It was probably a fault of Jaskier’s imagination, but on the rare occasion he’d imagined his wedding day, the chains had never been quite so literal.
“I swear to do my duty according to the tradition of blessed forgiveness in Cynwick,” he repeated as solemnly as he could, largely because the guards on his left had very nasty spears and Geralt was still in shackles at his right. “For the convict’s reform, I offer this pledge.” He bowed from his position on his knees, hand flat over heart, and held the pose like he’d been instructed.
Silence followed, and Jaskier’s heart pounded harder and harder against his palm as it continued. He might’ve said the words wrong, messed up the ceremony, been caught in his lie and offended this backwater town beyond measure—the possibility that all his efforts would end with a spear in the back was looking more likely by the second.
The jailer-slash-officiator in front of them cleared his throat, and Jaskier braced himself.
The prompt and warning tone were directed at Geralt, which was its own problem. Despite his arms being bound to a bar across his shoulders and his ankles being chained together, there was still a solid chance of Geralt saying something foolish, like telling all their spectators that they could go fuck themselves or that he’d rather spend a decade in a work house after all than marry Jaskier. Neither was beyond him under normal circumstances, and Geralt hadn’t been in the best of moods when they’d parted ways months ago, nor had he looked particularly pleased to see Jaskier when he’d arrived on gallant borrowed steed. Still, Jaskier had been three towns away when he’d heard about the commotion and borrowed the fastest horse he could reasonably afford. He’d had time to think about the obvious solution. Geralt hadn’t.
When Geralt finally spoke, Jaskier thought he might cry from relief alone.
“I accept this pledge,” he said, and though he said the words like he’d much prefer a knife to the gut, they were still followed by the distinctive sound of chains being unlocked.
Cynwick was a town full of anti-witcher prejudice and no shortage of stupidity, but to their credit, they knew that weddings, even those performed under duress, should be followed by drinking and celebration. It was a strange thing, sharing an ale or a dance or a tipsy conversation with people who previously would’ve been delighted to let his husband rot in a cell for no greater crime than existing in their town, but Jaskier had always been in favor of taking what was offered. If nothing else, he had to make up for the fact that Geralt stubbornly refused to participate in any of it. The last thing they needed was to follow the ceremonial sharing of a glass of wine with both of them being imprisoned for failing to abide by Cynwick’s customs with appropriate enthusiasm, something that Jaskier was sure to point out in a hurried whisper every time he was within Geralt’s earshot.
When the evening finally drew to a close, the jailers relinquished Roach back into their care and saw them to the town limits. Jaskier barely had time to find his own borrowed mount before Geralt left with all the urgency one could expect of someone fleeing matrimony. It would’ve been amusing, actually, had Jaskier not struggled to catch up and then struggled to stay that way, sure that any flagging in his pace meant Geralt leaving him behind.
After riding for an hour or two, the sky had gone dark above the surrounding fields, and Geralt stopped to camp for the night. Jaskier was certain the stop was only to prevent them from having to sleep in the woods ahead, the trees no doubt filled with the monsters that had brought Geralt here in the first place, and he was grateful and annoyed in equal parts by the rest. Geralt hadn’t even said thank you all this time, nor did he make so much as a token effort to help Jaskier care for his new horse, who was getting somewhat harder to handle the more they traveled. The ingratitude was astonishing.
“You know, this really isn’t the way you should treat your new husband,” Jaskier remarked petulantly when Geralt handed him a piece of dried meat.
It was a small piece, certainly not an adequate thank you for Jaskier’s sacrifice, no matter what his gurgling stomach thought. Geralt, however, only sighed and resumed his seat instead of making immediate amends.
“It’s not real, Jaskier,” he said, the first thing he’d said since they’d made their escape. “Unless you decide to marry someone else in Cynwick, no one will even know it was you.”
Jaskier looked down, suddenly terribly fascinated by the ground underneath his boots.
“Well, it’s funny you should say that—”
“Did you use your real name?”
Geralt sounded annoyed now, and a glance upward showed that he had an expression to match. It was identical to the one he’d worn when he’d sipped too-sour wine from Cynwick’s ancient traditional cup. At the time, Jaskier hadn’t known if the expression was a reaction to the poor wine or the fact that it had nearly spilled thanks to Jaskier’s reflective jerk when Geralt’s fingers had brushed his hand.
Now, he was certain it was a reaction to all of it—the wedding, the wine, and Jaskier most of all.
“They weren’t going to let just anyone marry you, you know—it had to be someone in good standing, above reproach,” Jaskier said, repeating the same argument he’d gone through in his head while trying to come up with ways to look appropriately noble despite the obvious patched holes in his clothes. “Saying I was a viscount’s heir certainly helped my credibility more than saying that I was a bard with barely a copper to my name.”
