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Jaskier puts one careful foot in front of the other, trailing the black shape of the Witcher up the inn’s rickety steps to their room. His heartbeat echoes oddly in his ears, along with the parting words of that horrible swamp hag, barely heard as they’d trudged away.

Trespasser, you’ve broken my seal … a lust spell … quench it or die … good luck, White One …

Geralt stalks around the room the moment they arrive, and Jaskier barely gets the door closed before he’s growling, “Leave.”

“What?” Jaskier splutters. “Geralt, um, no? You heard her, didn't you? The whole bit about the dying? You need help–”

He grunts and shakes his head, standing rigid as a statue, tense lines as sharp as the dead trees in Velen . He doesn't look at Jaskier. His sides heave as he breathes, heavy and erratic like a hard-driven horse. Like Roach had been tonight, wheezing, hooves dripping glassy green algae from their retreat, and Geralt too distracted, too driven, to offer her even a pat before fleeing to the inn.

Jaskier can’t see his face, but he knows his eyes must still be all dark pupil. Wild.

He tries again.

“You heard what the scary swamp witch said.”

“I’m a Witcher,” Geralt grinds out. “I’ll survive.”

“You don’t know that!” Jaskier cries, surprising himself with his intensity. When Geralt doesn’t answer, he repeats, quiet. “You don’t, do you?”

Geralt’s tense silence is answer enough. Jaskier's stomach finally sinks in earnest, the last bit of impossible hope he always held out for the man in front of him now caving to reality. This was bad. Angry wyvern in molting season bad.

Jaskier leans back against the wood of the door, crossing his arms. “Right, then I’m not going anywhere.”

“Jaskier.”

“I’m not going to leave you here to die of stubbornness, Geralt.” He keeps his tone calm, assured. His Witcher had always responded better to presumptions than arguments, and honestly he's a little impressed with his own steadiness. “We need a plan.”

Again Geralt doesn’t answer, doesn’t move a single tense muscle, but his lack of argument is at least encouraging. So Jaskier presses, tentative: “Should I … go find a willing woman to turn her trade?”

“No,” comes the low answer. Jaskier's fists clench on their own, hair-trigger from the thickness in the air.

“Dammit, Geralt–”

“No.” A growl, insistent this time. Dangerous.

Jaskier stops and looks at him, really looks at him, at the subtle tremors he can’t hide and the riled shifting of his muscles. He looks fierce. Vulnerable. Barely in control.

Jaskier doesn’t need words to know what Geralt is afraid of.

“Okay,” he breathes, deep, pulling fitfully at the fraying sleeve of his doublet. He is sure of his decision, but can't help but steel himself for the reaction when he speaks, voice quiet, “Okay. Then I’ll help you.”

That finally gets Geralt’s attention, and he turns to face him as if snagged by a fisherman’s hook. Despite the tension in his face, the night-black void of his eyes, he still manages to look shocked.

“What? No.”

“What kind of companion would I be if I didn’t offer a helping hand in a time like this?” Jaskier scoffs with a dramatic wave of his hand, attempting levity. “Besides, you can’t just die of a lust spell gone wrong. What kind of epic could I write from that?”

Geralt, typically, does not find that funny. But he wavers, only half turning away, clearly unable to tear his eyes from the other warm body in the room.

“Fuck off,” he barks. “Get out.”

“You know I’m not going to do that, Geralt,” Jaskier assures him, hands up in a soothing gesture. He steps forward, but stops when the Witcher jerks back, skittish. “Let me help.”

“You don’t know what you’re asking,” Geralt counters, his voice low, black as pitch.

Jaskier has to laugh. “Oh please, I’m no blushing maiden.”

Geralt’s hands curl into white-knuckle fists at his side. “Not in control here, Bard. I’ll hurt you.” His words barely make it past grit teeth. “Break you.”

“You won’t,” Jaskier promises, all at once certain.

Geralt shakes his head, heavy, like a great beast, white hair snarled around his face. “I could.”

Jaskier just edges closer, voice gentle. Sweet, honeyed as he can make it, almost singing to him, a lullaby for the beast he thought himself to be. Soothing. “I know you, Geralt. You won’t hurt me.”

