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“You sure you don’t want me to come with you?”

Jaskier slings his lute across his back, smoothes his hands down the front of his golden doublet, and flashes Geralt a smile. “I’m sure,” he says, checking his hair in the mirror hung above Yennefer’s dressing table. “It’s a private party, not a banquet or a ball. You’d be a little conspicuous.”

Geralt raises an eyebrow from where he’s perched on the edge of the bed. “You don’t need me to defend you from cuckolded husbands this time?” he asks, his tone wry.

Jaskier laughs, pads across the room and settles himself in Geralt’s lap, bold and easy and comfortable. “My philandering days are behind me, you know that,” he murmurs, pressing a gentle kiss to Geralt’s forehead. “Besides, I know you have some magical witch-slash-witchery thing with Yennefer on the other side of town. My party is in a private villa in the hills above the city – we both know you wouldn’t make it back in time.”

Geralt’s hands settle heavily on Jaskier’s hips and he noses against his neck, lips warm. “I could skip it,” he says softly, and the whisper of his breath makes Jaskier shudder. “I’ve been with Yen for weeks now. Missed you.”

Jaskier can’t quite stifle a smile. He runs his fingers through Geralt’s hair, coaxes his head up, kisses him. “And you had me all to yourself last night,” he says, laughter in his voice. “I think our beloved sorceress was actually a little jealous – you do remember that she hasn’t seen me in all that time, either? You’re just lucky she had that dinner last night with… whoever it was, the mayor?”

“Deputy mayor,” Geralt rumbles.

“The deputy mayor, right,” Jaskier says. “And tonight, she needs you to stand there and look intimidating while she schmoozes with her sorceress friends.”

Geralt hums, accepting but still annoyed.

Jaskier smiles wider. “I’ll be back by morning,” he says, then ducks down for another kiss. “They’re putting on a carriage and everything to bring me to and from the city – I feel very spoilt.”

“Are you saying me and Yen don’t spoil you enough?” Geralt asks, eyebrow raised. “She bought you this ridiculous outfit.”

“And this,” Jaskier says, mock-offended, “is why I don’t go to you for fashion advice.”

“Also because I don’t give a fuck.”

“Also that.”

The bedroom door opens in a swirl of lilac and gooseberry. “Is he still trying to convince you to forget your contractual obligations and stay in bed with him?” Yennefer asks, a smirk twitching her lips.

“He’s actually moved on to trying to convince me to let him come with me,” Jaskier says, disentangling himself from Geralt’s embrace and crossing the room to her. “You look as staggeringly ravishing as always, Yennefer – is that a new dress?”

“It is,” Yennefer answers, plucking at her skirts. “I picked it up from my dressmaker yesterday – although I’m not too sure about the embroidery, if I’m honest. It’s a little… gaudy.”

Jaskier traces his fingertips across the delicate threads stitched into the shoulders and neck of her dress, skates his touch down the swell of her breasts, lingers at her waist. “I think it’s perfect,” he says softly, and leans down to kiss her. “I just wish I had time to tear it off you right this moment.”

Yennefer’s answering smile is wicked. “Geralt had you last night,” she says. “I get you tomorrow night.”

“Deal,” Jaskier promises, and kisses her again, harder.

Yennefer’s the one who breaks the kiss, in the end, and she smacks him lightly on the arse when she does. “Go,” she says. “I saw a carriage waiting downstairs with the baron’s colours – don’t want to keep your employer waiting, do you?”

“I would never dare,” Jaskier answers brightly, then skips away from them both. “Enjoy your magical party, my loves. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. And I’ll be back bright and early tomorrow morning, ready for breakfast down by the harbour.”

“Try not to drink too much,” Geralt says, amused. “Don’t want you to vomit all over Yen’s wardrobe again.”

“Oh yes, I will castrate you if you do that again,” Yennefer says.

Jaskier flashes them both a smile that he knows full well is tailor-made to drive both his lovers mad. “No promises,” he sing-songs, and slips away to the waiting carriage.

 

The baron’s private residence is an hour’s ride outside the city, and Jaskier spends the time watching the autumnal countryside roll past the windows of the carriage. He flexes his fingers occasionally, runs through a few practice scales, a few warm-up exercises, then hums a few bars of the composition he wrote specifically for tonight under his breath. Baron Szymon is a serious and committed patron of the arts, and it’s not like Jaskier needs his patronage, no, nowadays his professional reputation opens far more doors than he really needs, but it’s always good to impress such a powerful figure in the Redanian artistic community.

Jaskier taps his nails against his lute case, takes a breath.

The carriage comes to a rolling halt outside a modest villa with elegant columns, terracotta roof tiles, and immaculately topiaried gardens. Jaskier is shown in through the front doors, and the inside is, unsurprisingly, just as tasteful as the outside: polished marble, expensive tapestries, gilded sconces, fresh arrangements of brightly-coloured flowers. Jaskier is mildly impressed.

“Ah, my guest of honour is here!”

Jaskier looks up, smiles as ingratiatingly as he can and makes a leg. “My lord,” he says. “It’s a delight to be invited to perform for you – I am truly honoured.”

The baron is a tall man in early middle age, blond hair and green eyes and broad shoulders. He sweeps across the entrance hall and waves the coachman away, guides Jaskier further into the villa with a surprisingly firm grip on his arm. “Come,” he says. “My guests are eager to meet you.”

Jaskier blinks, tries to tug his arm out of the baron’s grip but can’t quite manage to find a way to wiggle free. “And I’m very excited to meet them!” he says, filling his voice with as much enthusiasm as he can manage. “You have a lovely house, my lord, simply stunning. The artwork is exquisite – was that a Darthus sculpture I saw in the gardens, by any chance?”

“No idea,” the baron snorts, steering Jaskier down a narrow corridor that looks like it leads to the private sections of the villa. “It’s all my wife’s doing, despite my reputation. She likes to waste my money on fripperies like that. Painting, sculpture, music, all that nonsense – honestly, I couldn’t give a shit.”

Something uncomfortable twists in Jaskier’s gut, and he tries again to free himself from Szymon’s grasp. This time, however, the baron’s hand tightens in response and he shoots Jaskier an unreadable look. “In here,” he says, then pushes a red-painted door open and practically drags Jaskier inside.

The room inside is crowded, maybe a dozen or so of what Jaskier assumes are the baron’s friends filling a space that’s certainly… intimate. Jaskier was expecting something more along the lines of a small hall rather than this, which is more of a sitting room, really, plenty of chairs and sofas with a low table in the centre, but he’s a professional, he’ll work with whatever the baron wants. There’s a small open spot next to a window in the corner, maybe he can tuck himself away there.

All of a sudden, Jaskier notices that at least half the baron’s guests are just watching him, intent and somehow… heated? And, he abruptly realises, they’re all men. No baronesses, no marchionesses. No women of any kind.