Jaskier was prepared for Geralt to ask exactly how he’d managed the ‘above reproach’ part, an answer that Jaskier didn’t have, but instead Geralt chose to focus on the empty space over Jaskier’s shoulder.
“And where’s your lute?”
“In Pont Shola,” Jaskier said proudly. “It’s how I bargained the use of the beautiful Yago here.” He patted the horse’s snowy white shoulder, and she responded by barely twitching and continuing to eat more of the grass near his feet. Underrated companions, were horses—Jaskier had never had a kinship with them, but he had to admit there was a value in a companion that didn’t ask awkward questions. Or companions that could say all they needed to with silence, for that matter.
“Oh, don’t look so bothered—I’ll get my lute back once I return this lovely lady.” Jaskier gave her another pat. “Well. Probably. The man was pretty drunk, and he might’ve been shouting something when I rode off.”
Geralt looked annoyed again.
“Then we’d best get you back before your lute becomes firewood,” he said.
If Jaskier hadn’t been worried about that before, he certainly was now.
It took them several days to make it back to the charming seaside town of Pont Shola, mostly because Geralt was setting the pace and he took greater care with Roach than Jaskier had with his borrowed steed on the trip over. Jaskier passed the time with chatter as he always did, but unlike most of their journeys where returned conversation was sparse but poignant, this time Geralt seemed to have something else on his mind. Jaskier hadn’t had to work this hard to have a simple conversation since their first days together, and it was enough to put a man in a foul temper. By the time they were close enough to their destination to smell the sea air, Jaskier was well and truly sick of the silence, and his saddle soreness didn’t help his mood at all.
So it gave him a petty sort of satisfaction, really, to wait until Geralt had gone to hunt down Yago’s owner and then spread their new status through the town like a wildfire through dry brush.
“Has anyone seen my husband? The White Wolf?” he asked the tavern public at large, not half an hour after Geralt had disappeared from sight. The confused looks he got were delightful, and Jaskier couldn’t determine whether it was due to his frustrated, manic energy or what he was actually saying; he would immortalize it in song later, he decided, with a reasonable amount of exaggeration for effect.
“One room, please, for my husband and myself,” he answered when the inn keeper didn’t ask but did look at him askance for leaning at his counter. As jokes went, it cost him forty-five coppers, but it was worth it for planting the seeds of rumor for when he dragged Geralt here later.
“Oh, my husband will be back shortly,” he said when approached by a regrettably pretty bar maid who may have been offering services of another kind. “You might have seen him earlier? The witcher?” She left quickly after that, but Jaskier was frankly too pleased with the day’s efforts to be more than a little disappointed. People had been avoiding him all afternoon, in some way or another—it would’ve been inconvenient if he was looking for an audience, but fortunately he had an engagement in Calgar not one week later, and he didn’t expect to stay here for more than a single night once he’d gotten back what was his. It was a way to pass the time. That, and the ale.
By the time Geralt returned, he was pleasantly in his cups and smiling like a loon, a smile that only grew wider when Geralt handed him his lute. It looked none the worse for wear; it might’ve even been freshly polished, judging by the sheen, though Jaskier couldn’t imagine how it had gotten that way.
“You are a marvel,” Jaskier said, and then added, lest Geralt think he was talking to the lute, “dear husband.”
Geralt sat down across from him without a comment on that, but since he’d been lacking in them for the past few days, Jaskier didn’t expect one. Jaskier merrily resumed his drinking, and he took no small amount of joy in the way people kept entering the tavern, spotting them, and then whispering behind their hands.
It was several minutes before Jaskier realized that he really should be asking Geralt if he wanted a drink of his own, but before he could get them out, Geralt was already speaking.
“I heard the strangest thing when I was coming down the main road,” Geralt said, his tone too complicated for Jaskier to unriddle at the moment. “A girl pointed at me and said, ‘that must be his husband.’”
“Freckles, green dress, brown hair done up like this?” Jaskier gestured in a spiral above his head, and then repeated it until Geralt gave a short nod. “That would be the fishmonger’s daughter. She was at the inn when I was getting a room—terrible eavesdropper, but quite friendly and very pleased to make my acquaintance.”
“She must’ve been, if you decided to share every detail of the past week with her,” Geralt said in another tone that Jaskier couldn’t place and wasn’t sure he’d heard before. It was starting to be a confusing night.
Nonetheless, Jaskier waved it away.
“Oh no, I started with that. Wonderful listeners, the drunks and thieves and locals of Pont Shola.”
“Did you tell everyone in this town about that farce of a ceremony?”
