partly inspired by @tishawish 's art found here
Since Jaskier's arrival at Kaer Morhen a little over a week ago, Geralt thought that things between them were better. That, even though they would never go back to being... whatever they were, they would at least feel comfortable around one another.
Instead, in the moments when Geralt isn't focusing on Ciri, he has the displeasure of watching Jaskier get along with all his brothers with ease. Chatting up Eskel, laughing uproariously with Lambert, talking about history with Vesemir. It should be a comfort that the witchers have taken to Jaskier so well.
A seed of jealousy has been planted deep within Geralt, and like a fool he tends to it, waters it, and watches it grow.
"You're moping." Ciri says to him one afternoon. It chills him to the bone how much she reminds him of Yennefer at times.
"I don't mope."
"Yes you do." She studies her hair in the mirror before nodding. "Vesemir says it's interfering with my training."
Vesemir has other shit to worry about, like keeping his own bones from turning into dust, Geralt thinks with a scowl.
"You said you were serious about this."
Geralt stands up from Ciri's bed. There's been no instruction manual, no clear way to show him how to properly take care of a child. If people would just leave him the hell alone for a fucking minute-- he takes a deep breath. "I'll take care of it."
Ciri smiles. "Good. I want to work on lunges later."
One day, Ciri will have the power to kill him.
He couldn't be prouder.
He finds Jaskier sitting on a half-crumbled wall outside, muttering to himself and writing in his little notebook. Geralt has yet to find a replacement for the lute that's been broken. Finding one at this time of year is significantly harder, and that was before the war.
"Ah, Geralt!" Jaskier says. He closes the notebook and tucks it away. Geralt used to see what Jaskier scribbled on those pages before. He's lost that privilege now. "Shouldn't you be training young Cirilla into being a terrifying, powerful witcher queen?"
Geralt resists 'hmming'. 'Hmming' hasn't done shit for him. Not that stringing a bunch of words together has done much better. "Figured she could use five minutes to rest."
"A generous tutor indeed!" Geralt is gifted a smile, but Jaskier hardly looks like he wants to have a full conversation. "Did you need something, or can you hear me talking to myself? I thought it was windy enough that you wouldn't be able to. And I'm all the way over here, I'm not venturing down that gods-foresaken hill again, not until the ice has thawed and--"
"No. You're not... I didn't hear you."
Jaskier fidgets. "Well, despite your endless lessons, Ciri has found a way to take care of herself. All those fancy braids and whatnot. What knot. Hah."
"That's terrible." Geralt still lets out a quiet laugh. "The braids aren't as difficult as they look."
"The braids. They're not difficult."
"Because... Ciri told you?"
Geralt frowns. "I know because I did them."
"Oh!" Jaskier blinks. "That's... I didn't expect you'd have such a skill, considering that rat's nest of yours."
"I thought you liked rats now?" Geralt doesn't know when he started smiling. Or when all that jealousy towards his brothers started to feel stupid as fuck. (Especially now that he's winning.)
"Hey, Geraldine is a fine mouse, not a rat." Jaskier places a hand over his heart. "I miss her so."
Geralt purses his lips. He remembers the relief in finding Jaskier unharmed in his prison cell. Remembers the panic when he found out where Jaskier was in the first place. "I can do yours." He blurts.
Jaskier frowns. Opens his mouth. Closes it again. Holds up a finger, which flags after a moment. Then, "Again, I find myself asking, what?"
In for an Oren...
"Your hair. I can braid it." Geralt only just resists the urge to reach out and tug on a lock framing Jaskier's face. "S'long enough now."
Usually, Jaskier had a quick retort on hand. Now he appears speechless, gaping at Geralt for a long, uncomfortable moment.
Silence is enough of an answer for Geralt. "I should. Check on Ciri."
Geralt nods and begins to stand before Jaskier stops him with a hand on Geralt's shoulder.
"I said okay, you fool." A smile, more soft and genuine than Geralt has seen in years dawns on Jaskier's face. It makes the cold air feel warm. "I have to see this for myself. Or feel, rather."
Geralt finds himself smiling in return. "Here. Sit like this." And he motions for Jaskier to straddle the wall.
Jaskier does and immediately begins to complain. "I think my balls will freeze off like this."
"At least this way we'll ensure there are no Pankratz bastards across the Continent." After removing his gloves, Geralt starts running his hands through Jaskier's hair. It's soft to the touch, just as he imagined it'd be.
"You're hilarious." Jaskier's dry tone is offset by the small shiver he tries to hide. So, the back of his neck is sensitive. Good to know. "How are you braiding my hair, then? Fancy like Ciri's?"
"Hm." He gathers bits of hair by Jaskier's temple. "One here, one of the other side. I'll join them in the middle."
"Sounds good. Yeah. I like the sound of that." Jaskier clears his throat.
It grows quiet again. The silence isn't exactly comfortable, but he decides he likes the anticipation of what might come next. If Jaskier's heart still beats that quickly for him, then perhaps all is not lost.
"Done." He says, pulling away slowly.
Jaskier places a careful hand on the back of his head, feeling Geralt's creation. "Wow. That feels..." He turns around to face Geralt. "Well done. I'll have to run back to my room to see the results, but it felt amazing. Feels. The braid feels."
Geralt snorts. "You'll grade my efforts, professor?"
Jaskier goes pink around the ears. "Fuck off. Now! If you'll excuse me, I was in the middle of composing." Thsi time, Jaskier is the one to stand. If Geralt is being generous, he would describe Jaskier's fast paced walk as an eagerness to return to his work. Otherwise he might describe it as fleeing.
Either way, he's left feeling better than before.
Eskel and Lambert are shit at braiding, after all.
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