Continuing Tales

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 11 of 42

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Most Prized Possession

Sarah had taken her supper in her room and spent the evening reading quietly after a much-needed bath. She was rather exhausted from her full day and she fell asleep, book in hand, at a relatively early hour.

Sarah was jarred from sleep as she felt multiple beings pounce on her bed. She opened her sleepy eyes to see four small goblins jumping on her bed and jeering some ridiculous childish rhyme. "Up, Up, and out of bed, if ye don't get up da King'll have yer head!" They proceeded to jump on the bed and annoy her until finally, not able to take any more, she leapt out of bed and stormed into the water closet.

When she emerged, all but one goblin had left, and he had proceeded to start the fire in the fireplace and her bathtub was already filled with piping hot water. She regarded the small goblin and demanded in an irritated tone, "Will I be getting dirty again today?" The goblin merely looked up at her with huge round brown eyes and shook his head, "Me no think so...but you better hurry and git gotta rouse his majesty outta bed."

Sarah's eyes were wide as saucers as she demanded, "What did you just say?" The goblin looked at her innocently and replied, "You gotta git his majesty up and goin'. You are his 'tendant now." For a moment Sarah thought she was still asleep, having some bizarre nightmare. But no, the floor was cold on her bare feel and the goblin in front of her was way too real.

She weakly repeated incredulously, "I have to get him up?" The goblin nodded his head of matted hair before he exploded in a fit of chortling laughter. Before Sarah could say another word, the goblin ran out of the room and took off down the hallway.

Sarah swallowed as she considered her options. Jareth had made it very clear that he was expecting her first thing in the morning, so if she didn't do as she was told, she had a feeling that Jareth would not be very forgiving. He could even do something to Kayla, and she knew that it wouldn't be beyond him. It looked as though she had no choice.

Sarah sighed heavily as she stripped off her chemise and stepped into the tub. She drew out her bath as long as possible as she was whole-heartedly dreading going into that room. She dressed in a full skirt, a red one this time, and a white peasant blouse similar to the one she had worn to dinner on her first evening in the castle.

She donned her boots and combed out her hair. When she was finished, she paced anxiously in front of the door to Jareth's room. Just like before, the door opened slowly on its own. With her heart nearly in her throat, she crept quietly into the dark room. Upon her entry, two wall sconces blazed to life, illuminating the room just enough so that she could see.

Her eyes nervously settled on the massive bed and she saw him. Sarah stealthily made her way closer to the bed as she looked upon the sleeping Goblin King. As she neared the side of the bed she could just make him out clearly in the orange firelight. The crimson and black coverlet was thrown back slightly, only covering him from the waist down.

Sarah's breath caught in her throat as she saw that he appeared to be unclothed, from the waist up at least. In his quiet state of repose he was an exquisite sight. His platinum hair was wild and unruly and his fair face was serene and peaceful as he slept. Her eyes trailed over his serene aristocratic features and across his pale chest. Only his crescent shaped amulet obscured her view of his chiseled marble-like torso. He was of thin build but his chest and arms were lightly muscled, making him lithe and graceful. From where she was standing she could not make out any hair on his chest, and she wasn't about to get any closer, as approaching the goblin King even in slumber was about as reckless an act as sneaking up on a napping lion.

Her eyes trailed as far as his lean abdomen where the rest of his body disappeared under the twisted sheets. Her eyes darted back up to his face as her cheeks began to feel warm and her heartbeat seemed to thrum in her ears. She held her breath for fear the subtle noise of her breathing would wake him and he would catch her admiring him. His face was so beautiful that she was almost tempted to let her fingers drift across his jaw line...almost.

Sarah caught herself at that point and chastised herself for even thinking such a thing. He was the one making her life hell, after all. She resolved that she had better just wake him, and get this nightmare over with. Somehow she had the feeling that he wouldn't be very pleasant first thing in the morning.

Sarah softly cleared her throat, which had suddenly gone very dry, before she whispered, "Jareth..." Nothing.

She tried again, "Jareth...wake up."

This time he stirred slightly before he rolled onto his side facing her. He still showed no sign of being conscious. Sarah sighed. It looked like she was going to have to be slightly more persistent.

She tentatively reached out and gently shook his shoulder. The feeling of his skin under the palm of her hand sent a jolt of excitement through her and she quickly withdrew her hand as he began to stir.

