“Is he finally asleep or have I gone deaf?”
The surrounding silence is answer enough as Yennefer peers over her wife’s shoulder, their son snuggled closely to his mother’s chest in a bundle of blankets. His favorite blanket, the one that caught Yennefer’s eye in the hospital’s gift shop when he was born and had insisted on buying for him, tucked tightly below his dimpled chin.
“He’s asleep.” Tissaia confirms, turning to Yennefer with a smile. She doesn’t cease the gentle rocking movement, swaying lightly in the dimly lit room.
“It shouldn’t be possible for that much noise to come out of such a tiny person.”
“Are you referring to me or our son dear?”
“Who knows,” Yennefer shrugs and drops a quick kiss to Tissaia’s lips, careful not to touch any part of their bodies.
Luke isn’t even forty days old yet and much to his mothers ‘dismay he’s most energized in the middle of the night. They’d discovered however, a week or so ago, that listening to Yennefer’s made up songs while snuggled in Tissaia’s arms are guaranteed to send him in a deep slumber.
It took a solid five minutes more to put him in his crib, with Tissaia stilling entirely and not daring to breathe whenever he fussed. Eventually, Yennefer starts making her way towards their bedroom, Tissaia close behind her. The sheets are fresh smelling and welcoming and she lies on her stomach grimacing at the pain shooting down the tired muscles of her back. She stays awake only long enough to feel Tissaia’s weight shift the bed as she crawls in next to her.
It feels like five minutes later when Yennefer’s eyes fly open, hearing Luke screaming bloody murder and Tissaia’s grumbles before following her out of bed.
Geralt and Jaskier are in the process of moving.
And it is no problem. Really. Luke is over the moon about having his uncles stay over for a couple of days. And Tissaia is always cooking too much food for the three of them anyway. Leftovers that would normally last them a whole weekend are just a snack between meals for Geralt.
But. Yennefer likes it.
A bit too much.
Riling Tissaia up.
Even more so when the situation is inappropriate.
And it is.
Inappropriate. Extremely. Undeniably.
Because they’re not alone.
There’s Geralt and Jaskier in the quest room and their five year old in his own room.
The bed bounces a little when Yennefer shuffles closer and a hand comes to rest against the ripples of Tissaia’s ribcage, inching down to rest at her hip beneath the covers. Yennefer’s breath is on her neck and a kiss drops to her ear.
“You smell really good.” Yennefer says and Tissaia laughs lightly, not quite able to not press back into her.
“Well, I did take a bath tonight.”
“Oh, I know.”
The palm on her hip travels up again. Another kiss to her ear and Tissaia sighs at the sensation, trying to push Yennefer away.
“Stop.” she says, breathless
Yennefer does. Retreats her hand and hugs Tissaia, pulling her against her.
“Remember the joke I told you before bed? And your nose did this thing it does whenever you laugh. It’s becoming a problem.”
Voice drops to a whisper. Tickles the shell of her ear. “I love it.”
“You just know what to say to a woman.”
Yennefer kisses the juncture of her neck of shoulder and holds her tighter. Tissaia shifts, pressing her backside against Yennefer’s pelvis, smiles when Yennefer makes a contented noise in the back of her throat. Her hands have found their way beneath Tissaia’s top, the palm brushing up and down leaving fire in its wake and stopping just beneath her breasts and at the hem of her underwear.
“Do you want me to stop?”
Yennefer asks. Not a hint of teasing. Genuine. Requesting permission.
Pushing back against her and tilting her head. Yennefer immediately takes advantage of the expanse of neck exposed to her.
Yennefer bites down.
“Please just touch m-”
Yennefer will not hold it against Tissaia later. The elbow to her ribs. Maybe only a little. Because her eyes water and it nearly sends her flying over the edge of the bed.
At least they still have their clothes on as they turn towards their now very open bedroom door.
Luke silhouetted in its frame.