“Drink this!” the baron insists, pressing a goblet of wine into Jaskier’s hand. The liquid inside is a rich, dark red, and it smells delicious.

“Ah,” Jaskier says. “No thanks, my lord – have to keep my head. Want to give you the best performance I can!”

The baron’s gaze hardens. “I insist,” he says, and presses the goblet harder into Jaskier’s chest. “It’s the finest Est Est money can buy. You wouldn’t insult my hospitality, would you?”

Jaskier’s heart starts to thud harder in his chest. Something is very wrong here, and his gaze darts to the red-painted door, now closed behind them, blocking any way out. “Um,” he says – and, oh shit, they’re all looking at him now. He clutches at the strap of his lute, plants his feet, does his best to lower his centre of gravity like Geralt’s showed him so many times. “My lord Szymon, I’m not sure—”

“Oh, just grab him,” Szymon snaps, and all of a sudden Jaskier’s pinioned between two of the baron’s friends. Jaskier swears, does his best to twist away, but Szymon is holding his jaw in an iron grip, forcing his mouth open, and he pours the goblet of wine into Jaskier’s mouth. He slaps his hand over Jaskier’s mouth, pinches his nose shut, and hisses, “Swallow.”

There’s a sour undercurrent to the taste of the wine in Jaskier’s mouth, and, fuck, he’s not an idiot. He’s been drugged enough times over his years traipsing around after Geralt – but never like this. Never with a dozen noblemen looking at him with—oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck—obvious hunger in their eyes, and all of a sudden Jaskier knows exactly what’s about to happen. He makes a muffled cry, thrashes in the arms of the men holding him – but Szymon’s grip doesn’t falter, and before long spots start to fuzz at the edges of his vision. He has to breathe. He has to fucking breathe.

Jaskier doesn’t even remember swallowing, but all of a sudden there’s a warm slick of wine in his stomach and fresh air in his lungs.

Oh, shit.

Szymon is smirking. He gives Jaskier a very obvious, horrifically lascivious once-over, reaches out and rips the front of his doublet open, then his undershirt, exposing his chest – and Jaskier doesn’t really have much of a problem with public nudity, if he’s honest, but not like this. Not like this at all, and he tries to pull away, spits, “Get the fuck off me.”

Szymon ignores him. “I’ll admit,” he says, palming Jaskier’s cock through his trousers and squeezing far too hard, “I was sceptical when you suggested him for this year’s event, Alfred. I prefer my entertainment a little more anonymous—and, if I’m honest, a little younger—but I have to say, your son is exactly my type.”

All the blood drains out of Jaskier’s face.

The drugs are already starting to take effect, making his body limp and pliable, his vision a little blurry around the edges, but Jaskier’s still more than capable of recognising the man who comes to stand at Szymon’s side. “I knew he would be,” Alfred de Lettenhove says, pure disdain sprawled across his features. “He’s always looked young for his age – rumour has it that his mother’s mother slept with an elf. And there’s the added bonus that we know for a fact his family isn’t going to come looking for him.”

Szymon laughs. “You are a disturbed man, my friend,” he says, and, oh gods, there’s blackness seeping into Jaskier’s vision, now, thick and slick, and the last thing he sees before he passes out is his father’s eyes, a cornflower-blue mirror to his own.

 

Jaskier wakes to the sound of harsh, raucous laughter, and for a long moment he can’t remember where he is. Did he fall asleep in a tavern again? Wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened, but usually Geralt hauls him upstairs to bed. There was that time that Yennefer stopped him, though, because she thought it would be funny if Jaskier woke up to the barman’s broom in his face at closing time.

But Geralt and Yennefer aren’t here. They’re back in town, swanning around at some fancy party for sorcerers that Jaskier wasn’t invited to.

Jaskier’s eyes fly open as memory comes rushing back. He can still taste the sourness of the drugged wine on his tongue but his head is remarkably clear, all the haziness long gone – and that’s good, that’s good, maybe he can get the fuck out of here before they notice that—

“He’s awake.”

Shit shit shit.

Jaskier is sprawled on his belly on the low table that he noticed before, hands tied behind his back and knees resting heavily on one of the expensive rugs that carpets Baron Szymon’s villa. The edge of the table is cutting into his stomach, his arse is high in the air – and, oh fuck, he’s completely naked except for the thick leather collar around his neck.

Panic starts to bubble up in his stomach, hot and terrified, but he forces it down as a hand slides into his hair, dragging his head up. “Hello Julian,” his fucking father says, kneeling on the rug in front of him. “It’s been a while.”

“What the fuck is going on?” Jaskier spits, even though he knows, oh, he fucking knows. “Untie me right now and let me fucking go.”

Alfred’s lip curls. “I’m afraid that won’t be possible,” he says. “You see, Julian, if you’d bothered to engage with your inheritance in any of the ways I wanted, you’d know what this is – and you’d have known not to come when you received Szymon’s invitation.” Without warning, without telegraphing his intentions at all, he slaps Jaskier in the face. Blood blossoms in Jaskier’s mouth, and his father continues like nothing happened, “But you ignored me, and you ignored your heritage, and you have spent the last twenty years of your life gadding about across the Continent, humiliating me.”

“Mind if I take first crack at him, Alfred?”

Jaskier recognises Szymon’s voice coming from somewhere behind him, but when he tries to look back, his heart hammering in his chest, Alfred’s hand tightens in his hair. “Be my guest,” Alfred answers, still staring at Jaskier, hard and intense. “You see, Julian,” he continues, his voice almost conversational, like Jaskier isn’t currently naked and collared and about to be fucking raped, “when I heard you were in the area, I suggested to Szymon that you be selected as our entertainment for the next few days. I knew you wouldn’t come within ten miles of me, but this is the great Baron Szymon! Patron of the arts! Virtually catnip for someone like you.”

Szymon chuckles, unseen, and Jaskier feels warm hands map across his arse, squeezing, pulling his cheeks apart. He jerks away as much as he can, shouts, “Get the fuck off me!” – but all that gets him is another ferocious slap across the face. His father’s signet ring splits his lip, dripping blood to the expensive rug, and Szymon just laughs again, knocks Jaskier’s knees further apart and settles between them. “No,” Jaskier says, twisting, writhing, but then Szymon’s hands are on his hips and, fuck, other hands are pressing down on his back, pinning him in place. “Don’t fucking touch me!” he roars, but he can’t move an inch and suddenly there’s something blunt and thick pressing at his entrance.

With a shudder of pure, guttural terror, Jaskier realises that Szymon’s not even going to bother with oil.

