Continuing Tales

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 8 of 42

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Most Prized Possession

Sarah's mind reeled in rebellion and confusion, What in the hell was that about?

As she thought on what had just happened, the reality of the situation hit her like a ton of bricks. He had come precisely when she would be the most vulnerable, just to bait her and leave her feeling very shaken and humiliated, and...longing for the kiss that was left so unfinished.

Damn him. And damn her.

The near kiss had been a test, she was almost sure of it. It was his way of seeing what he could get away with...and damn it, she had let him get away with it. Christ, if he had let his mouth linger so near hers for even another moment...she didn't even want to entertain the possibilities, but she had to. The sickening feeling of dread settled in the pit of her stomach as she admitted to herself that she had wanted him to kiss her...and what was worse was that she still wanted it.

She lacked the courage to make the move, however she also lacked the strength to turn her face away from him. No doubt his majesty managed to see right through her, he must have, otherwise why else would he have drawn back with that triumphant smirk plastered on his face. No matter how deep down she tried to bury those unsettling feelings, he knew that some part of her desired him, even if the rest of her protested whole-heartedly.

Sarah let her head fall into her hands as she realized the danger of the precarious situation in which she found herself. Sarah knew that Jareth was convinced that part of her wanted him, and being the egotistical, arrogant, cruel and manipulative bastard that he was, she could only expect that he would find a plethora of ways to torture her with this newfound jewel of information.

Damn it. I am in so much trouble.

He had already begun. What better way to start tormenting his self-deprivating little captive than to offer his alluring mouth in a hint of a kiss, before unexpectedly withdrawing, just to leave her pining for him. Her face burned with humiliation and anger.

Well, she may have already made a dangerous error...but she'd be damned before she'd make another. She leapt out of the tub and started to dry off as she reminded herself that Jareth was cruel. He was a deceitful, conniving, heartless King and even if all his physical charms were intensified a hundred fold, she would not let herself forget that he was her nemesis.

No, Jareth would not find her so weak next time. Now that she had an idea what he was up to, she planned to make the next year as unpleasant for him as possible. She would give him a run for his money.

Sarah smiled at the prospect of making him so miserable that he would have no choice but to send her home early. She surveyed the clothes on the bed as she angrily muttered to herself, "Alright you jerk-off, you wanna play? I'll play your pathetic game...and I'll win."

Not long after Jareth had left her stewing, Crag had come to fetch her for dinner. She held her head high as she followed him down the stone passages of the castle. Thanks to Jareth, she was now dressed in a white peasant-style blouse that exposed her shoulders and had sleeves that billowed out at the wrists. A brown leather waist cincher came just to the bottom of her bust and the hunter green full skirt moved gracefully as she walked. To Sarah, the outfit was reminiscent of something a gypsy peasant might wear, but she found the clothing flattering to her figure. Jareth may have been a manipulative and pretentious bastard, but his taste in clothing wasn't bad.

She wore black leather heeled boots that stopped mid calf, also courtesy of the Goblin King. They gave her step a foreboding sound as she walked purposefully towards the dining room. Since she had been unable to blow-dry her hair, her dark locks were wavy and untamed as they fell about her shoulders.

Crag had scarcely recognized the girl when he came to fetch her, she seemed dramatically taller and her face, which had previously seemed drawn and apprehensive, now seemed sharp and stern. Crag refrained from making conversation because he didn't wish to make himself a target for her scorn. Her perceptive gaze took in their surroundings but all the while her eyes seemed to be calculating.

As they came to the doors of the dining room, Crag stopped and stated, "His majesty is expectin' you Sarah, so you can go right in. I'll be seein' you later." With that the small goblin high-tailed it out of there.

Sarah swallowed as she reminded herself that even though Jareth was excellent at being manipulative, she could give new meaning to the word bitch. With renewed courage, and her head held high, Sarah stormed into the dining room.

For a split second Sarah was distracted by the magnificence of the room. The table was immense and there were elaborate gilded candelabras by the walls that cast a magical golden glow. At one end of the table there was a gaping fireplace in the shape of a great goblin's open mouth. Jareth was leaning casually against the mantle, which resembled the upper lip of the snarling goblin face that surrounded the fireplace.

When Sarah's eyes settled on that arrogant expression, she was reminded of the task at hand. Before Jareth moved to speak he casually perused the girl standing before him. The attire he had chosen certainly suited her. The hunter shade of the skirt complimented her fierce feral green eyes and the sight of her dark hair spilling over her creamy shoulders made his breath catch in his throat. The neckline of the dress was low and the corset-like waist cincher only made her lovely endowments and feminine curves all the more exaggerated and appealing. Jareth forced his eyes upward, before he became completely spellbound by the charms of her young body.

His mouth formed the slightest hint of an amused smirk as he stated, "I was beginning to think I wouldn't have the pleasure of your company." He pulled out a chair for her as she replied hotly, "Oh, I wouldn't dream of missing this."

