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no longer alone

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They’ve only been at Corvo Bianco full-time for a year when Ciri returns. 

She looks…different, when she arrives. A bit older, more than the year she was gone. Paler, somehow, as if she hasn’t seen much sun; Yennefer wonders if she just spent most of the last year inside, or if maybe wherever she’d gone was cold. 

Different or not, though, of course they welcome her, make up a bed in the house, introduce her to everyone new. 

Of course, it only takes a month, maybe closer to a month and a half, for her to start showing. She’s so naturally thin that it follows that any change, any growth, would show quickly.

Before that, though, it’s Geralt who notices first; he actually hears it, one night, a second, faint heartbeat underneath Ciri’s own. He doesn’t bring it up to her, but instead just tells Yennefer later that night, looking worried. 

“Do you think she knows?” he asks, and Yennefer shrugs. She thinks of the way Ciri will stare into space sometimes, eyes distant and lips downturned just slightly. “Will you talk to her?”

She shrugs again. “I can try,” she says, but already she knows that she won’t get the answers Geralt wants.

“I knew,” Ciri admits, when Yennefer does ask her. She’s sitting up in bed after a bout of morning sickness, complexion matching the white sheets she’s tangled in, and she’s not looking up from her hands.

Yennefer perches in a chair and lets her avoid eye contact. “Is that why you came back?”

Ciri shrugs one shoulder. “Maybe?”

“...was there another reason?”

“...I was alone,” she says, and Yennefer’s chest aches.

“Well, you’re not now,” she says, firmly. Ciri finally looks up at her, eyes wide and expression vulnerable, and Yennefer can’t resist the pull of that. It’s nothing like graceful when she kneels on the bed and wraps Ciri in a hug, but grace isn’t worth shit right now. 

She just needs to comfort her daughter.

Once the morning sickness passes, Ciri takes to being pregnant rather swimmingly. Her color comes back, too, after so many months in the Toussaint sun, and she seems happier, as well, less prone to trailing off and staring into the distance. 

And of course, everyone is excited. To near frenzy, some days, trying to make sure Ciri is cared for and that everything is in order for a baby to arrive. One day, Jaskier comes to visit and promptly decides he’ll be staying til the baby is born; Lambert and Eskel visit, too, and they don’t insist on staying, but they do promise they’ll be back in a few months, hopefully in time for the birth, or at least soon after. 

Geralt, of course, frets. Yennefer does, too, but she at least keeps a lid on hers when Ciri is around. For the most part, though, Ciri puts up with his mother henning with fond exasperation, letting him press an ear to her growing belly and listen to the baby, only complaining a little when he stops her from doing something and insists on doing it for her. 

Yennefer, to cope with her own anxieties, busies herself with making sure that they’ve got what they need for the labor to go smoothly. Things for pain management, mostly, a lot of which she’s already growing in her own garden, but some things need to be planted so they’ll be ready in time. Otherwise it’s a lot of cleaning, and tearing up old sheets and things to bleach and store for use as rags or bandages or whatever else they might need clean cotton for, and measuring ingredients out so they’re easily mixed when she needs them.

Overall, the time passes quickly, and easily. Ciri seems content, here, with her growing belly, and as the time gets nearer she starts talking about things like names, and getting more excited about the clothes some of the servants gift her for the baby, the blankets and trinkets and toys, too. 

It settles something in Yennefer’s chest, to see that vulnerable fear replaced with excited contentment.

And then the day comes. Geralt is beside himself, which shocks no one, and he’s relegated to being a go-for, because if he’s allowed into the room where Ciri is laboring, he’ll just fret harder. Luckily for them, this isn’t the first labor Yennefer has helped with, though it might be the first that she’s well and truly prepared to help with – and excited about, for what that’s worth.

All the same, it’s not called labor for nothing; it takes hours, and by the time the baby is squalling in the local midwife’s arms, Ciri is exhausted. She brightens when the baby is put on her chest, though, even as tears spring to her eyes. 

Yennefer ducks away to wash her hands and change her sweaty, bloody dress, then returns. By now, the midwife has cleaned everything up that can be cleaned, and is sitting in a chair nearby, knitting. She’ll remain for most of the day unless she’s called somewhere more urgent, just to make sure nothing goes awry. Yennefer nods gratefully at her before she’s returning to Ciri’s side, perching on the edge of the bed and watching Ciri pet the babe’s downy head while he nurses.

“A boy,” Ciri murmurs, when Yennefer has settled. “Jaskier was certain it’d be a girl.”

Yennefer snorts. “Since when does Jaskier know anything?” she asks, and Ciri’s eyes crinkle as she giggles.


