@themountainarchives day 3!
Title: in red, underlined
Prompt(s): a whole new look, kaer morhen
Pairing: geralt/jaskier/yennefer (pre-relationship)
Rating & Wordcount: Teen and Up Audiences - 1.2K
Warnings: mentions of geralt's ab armor. i'm sorry.
read on ao3!
When Jaskier wakes up, it’s to the sound of crackling fire.
Blinking himself awake, he tries to rub sleep out of his eyes, but finds that his hands (and his entire body, at that) are buried under a mountain of furs. He tries to wiggle out, but it’s so tightly tucked under himself that he ends up rolling down from the bench he’d been presumably placed on, and falling on the floor, like a potato sack.
“Urgh,” he protests, barely audibly.
He arranges himself into a sitting position — which is hard, given he has no use of his arms or legs so he just has to rotate himself on the floor like a court jester — and like this, he can look at the fire of the imposing hearth in front of him. He looks into the roaring flames with a placid smile, enjoying its warmth and the pleasant sensation of the furs tickling his nose.
But then it dawns on him — he doesn’t know where he is. He’s sitting dangerously close to a burning fire wearing furs as a straitjacket and that is decidedly not a smart move, and where in the world have his captors taken him this time, he’d already mapped out his cell and befriended the mice and if they don’t see him soon enough they’ll forget him because he knows mice don’t have a good short-term memory circuit and—
The voice shakes him out of the clutches of his rising panic. He turns his head, as much as the furs allow him to, and sees a blond girl watching him with a curious expression.
“I am,” he tries to say, but his voice is rough with disuse so he has to give it another go. “I am. And you are…?”
“I’m Fio— I mean, Ciri.” She smiles. “My name is Ciri.”
The name does ring a bell, the girl’s familiar face even more so. He can’t quite place the green-blue eyes and the hair, but it’s definitely someone he knew before— “My goodness,” he exclaims. “Princess Cirilla!” He tries to move but then remembers the fur prison he’s in. “I’m terribly sorry, I would bow to you but I, uh, can’t move right now.”
“Oh,” she says, and makes haste to crouch down beside him. “I’m sorry, I didn’t even realize. They didn’t want you to get cold.” And before Jaskier can ask who they are, she says, “Also, you don’t have to bow to me. I’m not a princess.”
He clicks his tongue, but nods. “I’m Jaskier,” he tells her, finally being able to stretch out his hand. “It’s lovely to meet you.”
“Likewise,” she says, her small palm fitting into Jaskier’s calloused and scarred one, and with unimaginable strength, she pulls him to his feet. “Now come! I’ll let the others know you’re awake.”
And then she leaves, white-blond hair like a ribbon behind her.
Jaskier rubs his hands on his trousers, trying to get some of the week-old dirt out of them, steeling himself to beg for permission to stay at— wherever he is, if it turns out the people Ciri mentioned as the others are in fact good people and not Nilfgardiaan minions, just like almost everyone in his life turned out to be.
He doesn’t have time to go down that road, though, because suddenly there are shadows cast on the floor and when he looks up, he almost hopes this is another one of Nilfgaard’s torture devices.
Because across from him stand Ciri, and Geralt, and Yennefer.
The perfect trio.
“Oooooh no,” he says, turning his back to them, looking around for his things, but then remembers he’s been a prisoner and there are no things to his name now. “No no no no, this is— Ciri, thank you, but no. I am— no. This is not happening.”
And Geralt says, “Jaskier.”
At the same time Yennefer says, “Bard.”
And he’s considering throwing himself out of the nearest window or into the hearth when he turns around and he sees them.
Like, properly sees them.
And he laughs.
He should be terrified of laughing in the vicinity of Yennefer, under any circumstances, but he hasn’t had a good laugh in months, and the opportunity is just too good to pass up, even if he ends up sleeping out in the snow. And he forgets everything he’s felt and thought and sang about because even though the mere sight of Geralt makes his skin crawl, this is simply too good to be true.
Because Geralt— Geralt’s wearing—
“What in the ever-loving hell,” he says, moving across the room and reaching a hand out to Geralt’s decidedly not laughing form, “is this.”
And Geralt growls out, “My new armor.”
Because Geralt is wearing armor, and yes, new it is, but the shoulder plates are different and the leather is sturdier and his potions are strapped to his thigh, but more importantly—
“Are these… abs?”
Jaskier can’t stop laughing, bringing a finger up to Geralt’s middle and tracing the defined and unmistakable lines of what he knows was a conscious decision.
Geralt steps back, grumbling under his breath.
And momentarily, Jaskier fears he’s crossed a line, that he’ll definitely be thrown to the, uh, wolves of Kaer Morhen (they didn’t cover fauna and flora of the Kaedweni mountains in Oxenfurt), but then Yennefer looks at Geralt and laughs.
And Geralt tries to protest, but Yennefer says, “He’s right to laugh. This is the worst choice you’ve ever made in your long, long life.”
“I must have hit my head,” Jaskier says. “You’re siding with me.”
Yennefer shakes her head. “Yes, well,” she says, moving toward him. “Bad choices seem to be the trend at the moment.” And she smiles, and Jaskier finds himself smiling too, until she says, “If your hair is any indication.”
And then there’s a squawk of indignation on his part. “How dare—”
“This…” she runs a long fingernail through his hair. “Middle-part, longer-at-the-front, shorter-at-the-back thing is really… daring.”
“It’s the latest fashion! You wouldn’t—”
Yen arches an eyebrow at him. “What?”
And oh, she’s coming down with him, because now that she’s stepped closer to him he can see her hair, long and shiny and wavy, but irregularly streaked with—
“You got highlights?” He feels his laughter roaring back to life, but tamps it down for his own personal safety. “You. Yennefer of Vengerberg. Oh ho ho, you are in no condition to talk to me about fashion! Look at this!”
And he moves to touch her but she dodges him, face impassive.
“I mean, Geralt, I understand,” Jaskier says, gesturing at Geralt’s frowning form. “He wouldn’t know good taste if it kicked him in the face, but you— Yen, you had a reputation. Last time I saw blonde highlights like these was back when my friend Essi tried to bleach her hair with endrega venom.” He gasps. “Did you do this under extreme duress? Did they force you to?”
“Yen, no,” Geralt says when Yen lifts a threatening hand in Jaskier’s direction. “We need his help.”
She lowers her hand. “Whatever.”
There’s a beat of silence as the three of them stare into each other’s eyes.
Geralt’s armor creaks. Yen’s highlights catch on the firelight. Jaskier’s hair falls into his eyes.
“So,” he says at last. “You need my help?”
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