“I embellished on the ceremony itself. Mostly I just told them how absolutely delighted I am to call you my husband. And I am, you see—delighted.” Jaskier grinned to show his point, but he wondered if it was a little too convincing. He could feel his gaze turn soft and adoring when he glanced at Geralt, and he generally tried not to be that obvious; it was better for both of them if he kept his mooning to himself, but sometimes he slipped. It could happen to anyone. “Cheer up, Geralt—you’ll make people think I’m not treating you well.”
Geralt, in response, took his mug out of his hand and finished the last swallow himself, then stood.
“I think you’ve had enough for one night.”
Jaskier looked at the empty pint forlornly before he remembered what else he’d planned during the day. He stood up on unsteady feet, but he had a lightness in his heart as he led Geralt in a lurching stumble towards the inn. It was easily the highlight of his night to pass the inn keeper with a wave and a smile and note his incredulous expression, so much so that Jaskier didn’t even mind that their rented room was cramped and bare and dusty with a single bed barely wide enough for two.
He dropped his lute somewhere near the door and then flopped down on the bed face-first, heaving a sigh that brought the smell of dust and straw to his nose. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Geralt shrugging out of his armor and heaping it in the corner, and he closed his eyes in contentment. A moment later, the mattress dipped beside him as Geralt sat down, apparently past fighting with Jaskier’s extensive rumor-mongering for one night.
“If there’s a mob outside our door in the morning, it’s your fault,” Geralt said, followed by a pair of thuds as he removed his boots.
“I love you too, Geralt,” Jaskier mumbled, already half asleep before Geralt lay down next to him. The warmth was welcome, and Jaskier didn’t think twice about rolling towards it.
“Go to sleep, Jaskier.”
Jaskier’s eyes snapped open. He was on the very edge of the mattress, and the only thing that saved him from a sudden tumble was the fact that his limbs were wrapped around Geralt tightly enough that Jaskier’s nose was all but buried in the familiar white hair. It wasn’t quite what Jaskier expected; while he vaguely remembered Geralt lying down next to him in the dark and Jaskier’s drunken self taking the rare opportunity to curl up against him, he would’ve expected Geralt to fix that the second Jaskier was asleep and unaware. Barring that, he would’ve expected Geralt to wake up first and hastily extradite himself some hours before Jaskier would even think to open his eyes. Waking up first was odd, though perhaps that was explained by the dawn light spilling through the window. Jaskier couldn’t remember waking up so early without a reason, especially not when he was comfortably warm and pressed against a beauty; it was the sort of thing that put him on alert.
The fist pounding on the door insistently, like it wasn’t the first time, was an explanation as good as any.
“I know you’re in there, DeFawn!”
“Oh perfect,” Jaskier grumbled, just as his increased wakefulness made him realize his hard cock was digging into Geralt’s hip. Just what he needed on top of a rude awakening for something that wasn’t even his fault. “Go away. Don’t you know it’s bad luck to wake a newly married couple?”
“I don’t think he does,” Geralt said, startling Jaskier into almost letting go of his waist. “You have the wrong room!” he shouted.
His voice was particularly snarly in that way he had when he was angry and about to kill something, and their early morning visitor wisely made a hasty retreat.
Jaskier sighed in contentment, perfectly prepared to go back to sleep.
Jaskier sighed again, this time in frustration. He’d hoped Geralt would simply ignore his condition as an unspoken thing between men. Apparently, he wasn’t that lucky.
“Yes, husband dear?”
Geralt turned to face Jaskier, slowly enough that he didn’t quite dislodge his arms.
The intimacy increased twofold once Geralt settled again and they were face-to-face. Jaskier knew he should’ve let go by that point, since all plausible excuses had long since disappeared. Instead, he couldn’t seem to help smoothing his hands slowly up and down Geralt’s back, following the firm muscles and dip of his spine with nothing short of reverence. Geralt was perfectly capable of pushing him away now that he was awake, but instead he just watched Jaskier’s face, seemingly unbothered by the fact that Jaskier was clearly enjoying touching him a great deal. Jaskier’s idle morning arousal had already passed steel the minute Geralt had aligned their hips, and he’d just opened his mouth, prepared to say something that would no doubt ruin everything, when Geralt bent forward slightly.
Geralt kissed him, just a light brush of lips, and Jaskier fell off the bed.
The embarrassment far outweighed the pain, and Jaskier let out a pitiful groan before he hurriedly pushed himself to his feet. Any delay would cost him here, he just knew it, and so as soon as he was standing again, he made every effort to insert himself back into Geralt’s arms.
Geralt let him—even shifted backwards to allow him more room on the bed’s limited surface—and that was almost more of a surprise than the kiss itself. A kiss might be a mistake brought on by early morning nearness and dreams not quite forgotten; letting Jaskier close again, with his pointy elbows and desperate energy and bruised backside, was something else entirely.