He furrowed his brow in puzzlement as he replied, "So you take pleasure in joining me for dinner then?" Sarah bit her lower lip thoughtfully for a second as she appeared to consider his question before she purred in a saccharine tone, "Jareth, I take about as much pleasure in spending any amount of time with you..."

She paused to hold up and contemplate a sharp serrated knife from her place setting, "As you might take on the point of this knife if I were to plunge it into..."

Interupting her he tsked, "Uh-ah, careful Sarah, you are bound to behave as my subject, and threats to my person may be regarded as treason."

She paused and narrowed her eyes at him, "Very well, you know what I'm getting at and how I feel about being here. However, since I would like to know exactly what it is you plan to do with me, while I'm stuck on this little vacation in hell, I felt it pertinent to come."

Her jibe only made him grin wider as he remarked, "How fortunate I am that you are so curious. Well...I don't wish to keep you in suspense..."

Sarah snorted rudely as he continued, "So as I was explaining earlier I plan to train you to be my personal assistant."

Sarah rolled her eyes and snickered, "Don't you mean...personal slave?"

Jareth was the very picture of noble innocence, as he replied, "Of course not. I have hundreds of goblin servants...what in blazes would I want another one for? No Sarah. You are capable of so much more. For one, you shall serve as my scribe. Goblins cannot read or write, and it will be a great relief to have some assistance with the documentation that must be generated in order to run this kingdom. You will also attend me personally...goblins are clumsy creatures, and are no where near competent enough for such a task."

Sarah froze at the ambiguity of this but he went on, "I may on occasion also have some special requests for you. From time to time the castle has some rather distinguished visitors, usually for diplomatic and judiciary purposes, and it would be an advantage to have a page at such times instead of a bumbling horde of goblins. Then...there are the periodic balls and masquerades that as Ruler of the Goblin Kingdom, I am expected to attend, and it would make things much simpler if I had a reliable escort."

Sarah crossed her arms and scoffed sarcastically at this, "So aside from being at your beck and call, I am a dating service as well...wonderful."

Jareth didn't miss her bitter sarcasm as he rebuked, "If it's not to your liking, I'd be happy to send you home..." He smiled as he added, "I'm sure your friend Kayla would make a suitable replacement."

Sarah winced and replied, "No of course not..." She gritted her teeth and ground out, "I'll be cooperative...I'll do what you ask."

He flashed her a mock delighted smile before he replied, "Good, because there are some other tasks that goblins simply cannot do that you would be able to accomplish most easily."

Without hesitation she demanded, "Like what?"

Jareth replied, "Well, handling the fine flatware and crystal without smashing it to pieces for one...I can't tell you how many priceless pieces have been shattered thanks to some careless goblin."

Just then three large goblins emerged from the kitchens and began to haphazardly slam platters of food down, just barely keeping the contents from spilling all over the table and the floor. Sarah had to catch her own water goblet in the chaos. Jareth crossed his arms over his chest as he muttered, "I rest my case..."

Sarah glanced down at the exquisite flatware. It appeared that he had a good point. Still she wasn't about to let her guard down, and the fact that he had mentioned that she would attend him personally made her skin crawl.

Jareth offered her a platter of some sort of game bird noticing that she appeared to be considering all that he was saying. Sarah helped herself to a small portion as he stated, "No doubt you must have some questions..."

Sarah glanced up at him and replied sarcastically, "Yeah, just a few."

Jareth made a gesture with his hand and insisted, "By all means, ask away."

Sarah swallowed a small bite of food and cautiously began, "Ok...well what exactly does attending you personally mean?"

His eyes met hers and they were full of heat as he smirked and asked in an amused yet sultry manner, "What do YOU think it means?"

Sarah felt as though she had been burned. She felt her cheeks grow hot as she averted her eyes from his suggestive expression. She was uncomfortable about breaching the subject, but as embarrassing as it was, she felt it imperative to make her boundaries clear.

She took a deep breath and countered angrily, "If you expect that I will obediently perform favors like some trained harlot, I'm afraid you are sorely mistaken. I realize that I made an agreement with you, and I am bound to remain here and obey you...but I draw the line at being used, so if at any point you intend to bring me into your bed, you should know that it will only happen by excessive force."

Jareth frowned at his plate before he glanced at her and replied solemnly, "Do you think me that much of a villain Sarah?"

Sarah gave him a hard look as she replied, "To be honest I don't know how much of a villain I think you are. You are unsurpassed when it comes to antagonizing me, and I'm quite certain that ultimately it was your goal all along to get me here. I can't say that I think you have good intentions, and until you prove otherwise, you won't have so much as a shred of my trust."

His feral grin widened as he admonished, "There's no need to be so formal Sarah, at least not while we are alone. You may address me by my name, however when we are in the company of my subjects or ambassadors you should address me as your majesty. "

It didn't escape Sarah's attention that he had artfully changed the subject, but she wasn't about to let him off the hook so easily.

Sarah raised her chin, challenging him with those sparkling green eyes of hers as she taunted, "Alright then...Jareth, would you care to elaborate then, what you do expect from a personal attendant?"