One bunched up fist rubbing his eyes - with the back of his fingers Tissaia notes with pride - and another clutching his blanket.
“Hey, little nub. What’s up?” Yennefer asks once she’s taken in a deep calming breath. She hears Tissaia take in one of her own beside her.
“Can I sleep with you and Mommy? I had a bad dream.”
His voice is small as he steps into the room.
Tissaia moves towards the edge of the bed and holds out her hand. Luke’s steps speed up and he shoves his cheek into his mother’s palm, nuzzling in. His head is bowed and Tissaia brushes some hair out of his eyes. Now that he’s closer, they see the tear stains on his cheeks. And the telltale gleam of fresh unshed ones lining his eyes.
Yennefer places a hand on Tissaia’s shoulder and squeezes. Starts moving towards the edge of the bed as her wife pulls back the sheets and pats the center of the bed, between them.
His smile threatens to crack open the universe as he hops into bed and snuggles in immediately, wrapped in his blanket.
He can’t possibly remember it is Yennefer’s gift. He was hours old when they first gave it to him. It’s still his favorite. Soon he’ll outgrow it. Yennefer tries not to think about it.
He’s asleep almost instantly.
Luke is pulled close to Yennefer’s front, his head cradled below her chin with Tissaia snuggled close, her arm across the both of them.
Their heads are close together and they exchange breaths.
Calm. Steady. The ones preceding deep sleep. Not like before.
“Okay?” Yennefer whispers in the dark.
Tissaia hums, low and content.
By the time Yennefer wakes up, the bed is empty. She strains to listen to tiny feet scampering across the kitchen one floor below. She makes her way down quickly finding Geralt and Jaskier already seated at the table, plates of eggs and toast in front of them.
Luke smiles as wide as he can through a mouthful of toast and some crumbs fly out as he squeals in delight at Jaskier’s funny faces.
Immediately, Tissaia turns to her and smiles warmly, which earns her a wink.
Luke swallows and looks between his parents for a moment before turning to Jaskier.
“Jaskier, do you and Geralt have sleepovers?” he asks next.
Yennefer’s fork stops mid-air, Geralt stops chewing and Tissaia almost upends her glass of water.
The stifled sound that tumbles out of Jaskier could either be to clear his throat or to hide a chuckle. He then turns his attention to Luke, taking the most serious and contemplative face he can.
“Why do you ask, little man?” he says.
Why is Tissaia turning purple? Is she holding her breath?
“Well, I like having sleepovers because we get to snuggle like Mommy and Momma did last night.”
Three things happen at once.
Tissaia does upend her glass of water, Yennefer’s eyes turn so big they might pop and Jaskier chokes which gets him a glare from Geralt.
Tissaia flails to get the paper towel – too many, she doesn’t need that many - while Jaskier wipes his mouth on a napkin.
“Uhm, nub, you know—,” Yennefer starts and promptly forgets any semblance of the English language.
For fuck’s sake.
“Luke,” Tissaia is suddenly saying, her usually calm demeanor back. “Remember what you told me about you and Ruby playing couple at recess the other day?”
What the fuck’s a Ruby?
Luke, his attention full and rapt, nods once. “We played pretend. It was fun.”
“Well, grown-ups are not pretending.”
There’s the slightest flatter in her voice.
“So you kiss and stuff?”
‘Stuff’? What’s ‘stuff’? Why does their five year old have any notion of sex?
Luke nods. Like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
It is. It has been since the moment they’d met. And it will be.
There’s a collective exhale from everyone, except for Luke – of course – when he lifts his fork and directs it in his mouth like an airplane. Complete with sounds of a motor engine.
“Will you and Jaskier get married like my Mommy and Momma, Geralt?”
Christ deliver them.
“There they go.”
She pushes backwards into the mattress hoping to disappear inside it and wraps her arms tighter around Tissaia, feels her groaning into her collarbones.
“What’s that? Emergency number…?”
“I lost count after ten.”