“Stop,” he husks, voice suddenly failing him, but even if Szymon hears him, he doesn’t listen. The baron shoves his cock into Jaskier’s arse in a series of sharp, violent thrusts, grunting softly with each inch of penetration, his fingernails digging so hard into his hips that it hurts – but that pain is nothing compared to the agony that shocks through Jaskier’s arse and gut as he is fucking ripped open. He tries to hold his tongue, tries not to give them the fucking satisfaction, but then Szymon starts to thrust in earnest, fucking him dry, and Jaskier can’t stop himself from howling.

His father slaps him in the face again, almost lazily. “This is your punishment, Julian,” he says like this is fucking normal, like Jaskier’s getting rapped across the knuckles for stealing cakes from the kitchen. “Did you really think that you could just walk away from your family like that?”

“Gods,” Szymon gasps, hammering into Jaskier’s body, his balls slapping obscenely forward with every thrust. “Your boy has a fucking tight hole, Alfred.” He laughs, a vicious, braying sound that Jaskier is pretty sure is going to haunt his nightmares. “Wish my wife’s cunt was this good.”

There are tears pricking at Jaskier’s eyes. “You’re going to die for this,” he forces out, meeting his father’s gaze head on but speaking loud enough that he knows they can all hear him, all the dozen or so of Szymon’s friends in the room with them, oh gods, they’re all going to have a go, aren’t they? He swallows another flood of terror, snarls as much as he can. “I’m not alone, Father. I have two very fucking powerful lovers and they will fucking eviscerate you all.”

Alfred slaps him again. There’s a long string of bloody saliva dangling from the corner of Jaskier’s mouth. “No one’s coming for you, Julian,” he says flatly.

“Geralt of Rivia,” Jaskier spits, “and Yennefer of Vengerberg. Heard of them?”

Alfred laughs in his face. “No one as important as Yennefer of Vengerberg could love you,” he says. “And the monster hunter your infantile songs are about? Please.” His lips curl in a sneer that is seared onto Jaskier’s heart from his childhood. “If you’re going to lie, Julian, at least try to make them convincing lies.”

Szymon groans, long and loud. Jaskier feels his cock spasm as he orgasms, pulsing come deep into his arse – and in a moment of horrible clarity, he realises that that’s actually a good thing. The next one will be easier, now that there’s a little lubrication. Szymon pulls out, breathing hard, and Jaskier smells the tang of come on the air – along with something else, something iron-rich and coppery. Blood, he knows with a sick twist in his gut. That’s his blood.

Fingers shove roughly into his arse, scooping out that mess of come and blood, and before Jaskier quite knows what’s happening, those same dripping fingers are being shoved into his mouth. “Suck my fingers clean or I’ll cut your tongue out,” Szymon says, voice diamond-hard. “And I will do it, boy. As much as I want to feel you choke on my cock, I can fuck your throat with or without your tongue.”

Jaskier sucks the baron’s fingers clean of come and blood. He doesn’t know what else to do.

“Good boy,” Szymon practically coos, runs his hand through Jaskier’s hair, then slaps him across the face. “He looks good bloodied up some, doesn’t he, Alfred? Really brings out his eyes.”

Geralt will come for him. Yennefer will come for him. They’ll save him from this nightmare.

“Who’s next?” Szymon asks, spreading his arms wide, the very picture of the gracious host. “I seem to remember that Piotr claimed sloppy seconds?”

There’s a roar of agreement, and within seconds Jaskier feels the head of another cock shoving at his entrance. He braces himself for the pain, and it comes, yes, sparking and angry, but he was right: the extra lubrication helps. It’s marginally less agonising than before. Marginally.

“This is our annual harvest celebration,” his father says, that conversational tone back in his voice. “Every year we meet up in one of our country residences, we invite some wandering traveller, a bard, a jester, someone nobody that no one will miss – and we play with them like this. We’ll make it last days if we can.”

Szymon chuckles. “I’ve got a hundred crowns on you lasting four days or more,” he says, slipping his fingers under the leather collar around Jaskier’s neck, tugging it tighter against his windpipe. “I know your father’s a stubborn bastard, and I can only imagine his son is the same.”

“I would have brought you here when you turned twenty,” Alfred says, and Jaskier must be fucking imagining it but he swears that there’s something regretful in his voice. “That’s how old I was when my father brought me, and his father before him. But you, Julian, renounced your birthright long before your twentieth birthday, so you are only here now, this year. Only the once.”

The man—Piotr?—who’s currently fucking Jaskier pauses, leans forward, and bites into his shoulder blade hard enough to break the skin. Jaskier cries out at the unexpected stab of pain, but Szymon’s hand on the collar and Alfred’s hand in his hair hold him still. He will not cry. He will not.

“So we’re clear, boy,” Szymon says, that diamond-hard intensity still in his voice, “we will fuck you until you die. That’s why you’re here – because you won’t be missed. Because your family would prefer it if you were dead.”

Jaskier makes a strangled noise, deep in his throat – and he was scared before, scared and in pain and sick to his stomach, but with that declaration, bald and flat and unrelenting, he feels himself tipping closer into sheer madness. Yennefer, Geralt, they’ll come for him. They’ll find him, they have to. He can’t die like this.

“Fuck,” Piotr snaps out, smacks his palm flat again Jaskier’s thigh, then reaches beneath him and slaps his flaccid cock. Jaskier cries out again, arches up as much as he can, and then Piotr’s grunting his way to orgasm, fingernails digging bruisingly hard into Jaskier’s balls, dragging whines of agony from him, tears bursting behind his eyelids.

Szymon chuckles. “I always forget how much you like to cause pain, Piotr,” he says affectionately as Piotr’s cock slips out of Jaskier’s bloody arse.

Yennefer, Jaskier thinks, willing his thoughts to cross the ether, willing her to hear. Yennefer, you fucking mind-reading witch, please hear me.

The hand in his hair vanishes, and Jaskier looks up with bleary eyes to see his father getting to his feet. Alfred looks down at him for a second, eyes as bright as the summer sun, then he reaches for the fastenings of his trousers and says, “I think it’s time for me to teach my son a lesson.”

An approving rumble of noise goes up from the baron’s friends.

Jaskier chokes. “Father,” he says, fear thick in his voice. “Father, please—”

“You did this to yourself, Julian,” Alfred says, pulling his cock out of his trousers and stroking himself to full hardness. “You had a thousand chances to do what was right. You ignored them all, and now here we are.”

Jaskier’s heart is hammering so hard against his ribs he can barely hear. “Father,” he tries again as Alfred moves around him and out of sight. “Father, please don’t.” His legs are spread even wider, long fingers investigating his torn, bloody hole – and Jaskier feels something snap in his mind, almost a physical sensation. “Papa,” he begs, whining like a child. “Papa, no—”

Alfred makes a noise of disgust, and roughly shoves his cock into Jaskier’s hole. “Gag him, won’t you, Szymon?” he asks as pain snaps through Jaskier’s body. “Mewling like that – how pathetic.”

