AN: This was born of a LFFL Friday Ficlet challenge in September. The story prompt was a lovely fanart piece by Zakeena (called "King of what?") of an owl taped to the wall. Go give it some love on deviant art. (King-of-what-377890942)
My original ficlet posted to Facebook was just about 500 words and ended with Jareth's appearance in the room. I was asked to continue it by a bunch of fabulous LFFL members, and frankly I wanted to as well. This is the result and is largely due to their enthusiasm for more shenanigans. All kudos to them.
The Incident with the Tape...
The owl had almost all but given up the fight. If an owl could look dejected and defeated it was doing so. Sarah was almost disappointed. She'd rather expected more out of the Goblin King. The bird twitched again against its bindings, a few feathers floating to the floor, and gamely tried to snap at a Goblin. For a moment Sarah wondered if he was getting his second wind but then it slummed as though giving up completely. Pity.
The Goblin in question, having deftly avoided the beak, sniggered and began to scrawl "Lozer" on the wall beneath the feathered prisoner. It looked back to Sarah. Sarah nodded in approval. Her leg bounced jauntily against the arm of the throne. She was seated in what Karen would have called an un-lady like sprawl. But Sarah knew that well-behaved women seldom made history and she was about to go down in the ages.
To imagine… a mere mortal woman having overthrown the Goblin King. With nothing so much as magicked tape. The Goblins would write ballads in her honour. They wouldn't be particularly good, and likely would be sung out of tune, but they would be written and that was the point.
She'd caught him stalking her in bird form on at least three occasions before she'd finally taken action. The third time she'd been stepping out of the shower and there he was, brazenly on her window ledge. She stared at him, he'd stared at her. Then she'd remembered she didn't have a towel and in the next instant had chucked a bottle of shampoo at his head. It had been straight off to the magic shop after that. The bright pink tape hadn't looked like much but the shopkeeper had assured her that it would trap even the strongest fae as long as they were in their animal form.
Sarah had waited, stark naked, in her bathroom for the pervert to return. He had. As soon as the fluffball had touched down she'd tossed a towel on him and pounced.
It was, she discovered, very hard to subdue an owl king and he didn't seem to mind using his claws and beak against her. Her cat watched from the doorway as though rating her bird-catching technique. Once subdued with tape, Sarah pulled on a robe quickly and called for her friends. Didymus answered right away. His face, upon her explanation, was priceless. Despite his misgivings, he could not deny a fair lady's request.
Her thought was to bring him back to the underground, have a little victory celebration, and then leave him in his subjects' hands. She imagined he might eventually get free or be freed, but by then he would have learned his lesson and she would have spent rent warding her apartment against Goblin Kings. Taping him to the throne room wall had been but a fun afterthought. Insult to injury. "King of stalkers" indeed.
The Goblins were happy for any excuse to party and when they got over their astonishment that the girl who ate the peach was now the girl who'd now overthrown their despot monarch, they quite forgave her for sacking their city.
And so Sarah lounged in his throne, feeling particularly accomplished, and ordered the Goblins to bring her their king's best bottle of champagne. Something bubbly he'd been saving for a special occasion she added wickedly. She adjusted her robe, one leg still thrown over the arm of the throne and popped the cork.
The sound of it opening coincided with the sudden crash of doors.
Sarah stared at the Goblin King, he stared back at her.
The champagne fizzed out onto her lap unnoticed. Her eyes tracked to the barn owl still taped to the wall. The Goblin King's eyes followed hers and then back again, taking in the festivities, her outfit, and finally narrowing on the bottle's label.
He silently shut the door behind him and locked it. Sarah's hand began to tremble as one brow raised.
"And what exactly may I ask are we celebrating, Sarah?"
"The end of your reign of terror!" cried one particularly enthusiastic Goblin after a moment's silence. It looked to Sarah for approval.
She shook her head minutely, and sat up stiffly, adjusting her robe and stowing the bottle of bubbly behind her back.
Somewhere in the recesses of the room a confetti gun went off.
Mismatched eyes narrowed.
A wave of a gloved hand and the doors opened again. The Goblin King stared around the room expectantly. "Well… run."
Spectacularly stupid as Goblins were, the horde didn't need to be told twice. They tripped over one another in their haste. After a few moments of confusion and chicken feathers the room emptied. The doors snapped shut again and the sound of the lock re-engaging echoed all the more loudly for the emptiness.
Sarah did everything she could to avoid looking at the Goblin King. Everything she could to ignore the sound of the leather crop snapping rhythmically against his thigh. This led her to make eye with the abused owl. Its expression, far from pitying, suggested it thought she very much deserved whatever was coming and more.
And something was coming.
The sound of the king's boots approaching, in time with the thwack of the crop, was impossible to deny.
Sarah closed her eyes for a moment to compose herself and then opened them, striving to look like she was perfectly at ease sitting half naked in his throne - as though that had been her end game all along.
Neither the king nor the owl were convinced.
"I can only assume," Jareth drawled as he ascended the steps, "that you assumed that rather pitiful looking creature was me."
Sarah nodded slowly.