“Lovely,” Jaskier said. This time he kissed Geralt, leisurely and deep, the way Jaskier had wanted to kiss him for years. He would’ve thought he was dreaming, were it not for the taste of stale ale still in his mouth and the way Geralt cradled the back of his head with his palm. Not even in his dreams had he thought Geralt would ever touch him this gently. Sex, certainly, but the care? Jaskier hadn’t considered it.
It was sweet, and it was frustrating. With his heart pounding and his cock straining and leaking inside his pants, Jaskier felt embarrassingly like a virgin on his wedding night, and that simply wouldn’t do.
Jaskier pulled away, but only to push at Geralt’s wonderfully massive shoulders until he rolled onto his back.
“Much better,” Jaskier said as he settled himself between Geralt’s thighs and bent his head back down. Geralt’s mouth was waiting for him, but so were his strong throat and sharply defined jaw, and indecision meant that Jaskier kissed a path across all of them. When a particular spot below his jaw made Geralt clench his fingers around Jaskier’s hips and pull him down against Geralt’s own unmistakable arousal, Jaskier felt like he’d won.
Then Geralt shoved one hand up the back of his shirt, the other down the front of his pants, and the game changed entirely. Geralt’s hands were big and warm, and equally welcome whether splayed across Jaskier’s back or cupping his cock. Jaskier slowly rolled his hip once just to enjoy the way Geralt’s fingers gripped him before he turned to the much more important matter of getting Geralt out of his clothes.
No matter how much experience Jaskier had, seductively disrobing was not his specialty. Fortunately, every inch of skin revealed between them more than made up for Jaskier’s clumsy eagerness. Geralt must’ve had the same idea, and once they were both naked, Jaskier eagerly draped himself across Geralt, widening his stance enough for Geralt’s cock to rest between his legs, his own pressed against the hard muscles of Geralt’s stomach. Jaskier thought he was getting the better end of the bargain when he rocked forward into warm skin, and sparks shot up his spine when Geralt’s cock stroked against his balls with gentle pressure. It gave him an idea, and he touched a hand to each of Geralt’s thighs, pushing them apart—easily, because Geralt let him, and Jaskier swore to explore that possibility another time—before settling more firmly between them. Then, he closed his legs tight, allowing his thighs to clasp Geralt’s cock in a perfect hold. When Jaskier pushed his hips forward, it rewarded them both.
Geralt was easily strong enough to lift them both with his thighs alone, and it didn’t take him more than a moment to follow Jaskier’s subtle cues. He braced himself and rocked up just as Jaskier rocked down, and they repeated it, again and again, until Jaskier could feel the sweat dripping down his back and Geralt was starting to look a little strained around the eyes. He had such beautiful eyes—Jaskier had always thought so—but they were hypnotic now, close and bright and one of a kind. Though it was a stretch, Jaskier couldn’t resist kissing him again, biting down gently against his lip and then smoothing the indent with his tongue.
Geralt made a soft sound into Jaskier’s mouth as he spent himself between Jaskier’s thighs, and it was glorious. It made Jaskier want to try even harder to prove himself, and he did, bracing his hands on either side of Geralt’s head and thrusting with his hips, dragging his cock against skin made slick with sweat and seed.
“Does it please you,” Jaskier panted as he continued to move, “husband?”
They were pressed skin-to-skin and Jaskier was watching Geralt with every ounce of focus in his being. That was the only way he noticed it: the way Geralt’s breath caught, just a slight tremor in his chest, at the last word.
Oh, Jaskier thought, seconds before he came in stripes across Geralt’s stomach. That must be it.
Afterward, they lay next to each other in that too-small bed, touching because there was no way else to share it. Or, at least, Jaskier was sure that was what Geralt would prefer he think.
“You could’ve just told me,” Jaskier said. He had never been able to keep silent when something was on his mind, and right now, that something was all but bursting out of him. “It’s not like it would’ve changed anything.”
Geralt looked at him questioningly.
“That you want to be married to me,” Jaskier elaborated. Geralt stiffened, all the relaxation leaving his posture immediately. It was an exasperating reaction, considering Jaskier could still feel that hitch in Geralt’s breath somewhere near his heart. “Geralt, I’ve wanted to spend the rest of my life with you for longer than I can remember, and you already knew this. Obviously, I love you. What else is there, to a marriage?” Jaskier ran an admiring hand over Geralt’s chest, just because he could. “Aside from tremendous amounts of sex and mutual appreciation, that is.”
As arguments went, Jaskier thought this one was quite persuasive.
Geralt, to his surprise, looked very much like he wanted to agree.
“Witchers don’t get married,” Geralt said, as a last token protest. It couldn’t have come out weaker if he’d tried.
“Well,” Jaskier said, as he shifted closer and hooked a possessive leg over Geralt’s thigh. “Maybe they should try Cynwick.”