"Geralt!" Jaskier's shout had them turning to see the brightly coloured Bard jogging towards them before he redirected. "Roach!"
"Seriously?" Geralt huffed.
"What? I have already said hello to you," Jaskier said before cooing over a horse that was more likely to rip people's fingers off than let them touch her. And then she nudged at Jaskier's chest. "Yes yes I stopped to get some things for you," He laughed shoving his bags into Geralt's arms without even looking before rifling through his pockets and pulling out a nice big apple for her.
Eskel stared at his brother who threw the Bard's bulging bags over his shoulders without anything more than a huff, just watching at his Bard cooed over Roach. Then the Bard turned his attention to Scorpion who was standing there watching a little mournfully as Roach chomped happily on her apple.
"And who are you, handsome boy? Huh, oh you are a handsome boy, yes you are, I figured that you would be here as well, here we are!" Jaskier chirped brightly diving into his pocket and pulling out another apple. "Here we are handsome, and what is your name huh?"
"Scorpion," Eskel answered watching Scorpion dance excitedly before carefully taking the apple from the human.
"Jaskier loves horses, it is why he's not allowed one of his own," Geralt grunted.
"Geralt!" Jaskier whined blushing darkly.
"He cried for three weeks after Rosie and Snapdragon had to be retired, he's not allowed another horse," Geralt huffed.
"Geralt!" Jaskier spluttered flapping his hand at Geralt.
"We have had this argument, no more horses!" Geralt grunted.
"I won't cry this time!" Jaskier whined.
"You will, and I will spend three weeks having to follow you around like a wilting flower, crying and sniffling, I am not listening to that again, it is bad enough with Roach, never mind adding another horse to the list," Geralt scowled.
Eskel had a feeling that it was as much to do with Geralt not being able to cope with the Bard crying as the Bard getting upset, not that he would say that out loud.
"Geralt…" Jaskier was whining when he zoned back in.
"Just fucking move, we're tired and want to relax," Geralt huffed.
"Oh, of course, come on! This way!" Jaskier said brightly spinning and leading the way, leaving his bags to be carried by Geralt, who didn't even acknowledge the fact that he was still carrying them.
"Jaskier, why are people smiling at us?" Geralt scowled as they walked through the campus.
"Well because I have told them all about you of course!" Jaskier waved him off.
"You told them about me?" Geralt blinked.
"Yes, and a little bit about the others, you know their heroics and the things that they have done. I think a few of my students are branching into writing songs and poems for Witchers, I know that one student of mine has been going through the Witcher history and is throwing out the rubbish and trying to find the facts to write something. They would really love to talk to you actually if you would attend a few of my seminars," Jaskier rambled as he led them into a quieter part of the campus that seemed to be for housing.
"Eskel can," Geralt grunted.
"Hey!" Eskel protested at being volunteered.
"You as well, you can pay me back for housing you for the Winter!" Jaskier smirked.
"Jaskier, we share coin purses," Geralt snorted.
"Here I am, opening my home, sharing my home, my chairs, my fires, my bed…"
"Shhh!" Geralt groaned as a couple of passing students giggled at the loud announcement. "I will think about it,"
"Yay! I will schedule you both in, together of course," Jaskier clapped.
"I said I would think about it,"
"That means I will think about it,"
"That means you will but you feel like you have to be all grouchy and moody and stubborn and can't just say yes," Jaskier laughed before stopping in front of a door and fished out his keys.
"He knows you so well," Eskel snickered.
"A decade of travelling together," Jaskier nodded before opening the front door. "Welcome welcome, I hope you like it, make yourselves at home! I will go and stable Roach and Scorpion, just grab your things while I light some candles for us,"
"We're not getting you another horse Jaskier, I mean it!" Geralt warned throwing his own bags over his shoulders along with Jaskier's bags.
"I have a whole winter to work on you!" Jaskier said brightly before taking the horses' reins.
"The answer is no!" Geralt shouted after him before huffing and walking into the house.
"You're going to end up getting him a new horse aren't you," Eskel snickered.
"No! He just gets all upset when we have to retire them, even though we found a really nice farm that we retire them to!"
"That's a yes then," Eskel laughed. "Something tells me that there is very little that you can say no to him,"
The fact that Geralt didn't answer and just grumbled to himself as he dropped his saddlebags near the fire made Eskel have to bite down on his lip to not laugh out loud again, not wanting to make his prickly brother pricklier.
Though it was difficult not to say anything to his brother when he partially turned to see Geralt unpacking Jaskier's bags onto the nearby desk, taking care to place the books and papers that the bags contained down carefully and in what looked like a sort of order.