He watches Geralt swallow, and when he speaks again, his voice is barely a rasp. “Do you have any idea what I could do to you?”

Jaskier can't help but sigh at that, tucking the sentiment away to examine later. In private.

“I know the stories about lust spells. They lower your inhibitions; they don't change who you are.” He presses forward until he’s just inside Geralt’s reach, but he doesn’t reach to touch. He tilts his head, seeking a glimpse beyond that sheet of unearthly pale hair. “And yes, maybe to a human, it takes away all control. But you? You’re a good man. And as you said, a Witcher. You won’t hurt me. I trust you.”

One huge, scarred hand reaches out and fists the scarlet fabric of his doublet. It’s shaking, but it doesn’t pull him closer. “You’re a damn fool.”

Jaskier grins and murmurs, “Guilty as charged.”

A long moment passes, Geralt staring at his face, his lips, the focused attention of those black eyes strange and searing, but still familiar, still with a person – with Geralt behind them. On the other end of a muscled arm, Jaskier can feel that massive body pulled tight as a lute string, all that mythic Witcher willpower railing against the inevitable. But the inevitable always wins.

Fuck.”

That iron grip on Jaskier’s doublet pulls him forward with barely a twitch, and he crashes against Geralt's broad chest and his open mouth, already grasping at anything he can reach.

It is immediately wet and open and filthy, and Jaskier answers him eagerly, pressing into the kiss as it dissolves into a mess of teeth and tongue. Geralt clutches him in an iron grip, and Jaskier shoves himself even closer, pressing as much of himself as he can against the unyielding line of Geralt’s body. Including the beginnings of hardness between his legs, which he’s pleased to find matched by the impressive hot line of Geralt’s cock against his hip.

Like ripping apart two halves of a sticky fruit, Geralt pulls back just enough to look at him.

“You want this?” Half a statement, half a wondering question, Geralt’s voice is nothing but gravel scraping down the mountainside, and it scrapes down his back, vibrations spreading and roaring, divine and terrible.

“Have you seen yourself, Geralt?” Jaskier tries to quip, but it comes out as a groan, groping at his sculpted chest hidden beneath studded leather armor. Already he's breathless. “It’s hardly a hardship.”

Some last resistance melts out of Geralt’s expression at that, and Jaskier swallows back the small pang of longing that begged him to tell the whole truth.

He could help Geralt, perhaps even save him, and have this unexpected intimacy to boot. It cannot mean more than that, but it is more than enough.

Jaskier is hardy that way: Accustomed to single coins and scraps and the art of stretching it all beyond imagining. He will survive. He might even sing about it.

(Garroter, jury and judge. Did he ever listen? Did he ever really hear?)

“And you?” He can’t help but ask, despite the urgency. “I trust I’m an acceptable option among the, er, few alternatives?”

From the fog in Geralt’s black eyes, it’s hard to tell if he’s even heard the question, but he fists a a wide hand in Jaskier’s curls and pulls his head back to lathe a warm, wet line up his neck and suck a dark bruise into his skin. Marking. Jaskier, half-hysterically, decides that’s answer enough.

Jaskier fumbles at the catches of bulky leather armor as Geralt noses into the hallow of his throat and breathes deeply, actually scenting him. Jaskier is surprised to feel his own dick twitch in particular interest even before Geralt grinds against him with a broken, frustrated moan.

With Geralt too busy smelling him to be of any use, Jaskier continues his noble efforts, but undressing a bewitched Witcher is slow and difficult, and he keeps getting distracted by the absolutely essential need to tug at Geralt’s loose hair or thrust against his thick thigh. Finally, blessedly, Geralt seems to realize that clothes are an impediment to wandering hands and lips, and leans back just long enough to tear Jaskier’s clothes off with a few sharp, clean tugs.

Jaskier can't even find it in himself to be offended as the fine fabric falls away, because Geralt’s hands are instantly on him, gripping and rubbing and claiming every inch of pale skin he can find. Jaskier sighs, melting under his rough hands and against that inconveniently intact armor, thrilling at the cold press of metal studs but impatient skin. He tugs fruitlessly at the layered pieces once more, before slapping at Geralt’s covered equally armored arm for his attention.

