Actions

Work Header

Three Meetings On An Old Stone Road

Work Text:

Yennefer was sitting in the pub when they walked in. They underestimated her, the fools, dismissing her at a glance. Although the Battle at Sodden had drained her and left her looking a bit ragged, she had recovered enough to do basic magic. Such as, unfortunately for them, reading the minds of Nilfgaardians. 

She tapped into the mind of the one who seemed most in charge as they walked through to their rooms, and stayed, listening, as they discussed the search for the lost Cintran Princess, last seen with, of all people, the Witcher Geralt of Rivia. 

She cursed under her breath at the reminder of her ex-lover and djinn-bound destiny. It had been two years since she had last seen him on the top of a mountain, but not nearly long enough. 

She was about to slip out of the soldier's mind when the conversation took a turn. 

"We haven't had much luck finding him directly, so what if we took a more indirect route. We could find his old associate and either ply him for information or use him as bait. They haven't been seen together in years, but there's no one who knows the White Wolf better, and no one who he would be quite as likely to rescue, as the bard Jaskier."

Well, this changed things. Geralt could handle himself, it was no use getting involved for him. But the poor fool of a bard… 

It was no secret that Yennefer and Jaskier didn't get along, but truth be told she held no real animosity towards him. In fact, he was one of the few men who looked at her with neither dismissive lust nor cowering fear. And for that, she almost liked him. And the fact that he could match wits with her verbally, well, if things had been different, she might one day have started a begrudging friendship with the pest. 

She hadn't directly kept tabs on him, but even she couldn't avoid his songs. Since the mountain, they had become more often maudlin or angry, and she suspected that she wasn't the only one who had ended a relationship with Geralt that day. 

But regardless of her feelings towards the bard or the Witcher, she had seen first-hand the cruelty of Nilfgaard, their ruthless drive, and she couldn't just sit by and watch. The bard was utterly helpless: no fighting skills to speak of, his silver tongue saved and condemned him in turns, and without a Witcher by his side, he was completely vulnerable to being used as bait -or worse. 

After listening a few more moments to hear where the bard had last been heard - teaching, of all things! A professor at Oxenfurt! - she stood, found a modicum of privacy, and portaled away. 



Jaskier was walking home along a stone road, having just taken his evening meal. He passed the Oxenfurt guard and was almost to his assigned lodging when he heard the unmistakable sound of a portal behind him. 

There are, he thought to himself, so many mages and witches and wizards on the Continent. It's unlikely that I have by chance been happened upon by one of the three people I least want to see.

"Jaskier."

He had always had shitty luck. 

"Yennefer!" he said as he turned to face her. "This is a surprise." Not a lie, at least.

"I'm glad I found you." She looked genuine if a bit worse for wear.

"I'm surprised someone as important as you was looking for me."

"I'm not the only one. Nilfgaard is looking for you due to your connection with a certain Witcher, who is guarding the Cintran princess."

"So he found her, then. I had hoped."

Yennefer stared at him, mouth slightly agape. "I just told you that you're being hunted by an army intending to either wring information out of you or use you as bait and that is all you have to say?"

"What else is there to say? I don't know where he is because I haven't seen him in years, and I fear I would prove ineffective as bait since his strongest wish is to be rid of me. Although, I suppose I should say thank you, Yennefer. You've been surprisingly kind to warn me."

They stood there a moment in the street, neither one sure what to say. Finally, Jaskier cleared his throat. "Was there something else? Surely you didn't come all the way here just for that?"

"No," Yennefer murmured, "that was all." She was exhausted. Simple mind-reading and one portal shouldn't have made her this tired, but she felt drained. 

Her obvious fatigue moved Jaskier to compassion. "Did you have any plans for where to stay tonight?" When she shook her head, he asked "might I invite you, with the purest of intentions, to stay the night?"

She nodded and he offered her his arm. As soon as she tried to take the first step, her legs buckled and she found herself held up by the bard’s surprisingly strong arms. 

