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Thrice Bitten

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"Never interrupt your enemy when she is making a mistake."

Napoleon Bonaparte


Sarah stopped the blade a hairsbreadth from the pale skin of his throat. It wasn't doubt that made her pause – her will was resolute – rather she was surprised by the steadiness of her hand. Surely there should be even a slight tremor. Murder was such a final thing after all. So very damning.

It didn't feel that way.

Ear to ear should do the trick, even for one of his kind. You just had to cut deeply enough, the books had advised. Deep enough to make it count. It would not as easy as TV made it seem.

She'd get one try and one try only.

A gun might have been easier; with a knife you had to be close. You had to make it personal.

But that was only fitting.

Only proper.

He deserved as much, despite his sins. And she deserved the satisfaction of truly feeling it.

His chest rose and fell steadily; a slow, even pulse thrummed next to the iron blade. Another precaution. As was the salt she'd soaked it in. She'd done her research.

When she stepped through the mirror she'd spared only the briefest glance for his room. A lavish bedroom befitting its ostentatious owner.

He stirred in his sleep, lids fluttering for a moment. Her eyes tracked back to the thrum of life in his throat. Something so recognizable and almost human in the movement. Almost fragile. His veins were faint blue against the skin.

And suddenly it was real. Too real. No longer fantasy and plot. Something threatened to fracture within her.

Because she was about to kill the Goblin King.

Not just dream about. Not just plan, as she had for months, but actually do.

An execution of sorts.

Tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. All by her and without a chance of reprieve. As was her right.

She felt the lack of ceremony. She also felt the strange sense of intimacy she had not anticipated. The connection of shared history between them. Soon to be a connection of blood. His on her hands. Stained in both flesh and soul. She knew it was a given she could not damn him without damning herself. The thought should make her waver but she'd come too far to run away and she'd sacrificed too much. Her steady hand was as much a testament to her resolve.

She just wasn't prepared for how much softer he looked in sleep. How innocent. His sharp lines blunted somehow. His brightness dimmed.

All the things she knew to be a lie. There was nothing innocent about him and nothing soft. Only avarice and only pain. It would never end unless she ended him.

Do it now, Sarah.

Make the dreams stop.

For Toby, she thought. A guilty realization followed that she invoked his name not only in vengeance but so she could somehow share the burden. Perhaps even share the blame. I did it for you. Bear the mark with me.

And the truth was that her brother, the one she'd risked all to save, was wasting away. Doctors were at an impasse. There was nothing else science could do. Her parents, exhausted and stretched so thin they were no longer recognizable had begun making final preparations. Those decisions no parents should ever have to make. Long past questioning, long past hope. Existing in that ether of in-between and living by rote.

Only Sarah suspected the cause. Only she knew that because Jareth couldn't take him, death would. The reaper already had an icy grip round the boy's throat. If you looked sideways at him you could almost see it clinging to him like a shadow. He hadn't eaten in weeks. Strapped to a bed to stop the self-harm. Force-fed. Gaunt and wasting away despite the liquid diet. IVs he'd ripped out when given the chance. As though he welcomed the end.

Anything to stop the dreams tearing him apart with teeth no one could see.

No one except the sister who knew the truth.

The blade pressed closer. So close it was the whisper of a caress.

Kill the dream-weaver and kill the dreams.

They'd plagued her too but not the same. Fantasies that had aged along with her. Ones so dark and depraved that she'd often woken up sweaty and confused. Yearning and repulsed. Until they'd stopped.

Perhaps because she'd only had the briefest taste. But the Goblin King must have fed Toby, and how could babes yet reject what they didn't understand. By the time Sarah recognized the signs the claws were in too deep. Like ancient roots capable of breaking stone. She'd not even made the connection until she stumbled across a poem by Christina Rossetti. One that warned of tainted Goblin fruit. Of siblings wasting away for a hunger that could never be satiated by mortal means. Toby would never be free.

Not while he lived. The beautiful monster asleep before her.

Finish the story, Sarah.

Her hand shook slightly. Just a slight tick that reminded her she was human. That she was mostly good.

My will is as strong as yours.

She closed her eyes and shifted her grip.

It was only then that she felt the shift in the air. Something uncanny that made the hairs on her neck prickle and something skate along her spine even as she landed the killing blow.

But she wasn't fast enough. Not fast enough by far. Searing pain shot up her wrist.