Suddenly his mismatched eyes were looking into hers and she felt her breath catch in her throat as she whispered dazedly, "...they...they told me to wake you."

He inhaled deeply as his eyes focused on her. He glanced past her at the gothic looking timepiece on the mantle and remarked, "Yes...and I see you took your time."

Sarah opened her mouth as if she were going to argue but he cut her off, "I expect that you will be more punctual next time." Sarah was about to launch a protest but he turned toward the other side of the bed and flung the covers off himself as he rose out of bed. Sarah let out a startled yelp as she quickly averted her eyes from the flash of pale skin and whipped around to face the opposite direction.

Apparently he didn't wear clothing to bed and he wasn't the least bit modest about it either. Thankfully, due to the dim lighting and her quick reaction time, she hadn't really gotten en eyeful, but she was no less embarrassed. Her cheeks suddenly felt so hot that that she felt as though her face was on fire. She heard him wade into his bath and she kept her eyes fixed nervously on the door as she stammered, "I...I'll just go...wait in my room."

Jareth could see the side of her face and it was deeply flushed. A slow smile spread across his face. Her reaction to his state of undress was precisely what he had expected. He found her shyness and apprehension rather charming. As she started for the door he held up his hand and ordered, "Wait...stay." He watched her freeze before he declared, "Each morning your first task will be to wake me and help me dress and until you are dismissed, you will remain and do precisely what I ask."

Sarah swallowed and winced at his words. She could barely keep herself composed when he was halfway across the room and fully dressed. How on earth would she be able to keep it together while dressing him!?! Just yesterday she had started to convince herself that maybe things wouldn't be so bad. Oh how wrong she was!

She stood there frozen on the spot as a heavy dread crept over her. Jareth's voice cut through the room, only adding to her distress. "Turn around Sarah."

Sarah swallowed again, and her throat felt so dry. The very air felt warm and suffocating as she slowly turned to face certain doom. When she finally faced him she saw that he was already reclining in his bath. Only his head and shoulders were above the surface of the water. Sarah crossed her arms to conceal the fact that she was trembling. She sagged in relief that he was under the water as she glanced toward the ceiling and mentally thanked providence for small favors.

When her eyes finally settled upon his he remarked, "That's better. Now, over on that stand there is a pitcher. Get me some water." Sarah felt her legs moving in spite of her paralyzing fear. She picked up the water glass with shaky fingers and poured him some water before she set the goblet down by his bath and moved to stand as far away as possible.

While he continued to bathe, he continued to bark orders at her. He instructed her to fetch his clothes from the wardrobe and lay them out on the bed. Once she had managed that, he had her polish his boots. Sarah managed to get through the task by reminding herself that Kayla was safe. She was thankful that he kept her busy with small tasks that would require her attention, so at least she could avoid looking at him while he was in his bath.

Just as she finished with the boots he asked her to fetch him a towel. She found one and set it by the bath before she moved away in haste with her eyes glued to the floor. When she heard the water slosh as he started to rise out of the bath she whirled away from him facing the door once again. She heard him leave the bath and pad to the other side of the bed where his clothes were laid out.

He was only a couple of feet behind her and the knowledge that he was completely undressed was more than she could handle. She made a sudden dash for the doorhandle as she nervously stammered in a gush, "Ok then...I'll just wait in my..."

He cut her off mid-sentence, "I'm not finished with you yet. You forget yourself...I haven't dismissed you. I think it would be a shame if your friend had to take your place simply because you have a hard time respecting my authority."

Sarah froze, barely refraining from answering his threat with some colorful four-letter words. She exhaled through her gritted teeth and her body seemed to sag with the tension. She heard him pulling on some article of clothing just before he softly ordered, "Come here." Sarah turned slowly, careful to keep her eyes cast to the floor.

To her relief she could tell that he had put his breeches on by himself as she stared at his feet. Jareth remarked, "That's fetch my boots." Sarah got his boots from the foot of the bed and set them next to his feet. When she straightened she noticed that he had put on his white poet's shirt but it hung open in the front.

She tried to avoid glancing at the pale flesh of his chest but she caught herself too late and when she looked up, his eyes settled knowingly on her. He merely regarded her for a moment before he gestured to the shirt-front and coolly ordered, "The buttons...fasten them." Sarah didn't trust herself to speak as she silently stepped forward.

