleep’ll do you good.”
Lambert whined at him and Vesemir smiled as he nudged the door to his youngest son’s room open with one foot. “Here we are, lad.” Placing his pup down onto the bed, the elder witcher felt a longing in his arms and in his heart.
“Not tired,” Lambert grumbled.
He moved as if he were trying to sit back up but couldn’t quite get there on his own. Vesemir nudged him back down and pulled a few heavy blankets over his pup to keep him warm throughout the night.
“Lie back. Go to sleep.” He told Lambert then, blowing out the candle that sat upon the bedside table. His son was snoring softly soon enough, and drooling as he often did.
Vesemir touched his head gently, tenderly running his hand through short dark hair.
Oh, Lambert was a frustrating little shit, but Vesemir loved him more than life.
“No bad dreams tonight, you hear?” He whispered before he turned to leave the room. Lambert grunted and rolled over onto his side, nuzzling into his pillow.
“G’night...” He slurred in his sleep.
“Goodnight, pup.” Vesemir replied fondly, careful to shut the door back without a sound.
Jaskier was creeping around the halls not far away. His scent had followed them up the steps, and Vesemir knew he’d been watching. That was fine. If he couldn’t find the right words to tell his boys how much he cared for them all, perhaps the bard could do it for him one day.