“I’m sorry,” he said, “I didn’t realize how much it must have cost you to warn me. It’s not been long since the battle at Sodden. Come rest at my home.”

He helped her to his lodgings and escorted her to a guest bedroom, where he bid her goodnight. 

 

It had been weeks since Geralt had met his Child Surprise in the woods, but even though Ciri's first words had been to ask about Yennefer, they hadn't been able to find her. As they left another village, well-stocked and carefully disguised, Geralt hid his disappointment and frustration that his inquiries about Yennefer had proved fruitless yet again. 

Up ahead, he heard voices and too many footsteps, so he led Ciri and Roach off the road and into the forest to hide. As the platoon of soldiers marched past, Geralt's strong hearing picked up a conversation that made his blood run cold.

"Pietra's elite team should make it to Oxenfurt by tomorrow. They'll get the White Wolf's location out of his bard one way or another."

"Geralt?" He felt Ciri tugging on his sleeve. "What's going on? What's wrong?" 

Ciri. She was his first responsibility. "You're safe," he assured her, patting her gently on the head. "I need to make a stop to check on a friend, that's all." 

As soon as it was safe, he brought Ciri and Roach back to the road, then they rode hard towards Oxenfurt. 

 

Yennefer hadn't stayed very long. A few days to recover her strength and chaos, during which a tentative companionship had developed, and she had been on her way. Before she left, though, she had presented Jaskier with a small gift. 

"This necklace has been enchanted. If it is broken, I will know you are in danger and will do what I can to help. Do NOT," she poked him in the chest for emphasis, "break it unless there is a threat to your life. I don't have the time or energy for false alarms." 

He understood it for what it was, even though she couldn't or wouldn't say: it was a gesture of friendship that she would use her depleted Chaos to keep him safe. 

"Thank you, Yennefer. Despite your frightening appearance and your utter refusal to wear any real colors, I know you have a heart somewhere in there. And I'm honored to be someone you care about."

She huffed and looked away. "It's a thank you for letting me convalesce at your lodgings. I refuse to be in the debt of someone as superfluous as you, even though you do have surprisingly good taste in wines and cheese." 

That was as close to an admission of friendship as he was likely to get and though he would have preferred to pull her into a hug, he thought it might be a step too far. Instead, he raised one of her hands to his lips and he gave a small bow. "Instead I find myself in your debt. If ever this superfluous bard can be of any assistance to you -"

"I know where to find you. Goodbye, Jaskier."

She turned, opened a portal, and was gone. 

 

The days after Yennefer left, life went back to normal for Jaskier. He spent his mornings lecturing, his afternoons writing and composing, and his evenings performing, sometimes in taverns, sometimes invited to a local court. 

It was while returning from one of these performances that he was stopped by a man on the same stretch of road where he had met Yennefer, large stone road and flickering lantern light. 

"Are you Jaskier, the White Wolf's Bard?" The man asked, stepping out of the shadows.

It had been two years and people still wanted to hear his stories about Geralt. "I am Jaskier, yes, but I'm afraid my partnership with the Witcher has come to an end a few years ago." 

"It's all the same to us. Grab him!"

Yennefer's necklace! As Jaskier reached up to break the necklace, he felt a blow to the back of his head, then darkness. 

 

Jaskier woke up slowly, with a pounding in his head. He tried to reach up to feel the wound but found his hands here tied at the back of the chair he was seated in. 

He cursed quietly. With his hands bound, there was no way to break the necklace. 

"Ah, you're awake at last." The man from last night was seated across the table from him, with another standing by the door. "Good morning, Jaskier."

"I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage. You know my name, but I have no idea who you are or what you want with me."

"Who I am isn't important, but you may call me Pietra. What is important is what you can tell me. I'm looking for an old friend of yours and I was hoping you could tell me where to find him. If you tell us what we want to know, we can return you back to Oxenfurt, none the worse for wear."

Jaskier wasn't a fool. After Yennefer had warned him about Nilfgaard coming for him, he had come up with a plan: play dumb. 