He was awake, mismatched eyes open and alert and trained on her face. His hand squeezing the fragile bones in hers.

"Sarah."

Who knew so much could be conveyed with a simple name.

His hold didn't loosen but the pain dulled to a steady ache. The blade still locked between them.

"You were never asleep."

He didn't answer but his lips curved into the mockery of a smile. "You would have done it."

He almost sounded proud. With a crushing sense of defeat she realized it had been game. He'd been testing her. Testing her resolve. Always testing…

She swallowed down the bile that threatened to rise at the realization she'd failed. That Toby would die. Tears threatened to spill but she would not give him the satisfaction of seeing her cry. Her sorrow would not be amongst his spoils.

He must have read it in her face because his smile deepened. Like he was relishing each new play of emotion.

"To what do I owe the honour?"

His voice was low and melodic. Almost soothing, almost cordial if you didn't listen too deeply. Like they were old friends reacquainting after a long absence.

"You know." Her own voice was rough by comparison. Raw. Broken. Lacking the polish but so much more sincere.

A pale brow arched. Once it would have made her young heart beat faster.

"Do I? I gather you're not here on a social visit."

The weapon still lay between them. She tugged on her hand, as if confirming that she was not there for niceties.

"Iron. A nice touch." He allowed the blade to make contact with his skin. "If altogether useless." He then drew the blade up to his lips, her hand completely helpless and immobile in his grip. His tongue slid out and tasted the cold metal, all the while keeping his eyes on hers. "And salt."

The act was almost erotic. A lover's caress. Her pulse picked up.

He felt it too. Felt it in her wrist, even as she realized he wore no gloves. Flesh to flesh. Another kind of intimacy.

"Whatever shall I do with you, little would-be king slayer?"

Her heart skipped another beat and she swallowed thickly, suddenly feeling so very stupid. So utterly useless.

His eyes flicked over her and she got the impression he had no trouble seeing in the dark. When they returned to her face there was a new look in them that she couldn't place but didn't like.

"Did you dress for the part? For me, Sarah? I'm honoured."

Add foolish to stupidity. At the time it had felt only fitting to pull on the old linen shirt, vest, and worn jeans. None of them quite fitting as they should. A grown woman playing dress-up. Playing at murder.

But she canted her head stubbornly. "Does it matter? I failed."

"Yes," a sibilant hiss rife with relish, "you did."

Sarah ignored the implicit threat. She would give no satisfaction in her loss.

"Just do what you're going to do and get it over with." She wasn't sure if she meant to her or to Toby or both. An end to suffering. An end to her shame. Begging for the kind of mercy only absolution can bring.

"Now, now. You don't even know what you're asking for. Release the blade."

Her eyes flickered back to his face in surprise and her brow furrowed.

"I could make you," he answered her unasked question. "But I want you to do it. Of your own free will. Be a good girl now."

His hold relaxed enough that she could move her fingers but the sting of his patronizing command remained. Her eyes dropped back to the pulse in his neck.

She felt as much as heard his almost feral bark of laughter. "You still want to do it. Even now."

"Always," she spit back just as viciously. But she released her grip on the blade.

He swiftly removed it with his other hand in another move so fast she couldn't see. He kept his hold on her.

She eyed their joined hands disdainfully, no longer separated by the buffer of iron. "He's just a boy. Release him. Take me instead."

"Oh, is this where you play the martyr?" He almost sounded disappointed in her. "I'm afraid murderers don't get to play that role, Sarah. Haven't you realized you're the villain in this story yet?" When she didn't answer, he chuckled. "I see. You haven't. What a pity." His grip on her hand changed. He threaded her fingers with his longer ones into the parody of an embrace. "And I think it's fair to say I already have you here. Have you anything else to bargain with?"

Sarah was certain he'd wanted her to grasp the implication of her words. He was studying her face almost ravenously. Searching for any reaction.

Another victory she would deny him. "He's dying." She'd meant it as condemnation but even she could hear the underlying plea.

"Yes," he replied easily. Blandly. No trace of guilt in his tone. "As all mortals do."

"It's your fault!" Her vitriol was as sharp as a blade, but he deflected just as easily.

"Poor Sarah." His other hand came up and carded through her hair; shock keeping her immobile during the brief caress. "If you were looking for villains to blame, you should have looked in the mirror rather than come through it."

She wanted to believe they were honeyed lies, but she could taste the truth.

"How?" She blinked back sudden tears.