“Think it’ll resolve itself?”
“I’d say that’s unlikely.”
“Mom, Jamie won’t turn off the light and I can’t sleep.”
“Luke won’t give me the blanket.”
“Your legs stick out.”
A sweet kiss to her cheek and then Tissaia untangles herself from Yennefer’s arms before she slides out of bed and into a robe. Yennefer rolls to her side and settles her head on her forearms.
“You’ll have to pull out the big guns, me thinks.”
Yennefer nods, wiggling her eyebrows. “You sure you got this?”
Tissaia smiles and it’s so smug that it takes everything out of Yennefer not to glare. “You don’t do the voices right love.” she says, in a matter of fact way.
Yennefer clutches a hand to her chest and falls back as if shot. “I shall not recover from this.” Tissaia chuckles.
“Don’t wait up for me.”
That’s the plan.
And she doesn’t do it on purpose.
But despite herself, she’ll be unable to sleep until Tissaia comes through the door.
For now Yennefer listens as she sneaks into the room of their kids. There’s yelling for a bit. A few seconds of raised voices, of fusses and back and forth jabs. But they settle quickly.
And there’s silence. Broken at regular intervals by exclaims full of awe and wonder or laughter, loud and full and giggly.
Yennefer can see it. Eyes, big and wide looking up at Tissaia, hanging from every word she says. And her wife, knowing Luke only pretends he doesn’t enjoy storytime anymore, deceiving in his nine years, will get through the whole story just for him, Jamie asleep halfway through already.
It’s enough to momentarily distract her from the absolute mess that the bedroom is.
Because it is. Disastrously so.
Laundry that multiplies every night. A witch’s spell is in place, she’s sure and Jamie agrees wholeheartedly. Their wardrobe annoyingly full and never organized. A sock. Singular. Who knows where its twin lies. Too many single socks.
Don’t wait up for me, Tissaia had said.
The plan was not to.
And plans. Funny things. Doomed, it seems, to fall through.
Plans. Thousands of them.
A sweet baby boy.
Every possible mistake, every wrong choice in the book.
Hoping against hope he’ll turn out alright.
And just when they thought they got the hang of it.
A new born baby girl.
The most intoxicating smell.
It was just yesterday.
And now she fits inside her brother’s hoodie. Hanging way below her knees, hands disappearing inside the sleeves. Refuses to sleep in anything else.
Tissaia returns, the floorboards creaking in an all too familiar sequence in her wake, before she settles into bed next to Yennefer.
“Did they fight for the blanket’s honor or did we reach a non-violent solution?” Yennefer asks, turning on her side to face her.
“Luke gave it up.”
“Jay’s right, he’s outgrown it.”
“Doesn’t seem to bother him at all.”
Yennefer hums, tracing mindless patterns across Tissaia’s stomach.
“What story did you read them?”
“Jamie picked one from that collection of short stories about witches Sabrina got them. You know she has a soft spot for them.”
“Sabrina?” A throaty laugh leaves her. “Are you sure the story’s appropriate for the kids?”
Tissaia, half asleep already, turns to cuddle closer to Yennefer. “I don’t think it’ll be more traumatizing than that time you almost set her on fire.”
Yennefer huffs and slaps her lightly on the shoulder.
“How is it my fault that she pranced around the kitchen with her waist-length hair untied? It was a fire hazard.” Yennefer huffs, burying her nose in Tissaia’s hair.
“Of course dear.”
Tissaia reaches behind her and turns off the light on the bedside table.
Suspiciously so. Beyond some foreboding whispers and giggles that the kids think they cannot hear.
These kids have ruined the concept of a good night’s sleep for her.
Because quiet is how it should be in the middle of the night. Or a couple of hours before sunrise at least. Their preferred time for waking them up. Instead quiet riles Yennefer up for what’s coming next.
“Faster, Lucky Luke!”
All is right in the world.