(Okay, it wasn't a good plan, and maybe Jaskier was a fool, but what other options did he have?)

"I can try, but really, all you had to do was ask. I'm not in the business of covering for my friends' gambling debts. That's just a guess. I can't imagine who else would be looking so hard for someone that they'd resort to kidnapping their friends. Who are you trying to find and, for my own curiosity, how much do they owe you?" 

"We are looking for the Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, the White Wolf," Pietra said with a sneer.

"Ah, I'm afraid I can't help you. I haven't seen Geralt in years. We had a bit of a falling out, you see. I never took him for the type to rack up and run out on a gambling debt, but I guess you can never really know a person." Jaskier tried to shrug but was hindered by his bindings.

"If you don't know where he is, perhaps you can tell us where he would hide."

"Geralt is not really one for hiding. Anytime I saw him we were on the road together, me singing and him hunting. If he had hideouts, he never told me about them." He looked thoughtful. "Perhaps I can settle his debts with you? I'd never shield him for his debts physically, but financially I might be able to ease his burden." 

"What we want from him is not monetary. If you are not going to tell us willingly, we might have to become a bit more persuasive." He pulled a knife and held it loosely against Jaskier's neck. 

"Gentlemen! What more could I tell you? I don't know where he is or where he hides. I don't know what you want from him, to better tell you how to get it. Now you threaten me, though I've been as helpful as I can? What next? Strip me of my very belongings?" 

The man let his knife drift down from Jaskier's neck to the necklace resting against his breastbone. Yes, please, Jaskier thought. Break the damn necklace. 

Instead, he set the knife on the table and turned to punch Jaskier, his fist connecting solidly with Jaskier's stomach. 

"I think you know more than you say." He spoke calmly as Jaskier gasped for breath. "So I will ask again: where is Geralt of Rivia?"

 

It is hours later when they finally, mercifully, leave. Jaskier stuck to his role, playing up his ignorance, even though most of what he said was the truth. He hadn't seen Geralt in years, he didn't know where Geralt would hide. Jaskier was bruised and battered, but not as bloody as he had feared. While they had beaten him quite soundly, the knife had thus far only been used as a threat of what was to come. None of the blows, not even the one that broke his nose, had been as horrible as the sight of the flat of that knife pressed against his fingers in threat and warning.

He knew he had to break the necklace. Yennefer was the only one who could help him now. The problem was that his hands had been rebound and he couldn't move them to reach his neck. He tried reaching with his mouth, maybe he could break the necklace by chewing. But he couldn't reach that way either. He couldn't smash it against the table or snag it against something to break the chain. All he could do was wait and hope he could somehow trick his captors into breaking it for him. 

 

It felt like he had just dozed off when he was awakened by a bucket of frigid water being thrown on him. 

"Wake up, bard. I have some good news for you. While we work to get the location of the Witcher out of you, we will also use you as bait to draw him here. Word has been sent out in every direction that we have the White Wolf's Bard and he had better come try to save you. He should be here soon. Your new status as bait means we can't kill you, but it doesn't mean our fun is over. If you tell us where he is, we can let you go, and you won't have to see the man who so cruelly discarded you two years ago."

"He won't come for me. I'm useless to you, both as an informant and as bait. The last thing he told me is that he wanted rid of me, he won't quickly change his mind."

"Maybe he won't come for you as a friend, but in all your songs you describe him as noble and honorable. Such a man wouldn't leave you here regardless of his feelings towards you, would he?"

 For the first time, Jaskier regretted his work improving Geralt's reputation. Maybe they would have let him go if they believed Geralt too unfeeling to attempt a rescue. It was his own fault for being too good at his job. 

Jaskier knew from two decades of experience that this time of year Geralt was likely two weeks of travel away, and to count on his rescue would mean a solid month of imprisonment at the least. He decided to begin his plan to trick his captors into breaking Yennefer's necklace. 

"Well, if we have to wait for news of my capture to spread, we might be a while. What shall we do to pass the time?"

His impertinence earned him a quick blow and he tried to position himself so that the blow landed on the charm of the necklace. 