He felt like he was slightly in the twilight zone, and as excited as he was to see more of this side of Geralt, he was slightly worried that he was going to be in the way here over the winter. He also wished that he could talk to Vesemir, Lambert, Coen and Aiden and tell them about this weird version of Geralt.
"Ok, that is Roach and Scorpion stabled and brushed down, they looked nice and comfortable when I left them. Did you manage to get everything at the market?" Jaskier burst into the room in a flourish of colour, noise and bright smiles, and Eskel couldn't help but compare him and Geralt, and wonder at how different they were, nearly complete opposites.
"Yes, we found everything," Geralt grunted.
"Ah, you unpacked my bags for me, thank you, my dear Witcher. I will go and put supper on, I thankfully started a stew this morning, with this I can pad it out enough for the three of us," Jaskier said already digging through Geralt's saddlebags and tugging out the packages that they had picked up at the market.
"You made stew?" Geralt perked up.
"Yup, it is lamb as well," Jaskier smirked.
"Yup full vegetables and my secret ingredients," Jaskier tapped Geralt on the nose and just laughed when the Witcher snapped his teeth at the finger, seemingly completed unbothered by the fangs that terrified most humans.
"Do you need help?" Geralt asked.
"No no no, you two make yourselves comfortable, get out of your gear and armour, you can sniff out our room, Eskel yours is right across the hall, honestly make yourself at home, in there and in the house, it is a little small, but it will more than do for the three of us," Jaskier smiled warmly at Eskel before hurrying into the kitchen.
"He just accepts things like you being able to scent out his rooms and that?" Eskel asked baffled as Geralt grabbed his things.
"Well, yes, we have been travelling together for ten years, he knows nearly everything that I can do, and well, he has seen me do it all often enough," Geralt shrugged leading the way down the hallway Jaskier had indicated to, sniffing deeply and then opening a door to reveal brightly coloured clothes thrown everywhere like a hurricane had been through the room.
"He just accepts…" Eskel started to say but Geralt was shouting over him.
"Jaskier it looks like you have fucking been robbed!"
"It is my room I will do as I like!" Came the defiant shout back.
"It is our room now, you had better keep it fucking tidy!" Geralt snarled.
"Well if it bothers you, you tidy it!"
"I always bloody tidy up after you! I don't know why I agree to share rooms with you!"
"Because you like snuggling at night!"
"I do not!"
"You do too Mr Octupus!"
"I told you not to call me that!"
"I'm not your fucking maid Jaskier!"
"Thank you!" Jaskier called brightly before there were some bangs and clangs and then the smell of stew exploded through the house.
"Stop laughing and get settled into your own fucking room!" Geralt snarled at Eskel who had lost his grip on laughing. Though it was definitely less threatening when he had multiple pieces of bright clothing thrown over his shoulders that he had been snatching from the floor of the room.
"That was lovely thank you Jaskier, especially as the food was starting to get scarce on our way here," Eskel sighed happily settling back into his seat.
"Oh you are more than welcome, it is nice for my hard work to be verbally acknowledged," Jaskier smiled brightly poking Geralt in the cheek with his spoon. His brother just completely ignored him in favour of carrying on spooning food into his mouth as though he hadn't eaten in a year.
Jaskier had given them bowls that were nearly twice the size of his own, seemingly knowing about the appetite of a Witcher, though considering everything else that he knew about them that was not a shock.
"Pfft, none verbal as ever, well at least it seems as though one of your brothers managed to inherit some verbal skills," Jaskier teased.
"I was actually going to ask you about some of the books in your spare room, would I be ok reading some of them?" Eskel asked hopefully.
"You are more than welcome as long as you talk to me about them, it is always fun having a good chatter about a good book. You're also more than welcome in the campus library as well, guests of the lectures always are," Jaskier smiled eagerly.
"Oh, are you sure they won't mind...me going in?" Eskel grimaced.
"Of course, though you may be attacked by Mark in there, she has been drilling me for information for years about Witchers, beasts and all the things that we have come across, she wants to make sure that everything in her research is correct. She has been quite depressed about how many mistakes there are," Jaskier chuckled. "Though I did nearly wet myself laughing that first winter when she was shocked that Witcher's didn't eat their meat raw and hunt under the full moon. Getting rid of those ridiculous, stupid, monic, idiotic, inane, ludicrous, absurd, assine…." Jaskier rambled out a few more words behind Geralt's hand when the white-haired Witcher covered his mouth to stop his rambling.