She flashed him a glare that spoke volumes before she caught the bottom of his shirt with shaky hands. She kept her eyes cast down as she slowly fastened the shirt, starting at the bottom and working her way up, doing her best to keep her hands from shaking.

Jareth watched as her slender fingers carefully fastened each button. She was mindful to keep the fabric pulled away from his body in order to avoid touching him. When she got about three buttons from his throat he waved her hands away and tucked the bottom of his shirt into his breeches.

Sarah was about to pull back to a safe distance when his eyes suddenly locked with hers as he pulled on his black leather gloves and commanded, "Now crouch down and help with my boots." Sarah sighed feavily as she positioned each boot in front of him. He stepped into the boots by himself, but he placed his hand on her shoulder to steady himself.

Sarah's breath caught in her throat as she felt the cool leather of his gloved hand rest on her exposed shoulder. She was reminded of how he had expertly massaged her shoulders just the day before. She swiftly pushed those traitorous thoughts out of her mind as the Goblin King straightened.

Sarah took a step back unable to keep from stealing a glance at him. He was every bit the imposing King that he had always been. Jareth didn't miss her appraisal and he smirked arrogantly as he demanded, " I look forbidding enough?" Sarah was quick to collect herself. She crossed her arms defiantly as she rolled her eyes and snorted, "Yeah, whatever...Are we done here?"

He countered, "Ah, are you so eager to start your tasks? Or is it that you fear being alone with me?" Mustering her bravado Sarah turned away from him, towards the door and scoffed, "Please. You don't frighten me."

Without warning he advanced. Catching up to her, he dropped his mouth to her ear and purred, "I beg to differ..." He brushed her dark hair behind her shoulder and breathed against her skin, his lips hovering dangerously close to the side of her mouth, "I think you are terrified..."

Debilitating nervous excitement coursed through her, but she resisted it and jerked her face away from him. The Goblin King drew back as he added, "Be that as it may, you'll become accustomed to my presence in time...I assure you of that."

Sarah decided then and there that she had had enough of baiting the Goblin King for one day. She remained quiet and reserved as he escorted her to his study. He demonstrated how to use a quill and ink well, before he had her start copying some documents onto various pieces of parchment. Once she proved capable of fulfilling what he expected of her, he left her on her own.

Sarah was content to work alone in the study. After the disaster in Jareth's chamber it was a relief to be rid of his highness for a while. It was well past mid-day when Sarah glanced up at the wall clock from the documents that littered the immense desk. She had just started to feel hopeful that maybe Jareth wouldn't bother her for the rest of the day, when he suddenly materialized in his signature shower of glitter.

Sarah shot him an annoyed look before she returned her gaze to the document she was copying and muttered, "Don't you ever get tired of that entrance?" Jareth ignored her jeer and picked up a pile of documents from the desk. He glanced them over and coolly replied, "You've managed to get through more of this than I anticipated. Have you been working non-stop since I left you in here this morning?"

Sarah didn't bother to look up as she replied, "Yep."

Jareth set the papers back down and observed, "You haven't eaten anything?"

Sarah re-dipped her quill in the ink and replied apathetically, "Nope."

Jareth gestured to the document she was currently working on, "You may finish that last copy and accompany me to..."

Sarah's quill stopped moving as she was reminded of his attentions the last time she had lunch with him in the garden. She cut him off and protested, "No that's Ok...I've seen the garden, thanks..."

His eyes captured hers as she glanced up at him. The all knowing smile playing dangerously over his lips as he countered, "I was about to suggest that I would escort you to the dining room so that you might have a proper meal, but as you seem content to remain on your own, I shall arrange for the goblins to bring you something. When you are finished you may use the rest of your afternoon to tend to Tempest"

As he started to back away from the desk he didn't miss the surprised look on her face as she looked down and replied lamely, "Oh. Ok. Thanks."

The Goblin King bid her a good afternoon before he turned to leave. When he reached the doorway he glanced back over his shoulder, raising a delicately arched eyebrow as he called back, "Oh and Sarah?"

She looked up from her papers, "Yeah?"

His lips curled into a satisfied smirk as he replied, "You have ink on your face...right there." He tapped a gloved finger against his cheek before he gave her one last devastating grin and disappeared into thin air.

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 11 of 42

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