They fall silent for a while, just watching him. After a bit, he seems finished with his meal, and Ciri adjusts how she’s holding him so he can rest with his head against her throat. Emotion like she’s never felt wells up in Yennefer’s chest, and she reaches out to pet Ciri’s sweaty hair from her face.

Ciri just smiles, then yawns.

“Rest,” Yennefer tells her. “We’ll all be here to help.”

“Mmm. Okay. Thank you, Yennefer.”

Yennefer ducks down to press a kiss to Ciri’s forehead, and then to her new grandson’s. “Love you,” she whispers, and just catches how Ciri’s smile widens before she’s slipping into sleep.

Days later, when Ciri has been declared perfectly healthy and healing, and she and the baby have been moved back to her own room, everyone else comes to visit. 

Under strict orders to respect Ciri’s wishes, of course, but Yennefer trusts that their little patchwork family won’t cross the line.

Jaskier cries, of course, just like Geralt had. What’s more of a shock, though, is that Lambert does, and he just cries harder when Ciri offers to let him hold the baby.

“Later,” he says, “when he’s not so small and I’m not – like this.”

Ciri hums, and Yennefer can see the sparkle in her eye that spells trouble. “Sure.”

“So,” Geralt says, once everyone has met the babe and they’re all just sort of hovering. “Have you…decided on a name?”

Ciri’s smile softens, and she looks down at her son, snuffling softly in his sleep. “Mm, I think I have.”

“Oh, what is it? Tell us!” Jaskier practically shouts it. Yennefer smacks him, but she’s giggling, and even Ciri is shaking a little with her own quiet laughter. 

“I was thinking, if it’s alright with you – Geralt, Eskel, and Lambert, I mean,” she says, after the laughter has passed. “I might name him Vesemir.”

Now all three of the Witchers are crying. Yennefer rolls her eyes, even as she feels like her heart might be too big for her chest, and starts shooing everyone out of the bedroom.

“Okay, time to leave Ciri and her son alone now. We’ll all be emotional and discuss names later, hm?”

Ciri never does tell them who the father is. 

Yennefer doesn’t know why. Just from what she knows about her daughter, it could be a myriad of things: shame, over the identity of the father, or maybe how she came to be pregnant; or maybe pride, not wanting to admit something she might regret; possibly even just simple embarrassment, that she arrived to them in a state.

Whatever it is, Yennefer never pries. She could, of course – she could read Ciri’s mind, or even attempt a paternity test, though only having one half of the blood would make it more difficult. She’s also fairly certain Ciri expects her to, to go rooting around in her mind or the child’s genetics to find those answers.

It’s not as if it’s not something she’s done before.

But she’s long since moved past those kinds of violations, at least when it comes to her family. And really, it doesn’t matter who fathered the child, not as long as he and Ciri are happy and healthy and safe, which they are, here at Corvo Bianco, with the rest of their little family popping in and out as time allows.

So instead, she just watches little Vesemir grow up, watches how Ciri loves being his mother, and is content.

“Mama,” Vesemir asks, voice slow and sleepy. Ciri hums an acknowledgement, petting over his blonde hair. “Tell me a story.”

“A story?” she asks, and he nods, blinking slowly up at her. She smiles. “What kind of story, hm?”

“One from before,” he answers, even slower than before. He’s fading fast, though she knows he’ll stay awake as long as it takes for her to tell him at least part of a story. He’s stubborn like that.

Just like you, Yennefer always says, with nothing but naked fondness in her voice. 

“Before what, hm?”

“Me,” is the response. “Before – before I was here. One of your stories.”

“One of mine before you,” she repeats, thinking. “Hmm. What kind of story, then? An exciting one? A scary one?”

“Tell me about – grandpa Geralt,” he says. “And the castle.”

Ciri can’t help the grin spreading across her face. “Okay,” she says, and shifts to lay down next to him. He turns onto his side and throws one pudgy little arm over her belly, snuggling in close. Her heart melts a little. “How about this – I’ll tell you about the first Yule I spent at Kaer Morhen. Hm?”

“Yule,” he murmurs. “Almost Yule.”

“It is. That’s a good story for now, isn’t it?”

“Ye – ” he’s interrupted by a yawn, “yeah.”

Ciri chuckles. “Alright, then.”

So she tells him the story: of the feast Vesemir – Geralt’s father, love, you’re named after him, remember? – had prepared, and how Geralt and Lambert had danced with her in the moonlight. He’s asleep long before she’s finished, but she murmurs all of it for him, just so she can remember, too.