Szymon shoves his fingers into Jaskier’s mouth, spreading his lips wide, and clicks the fingers of his other hand. “Pass me the gag, Niko,” he says, and then a ring of steel is being forced between Jaskier’s teeth and a leather strap is being tied behind his head, holding his mouth open but stopping him talking and oh, no, no, no, no, no. “I believe,” Szymon says with a smile that’s practically generous, “that Zafis won first rights to his mouth in Gwent last night?”

“I did,” a portly, balding man says, his hand already wrapped around his straining cock. “Hold him still for me, Szymon?”

“But of course,” Szymon says, his fingers tightening in Jaskier’s collar. “Now, don’t choke him too much, Zafis. He’s got a long way to go if he’s going to make me some money.”

Zafis sighs, angles his cock between Jaskier’s gaping lips, and shoves in so deep that Jaskier gags. “I’ll be gentle the first time,” he allows. “But I want him to pass out with my cock down his throat at least once.” He thrusts a few more times, hitting the back of Jaskier’s throat every time – and between that and the searing pain in his arse, the pain that makes his gorge surge every time his fucking father thrusts in harder, deeper, brutalising him, punishing him, Jaskier can’t help himself. His stomach heaves and vomit comes burning up his throat, spilling out the sides of his mouth, boiling around Zafis’ cock.

“Oh gods, that’s fucking disgusting,” Zafis groans, pulls back, grabs his cock, and jerks himself until he comes, splattering across Jaskier’s cheeks and lips and tongue. “I thought he was a singer, Alfred?” he asks, breathlessly coaxing the last of his come into Jaskier’s forced-open mouth. “Figured he would have better control of his throat than that.”

“He was always a disappointment,” Alfred says, ramming into Jaskier with exacting, agonising precision. “Stands to reason that that wouldn’t stop now.” He sighs, and abruptly Jaskier is empty, his hole clenching raggedly around the empty air. “Bring him here, Szymon.”

Szymon gets to his feet and drags Jaskier by the collar, pulling him so he’s on his knees on the rug – and the change in angle means that he can feel a slurry of come and blood dripping out of him, spattering the soles of his feet, staining the rug. There’s vomit still dripping off his chin, tears running freely down his cheeks, his lip is bleeding, there’s come in his fucking eyelashes – and his father is looking down at him, contempt and hatred warring across his features. “What a waste of space you are, Julian,” he says. “Can’t even do this properly.”

Szymon chuckles. That is getting to be Jaskier’s least favourite sound. “I think he’s doing rather well, actually,” he says, tightening his hold on Jaskier’s collar. “He’s stopped fighting, at least.”

“Weak,” Alfred says, snide and hateful, and forces his cock between Jaskier’s lips. “He always was weak.”

Szymon shakes his head. “The ones who don’t fight tend to last the longest,” he says, and laughs. “Maybe he’s trying to help me win my bet.”

Jaskier’s mind is starting to get a little hazy. The cock in his mouth tastes of blood and come and, ever so faintly, of shit, because it’s not like he exactly came prepared to be brutally gang-raped by his father and his noble friends. His thighs are trembling, his jaw is aching, and he’s pretty sure he’s going to have at least one black eye before long. He smells of vomit and sweat and salty tears.

He’s supposed to be back at Yennefer’s house early tomorrow morning. Geralt and Yennefer will know something’s wrong when he doesn’t show up, and they’ll come find him. He just has to hold on until then. He just has to hold on until morning.

“He’s zoning out,” a voice he doesn’t recognise says, startlingly close by his ear, and a warm hand wraps around his limp cock. “Let’s get him back in the game, shall we?”

Szymon rumbles with laughter. “Oh, Tomasz, you’re always so considerate,” he says, and runs a hand through Jaskier’s hair. “Making sure our guests get a chance to enjoy themselves.”

Tomasz strokes Jaskier’s cock with sure, firm hands, a little out of time with the rhythm that Alfred—papa—is fucking his mouth – and Jaskier realises with mounting, searing horror that his body is responding to the stimulation. He moans as his cock slowly fills under Tomasz’ attentive touch, and then there are fingers probing at his arse, slipping inside, sliding through the blood and pain and pressing with unerring accuracy right against his prostate.

Jaskier cries out at the unexpected, unwanted flood of pleasure-pain, jerks as much as he can, but Szymon’s grip is iron on his collar and his pathetic writhing just seems to make Tomasz laugh. “I think, Alfred,” he says, squeezing around the head of Jaskier’s cock, working his prostate mercilessly, “that you’ve never had a better idea.”

Alfred grunts, low and rough, and comes in Jaskier’s mouth. Most of it dribbles out the sides of his lips, catching in the hair on his chest, dripping onto his thighs, onto his traitorous cock, and Alfred steps back, breathing a little harder. He tucks his cock neatly back into his trousers, grips Jaskier’s chin to tilt his face upwards, and says in a flat, emotionless tone, “Your mother is dead, by the way.”

Tomasz jerks Jaskier’s cock one last time and presses hard against his prostate. Jaskier comes with a wordless cry, spilling over Tomasz’ hand, over his father’s boots, over Szymon’s rug.

Tomasz tuts. “Such a messy boy,” he says, then bats Szymon’s hand away from Jaskier’s collar, guides him down onto his back so his bound hands are trapped beneath him, and pushes his cock into him. It hurts, straightforward pain and post-orgasm overstimulation combining in a sickeningly potent combination, and he keens, no longer caring enough to hold himself back. “It’s alright,” Tomasz says, his hands sliding across Jaskier’s stomach, caressing his cock, fondling his balls. “I’ll make it good for you. Just lie back and relax.”

No, Jaskier wants to shout, no, don’t, but he barely even gets a chance to make an incoherent noise of protest before another one of Szymon’s friends is settling aside his chest and shoving his cock in his mouth. The man is overweight, his gut hanging over his waistband, and when he hauls Jaskier’s head up so he can fuck his throat at a better angle, he digs his nose into his ponderous belly, blocking his airflow.

Morning, Jaskier thinks as his cock is jerked back to hardness, as his throat is brutalised and assaulted, as blood and come squelch out of his torn hole with every thrust. They’ll come in the morning.

It all gets a little hazy after that.

He comes twice more before Tomasz is done with him, and three more men pour their seed into his mouth before Tomasz finally pumps his orgasm into his body. He’s rolled onto his stomach after that, hauled up so his arse is in the air and his face is buried in the pile of the rug, and fucked over and over and over again, relentless and brutal, so many times he loses count. At some point he’s manhandled around so that two of them can fuck him at once, Szymon and some golden-haired young lord that Jaskier vaguely thinks he’s seen at a banquet before, both of their straining cocks in his torn, bleeding hole at once – and, oh gods, the pain is worse than anything Jaskier has ever experienced. He comes out of his haze long enough to scream himself hoarse, then the golden-haired lord’s hands go to his throat, choking him back into the dazed, absent headspace that’s honestly the only thing getting him through this.