Jamie, her obsession with witches only growing as she got older, declared a couple of weeks ago that witch brooms are lame and proclaimed Luke her personal dragon mount.
And thus came piggyback rides. Fast ones. Zooming around the house.
Often in the crack of dawn.
“Luke? I thought I was a dragon.”
“You are, but you’re also Luke.”
Yennefer has half the mind to let them get exhausted so that they’ll spend the rest of the day in the couch, but that entails the danger of them headbutting a wall and sending them all to the hospital.
She yells a “No running kids.” in the most authoritative voice she can muster while she drags herself out of bed.
“I thought I’d never see you wake up before dawn.” Tissaia says, voice raspy from disuse.
“I still don’t. If I can help it. Which… Most times I cannot.”
Tissaia laughs quietly and shifts, starting to rise and inching towards Yennefer, who leans down and joins their lips in a chaste kiss. Tissaia’s hand finds its way behind her ear. When it ends, she nudges her nose against Yennefer’s.
“To you as well.”
Tissaia tilts her head towards the door, her thumb caressing her earlobe.
“Will you go make sure they’re alive please?”
“It is a bit too quiet, isn’t it?”
From the top of the stairs she sees Luke seated on the floor, his back to the couch and Jamie sat cross-legged on it with Luke’s blanket tied around her shoulders. Braiding his hair.
He’s growing it out and Yennefer imagines hair falling on one’s eyes while they pretend to be the magical mount of a witch can be a serious nuisance.
Dozens of elastic bands lie scattered around the carpet, the ones with the most vivid colors already tangled in Luke’s hair.
The second from the top step creaks and they turn to her, blinding grins on both their faces.
Jamie’s “Ma, look!” Far better for starting the day than a cup of coffee. Or sleeping in.
“Whatcha doing there babe?” Yennefer smiles and leans down, dropping a kiss on top of Jamie’s head.
“Braiding Lukey’s hair.”
“But, like…cool braids.” Luke says, pushing the coffee table to make more room for his legs.
He’s mostly legs. Like eighty percent of him. Tall and lanky. (Here comes his puberty. Oh, joy.) He already has a couple of inches on Tissaia.
She pours herself a cup of coffee and chuckles quietly watching the abysmally separated sections in Luke’s hair, tied in brightly saturated turquoise and orange elastic bands.
“Can we have pancakes for breakfast?” Jamie calls out.
Yennefer makes quick work of checking the cabinets for the ingredients. “I think we could do that. But who will do the dishes?”
“We’ll play for it!” Luke says, Jamie’s head bouncing wildly. “I can’t be touched in Connect Four.”
Yennefer huffs incredulously and puffs out her chest as if she’s issuing a royal decree.
“I would like the record to state that I, have been a Connect Four master for as long as you have been alive mister.”
“And who taught you how to play, dear?” Tissaia descends the stairs slowly, the sleep washed from her face and her hair tied in a loose bun. Yennefer’s flashes her a smirk at the quip. Jamie presses a raspberry into Tissaia’s cheek when she leans down to greet them.
“Good morning my loves.”
“Are you playing too Mom?”
Tissaia’s eyes find Yennefer’s and a mischievous smirk carves its way to her lips.
“How could I not, with such high steaks?”
One questionable pile of pancakes later, a very tall and dangerously unsteady one, they start making their way towards the living room. They agree that the loser of the bet has to clean the mess of whipped cream and blueberries strewn across the whole kitchen before Luke and Jamie start squabbling over who made the best smiley face.
They clamber in front of the TV, wedged into a deceivingly small space.
They alternate between trying to shove whipped cream in each other’s face and actually playing the game. At some point Connect Four morphs into Mario Kart.
Yennefer loses in both.
“Ma, Mom. A little help please?”
Luke’s voice is, as always, gentle and considerate.
Still. Insistent. A bit nervous. And no longer a boy’s. Definitely.
“Your son’s calling.” Yennefer mumbles, hugging her pillow.