“Geralt. Geralt!” He manages to force just enough space between them to catch Geralt’s eye. He wets his lips. “Strip.”

Falling back, Geralt follows orders with a soldier’s enthusiasm and efficiency. Jaskier barely has time to rifle through his bag and grab the vial of oil before Geralt is free of his armor and back on him, pressed against his back and practically enveloping him. One hand cards hungrily through the wiry brown hair at his chest as the other grips the soft skin at his waist, a calloused thumb fitting perfectly into the dimple just above his ass. It is embarrassing and wonderful how much a single hand of Geralt's can hold, and how deliciously small Jaskier feels in that grasp.

Geralt hums a ravenous sound against his neck, vibrating low and dangerous in his throat, more a growl than a groan. He presses hot, open-mouthed kisses down his shoulder and bites his way back up. Jaskier melts, unashamed to whine and press backward into Geralt’s bulk, and he would be content to stand there, bottle of luxurious oil hanging uselessly in his hand, and be mauled for as long as his Witcher is content to do so.

But the tremors in Geralt’s limbs are growing stronger, and he could not risk the damage the curse might wreak if they delayed.

He tugs against Geralt’s hold, managing to turn to face him and sink back into Geralt’s greedy grip. Jaskier spares himself a moment to run clever fingers through the loose curtain of silver hair around them, presses a kiss to Geralt’s temple while he nuzzles into Jaskier’s throat. He is nearly overwhelmed by all that warm, naked flesh sliding together, by the teasing, glancing brush of hard cocks. Would that they could take their time and get lost in it, but Jaskier pushes him away and grunts an order.

“Bed.”

Geralt does not immediately obey, only holds him tighter, closer. Before Jaskier can repeat himself, or even process the movement, there is a sudden dizzying moment of vertigo as he's heaved into the air. A moment later his back hits the mattress, Geralt stretched out above him, the orange light of the inn lamps flickering across his naked, scarred skin.

Jaskier greedily takes in the sight before him: His Witcher staring down at him, all those heightened sense poised on his prey, his broad chest heaving and the carved muscles of his stomach jumping. The intent, predatory look on his familiar face.

Jaskier licks his lips and stares, shameless in his desire. Jaskier had never understood the point of shame, and and the concept itself became unfathomable with his Witcher laid out before him like a sumptuous feast.

Starving, he surges up and slams their lips together again, ready to eat him alive with teeth and tongue. The Witcher’s wolf pendant falls against Jaskier’s breast in the scuffle, cold silver stinging sweetly on his overheated skin. The air between them smells of leather and sweat and desire.

Geralt grinds down against the rise of Jaskier’s hip, and when he breaks the kiss his eyes are lost, overcome. He drops his head to Jaskier’s shoulder, rutting in earnest. Stunned as he is by the thick cock shoving rhythmically against his thigh, nevermind the ecstatic grunting of the cock-holder himself, Jaskier takes the opportunity of distraction to fiddle with the bottle of clear oil, thinking to prepare himself quickly before the spell drives Geralt to need more.

But before he can so much as open the bottle, Geralt’s hand appears and grips his wrist, stilling him. The stilling of his hips is even more surprising.

“Let me,” Geralt grunts, deep voice decidedly wrecked.

Jaskier blinks up at him, swallowing. “A-are you sure? I really don’t mind-”

The rest is lost to a kiss, deep and warm and just this side of harsh. It is Jaskier’s turn to be lost in the fog of sensation as Geralt expertly plunders his mouth, kissing the air from his lungs. The next thing he is aware of is one broad hand pressing his thighs further apart and a slick-cool finger circling gently at his entrance.

It is blunt, and thick, but Jaskier has never lied about his experience, so it is a small matter to adjust to the pressure. Geralt sets about opening him up, still kissing him hot and thorough until Jaskier must break away to pant. He lays bonelessly against the mattress, striving to catch his breath, and stares wonderingly at Geralt’s furrowed brow.

Geralt is concentrating, his motions thorough, surprisingly gentle, if a little clumsy. His arm shakes, perhaps from the strain of fighting the curse boiling his blood, but his movements within Jaskier are sure. Even careful.