He’s pretty sure that he sees Zafis lounging back on one of the sofas at one point, erection straining against his trousers, plucking distractedly at the strings of Filavandrel’s lute – but there’s blood loss and exhaustion to contend with at that point, so he might be seeing things.

Jaskier doesn’t sleep, exactly, but he closes his eyes while he’s on his stomach and wakes up on his back, a different man between his legs, ploughing away with relentless, ugly determination on his face. The man flicks at his flaccid cock when he sees that he’s awake, sneers at Jaskier’s whine of pain, then reaches up, grabs the collar, twists it until it’s so tight Jaskier can barely breathe. The man comes like that, but everything below the waist is so numb by now that Jaskier barely even feels it.

Jaskier curls in on himself as much as he can with his hands still tied behind his back, and drifts for a little while.

 

“On your knees, Julian.”

Jaskier doesn’t move, curled in on himself, eyes half-lidded, covered in blood and come and piss and vomit and shit.

Searing pain lashes across his bare back and he jerks up, screams as much as he can.

His father is standing in front of him, horsewhip in one hand, cup of tea in the other. “On your knees, Julian,” he says, and Jaskier absently realises that he’s wearing the wrong clothes. New clothes? There’s something different about the light in the room, too.

The whip cracks across Jaskier’s back again. He burbles out as much of a cry as he can, then does his best to haul himself to his knees, thighs shaking, torn and broken. He’s in so much fucking pain.

Alfred steps closer, uses the handle of the whip to tilt Jaskier’s chin up. He sips his tea, expression almost thoughtful. “You have a choice,” he says, disinterested, dispassionate. “The first option is this. I will untie you, take that gag out of your mouth, and you will do everything in your paltry power to please me. You will fuck yourself on my cock while I eat my breakfast, you will suck me off while I talk to my friends, you will pleasure me and them in any way we want – and you will do it with enthusiasm and a smile.” Alfred sips his tea again. “Or,” he says flatly, a glint in his eye, “I will whip you until your back is flayed open enough that I can see your spine. Szymon isn’t here to preach temperance, and I don’t care if he doesn’t win his bet.” He cocks an eyebrow, taps the handle of the whip against Jaskier’s cheek. “What’s it going to be, son?”

Jaskier’s brain still isn’t fully functioning, but a few things are starting to filter through, slowly, hesitantly. His father is drinking tea. The light in the room is different, warmer, more natural. Breakfast. The creases of his father’s trousers are sharp and fresh, recently pressed, unworn. His grey stubble is shorter, neater.

It’s morning.

“Well?”

Jaskier looks up, still hazy, still half-floating, still dissociating from the agony of his body, and he couldn’t speak even if he wanted to but his answer is clear, nonetheless.

The corner of Alfred’s mouth quirks, just a little. “A choice I can respect,” he says, and smashes the handle of the whip into Jaskier’s cheek. Blood drools down his chin, dripping to his chest. He’s not sure he has it in him to care anymore. “Zafis,” Alfred says, sounding almost bored, and grabs Jaskier’s collar, drags him across to one of the sofas. “Put that godsdamned instrument down and get your cock down his throat.”

Zafis strums a final discordant chord on Jaskier’s lute. He’s changed, too, his hair damp but clean. There’s a faint smell of coffee and fresh bread, and morning sunlight falls across his cheekbones. “I’m not going to argue with that,” he says brightly, then tosses Jaskier’s lute to the cushions beside him and takes his cock out of his trousers. “Try not to vomit on me this time, boy,” he says, wagging his finger in Jaskier’s face as a warning, and then, lightning fast, he’s hauling on Jaskier’s collar, dragging him down, thrusting his cock between the bloody, split o of Jaskier’s lips. “Gods,” he groans, pulling Jaskier’s head up and down by the hair, fucking his throat with no concern, no care, no thought beside his own pleasure. “It’s just a shame that we only get to do this once a year, you know, Alfred?”

Jaskier’s eyes are lidded. He tries to breathe as much as he can.

The whip comes down across Jaskier’s back, cutting a red-hot swathe from shoulder to hip. Jaskier’s moan is lost as Zafis forces the head of his cock down his throat proper, and Jaskier absently wonders if his gag reflex has been effectively beaten out of him. Another strike of the whip on the opposite diagonal, another moan, and Zafis laughs, fucks a little faster. “I can feel him groaning around my cock,” he says, a little breathless. “Fucking filthy. I love it when we have musicians, they’re so vocal.”

Alfred grunts, and the whip flares white-hot across Jaskier’s back.

“He bleeds so prettily,” Zafis says, a little dreamy, and Jaskier feels his fingers probing at his bloody lips, his black eye, his split cheek.

Another strike of the whip. “I should have done this when he was a boy,” Alfred says. “Every time he misbehaved, I should have given him a taste of true punishment. Should have tied him to his bed and shown him how to be a man instead of this… foppish dandy he’s grown into.”

“I’m glad you didn’t,” Zafis says, pushing so deep into Jaskier’s throat he sees stars bursting behind his eyelids. “He’d be here in a whole different role if you had. And he’s so fucking good on his knees like this.”

The whip, sharp and bloody.

Zafis grunts, and his thrusting starts to get a little erratic. “Swallow my load, boy,” he says, hands fisted in Jaskier’s hair. “If I see you waste so much as a drop, I’ll shove my whole fucking fist in your arsehole.” He laughs, dark and sick. “Although after what Szymon and Erik did to you last night, that would probably be child’s play.” He groans. “I’ll be thinking of the screams you made as they tore you apart for a long, long time – they’ll maybe even make fucking my hag of a wife—”

Jaskier isn’t sure why Zafis has stopped talking. His fingers are still wound tight in Jaskier’s hair, his cock is still shoved firmly down his throat, but he isn’t moving anymore, isn’t chasing his release at the expense of Jaskier’s vocal chords. He’s just… frozen.

Alfred breathes in sharply. “Szymon—”

Get your fucking hands off him!

Jaskier knows that voice. Yennefer?

Zafis’ hands are on his shoulders, pushing him back, and before Jaskier really knows what’s happening he’s collapsing down to the stained rug, no longer strong enough to hold himself up. He lets out a mewling, keening cry as his flayed-open back makes contact with the weave of the rug—oh gods, it hurts so much—but then he’s being hauled up again, dragged back to his knees by a hand in the collar around his throat, the leather pulling tight around his windpipe. It’s his father, of course, teacup put to one side, horsewhip held tight in his other hand. “Release the baron,” he says, his voice surprisingly steady. “Release him, and leave.”

Jaskier blinks, and finally takes in the tableau in front of him.

Szymon has a bloody gash across his forehead and a dagger at his throat, his green eyes bright with outrage and shock. He’s wearing new clothes, too, a plum-coloured tunic that’s frankly beautiful, Jaskier must ask the name of his tailor, and he’s breathing hard, fear and pain. And, oh, who’s holding the blade to his throat?