“Before six in the morning, he’s your son.”
The bedside table clock reads 5.35am. Yennefer sighs.
“What’s wrong kid?”
Half lidded eyes find a blobby shape vaguely resembling Luke by the bedroom door.
He has way more than a couple of inches on them both now.
Two more shapes. Shirts in hangers, one in each hand. Yennefer nods towards the blue one.
He flashes her a smile and runs to his room.
Yennefer falls back on bed. Unexpectedly heavy.
Because she swears it was yesterday when this day was six months away.
Moving into his dorm.
“Thank you for making me pack the boxes beforehand Mom.”
“You’re welcome son.” Tissaia calls out as she stretches.
“Oh, that’s why our living room has been looking like a modern art exhibit this past week.” Yennefer chimes in, bypassing Jamie yelling “Dibs!” as she runs to the bathroom and lets out a bark like chuckle.
“A dozen boxes and almost half of them are filled with books.”
Luke rolls his eyes, standing in the middle of the living room and making sure nothing’s missing. “It’ll be the same with you gremlin, only instead of books it will be video games.”
“Kids, let’s just agree you’re both nerds. Coffee?” she asks, offering a steaming cup to Tissaia.
“Thank you.” She laces together their fingers as they stand in the kitchen island and observe the kids in the living room. Or Luke chasing after Jamie who checks the contents of each box making sure there’s nothing of hers in them.
“There’s no way you’re taking the Calvin and Hobbes collection.” She exclaims, jabbing a finger in his chest and tossing her hair back, hoping her wild curls make her look intimidating.
“I left you the World of Warcraft art books! And the Harry Potter books.”
“Bold of you to assume taking them was even an option.”
“This has to be one of the best things we ever did.” Yennefer leans in to whisper in Tissaia’s ear, motioning towards the kids with her head.
Tissaia clutches their joined hands to her chest. “Second only to marrying you.” She says, leaning down to kiss Yennefer’s fingers.
Everything went according to plan.
Yennefer knows of plans. How they rarely fall into place.
But today they had.
They dropped Luke off, after a late lunch in a nice restaurant since he’ll live mostly off cold cereal and ramen for the next four years and now here they are back home after dropping Jamie off for a sleepover at her best friend’s house.
And she supposes, the universe owes her some plans that will happen without any setbacks.
Because there was that one plan.
She’d built her whole life around it.
And it had come crashing down around her.
That she wouldn’t fall in love.
Caught off guard.
Falling very much in love.
A ring. She couldn’t say if the day she gave it to her, it was the ring or her eyes that shined brighter.
A house. A home.
It took her a while, but she’d learnt.
It wasn’t the worst thing when plans didn’t come to pass.
“Did you plan this?” Tissaia asks, shrugging off her coat and high heels.
“Whatever do you mean?”
Tissaia kisses her then. Pulls away when Yennefer moves to push further.
“This weekend on our own.”
Yennefer smirks, eyes darkening.
“Thought we could get a head start. It’ll happen often from now on.” She says, her hands settling on the jut of Tissaia’s hips. “Us, left alone.”
Tissaia nods, her smile widening. “I get it now,” She says, sliding her arms around Yennefer’s neck. “You wanted an excuse to have sex all weekend.”
Yennefer inches closer, nuzzling the fine hair in her wife’s cheek, her temple welcoming the weight of her head.
“I fail to see how that is a problem.”
“No problem,” Tissaia bends, presses a series of kisses up Yennefer’s neck before stepping out of her embrace.
She begins unbuttoning her shirt, walking backwards. Flushed skin, more and more of it as the buttons fly open.
Only Yennefer has even been able to make her do that.
“Just want to make sure we’re on the same page.”
“Are we?” Yennefer asks, rooted to the spot watching Tissaia.
“We’ll just have to see.”
Yennefer can’t contain her smile.
Tissaia reaches the bottom of the stairs and turns. Tilts her head.