"He gets a little worked up about the way people see us and the stupid assumptions that they make about us. The amount of tavern fights that I have had to pull him out of because someone has said something is ridiculous,"
"I am not going to stand there and let them talk about you like that!" Jaskier bristled.
"So Jaskier, do you spend every winter here?" Eskel interrupted.
"Oh yes, I share the teaching with another professor who prefers to go home to his family in the winter, it works quite well, and the Dean is very good to keep this house here for me," Jaskier relaxed a little again.
"It seems like a good setup," Eskel smiled looking around the cosy dining room. Though the house was smaller, especially with three men living there including 2 of whom were Witchers, it was cosy and comfortable and homey.
"It is, it gives me time to refresh the batteries and go over the notes and songs that I have started putting together during our journeys," Jaskier nodded. "Are Vesemir and the others going to worry about you not showing up this winter?" Jaskier asked concerned.
"A little, though hopefully, they will realise that with the way the winter has come in that we were just too late to make it up the path. We won't be able to get a message to them until the spring," Geralt sighed pushing his empty bowl away.
"Don't you guys have like enchanted amulets that you can use to stay in contact in case of emergencies? Especially throughout spring, summer and autumn when you are all on the Path? Surely a mage would be able to make something like that for you?" Jaskier tilted his head.
"I…" Eskel and Geralt both opened and closed their mouths a few times.
"I am sure Triss would make something like that for you guys if you explained what it was for, aside from the fact she is your friend she still feels as though she owes you for the Princess," Jaskier hummed.
"I...will send a raven to her, she could have it finished over the winter so that we can pass them out for the new time on the Path," Geralt hummed.
"Wonderful, you will be able to pair up for things that are particularly difficult if you are close enough to each other, and be safer," Jaskier smiled softly at Geralt.
"Go check in the saddlebags," Geralt gruffed clearly flustered under the look.
"Because I got a gift for you," Geralt grunted. Eskel was nearly distracted from how flustered his brother was, in his grouchy scowling way, by the shouts of excitement as Jaskier bound to his feet and raced through to the living room, and then happy laughter when he obviously found what he was looking for.
"Geralt you are a god upon men!" Jaskier threw his arms around Geralt's shoulders, careful of his prize in his hands before settling and started cutting out slices of cake for them.
"Take the biggest for yourself, it is your gift," Geralt grunted taking the knife and carving smaller sections for him and Eskel, and then shoved the large part at Jaskier, who Eskel watched with awe as the human polished it off in minutes.
Geralt finished pulling on his softer linen trousers before turning to where Jaskier was already huddled under the blankets of the nice bed, only his face visible over the blankets.
"I hate the winter, it is so cold," Jaskier whined.
"Move over, it is a good job I produce enough heat for the two of us," Geralt snorted sliding under the blankets. He huffed amused when Jaskier sidled closer to his heat, before reaching out and tugged him into his arms so that the brunette's head was resting on his chest.
He rubbed his hand up and down the bard's back, enjoying the feeling of having his friend so close when he had been sure that he would not see him for the whole winter. Jaskier hummed happily and snuggled even closer, tangling their legs together and let out a content sigh.
"If you had told me how comfortable your bed was, I would have stayed with you for the winter sooner," Geralt snorted.
"I would have told you if I knew that was all it took to lure you away from Kaer Morhen,"
"You…" Geralt started to say but cut himself off.
"What is it? Am I making you too hot?" Jaskier asked concerned. It was not the first time that Geralt had potentially overheated with Jaskier's preference for lots of blankets and snuggling, as much as he had accused Geralt of it earlier.
"No, I just...you are sure it is ok housing the two of us?" Geralt asked faintly concerned. Jaskier was quite for a good few moments, clearly considering what he was going to say. Most people thought that he just blurted out everything that went through his head, and he did sometimes, but he could also be incredibly thoughtful and took his time to phrase things correctly. And considering the number of words his big brain held it wasn't surprising that he had to comb through them sometimes.
"I miss you during the winter, getting to spend it with you, and getting to know your brother, of course, I am happy you're here," Jaskier said softly, snuggling a little closer.
"I am happy to get to see where you spend the winter and see this part of your life. And getting to spend winter with you," Geralt said. "Even if you whine about the cold enough during autumn,"
"Just for that, you are going to spend the whole winter being my personal heater!" Jaskier huffed. "I have fun travelling together, but it will be really nice to be able to spend a more relaxing time together," Jaskier sighed, nearly already half asleep.
"Yes, it will be," Geralt hummed resuming rubbing Jaskier's back in the way he knew eased him quickly into sleep, content to lay there a little longer just relaxing and enjoying having his Bard with him again, snuggled close, safe and with him.