Jaskier tries to say “Geralt”, but he forgets that he’s still gagged. It comes out as little more than a slur of sound, which is frustrating.

Geralt’s eyes are blazing with sheer fury, his gaze fixed on Jaskier, his hands trembling – and, oh, that’s good, Yennefer’s at his side, hands already raised, Chaos crackling at her fingertips. Alfred lets out a surprised cry as he is wrenched away from Jaskier, slammed to the wall, and with a burst of clarity through the fog of his mind, Jaskier remembers Yennefer doing that to him, too, the day they met. He laughs a little at that, slumps back down onto his heels, and then Yennefer’s gentle hands are on his face, unbuckling the leather strap that holds the gag in place, carefully extricating the ring from behind his teeth. Jaskier lets out a soft cry of pain as his jaw moves for the first time in what feels like a lifetime, and Yennefer shushes him, reaches for the cuffs at his wrists.

“It was him,” Szymon croaks, panic in his voice. “It was Alfred, it was all his idea, I didn’t even touch the boy. It was him, and the ones you’ve already killed – and Zafis, the one who had his cock in his mouth, it was them, it wasn’t me, it was them!”

Jaskier opens his mouth to immediately disabuse that notion, but his voice is utterly gone from all the screaming—and, if he’s honest, all the cocks forced down his throat—so all that comes out is a rasping croak. Yennefer understands, and she meets his gaze, touches his cheek, says, “Show me?”

If Jaskier were in his right mind, he would never want to expose another person to the nightmare that has been this night – especially not someone he loves. But he isn’t in his right mind, so he opens his memories to her without a thought, shows her Szymon, the first to tear him open, shows her Zafis, fucking his mouth until he vomits, shows her Alfred, shows her his father, shows her the man who heard him beg—papa, no—and raped him anyway.

Yennefer sees it all.

“Geralt,” she says, her voice harsh and breaking. “Kill him. And the bald one, kill them both.”

Geralt’s sword is bloody, Jaskier absently notices, even before he carries out Yennefer’s command. Abruptly there’s a stink of blood in the air that isn’t his and Geralt is kneeling beside him, barely restrained feral madness in his eyes, taking his weight as Yennefer gets to her feet, unbuckling the collar, massaging feeling back into his unbound wrists. “And the other one?” Geralt asks, voice guttural, low and hoarse like it is when he’s strung out on his potions, barely more than a growl.

“He,” Yennefer says, her voice burning, “is mine.”

Alfred is still pinned to the far wall with Yennefer’s magic, eyes wide with fear, lips raked wide open in a mockery of Jaskier’s gagged mouth. He makes a harsh sound as Yennefer approaches him, fear, outrage – and all of a sudden a ray of morning sunlight touches him at just the right angle, illuminating those blue Pancratz eyes, the family cheekbones, the chin that’s so similar to Jaskier’s own.

Geralt sucks in a breath. “Is that…?”

“His father,” Yennefer confirms, ice in a blizzard, knives in the cold – and then she smiles. “And I thought it was supposed to be the mother-in-law that I’d fail to see eye to eye with.”

Geralt cradles Jaskier’s cheek, his hands rough with sword-calluses. “Did he touch you?” he asks, barely more than a whisper. “Did he do… this to you?”

Jaskier doesn’t even try to speak, just sags forward, what little energy he has left leaving him all at once, and buries his bruised, battered face in the crook of Geralt’s neck. Geralt holds him up, silent and unmoving, but Jaskier can feel the barely-suppressed rage literally vibrating through his body, an ever-present thrumming tension in his muscles – and when Alfred starts to scream, when Jaskier hears the crack of broken bones and the rending of flesh, when he hears his father’s cries turn to gurgling moans and finally to raspy, wheezing gasps, he just closes his eyes, and breathes.

The snap of Yennefer’s heels is loud in the silence. “We need to leave,” she says. “Jaskier, can you stand?”

Jaskier shakes his head, wordless.

“I’ll carry you,” Geralt says, soft and furious all at once, his hand sliding to the back of Jaskier’s neck, comfort and reassurance. “I have you. We’ll get you to Yennefer’s house, you’ll be safe there.”

“We’ll need to go further than that,” Yennefer says, her voice dark. “We just slaughtered what I’m pretty sure is half the Redanian aristocracy, Geralt. My house isn’t going to cut it.”

Geralt pauses, and his hand tightens on the back of Jaskier’s neck. “Kaer Morhen,” he says. “Portal us to Kaer Morhen.”

“I won’t be able to heal him if I use up my Chaos portaling us all the way to Kaedwen,” Yennefer says softly, and Jaskier can almost feel her hand hovering over the ragged skin of his back, the bloodstains smeared down his thighs. “Geralt…”

“Kaer Morhen,” Geralt repeats, firmer. “Vesemir’s a good healer. It’s the safest place.”

Jaskier’s mind is a haze of blood and pain and suffering. He stinks of sex and violence, sweat and come and vomit, and even the tiniest, slowest movement is enough to send agony lancing through him. He’s a mess. He’s a ragged remnant of a man, whipped and brutalised and tortured, voiceless, thoughtless – but they’re here, Geralt and Yennefer, Yennefer and Geralt, his witch and his witcher, enough to put any army to shame.

He’s safe.

Jaskier passes out.

 

The familiar wrenching sickness that accompanies travel by portal drags him back into wakefulness, and he moans as the pain shocks back through his body. He vaguely realises that he’s wrapped in what must be Geralt’s cloak, the fabric catching and sticking in the raw lashes striped across his back, and Geralt’s arm pressed into the wounds as he holds him, close and hard and unyielding – and, oh, gods, the pain, it hurts. He whimpers, tries to get away, twists weakly, and through the haze hears Geralt swear, hears Yennefer’s response, then there’s a cool hand pressing gently to his forehead and the pain abates, just a little.

He breathes, ragged and wet.

“That’s as much as I can do,” Yennefer says, exhaustion thick in her voice. “I’m so sorry, Jaskier. I should have—”

“Find Vesemir,” Geralt interrupts gently. “I’ll get him into one of the empty rooms near the springs.”

Jaskier hears Yennefer’s boots tap sharply against the stone floors, and as Geralt moves, walking steady but quick, he slips back into that strange, pain-hazy mindset. It’s easier here. It’s quieter. His head lolls against Geralt’s shoulder, slack and limp. His body feels like it isn’t his, like it’s been taken from him, like it’s no longer really relevant.

“Jaskier,” Geralt says, his voice soft and rough. “I’m sorry, but this is going to hurt.”