His smirk was one of genuine amusement and he drawled, "You'd be expected to bring me my meals when I am too busy to take them in here. You'll also be in charge of my wardrobe. Goblins are incompetent when it comes to sewing buttons back on and things of that nature. Let's see...My boots are always in need of a good polishing, and then there is the occasional odd errand that I might send you on, when it is something of too great importance to send a goblin."

Sarah nearly winced at the thought of shining his boots for him, but at least he didn't mention anything suggestive. Still, maybe he would get some sick pleasure out of ordering her around. The fact that she had bested him must have done a horrible blow to his pride, and maybe this was his way of saving face.

She frowned, as she doubted it would be so simple. She boldly looked him in the eye and ventured, "Why are you doing this Jareth?"

He seemed slightly caught off guard by her question as he replied, "Beg your pardon?"

She added, "I mean, if this is your idea of seems a little unnecessary."

Jareth furrowed his brow and remarked, "I'm not sure I follow."

Sarah bit her lip and began bravely, "Look, I can accept that you're probably pretty pissed about what happened the last time I was here. But, I still don't think you understand that I HAD to do whatever was necessary to save Toby. You told me that you were being generous because you took Toby when I asked, but you know damn well that I never meant to really wish him away. You may never understand this, but there is nothing I wouldn't have given up to get Toby back...and the same goes for Kayla. If you are really out for revenge because I did what I had to do, you might as well just tell me what misery you have in store for me so we can just get it over with. I may have been a child back then and I may still be foolish, but I'm not so dumb as to not realize that you must have had some ulterior motive when Kayla wished herself away, otherwise why would I even be here? So please let's just cut to the chase...what is it that you want from me?"

Jareth's face had suddenly become devoid of all emotion as he coldly replied, "You really want to know what I want? Very well, I shall tell you brave Sarah. Respect. Obedience. Gratitude. You may call it what you like...and maybe I'll always be your villian, but don't delude yourself. I gave you exactly what you wanted, an adventure from your painfully dull life...I gave you the fairy tale, and it just so happens that like all fairy tales worth telling, there has to be a villain."

Sarah swallowed at the intensity of his sharp words. She hated to admit it, but he was right. As much as the adventure had tested her, and at times terrified her, she wouldn't have traded it for the world. The friendships she had forged along the way were real and in addition to winning her baby brother back she had come out of it with something additional and unexpected. The belief that she could achieve anything, and the knowledge that she didn't need to be offered a shiny crystal to be able to reach her dreams, she could do that all on her own. And anyway you look at it, whether he had been cruel or not to bring it upon her... It was a precious gift.

Sarah couldn't bring herself to look him in the face, for fear that he'd see her one regret...that as wonderful as her fairy tale and her journey of self-discovery was there was one flaw. There was no charming prince to offer her true love or a happily ever after. Instead she had to face her villain, the infamous King of Goblins. He could not have been farther than a chivalrous prince, he was cruel, manipulative, and selfish. But what really killed her was the terrible secret that she had become infatuated with him anyway. Life was just not fair.

Sarah stared at her plate. There could be no happy ending, not for her. Not this time. It was time to stop pretending, time to grow up and face the consequences. Nodding slightly she murmured with resolve, "Fine. Then you shall have your respect, obedience and gratitude, and then we will be even, and you will stop invading my life."

Jareth stared at her dumbstruck. This couldn't be the same girl that fought her way to the castle beyond the goblin city. Was that a tinge of regret in her voice. Jareth decided that he had to be imagining it. Finally Sarah, still staring at her plate, quietly asked, "May I be excused...I'm really rather tired."

Jareth rose from the table slightly unsettled as he simply replied, "Certainly...You will begin to assume your duties tomorrow."

Sarah was barely aware of her surroundings as she miraculously made it back to her room. When she entered there was a candle burning by her bed and a simple white linen chemise was laid out on her bed for her to sleep in. Sarah's thoughts swirled about her head like a cyclone, but she was far too tired to dwell on them now.

She still refused to trust Jareth, but his declared expectations did make a great deal of sense. Sarah wasn't a huge fan of manual labor and she was more than a little intimidated about the prospect of Jareth ordering her around, but she couldn't shake the feeling that things could have been a whole lot worse.

She had always assumed that Jareth would hate her after all that had happened, but oddly enough she wasn't getting that vibe. Sure she was getting the feeling that he wanted to dominate the hell out of her, but it didn't feel like hatred. And there was something else, something he was holding back, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it.

Sarah chose to think no more on the matter as she wriggled out of her clothing and draped her new garments over a high backed wooden chair. She tugged the chemise over her head and snuggled into her bed. As she blew out the candle she was reminded that this was to be her home for the next year. As she thought of the dorm room where she was supposed to be sleeping with her best friend and the fact that her only company for the next year would be a cold manipulative king and a pack of unruly goblins, loneliness overcame her and she quietly wept in the darkness until she exhausted herself and fell deeply into sleep.

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 8 of 42

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