It is an impressive display of control, and it simply won't do.

Jaskier shifts to wrap one lean leg around Geralt’s own. He may not be a hulking Witcher, but he has muscles of his own, and he uses them and his newfound leverage to push against Geralt, forcing his fingers deeper with one hard shove of his hips.

Geralt hisses, free arm flexing where it’s braced by Jaskier’s head, teeth bared as if in pain. In retaliation, his fingers still completely, so Jaskier leans up until his lips brush Geralt’s ear and demands wantonly:

More, Witcher.”

There comes that feral growl again, low, more vibration than sound, but thank the gods, Geralt takes him at his word.

He speeds up, sliding into Jaskier in a merciless rhythm, scissoring and twisting his fingers. Jaskier writhes against him, his calf slipping down over the muscled swell of Geralt’s ass. Jaskier moans encouragingly over the wet noises of Geralt’s coaxing fingers, scratches his nails down his scarred back, sucks bruises into his shoulders that he knows won’t last. He tries to reach down for Geralt’s neglected cock, but before he knows it, Geralt has grabbed his wandering hand, entwined their fingers and pressed it into the mattress beside Jaskier’s head.

Geralt shakes his head once, tense, and then focuses back on his task, adding another finger.

Jaskier melts helplessly with the pressure of a third finger, not moving but to spasm with tingly pleasure when Geralt finds the perfect angle. Through the haze, he lays back and watch Geralt open him up with characteristic blind focus.

All that strength, enough to cleave a monster in half, enough to crack a man's bones without a thought, pulsing just beneath broad shoulders and thick arms, but leashed. So desperate, so overcome, and still so studiously controlled. Jaskier shivers down to his spine and beats back the sudden, wild urge to push and prod until Geralt truly loses himself.

He's a fool, but he's not suicidal.

“I’m good, it’s good. Come on,” he sighs when he can't keep quiet anymore, patience thoroughly snapped.

Geralt only grunts and shakes his head again, still holding Jaskier in place with all-consuming focus. Jaskier himself is burning up, desperate for more; he cannot imagine the torture Geralt is in. His heavy cock presses against Jaskier’s thigh, hot and hard, twitching greedily with every thrust of his own hand.

But when he looks closer, there isn't pain, not exactly. Despite the tightness around his blackened eyes, Geralt’s face is hazy, slack-jawed. Blown out with pleasure just from touching him.

The thought hits him like a fist to the gut: Geralt is getting off on this. Just this, just holding Jaskier down and preparing him. At least enough to slake the edge of his hunger, to hold off the worst effects of the curse.

In this moment, at least, Geralt wants him.

Jaskier throws his head back with a stifled sob, face burning red and skin pulsing with each stroke of Geralt’s fingers, and it is almost too much. He feels the first waves of orgasm approaching far too fast after far too long and breathes deep, trying to calm his racing heart. He tugs at silver hair, insistent. “Enough.”

When it draws no reaction, he turns his head blindly into Geralt, nuzzling his rough cheek, kissing the sweat from his stubborn brow. Begging.

“Enough. Please, Geralt.”

Ah, that is the magic word.

Geralt withdraws all at once, and Jaskier is not too proud to admit he whimpers at the loss of his fingers and the chest pressed against him. But then he’s back, all of him, pressing Jaskier into the bed with just the right amount of pressure as his now-slick cock nudges at his entrance. Jaskier is splayed open, filled, pinned and floating at the same time. Rich and dizzying heat claws its way up his chest and neck, and he only realizes he’s making a noise with every panted breath when Geralt leans up and kisses them away.

Geralt looks into his eyes as he sinks into him, slow but inexorable, and his face is a dark cacophony, utterly stricken. Like he’s caught in a river and fighting to get upstream. Or simply fighting not to get swept away as the storm and the spell finally start to break. Jaskier meets his gaze steadily, holding his breath, until Geralt breaks away, desperate, to tuck his face into Jaskier’s neck and drive into him.