No such luck.

"Trying to dodge, eh? You don't have much room to move, master bard." 

"I've always been an optimist. Maybe one of these times I'll shift enough for you to miss."

After that, it was much the same as the day before, alternating questions and blows. Jaskier shifted and turned with every assault, and though occasionally his attackers did hit the charm dangling from his neck, they never managed to break it. They did, however, eventually injury themselves on it. With a snarl, Jaskier's attacker ripped the necklace off Jaskier, snapping the chain. There was a soft pulse of magic through the room that even Jaskier could sense. 

"What is this necklace?"

"It was a charm to keep me safe. It was given to me by a friend. You should meet them soon." I hope! He added to himself. Yennefer hadn't explained what would happen after the necklace broke. 

To his utter relief, a portal opened up behind his captors, and out stepped a very angry Yennefer. 

"What's this?" she asked Jaskier as she threw two spells that pinned his captors on the spot. "I gave you that necklace so you could avoid getting captured, not so you could call me after they'd beaten you half to death."

"They caught me off guard," Jaskier answered as she untied him. "They knocked me out before I could call you. I woke with my hands tied and had to trick them into breaking the necklace for me. I think I did rather well, all considered." 

Yennefer assessed him with a critical eye. "Despite the fact that you look terrible - and really, Jaskier, you somehow look worse than usual - you seem mostly sound. Can you walk?" 

"I think so," Jaskier replied, standing carefully. "They didn't much go for my legs." 

"Good," Yennefer said and pushed him through a portal. 

And just like that, Jaskier was home. 

 

Yennefer turned towards Jaskier's torturers where they stood, still frozen in her spell. She dug into their brains to find out what they knew and what they had done. When she was satisfied, she turned to the man in charge. 

"Pietra. You recently sent a letter saying that you had captured my friend and were prying information out of him while waiting to the Witcher to arrive. I think you need to send a follow-up."

 

Jaskier had just finished cleaning and bandaging himself when Yennefer reappeared. She looked exhausted but determined as she stepped out of her portal. "Come with me," she said with no preamble, and all but dragged Jaskier out the door. 

They arrived at the headmaster's office and she entered without knocking. "I'm afraid I have some bad news," she announced, pulling Jaskier in the room after her and shutting the door. "The bard Jaskier has unfortunately died."

"I what?" Jaskier asked. 

"He was captured by Nilfgaardians who were attempting to get information out of him. Their methods were a bit too… thorough, and he didn't survive. You will send out a bulletin announcing his death. Oxenfurt mourning it's most celebrated son. In unrelated news, you are pleased to welcome a new lecturer, a Professor -" she paused and nudged Jaskier, who had caught on and supplied the name "Pankratz". 

"Yes, may I introduce Professor Pankratz." She handed Jaskier a ring. When he put it on he was immediately glamoured, now appearing as a much older man, with a distinguished grey streaked beard. 

At Jaskier's transformation, Yennefer turned and gave the stunned headmaster a look. 

"No one outside of this room knows the truth. If they find out, Jaskier will almost certainly die. If Jaskier dies, you will die. Have I made myself clear, headmaster?"

"Clear as crystal, my lady."

"We'll see ourselves out."

Yennefer and Jaskier left the office, leaving a stunned headmaster in their wake. 

As they walked back to the new Professor Pankratz’s lodgings, Jaskier reached to take Yennefer's hand. 

“Thank you, Yennefer, truly. I would have died without you.”

“I didn’t do it for you, bard,” she snapped but didn’t pull her hand away. 

“Oh? Then who? Or was it a purely selfish act because you’ve come to realize you actually like having me around?” 

“Nilfgaard killed my sisters at the Battle of Sodden. This has nothing to do with you. Besides,” at this, she resolutely did not look at him, “No one touches what is mine.”

“You are an incredible woman, Yennefer. I am truly lucky to know you. And I am truly blessed to be counted among your friends.”

Yennefer looked away so Jaskier changed the subject. 