Jaskier wants to point out that pretty much everything hurts right now so that’s not really much of a change, but then he’s being set down on a soft surface—a bed?—and rolled onto his stomach. The cloak is slowly peeled away from his ruined back, his bloody thighs, and he lets out a soft, barking groan, fingers clawing uselessly at at the mattress under him, and Geralt’s hand settles against his head, running through his sweaty hair, cloying and possessive and controlling and no, no, please gods not again, he can’t

“Don’t touch his hair,” Yennefer snaps, and Geralt’s hand vanishes.

Jaskier makes a choking noise, relief and self-hatred, and screws his eyes shut, buries his face in the mattress.

“Fuck,” Vesemir curses in a guttural growl, angry, so fucking angry. “Who did this?”

“Redanian nobles,” Geralt answers, just as furious. “They’re dead.”

The mattress shifts, and Jaskier smells Yennefer’s perfume, lilac and gooseberries, sweet and soothing. “We need to touch you, my love,” she says softly, carefully. “We need to clean and dress your wounds.”

Jaskier nods, thinks, I know, as loud as he can.

“I’ll be here,” Yennefer says. “Geralt and Vesemir will clean you up, and the moment it’s too much, I will tell them to stop. Okay?”

Okay, Jaskier thinks, and then, after a moment, he shows her the memory of Geralt’s hand on the back of his neck, warm and comforting, not a collar, never a collar, not those rough, grasping fingers pulling him around by the throat, no, safety and security and love.

Yennefer’s hand settles on the back of his neck. “We have you,” she says, and Jaskier feels the tension seep out of his shoulders, the fear. “We have you,” Yennefer repeats, her voice tight with emotion. “Vesemir and Geralt are going to clean your back now.”

“This will hurt,” Vesemir says in that guttural witcher-in-pain growl. “Tell Yennefer if you need us to stop.”

It does hurt, the sluice of the water, the touch of their hands, the sting of salves and herbs and poultices, but it’s a healing kind of hurt, so different to being held down, being subjected to mockery and humiliation, being fucked raw and bloody. Yennefer’s hand is firm and warm on the back of his neck throughout, unmoving, unceasing, and she talks to him as they work, describing what they’re doing, words of praise and comfort and affection – and some part of his brain knows that all he’s giving her in return is the memories of his pain, swirling in the surface of his mind like pondscum, but he doesn’t have the energy to stop.

They roll him gently onto his side to clean the bruises and bitemarks scattered across his front, a few across his shoulders and neck. Jaskier watches the heartbroken intensity in Geralt’s eyes as he sponges dried blood and flecks of vomit off his chin, watches the tension in his jaw as he smears a bitter-smelling salve across his lips, a lavender-coloured balm around his blossoming black eye.

Tell him it’s not his fault, Jaskier thinks to Yennefer, and she does, her voice cracking. And it’s not yours either, my darling.

Yennefer’s hand flexes on the back of his neck, but it’s still nothing but a comfort.

They settle him back on his stomach, clean as he can be, and Vesemir clears his throat. “His legs,” he says, fury boiling in the back of his voice. “And his… thighs.”

“Jaskier?” Yennefer asks.

Jaskier closes his eyes, breathes. It’s okay, he thinks, and then, Slowly.

They start at his feet, cleaning the weals across the soles of his feet that he doesn’t even remember getting, smearing salves into the rug burns on his knees, gently rubbing feeling back into his numb, aching calves. They pause at his knees, but Yennefer’s hand is on his neck and her perfume is strong in his nose—he’s safe, they have him, he’s safe—and they have to keep going, so they do. They clean away the crusted blood and dried come with warm, soapy cloths, every movement gentle and careful and narrated in Yennefer’s soft voice, and then they roll him back onto his side, do the same on his front.

“Jaskier,” Geralt says softly, and Jaskier forces himself to open his eyes, meet that golden gaze. “There are injuries to your penis and your testicles.” Jaskier can’t stop the memories—fingernails digging into his balls, hands smacking his cock, teeth biting into his foreskin, the sharp heel of a new boot grinding down as he screams—and he feels Yennefer flinch, hears her ragged intake of breath. “I need to touch you there to clean the wounds. Is that okay?”

Jaskier holds his gaze, nods as clearly as he can, and feels tears start to well up in his eyes.

Geralt is gentle, thorough, and gets it over with as fast as he can.

Jaskier is settled back onto his stomach, his cheeks wet with tears, his voice still stolen from him – and that’s the worst part of all of this, because he wants to tell them that it’s okay, that it’s not their fault, that they did everything they could, that he loves them, that he loves them, but his throat is a ruin and the only sounds he can make are broken, halting croaks that could never be words.

“Jaskier,” Geralt says quietly. “Do you want Vesemir to leave for this?”

Given the damage they’re likely to find, Jaskier knows it will be better for all of them if there’s two people working on him. And he trusts Vesemir, of course he does, he’s been wintering at the keep with Geralt for years now, the man’s more of a father to him than his own father is—

Jaskier chokes on the thought, on the memory, and his body spasms.

“Vesemir, you have to go,” Yennefer says, her voice tight.

“I’ll find something for his throat,” Vesemir says, no judgement in his voice. “And I’ll bring food and drink for you all.”

The door closes behind him, a soft click that Jaskier follows with a ragged sob.

Yennefer’s hand is steady on his neck, unmoving, constant. He’s safe, he’s safe, he’s safe. “Jaskier,” she says, so quietly, so softly. “Can you spread your legs a little more?”

Jaskier screws his eyes shut, clenches his hands into fists, and does as she asks. With a sick feeling deep in his stomach, he feels as the movement splits open wounds that had scabbed over, sends blood and the last remnants of come leaking out onto the mattress, and he sobs again, tears streaming from his eyes, unstoppable, unquenchable.

“I’m going to touch you,” Geralt says, his voice shaking a little. “First with the cloth, then my hands. I need to see how badly hurt you are.”

Badly, Jaskier thinks with as much sarcasm as he can manage, and Yennefer’s fingers flex against his neck.

Geralt cleans him carefully, delicately, those hands that have slaughtered more monsters than Jaskier can imagine touching him like he’s spidersilk in the breeze. Despite that, even the lightest touch is agony against his brutalised flesh, and Jaskier’s shoulders are shaking before long, all the horror that he thought he’d banished scratching at the edges of his mind. Yennefer talks to him slowly, soothing him, calming him, and he does his best to focus on her, focus on that, not on the feeling of Geralt’s hands seeing exactly how destroyed he is.

Geralt pauses, and when he speaks, his voice is hoarse. “Jaskier, I need to see what the damage is like inside you.”

Fingers sliding inside him, seeking out his prostate, stimulating it mercilessly until he comes all over his father’s boots.

“No,” Jaskier forces out, the word barely recognisable. “Can’t.”

“He won’t,” Yennefer says immediately. “Calm down, my love. Breathe. He won’t touch you where you don’t want him to.”

Jaskier breathes, wet and ragged.

