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You try so loud to love me but I cannot seem to hear

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The things were well.

That was how they could describe their lives once the war with Nilfgaard ended. All of them had their scars, yes, but now they had time to cope with those. Time and friends to help them.

That being said, they still woke up screaming at night. Names of the dead being shouted to the cold darkness. But despite all of the pain, things were well. 

Jaskier was often lost in his mind, undoubtedly trying his best to compose ballads to honour all the fallen. Geralt would sit by his side whenever that particular mood came. Not that the Witcher would be much better. He, too, mourned. Sometimes, more often than not, the weight of everything he put on his shoulders would feel like it was crushing him. Those were the times for Jaskier to return the favour and take his place by the Witcher's side, humming soft melodies while caressing the other man.

The war has taken a lot from them. But they were safe once again. Had each other and their friends. But still, they were haunted by the faces of the dead at nights, waking up screaming.

 


 

They were heading to Oxenfurt, much to Jaskier's joy. And if Geralt's 'hmming' was anything to go by, he was thankful for the change as well. Oxenfurt was full of life and happiness, a bright place in the darkness of the Continent. Maybe a bit too joyful or loud for Geralt's taste but what wouldn't he do for his bard, right?

His bard.

The words he thought he would never be able to say out loud. After two decades of pining and seemingly unrequited love. After everything they've gone through. He was finally able to say it, to express it. So he did.

He had been afraid to, at first. Not because of what would people think of him, he was far too familiar with hatred from them. No, he had been concerned about Jaskier's reputation. It was one thing to be a Witcher's friend but warming a Witcher's bed was something diametrically different. But on one day, after he vocalized his concerns to Jaskier, the bard laughed at him and said he didn't care, either. 

"My songs are too good for people to refuse them, Geralt," he said with a dramatic expression as he put his hand on his heart theatrically. "How could you think you are destroying my reputation? You're my greatest muse! Now, stop with the smugness, I could be renowned even without you, sir! But I chose to follow you that day in Posada, because only the greatest men who smell of onion - ow, ow, all right, pardon me, heroics and - Geralt, let me down! Geralt!"

Geralt had to chuckle at that memory. One that was filled with joy rather than sorrow and darkness. One of those which kept him sane and hopeful.

He watched his bard with love in his eyes, lingering on every one of his features. The elegant fingers plucking mindlessly on his lute, the soft hair framing his aristocratic face... everything. Jaskier was everything.
And Geralt could only try to be everything in return.

They managed to arrive at Oxenfurt before the sunset. They went to stall their horses together and then took to the tavern. Some people watched them with fear but most of them cheered at the sight of Master bard Jaskier and his Witcher. They made their way to the counter and paid for a room and supper. The barmaid explained that the tavern already had a bard to play for the night, which only meant Jaskier would get to spend the evening alongside Geralt.

They took a seat at a corner table, leaning against a wall and enjoying themselves. Jaskier mindlessly reached for Geralt's hand and interwined their fingers with a content smile. The Witcher squeezed his hand and rested his head on the bard's shoulder for a few precious moments. After a while, the barmaid came with their food and they ate and drank as they liked.

After a while, the bard came from their break. Jaskier couldn't see them from the corner table but his hunger overpowered his curiosity for once. The bard started to sing, and a wonderfully toned mezzosoprano wafted through the room. It was a woman, then. And frankly talented at that. She played her lute in an almost-masterly way and Jaskier could only gasp as he recognised the opening to one of his less-famous ballads. 

Playing someone else's songs was considered quite rude among bards, so it was no wonder Jaskier got a bit upset. But as he started to get up, a firm hand on his shoulder kept him seated. Geralt grunted at him and nodded to the bard's half-eaten food. Jaskier got his message. Eat before you cause a scene, you melodramatic fool. The bard winked teasingly and stole a quick kiss from the Witcher. Then he turned his attention to his food but kept listening to the bard as she sang The Wolfsbane and Catnip. He had to admit she was talented. She altered the song a bit (again, rude) in a way that made it more catchy and joyful.

After that ballad, she played two of her own, probably, something about poppies and cornflowers, that made him swing his feet in the rhythm. Judging by the other patrons, she was quite popular among the townsfolk. One of the men teased her in between two songs but she had a witty retort ready that made everyone laugh. Even Geralt's lips quirked in a small smile. Jaskier grew more curious every minute. He couldn't wait for the end of her performance, so that he could talk to her. He even went as far as asking the barmaid to give an ale to the bard from him, with a short request to join him afterwards.

When she announced the last song would be Her Sweet Kiss (which he eventually published a few months after reuniting with Geralt), he wasn't even mad. He was vibrating with excitement and Geralt had to put one of his hands around his waist so that he wouldn't join the crowd near the stage. He leaned against his Witcher and calmed a bit listening to the familiar heartbeat. If he hadn't been so excited, he would definitely melt into a puddle at this gentle side of Geralt.