Even with oil and experience easing the way, Geralt is almost impossibly big. But Jaskier relishes the steady burn. He sinks into the struggle of it, his body taking every inch of Geralt eagerly and, if not easily, then hungrily. He is pliant and ready, pulling him deeper as Geralt sinks to the hilt in one smooth, terribly slow motion.

He’s stretched and flushed and trembling with want, so ravenous he can’t find the words to beg — so hungry it might as well have been him cursed with the lust spell.

He wants everything. He wants more. More of Geralt’s rough hands and pale skin and silky hair. More of the heat and the sweat and the musky scent of them. More.

Enough to last him, when this impossible fever cools and all this seems but a distant dream of things he simply cannot have.

Geralt pauses, gasping heavily into Jaskier’s neck. The mountain of a man is plastered to him, pressed against every inch of him, inside and out. Jaskier can feel him everywhere.

It’s too much, and not nearly enough, but before Jaskier can manage enough breath to start begging, Geralt rolls his hips experimentally, just enough to shove a little deeper. Jaskier moans brokenly, and for some gods-forsaken reason this makes Geralt stop. So Jaskier claws his fingers into the meat of Geralt’s arm, cinches his legs tight around his waist, and ruts up against him, demanding.

The noise Geralt makes is wounded, and ends on a sharp bite to Jaskier’s shoulder, but he’s rewarded by a snap of the Witcher’s hips, so hard it drives the air from Jaskier’s lungs. And then the hesitation is gone.

Geralt moves against him, inside him, with a rolling, punishing rhythm that already shakes the headboard. Jaskier clutches drunkenly to his rippling, sweat-slick shoulder and gives himself over to being taken apart.

Gone is the disciplined, desperately restrained Geralt. This Geralt is ruthless, relentless. Ferocious. Jaskier’s free hand clutches helplessly, over the taut lines of his back, the bulging of his biceps, as all that inhuman strength fucks him into the cheap mattress with a feverish fury.

Geralt’s mouth is still busy mouthing and biting and sucking down his throat and across his collarbone, one hand still pressing Jaskier’s to the bed. But his other hand shifts its iron, bruising grip to pull Jaskier’s hips entirely off the mattress, holding his weight one handed. Jaskier's  overheated mind, only moments from evaporating entirely, can barely comprehend it.

The change in angle drives Geralt’s cock even deeper and sends sparks up his spine, like the tingle of magic over his skin, but inside, coating his muscles in liquid fire. He fucks him hard and fast and deep. Brutal. Jaskier’s own hard, weeping dick is trapped between them, sliding against the flexing muscles and scarred skin of Geralt’s stomach, the friction delicious.

It is a matter of moments before he hurtles over the edge, spilling across Geralt’s broad chest, writhing and clutching and moaning against him. Geralt fucks him through it, unrelenting, and Jaskier has barely managed to blink the stars from his eyes before Geralt pulls his hips up, drives in as deeply as he can and spills inside him with a world-shaking, rumbling groan.

Jaskier is flooded with warmth, filled up and overflowing in hot trails down his trembling thighs, and still it keeps coming. Jaskier whines and gasps and lets his head fall back, his body limp, swearing viciously as Geralt gives one last roll of his hips and then stills.

It is quiet, but for their panting. Still, but for their shaking. Their hands are still entwined against the rumpled sheets.

Geralt sets him down onto the mattress and they lay there for a moment, just breathing. But then Geralt shifts his weight, stirring the thick weight inside him still hot with his pulse, and Jaskier realizes with a heady jolt and a touch of hysteria: Geralt is still hard.

Jaskier’s eyes flash open to see Geralt staring down, his eyes still black as pitch and ravenous. He's breathing steadily, almost eerily controlled, while the rest of him trembles and waits.

“Fuck, Geralt.” Jaskier lunges up to kiss him, sloppy and eager, clutching at his tense neck. He breathes the words, warm and close. “Anything. Anything you want.”

With a guttural sound and an easy motion, Geralt pulls out and flips him onto his chest, forcing his thighs as wide as they will go. Jaskier barely has time to grab two handfuls of sheets before Geralt is fucking back into him, open and loose and soaking wet.