“By the way, what happened to those men who had captured me?”

“Rumor has it that after they accidentally killed you, Geralt came looking for you. At finding you dead, he flew into a rage and killed them to avenge you.”

“And unofficially?" he pried. "What really happened.”

“What’s it to you, Professor Pankratz ?”

“Point taken, I suppose.”

This time it was Yennefer who changed the subject. “Where did you come up with the name Pankratz, anyway.”

“Oh, it's my name. No one knows it, though. I haven’t gone by it in years.”

Yennefer stopped to stare at him, incredulous. “After I went to all the trouble to fake your death, you chose your given name as your alias? It’s a miracle that you’ve survived this long, as stupid as you are. If it wouldn’t undo all my hard work, I’d kill you myself.”

“No, you wouldn’t. You’ve decided you like me and now I’m under your protection. No one can hurt me now.”

Instead of denying it, Yennefer simplest said “well, don’t make me regret it.”

 

There was a kind of simplicity to having Yennefer move in with the new Professor Pankratz. They ate together and Yennefer rested while Jaskier wrote poetry. One night he even played a song he had written in her honor. Yennefer did not cry, but it was a near thing.

At nights, they both were plagued with nightmares, and more often than not would wake up together after a late night spent soothing each other’s fears. Eventually, they decided it made more sense to start the night in the same bed as well as end there. After various threats and promises to behave on both parts, they eventually abandoned the guest bedroom and Yennefer moved into the master bedroom with Jaskier. 

One morning, as they lounged in bed waiting for their daily breakfast delivery, Yennefer had a request.

"Before you leave for your lecture, I need to borrow your ring for a few moments."

“Of course.” Jaskier pulled the ring off and handed it to her, immediately appearing as his younger self.  

“I’m putting an additional spell on it. Instead of calling me to you, like the necklace did, with this ring, if you are in danger or distress, just call for me, and the ring will take you to me. That way, even if your hands are tied, you can safely escape.”

“What if they gag me?”

“Then they’ll get some blessed peace for a change,” Yennefer joked. “But if you are truly in distress, you can call out to me in your mind and it should work. If it is ever taken off your hand by anyone but you, it will take you to me. If, forbid the thought, your finger or hand is removed, the ring will transport you right to me. It won’t work if you are in dimeritium cuffs, but there’s nothing I can do to work around that. Besides, you are clearly not a magic-user. No one would waste dimeritium on you.”

“Yennefer,” he said softly.

For one moment, Yennefer let herself look at him, vulnerability showing on her face. “I wish to never again see you tied and beaten, Jaskier.”

“Unless I ask for it?” he couldn't help but joke, to keep her from getting maudlin. 

She rolled her eyes. “I wouldn’t mind seeing you gagged occasionally, though.”

She still had a bit of a fragile look in her eyes, so Jaskier tried to soothe her. “Yennefer, you are a queen, nay, a goddess among women. I have never met anyone like you, have never been cared for by anyone like you. In over forty years of life, I’ve never had a friend like you. Though you have a temper like a tempest, you are one of the kindest women I know deep down.”

“You don’t need to flatter me, bard," she huffed, but with a dusting of pink on her cheeks. 

“It's not flattery if it's true. You have somehow become the most important person in my life." He held her hands to his chest. "I honestly believe I would take an arrow for you.”

“Let’s not find out. I have enough to do without healing all your unnecessary injuries.”

 

Just when Jaskier got used to this new normal of domesticity and a false identity, everything changed again. 

 

Geralt finally arrived at Oxenfurt with an exhausted Ciri and Roach. He stabled Roach, paid for a room, and left Ciri safely in the inn. Then he set out for the professor quarters. 

“I’m looking for Jaskier, the bard.”

“I’m sorry, haven't you heard? He was killed by Nilfgaardian spies.” The guard looked closer. “Shouldn’t you of all people know that?”

Jaskier was dead? That couldn’t be true. 

“But I hear him. I smell him. How can he be dead? I could swear he’s just on the other side of that street.” 