Finally, after repeating the chorus for the fourth time, she finished her performance and went to put the lute away in its case in the backstage. Right after that, she went to the counter to ask the barmaid for another ale and also for the location of her mysterious patron. Jaskier got a proper sight of her for the first time and wasn't she a sight to behold... Curly brown hair flowing on her back, vibrant green dress hugging her body as a second skin, the skirt having a mid-thigh slit. Sleeves rolled up to the elbows and a relatively modest cleavage resting on top of a vivid red corset. Her whole persona was covered in jewellery but in a fashionable way. There never was too much. She was perfectly put-together even after an evening-long performance. The barmaid pointed their way and the bard's eyes shone with excitement. She couldn't see their faces, given the dim lightning of the corner. But she probably could see Jaskier's carmine red doublet, very similar colour to her corset. Geralt's silver hair probably shone even in such gloomy light. The bard turned to fetch two more drinks and then turned and approached the two of them.

"Greetings, mysterious patrons who sent me pints of ale!" she began cheerfully as she sat across them. "I am the most delighted woman on the Continent to be gifted by such wonderful men," she continued, no doubt playing a game that has paid a lot. Jaskier had to smile, even though he wanted to talk to her out of different reasons than she might have thought. "Oh, where are my manners, you have to excuse me, good sirs, I haven't even introduced myself properly!" she suddenly exclaimed and went on before they could intervene. "I am the Oxenfurt renowned and townsfolk beloved bard and storyteller Cykoria, the pleasure is all mine!" she said and eyed their faces half-hidden in the darkness. Jaskier gasped and his eyes went wide seeing the girl he once met and named. He sprung from the table and walked to her seat, finally showing his face to his little bard. Cykoria's mouth went wide open as she, too, jumped from her chair and went to hug the other bard.

"Jaskier!" she exclaimed as he hugged her back, not caring about the patrons watching them curiously.

"It's so good to see you, bardling mine," Jaskier said and ran his hand through her hair playfully. She chuckled and then retreated a bit, taking in his appearance. After a while, she suddenly smacked his shoulder.

"How come I've never met you before?! You have no idea for how long I've dreamt about this! But of course, you had to be the charitable, noble person in the background, didn't you?!" she smacked him again and then looked him in the eye, suddenly serious. "I have never gotten the opportunity to thank you, for everything you've done for me. You have no idea how much you helped me and my family by providing money for my studies, Jaskier, thank you. I'm now able to take care of them and they're finally living the life they deserve to," she said with tears in her eyes. It was true. Jaskier asked his friend Magdalena, who stayed as a full-time teacher at the university after graduation, to keep an eye for a girl who would call herself Cykoria. If such girl were to appear, he was willing to provide money for her studies, or at least pay up however much money her family could offer. Even though he'd seen her once, he saw the potential in her and was willing to spend any coin on her education.

"I'm glad you're happy, bardling," he replied, his own tears threatening to flow freely from his eyes. He took her hand in his and lead her towards Geralt, said Witcher looking a bit confused. "Geralt, dear, you remember the time I told you about a little girl who brightened my days when we were... separated?" he asked, trying to choose the right words. Geralt had been punishing himself long enough for how he treated Jaskier and the bard hated every second of it. "Well, this is her now, apparently," he continued and felt his heart warm as Geralt smiled at Cykoria, who bowed her head in a small courtesy.

"Good to meet you," Geralt said quietly. "Thank you for whatever you did back then, truly," he added and lowered his head, but Jaskier didn't let him to drown in sorrow once again. He quickly sat next to him and stroked a gentle finger along his cheek.

"We've talked about it, haven't we, dear heart? There's nothing to be sorry for, anymore. I love you and would be delighted if I got a kiss," he said invitingly and saw Geralt's mouth form into a smile. (And yes, he got the kiss).

"Oh, so it's true!" Cykoria suddenly exclaimed, watching them excitedly. "You have to tell me everything about your definitely heart-breaking romance and I shall write ballads and sonnets about your eternal love! The Witcher and his Bard!" she clapped at that idea, whereas Geralt grunted, having an expression of a long-suffering martyr. Jaskier only chuckled and waved at the barmaid to bring more liquor. Definitely not for the last time that night.

 


 

The following morning, all of them woke up with a splitting headache and terrible hangover, Geralt and Jaskier wondering why they're wearing matching rings and Cykoria smiling conspiratorially, humming the melody of her new ballad, Of a Witcher's Lark.

Jaskier absolutely adored Cykoria, even went as far as naming her his successor, since he didn't have any children of his own and wasn't planning to - he had Geralt, in the end, and as much as he loved him, he knew it wasn't biologically possible for them to have children. But with Ciri and Cykoria in their lives, they honestly couldn't ask for better children.

Sometimes, the girls would join them on the Path, sometimes they would meet Lambert and Aiden or Eskel. And in winters, they would all meet up in Kaer Morhen, exchanging stories and memories.

And even though the pain of what they've been through could never vanish, even though they still woke up crying, they had their family, their happy ever after.

The things were well. Better than they could ever dream of.