Jaskier whines and writhes beneath him shamelessly, oversensitive and burning, boneless and shivering. It’s easy and it’s too much and it’s everything, and Jaskier can do nothing but lie there and take it.

Geralt’s pace is erratic now, control evaporated. He reaches down to thread the fingers of one hand through Jaskier’s damp curls and pulls his head up, just hard enough to have tears pricking at his eyes and reveal what he’s sure is the drooling, flushed mess of him. Jaskier moans, hoarse but with feeling.

He is reduced to a whimpering, trembling mess after mere moments, and when he distantly hears the threatening creak of the bed frame beneath them, he sends a careless curse to the inn. Let it break. Let the whole building collapse around their ears, as long as Geralt never stops holding him down with hands as hot as brands and moving inside him.

Jaskier loses time, loses himself to pure feeling, and when Geralt comes again with hoarse hiss, it’s almost a surprise. He feels the last thrust all the way through his chest, more warmth spilling inside him, and then the strange and empty feeling of Geralt pulling out. Jaskier buries his face in the mattress and swears long and low with the last of his breath, as Geralt collapses beside him.

The bard would be most content to never move again, but it was the curse that got them into this to start with, and he needs to know that Geralt is no longer in danger … or if he has another round ahead of him. Jaskier is shocked his cock can still twitch with interest at the thought.

With no small effort, Jaskier rolls onto his side to examine his Witcher. Geralt lies beside him, still catching his breath, but his body is relaxed in a way it hasn’t been since they stumbled into the swamp that morning. His slowly blinking eyes have returned to their usual gold. Jaskier can watch the moments he falls heavily into sleep, but not before Geralt pulls Jaskier to him, curls around him and presses a clumsy kiss to the crown of his head.

Jaskier falls asleep smiling, and blessing a curse.

***

Jaskier wakes alone. He is not terribly surprised.

He is more surprised, though he hates to admit it, to see that Geralt’s things are still scattered around the room. His swords and armor and bag of potions a dead giveaway that he had not simply left without a word. It was always a possibility with Geralt. Always running off to kill something or other, once or twice leaving him with the tab.

He always forgave it. What was there to forgive, with the depth of shared debt between them? Blood and coin alike.

He’s loath to leave the fading warmth of the sheets, but he’s hungry and filthy and more than a little worried about his Witcher. Curses are tricky things, and no matter how he seemed last night, Jaskier would prefer to see proof in the light of day. So he stretches his aching muscles and slowly gets dressed.

He has just managed to crawl into a loose shirt when the door to their room bangs open and Geralt sulks back in. (Perhaps no one else would be able to tell from his expressionless face, but Jaskier knew him, and this was definitely a sulk.)

Geralt doesn’t look at him as he kicks the door closed and drops a plate of food and a pitcher of water on the small table in the corner. He’s clearly been up and gone for a while, but he’s not managed to hide all traces of last night's activities — his hair is still a wreck and his dark shirt gapes open haphazardly at his chest. Jaskier thinks he can be forgiven for getting sidetracked now that he knows what the skin there tastes like.

A stolen bit of knowledge, true, but it will make for good songs. Hopelessness usually does.

Jaskier hums a nonsense greeting as he wanders over to pick at the food, hungry but unsure of their footing here. Geralt was allergic to emotional conversations on an average day, but some sort of discussion would be needed to clear the tension from the air and get things back to normal.

Well, if nothing else? Jaskier is good at talking.

“And how are you this morning?” he ventures brightly, starting with the obvious. “No lasting effects from the curse, I trust? Thoroughly quenched, and all?”

Geralt grunts, a small affirmative sound, and not for the first time Jaskier is grateful for the work he’d put in those early years, translating Geralt’s various noises into words. Geralt still won’t look at him, busying himself with checking and rechecking the contents of his potion bag.

Jaskier leans against the small table and watches him, waiting for anything more. Something to start with, or set his compass by. When it becomes clear that Geralt won’t be contributing, Jaskier sighs and asks mildly, “Geralt, are you angry with me?”

Geralt still doesn’t look up, but his thick brows furrow. “What? No.”

“Then what?” Jaskier pushes trying his best to be light about it, tossing an apple and catching it, distracting himself with the shiny red gleam. “Upset at what we did? Embarrassed? Guilty?”