“No, that’s Professor Pankratz. He was hired to teach Jaskier’s classes in his absence.”

“Let me in. Let me talk to him.”

“If you wish, master witcher.”

 

“Professor Pankratz? Jaskier?”

  The man turned to look at him, and Geralt saw that he didn’t look anything like Jaskier. He was significantly older and had a neatly trimmed beard, which Jaskier could never have the patience to grow. Even though he didn’t look like Jaskier, he smelled like him, though his scent was quickly souring with pain, fear, and panic. His heart rate sped and his breathing became erratic. 

Professor Pankratz looked at Geralt with a tortured face, grabbed his own hand, and panted “Yen, get me out of here.” And suddenly, with a surge of magic, he was gone and Geralt stood alone in the stone street. 

 

Yennefer had just stepped out of the bath and put on her robe when a shaken and shaking Jaskier appeared, clutching her ring. 

“You’re lucky you weren’t ten seconds sooner,” Yennefer commented as she walked over to Jaskier to wrap him in a hug. When Jaskier stopped trembling, she asked him what happened. 

“Geralt is here. He called me Jaskier. I saw him and all of a sudden I couldn’t breathe. It felt like my chest had been pierced. I’m sorry, I wasn’t in any danger but I felt like I was dying so I had to leave.”

“It’s alright. You stay here. I’ll go see what he wants. You’re still my friend and I can keep you safe even from Witchers.”

She helped Jaskier to their bed then went outside where she was almost bowled over by a sprinting witcher. 

“Yen? Where have you been? No one has seen you since Sodden Hill. Where is Jaskier? They told me he was dead, then someone who sounded like him called your name and portaled away. Is this Professor Pankratz lodgings?”

“Geralt,” Yennefer replied calmly. “How good to see you again. I’m just heading to the Bell and Chime for a drink. Won’t you join me?”

“Could we go to the Oak and Elm instead? That’s where I left Ciri.” Geralt was confused and panicked, but if Yennefer was calm then he could be too. 

“The Child Surprise! I would love to meet her. Lead the way.”

 

When Geralt led her into a room in the Oak and Elm, Yennefer was surprised to be greeted by name. “Yennefer! I’ve had dreams about you!” And Yennefer is being hugged by the missing Princess of Cintra. 

“Hello, little duckling. Would you like to listen with me while our broody Witcher friend explains himself?”

Ciri and Yennefer sat next to each other on the bed and listened as Geralt explained looking for Yennefer, then hearing about the plan to capture Jaskier and riding for Oxenfurt only to be told he was too late and the bard was dead. He pleaded that he didn’t want to hurt Jaskier, he just wanted to know that he was safe and well.

Yennefer stood and stretched. 

“Well, I believe you. I will take you to Jaskier, and he will decide if he would like to see you. But I will warn you. Outside of his residence, he goes by Professor Pankratz and wears a glamour. If you ever call him Jaskier outside those walls again, it will be the last mistake you make. I faked his death once, it won’t work a second time.” She took Ciri’s hand. “Let’s go.”

 

Jaskier was dozing, exhausted from his panic, when Yennefer knocked softly on the bedroom door. 

“Jaskier? Are you feeling better?”

“Yes, thank you, darling.”

“You have some guests, but it is up to you if you want to see them. I told him before I brought him that it is your choice if you want to talk to him or not.”

“Guests? The princess? Geralt was alone when I saw him.”

“He brought the princess this time. I think he wants her to meet you.”

“Well,” Jaskier stood and drank from the glass left by the side of the bed, “I suppose it would be rude to keep a princess waiting.”

He walked downstairs to see a witcher and a princess in his sitting room. Geralt he would have to deal with later. For now, he swept a deep bow to the princess. “My lady, I and all I have are entirely at your service.”

Ciri accepted his bow with dignity and poise. “Rise, sir. I accept and thank you.” 

He kissed her hand softly. “I was sorrowed to hear about your family. Your grandparents were incredible people.”

“Thank you.”