"Hardly a complimentary comparison. So you assumed I was incapacitated by… pink cello tape and decided to usurp my throne?"
"Temporarily," Jareth repeated thoughtfully.
Sarah began to rise. "Right but that's over now so-"
The crop shot out and landed lightly on her upper thigh, pushing her back down. The leather was unnervingly warm through the silk. "Not so fast, Sarah mine. I think it only fair to know why I - or rather this creature - was so cruelly abused. Clearly you deemed me guilty of something."
Sarah squirmed. "I thought you were… spying… on me."
A pale brow arched. "Spying on you."
"I thought you were… I caught you – it – or an owl," she was no longer even certain it was the same owl, "watching me shower… a few times." Now that Sarah said it, it sounded entirely stupid and far-fetched.
Jareth's eyes roved her form, taking in her mussed hair, her bare skin, the ridiculously small bath robe dampened by champagne that did far more to enhance than disguise.
"You thought after thirteen years I suddenly had nothing better to do than spy on naked mortal women like some desperate pervert?"
Sarah winced, and tried for a straightforward apology. "I'm very sorry. You're not a pervert. I realize how silly-"
The crop slid down her thigh, robbing her words. "Oh, but I am very much a pervert. Sarah. Just not a desperate one."
She shook her head resolutely. "I'm STILL very sorry. It was a terrible mix up and I take full responsibility. The throne was always yours, just to be clear, I wasn't trying to over throw you," she laughed nervously. "The Goblins may have gotten over excited. I just wanted to teach you lesson and then be on my way. Which I will do. Now."
A gloved hand settled firmly on the arm of the throne. The other reached around her back, brushing against her waist ever so slightly. She shivered, acutely aware of how close he was. Of how incredibly good he smelled. How powerful he was. How she ever thought he was a helpless owl to be subdued with pink tape from a junk magic shop, she didn't know.
He held out the open bottle of champagne damningly.
"I… right. About that. I'll replace that." She squinted at the label. "Or get you something comparable from above ground. Top shelf-"
"I'm not sure there's an equivalent for this particular vintage," he cut off her ramblings. Two flutes appeared on the other edge of the throne and he deftly filled them both, nudging one towards her with the crop when she made no move to take it.
She stared at it distrustfully. When he cleared his throat pointedly, she picked it up and smiled weakly. "I suppose you didn't save it just to poison me."
"About as likely as me suddenly appearing out of the blue after thirteen years to spy on your bath."
Sarah snorted ruefully. "You must think me completely paranoid."
Jareth clinked her glass in a toast. "I was going to say conceited but yes."
She sipped it tentatively. An explosion of flavour hit her tongue. It was better than the lavishly expensive stuff her mother kept stocked. Better than the stuff she'd had on her engagement, when the delirium of love had elevated every sensation. Under different circumstances she would have savoured it.
"It's delicious," she offered politely, keenly aware of his eyes watching her over the rim of his glass. "I can see why you were saving it and I'm now even sorrier I've made you waste it. It must have been for a very special occasion. All I can do it offer my sincere apologies again. My offer to make amends, however paltry, stands."
"I was saving it, yes. But it's not wasted." He twirled his glass, admiring the golden hue of the liquid and the cascade of delicate bubbles against the crystal. His eyes returned to hers. "Do you want to know what I was saving it for?"
The hair on the back of her neck suggested no. "Yes," she answered after a moment.
"It was for a victory celebration." He took another draw, thin lips bowing with relish deeper than the taste. "The victory of having you back in my power."
Sarah choked, her hand drawing up to her mouth to catch the spray. She hadn't thought herself able to feel more vulnerable than half naked on the edge of his throne, but it was hard not to recognize the gloat in his voice.
"You're teasing me."
His smile deepened. "Not in the least. And I'd say, you, dressed like that, on my throne is the one doing all the teasing."
Sarah set the glass down hard and stood, not caring that it brought them so precariously close. That her bare feet meant he still hovered over her and the throne at her back still caged her in.
"I really am sorry," her tone belying the sentiment, "but I am not in your power. I needn't repeat the words we both remember. I will make it up to you. This was a huge, embarrassing misunderstanding, so please go ahead and laugh at my expense. But you've had your fun. And I need to be going. Right now."
Jareth smiled again, those uneven teeth Sarah so remembered now hovering but a few inches from her suddenly dry mouth.
"Ah, there's that spark of defiance I so missed. I feared the years had dulled your edges and you'd turned into a timid little mouse. I see that's not so, even if most of it is false bravado right now." A gloved hand traced her exposed collar bone lightly. "I think we both know you aren't going anywhere. That you very much are in my power." The world spun and a moment later felt her back hit the wall of the throne room. Bands of silver slithered across her skin and pinned her to the stone until she was all but immobile. Trussed up like the owl that had started it all. "And the fun, Sarah mine, has only just begun."
AN: This is basically PWP (with like, okay, a little bit of plot). So like... uh... smut next chapter. Shout out to Nicole Schatten for suggesting this story involve him taping her to the wall. It became head canon instantly :)
P.S. A Tanglewood update is coming too. I swear! The next chapter is almost done.