Of all things, Geralt flinches. Just a little, but enough for even Jaskier’s human eyes to see.

He doesn't ever mean to be an asshole, but Jaskier laughs, disbelieving, before he can stop himself.

“You can’t be serious. Do you really think me such a martyr? It was sex. Good sex at that. Surely, I would do much more unpleasant things to save your life, but did any part of me last night seem, er … unwilling?”

Finally, Geralt straightens and faces him, yellow eyes stormy. His jaw tics as he grits out, “It was my stupid mistake, and it put you in danger.”

“Danger,” Jaskier repeats flatly. He risks a few steps closer, filling his sonorous voice with as much patience and clarity as he can muster.

“Geralt, your ridiculous Witcher senses can see things, smell things that we mere mortals can’t, right? So think back.” His hands part with a flourish, encompassing all of himself. “Or, hell, sniff me right now. Did I, for one moment, smell of fear?”

Geralt pauses, but not to smell him. When he finally answers, it’s a low murmur. Confessional. “You never do.”

Jaskier’s heart skips a beat at the implication, not just the memory of stubble scraping the soft of his neck and the greedy hiss of Geralt's inhalation. He’s sure now he’s given away entirely too much, but he manages a somewhat dazed smile. “Well there’s your answer.”

He holds Geralt's gaze for as long as he can, to drive home his truthfulness, but his heart is thudding and even more honest words are gathering behind his lips and this hurts. So he turns to gather the remains of last night’s clothes from the floor, busying himself with seeing if anything could be salvaged.

“You’re not some monster, Geralt,” Jaskier forces his voice to be light as he fiddles with the torn fabric of his doublet. “Don’t start paying attention to the tales now.”

A long moment passes in silence, and Jaskier wonders if that’s the end of it. But Geralt finally breaks the silence to ask, “Did I hurt you?”

“Only in the best of ways,” Jaskier tosses over his shoulder, sunnily.

Geralt’s answering grunt sounds hardly reassured, and it just won’t do to let the Witcher feel guilty for something Jaskier so thoroughly enjoyed. So he shoots him a glance and assures him again, “I mean it, Geralt, you’ve left no lasting damage. Bruises I will no doubt delight in feeling for a few days.”

A sign that all this had really happened, when things went back to normal. A little piece of this closeness to hold on to.

Geralt looks like he might start arguing, so Jaskier waves him off. “Please, don’t trouble yourself about it further. You were ill, and you needed help from your dear friend. If you acted in ways you might not have otherwise, it’s only understandable.” 

That’s fine. That would be more than enough. But Jaskier hears himself continue, even as he mentally begs himself to shut up. “I mean, I’m sure I wouldn’t be your first choice of bed partners, but-”

“What?” There’s that furrowed brow again. The same deep, instant, startled syllable that is honestly starting to wear on Jaskier. Could he be any more predictable, really?

Jaskier smiles, focusing very hard on folding his ruined clothes with brisk motions. The smile feels brittle, temporary. All of it does.

“I only mean we can forget about all of this and carry on as usual, now that you’re well.”

From the corner of his eye, he can see Geralt tilt his head, expression unreadable. “Is that what you want?”

Oh, that hurts. Why is this so much harder than he expected? Jaskier can feel his smile straining. “I don’t expect you to be beholden to anything you said or did under the influence of a spell.”

Geralt shakes his head again.

“The spell made me feel, but it didn’t force me to act. I had a choice.” He takes a deep, bracing breath, and when he continues it is graver still, voice low and penitent as if taking some kind of terrible blood debt. He even inclines his head. “But you didn’t, not really. So thank you for helping me.”

Jaskier listens to his words, hears that dirge of a tone, sees his mournful face, and, against his own professional judgement, absolutely loses it.

“You- Gods!” He shouts it, and he can't help but laugh as he whirls to face Geralt fully, to take him on. He can feel the manic energy bubbling hatefully, high enough to choke but, waggling a finger under a Witcher's nose, even his Witcher's perfect nose, he finds he can't fucking stop.