“It was a relief to hear that you were traveling with Geralt. I’m glad to see he has kept you safe.”

“Safe, but not well-rested. And tonight he has once again dragged me away from my bed.”

“Well, that won’t do at all. Yennefer, would you be so kind as to show the princess to our guest room?”

“Of course. Come with me, I’ll get you settled.” Yennefer knew without him having to say that he wanted to talk to Geralt alone. 

As soon as the ladies had left, he turned on Geralt. “So? Yennefer said you wanted to speak with me. What do you have to say?”

“Professor Pankratz,” Geralt began, but Jaskier interrupted. 

“Oh bollocks that.” He took off his ring and appeared once again as himself. 

The change in Geralt’s demeanor was instant and total. He looked Jaskier over from head to toe and reached his hands out slightly, but didn’t touch. 

“They told me you were dead.”

“Yes, Yen thought I would be safer that way. She saved me from Nilfgaard, but not before…” He didn’t say, but the look in his eyes told him that Geralt knew. 

“They hurt you because of me. I’m sorry.”

“That’s what you’re sorry for? That wasn’t your fault. You don’t deserve guilt for other men’s actions.”

“I thought you were dead, killed for information about me, and the last thing I said to you… Jaskier, I’m sorry. I thought sending you away would keep you from getting hurt, or keep me from getting hurt. But it just made everything worse, for both of us. You were hurt because I sent you away. I didn’t keep you safe and I’m sorry.”

“Geralt, this is not what I need you to apologize for. Not for what you didn’t do, but what you did.”

“I’m sorry for that too, for what I said on the top of the mountain intentionally hurting you. You don't have to forgive me, but I wanted you to know that your friendship has been a blessing to me, and I'm glad that you're safe and well."

"As it turns out, Geralt,” Jaskier’s voice had a bitter edge, “I am not safe and well. I am officially dead and unofficially hiding while I recover from being beaten. But I thank you for your apology. I'd offer you to stay the night, but with Princess Cirilla in our guest bedroom, I'm afraid we have no room for you. I trust you can lodge in one of our local inns, but you are invited to join us for breakfast tomorrow.” His voice softened. “I promise your child surprise will be safe here. I will guard her with my life.”

Geralt nodded. It was a better outcome than he had expected, and kinder than he deserved. As he turned to leave, Jaskier handed him a note to pass to the guard. 

“It’s a note for the kitchen so they will bring enough breakfast tomorrow. I will see you in the morning, Geralt.”

 

After Geralt left, Jaskier went up to his bedroom and found Yennefer already in bed. 

“You sent him away?” 

“I need time to think and talk it over without someone with inhuman hearing listening in. He’ll be fine.”

“He’s going to think we’re sleeping together.”

“I don’t particularly mind. And technically, we are.”

Yennefer scoffed, then after a moment asked “So are you going to forgive him?”

“I already have. I just need a little time to process all the pain and anger that seeing him brought back up.” Yennefer wrapped him in a hug as he began to cry. “He sent me away to keep us from getting hurt. I should have known he had some dumb reason like that.”

Yennefer rubbed his back soothingly as he wept, then let him settle in the bed when he was finished. 

“If it’s alright with you,” Jaskier asked, “I’ll tell him about the other spare bedroom tomorrow. They can stay awhile until the danger blows over. If you don’t want that, I can tell him to move along. I know you also have some… complicated feelings about him. Thank you for putting them aside to help me today.”

“My feelings for him, whatever they may be, are artificial and forced onto me. My feelings for you, much to my chagrin, are natural, both the positive and negative. If he stays, I will talk to him, see if we can figure out a way to get along, but that’s it. You can ask him to stay. For no other reason, at least because that girl needs a safe place to rest for a while.”

“Who would have thought, the lost princess of Cintra, hiding in my lodgings. She needs a place to recover from all that she’s been through. Reminds me of someone else who showed up unexpectedly a few months ago.”

“Things turned out well enough for her. I hope they will as well for Cirilla.”

They wrapped themselves around each other. Whatever the future would bring, they had each other.