“Yen, he’s a mess,” Geralt almost whispers. “He needs stitches. And if it’s this bad on the outside, then I need to—”

No, Geralt,” Yennefer snaps. “Give me a day or so and I’ll be strong enough that I’ll be able to heal the worst of it. You will not push him right now.”

“He needs to be cleaned at least,” Geralt says, anguish thick in his voice. “If he gets infected—”

Geralt,” Yennefer bites off. “Stop.”

Jaskier pushes the panic back down, focuses on the weight of her hand on his neck, on the love in Geralt’s voice, on the safety of the keep and the warmth of the air. Yennefer, he thinks, turning his head to look up at her. Yennefer, he’s right.

“Jaskier—” she tries.

I’ll do it, Jaskier says, then tries for a rueful smile. Might need some help. But he’s right. There’s damage inside me, and it needs to be sterilised. He takes a breath. I’ll do it.

Yennefer’s eyes are shining with angry, bitter tears. “You are the bravest man I have ever known,” she bites off, the compliment almost sounding like an insult.

The two of them help him up onto his knees, his head pillowed on his free arm, and Yennefer holds him steady as Geralt takes his hand, squeezes it carefully, then wipes his index finger through a thick, cool salve. “I’m going to guide your fingertip to your entrance,” he says. “I won’t push you, won’t control you. But you’ll need to press your finger inside and smear the salve around as evenly as you can. Do you understand?”

Jaskier nods.

Geralt does exactly as he said he would, shows Jaskier where he needs to go and no further. Jaskier pauses for a moment, trembling, then takes a breath and slowly presses his finger inside. He barely gets a fingertip in before he has to stop, blinded by the pain, and he sobs into the mattress, bites down hard on the meat of his arm and forces himself to keep going, to smear the salve as best he can, to focus on the sting of the healing and not the pain of his violation.

He pulls his hand back, lets it drop to the mattress at his side, and just fucking cries.

“You’re okay,” Yennefer says, her hand warm against his neck, her perfume a warm cloud around him. “Jaskier, you’re okay, we have you.” He feels Geralt take his hand, clean the remnants of the salve off his fingers, along with flecks of blood and smears of come, then he’s being helped back down to the mattress, flat on his stomach, weak and limp and torn open. “You’re doing so well,” Yennefer is saying, her voice shaking. “So well.”

“I’m going to stitch you up,” Geralt says quietly, thick with guilt. “Is that okay?”

Jaskier breathes, and nods, and focuses on the warmth of Yennefer’s hand.

 

Jaskier must pass out again at some point, because the next thing he knows, he’s in a different bed, piled high with furs and blankets, clean and warm and surprisingly comfortable, given the situation. There’s the faint smell of food in the air, and he shifts, sniffs, opens his mouth to say something witty before he remembers that his throat is ruined.

“Here,” Geralt says, lifting a small beaker to his lips. “For your throat.”

Jaskier drinks, nose wrinkling at the taste.

“Vesemir says it’ll take a day or so to work,” Geralt says, turning away to get rid of the beaker and coming back with a bowl of soup. “When Yen’s back to full strength, she can speed the process along. She’ll be able to heal your body, too.” He looks off to one side, and Jaskier follows his gaze, sees Yennefer curled up on a pallet on the floor, swaddled in a blanket, fast asleep. “Can you eat?” Geralt asks.

Jaskier nods wordlessly. Usually he’d balk at being fed like an invalid, like an infant, but his body is still a wreck and it hurts when he breathes too hard, so she accepts the soup that Geralt spoons into his mouth, swallows it down. The taste is familiar, carrots and potatoes and maybe venison, and he finishes the whole thing in minutes.

Geralt sets the bowl down, leans forward, elbows on his knees. “I’m so sorry,” he says, tight and aching. “So fucking sorry.”

Jaskier shakes his head, reaches out, touches Geralt’s cheek. He tries to speak but nothing comes out, so he just shakes his head again, slides his fingers into Geralt’s hair, does everything he can to say with his body language, This was not your fault.

“I should have been there,” Geralt rumbles.

Jaskier hums his frustration, then tugs at Geralt’s hair, pulls him closer, tries to kiss him.

Geralt avoids his lips, moves away. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he says in response to Jaskier’s irritated grumble. “After what you went through, after what they did to you…”

“They never kissed him, Geralt.” Yennefer’s unwinding herself from her blankets, woken by the sound of their voices, her hair mussed with sleep, the imprint of her pillow on her cheek. She comes to them, sits on the side of Jaskier’s bed, doesn’t touch him until he reaches for her, grabs her hand, presses her knuckles to his lips. “I’ve seen his memories,” she says, her thumb skating across his cheek. “I’ve seen the things they did to him, the horrors that they put him through.” Her jaw tightens, her eyes shine bright. “But they never kissed him.”

Jaskier makes a soft noise in the back of his throat, pulls her down to him, kisses her forcefully, bitterly, tastes the sleep on her tongue and the tears that slip down her cheeks. I love you, he thinks, knowing she’ll hear him. I don’t blame you. None of this was your fault, and you saved me.

“Monsters,” she whispers between his lips. “All of them.”

My love, he tells her. My love.

Geralt’s expression is stricken. “Jaskier,” he says. “Can I…?”

Jaskier nods, keeps one hand knotted tight in the rich embroidery of Yennefer’s dress, reaches out and pulls Geralt closer, kisses him fiercely, powerfully, because he might not be able to say I love you with his words, his father and his dead friends might have stolen that from him for the moment, but he can show them.

Geralt cups his cheek, his golden eyes bright and sharp. “We will be here,” he promises. “For as long as you need us.”

Yennefer’s hand slides to the back of his neck, a comfort and a pledge.

 

Jaskier doesn’t heal quickly, mentally or physically.

Even with Yennefer’s magical assistance, it’s over a week before he’s walking unaided, longer before he’s comfortable being alone for any protracted period of time. His voice comes back after a day or so, at least, and he talks, tells jokes about Yennefer’s fussiness and makes fun of Vesemir’s cooking and mocks Geralt’s brooding intensity until it’s too much and he breaks, snaps, sobs his terror out into the world. He doesn’t know if it helps, per se, but when Yennefer presses her forehead to his and Geralt curls his broad, warm palm around the back of his neck, he feels a little less empty.

The whipmarks scar across his back, thick and ugly, and every night, Geralt takes a tiny pot of a cream that smells of herbs and sunshine and rubs it into his scarred skin.

He has nightmares, of course, which is only to be expected. But when he wakes in a sweat, sobbing, cringing, full of fear and disgust, he’s never alone. Geralt kisses his forehead, Yennefer whispers to him in the darkness, they hold him if he wants to be held, give him space if he needs them to let him be. They listen to him. They love him.

He’s not okay, and he doesn’t think he will be okay for a long time. But for now, this is enough.