“You really are an idiot. Do you want to know the truth?” he demands, bits of ruined shirt flapping from his fingers as he gestures wildly. To Geralt, to himself, at the space between them he's been watching lessen for years, covetously tallying every touch, only to have it collapse in a single beautiful, horrible night.

What a fool he was to think they – he – could go back after that.

“Jaskier,” Geralt begins, faint and slow like he's soothing Roach. Jaskier shushes him, finger pointed dangerously at his face.

“I have wanted to do that since I first saw you at that inn in Posada.”

No going back now. So he enunciated. Stuck the landing. Dug his heels in.

“I've wanted it and I've tried to stop and it's not something I can stop. I’ve been completely gone on you for years now. Years. And I cannot regret any of this, despite all the discomfort it brought you, if I can just have this one night to remember.”

He stops to drag in a breath, and with that breath the momentum dies. He realizes where he is. What he just said. When he continues it’s quieter, defeated.

“Perhaps I owe you an apology for that. But you see? You have nothing to feel badly for. Less than nothing.”

It’s quiet, as it so often is with Geralt. But this quiet is particularly thick. Jaskier thinks he can hear the floor settling beneath them.

He wonders if this will be the thing to finally make Geralt walk away for good.

“You don’t,” Geralt says nonsensically. "Owe me an apology.”

Jaskier lets out a shaky breath but nothing changes. It still feels like he's made a mistake. He sniffs. “Well, now that we’re both done not apologizing …”

Geralt stops him with a look, stepping right into his space. Despite their nearly matching heights, Jaskier feels dwarfed.

“What was it you said?” Geralt rumbles. “Lust spells lower your inhibitions. They don’t change your desires.”

“Well, I meant they don’t turn you into a sadistic monster, but–” Jaskier looks up mid-sentence, eyes narrowed. “Wait, what are you saying?”

Geralt brings up a broad hand to cup Jaskier’s cheek, bringing a wave of warmth and musk with it.

“I wanted you. Still do.”

The only thing Jaskier can do is laugh. It's soft and incredulous and a little wet around the edges.

“What? I mean … what?”

Geralt just tilts his head in that way he has, brows drifting high, and Jaskier hates how he can understand, in the same breath that he covets how he knows. Geralt feels sheepish, startled, with a dash of disbelief. As unprepared as Jaskier was, maybe.

“You … You couldn’t have said something? Like, oh I don’t know, last night before we fucked?”

Geralt shrugs. “Didn’t think you’d feel the same. Didn’t want to force you into anything.”

“You- How … Really?” It’s hard to imagine Jaskier’s desire and affection for Geralt weren’t obvious, visible from a hundred yards away. But it doesn’t matter now, does it? He stands there for a moment before sneaking a hand up to run through Geralt’s disheveled hair. Geralt, damn him, closes his eyes as if nothing were more natural.

“I think we’ve done this backward,” Jaskier sighs at last, thoroughly pricked.

Geralt is smiling and clear eyed when he leans down to kiss him. It’s soft and simple and still Jaskier’s a touch breathless when he asks, “We could always try it again?”

“We can,” Geralt agrees, his lips quirked and his eyes impossibly fond. “Later. For now, I have a better idea.”

Jaskier barely has time to yelp as he’s scooped off his feet and into Geralt’s arms. “Ah – hell, Geralt!”

The Witcher carries him as he would a bundle of particularly oversized grapes, nonchalant, and heads straight to the bed.

“We have the bed until noon, and we should use it. To rest.” He deposits Jaskier onto the mattress and crawls in after him, stretching out his bulky limbs. He is as beautiful as last night – more beautiful now, with liquid movements and no pain, no indecision. It's almost too much to believe.

After a moment’s hesitation, Jaskier curls against his side, grinning into Geralt’s chest when his arm settles heavily around him with a contented hum.

“Yes, well,” Jaskier says, nuzzling closer, “you are recovering from a curse, after all.”

There would be time to talk about what this meant. Time to do all of that again without the distraction of magic and potential death. Time enough for all the things Jaskier had never quite managed not to want.

For now, he could rest here, draped across Geralt’s chest and held firmly to his side, content in the knowledge that this would not be the last time.