"My will is as strong as yours," he parroted cruelly. "My kingdom as great. You passed your suffering onto him to spare yourself I'd guess. I have no power over the boy after you took him back."

His thumb brushed down the side of her hand in a move that from anyone else might have been comfort. It jolted her back to awareness.

"I could have ended it." Her voice was hollow and her eyes found the blade he'd moved to the nightstand. I still can.

He moved so fast she couldn't see. Suddenly her hand was free but her jaw caged. He'd risen to a seated position and brought his face only inches from hers, his expression savage.

"Your life is mine, Sarah. Don't even think it." He released her chin, to sweep the column of her throat with the back of his hand. And then he gripped it, squeezing just to the point of fear. "I'll choke it from you myself before I let you steal it from me."

She swallowed against his grip. Daring him to with her eyes. "Then do it. Toby will live."

He pushed her away so suddenly she stumbled back, almost falling. He stared at her morosely. "Always the babe to fall back on. To use as a shield. Your righteousness bores me. So does your cowardice."

Sarah massaged the tender skin of her neck. The covers had dropped to his waist. She noticed for the first time that he might sleep naked. His toned chest was bare but a thin line of silvery blond hair crossed his navel in a thin trail and descended beneath the bed linens.

She could feel his awareness of her stare and to her mortification she felt her cheeks heat. She stamped it back down. "You knew I was coming then." Not a question. She allowed her eyes to drop back to his semi-nakedness pointedly.

"We both chose our armour accordingly it seems," he replied without a hint of shame. And then he rose, tossing back the covers.

He was not naked, but low slung silk pants that clung precariously to his narrow hips were somehow worse. He crossed the room and poured himself a glass of wine.

Sarah took the reprieve to look about the space. Dark wood furnishings. A pair of low-backed leather chairs before an arched fire place. Book cases filled with from floor to ceiling. Thick rugs covering most of the stone floors. A wall of windows cloaked by heavy curtains. A writing desk covered in papers and more books. Paintings on the wall, whose colours kept shifting into new scenes and shapes. A handful of doors. And the tall mercury glass mirror from whence she'd come.

When she'd stumbled back, she'd ended up close to it. Close enough that she calculated the distance.

Her eyes met his in the reflection just before the mirror shattered. Sarah couldn't stop her shriek of fear at the display of power.

And then he was pressing a cool glass of wine into her hands.

"Leaving so soon?" He'd moved away again, perching on the back of one of the chairs as he considered her over the rim of his cup.

When she did nothing but stare at her own, her sighed. "It's not poisoned. There is no satisfaction in poisoning an enemy. I think we both know that."

"My brother-"

"Has been released from his tormentor."

Sarah recognized the barb in his words and looked at him sharply. "Maybe you're lying."

He waved a hand casually at the shattered mirror. In it Toby's palliative care room appeared, now a buzz with activity unlike the tomb in waiting it had become. Doctors and nurses surrounded his bed. IV fluids were being exchanged. The morphine drip turned down. Charts being consulted. Karen and her father crying. Crying not in the resigned way they had for weeks but tears of hope renewed. Sarah crossed to the glass, eyes widening. At a Toby who would live. A hundred Tobys who would live in each splinter.

She felt him approach at her back.

"Looks like he'll live after all."

There was such an indifference in his tone, Sarah reacted without thinking. She turned and flung the contents of her glass at him.

For once he did not dodge in time. Red liquid dripped down his face and further down the pale expanse of his chest, soaking into the dark silk of his pants.

His expression was subdued but the silence was laden and Sarah rushed to fill it.

"No thanks to you. This was all your fault. All of it."

He wiped a hand across his brow and shook it off. "You wished him to me." There was an evenness to his tone that made Sarah think of a mask hiding something terrifying.

"I was a child. You took advantage of me."

Jareth laughed at her, dripping in wine but somehow still looking like the king while she floundered.

"Only one of us was nearly a murderer." He eyed the mirror. "Twice."

She lunged for him then, brandishing the shard of silver glass she'd palmed. It was no longer about saving Toby.

He caught her wrist in his hand and twisted, the bones crunching. She cried out in pain, and then sucked in a breath when he used his other hand to backhand her. She landed on the bed, her cheek stinging though she realized he must have tempered his strength. And then he was on top of her. A heavy weight against her slighter one. Her wrists gripped in one of his hands just above her head. Her legs, bent at the knee, hung off the bed and were trapped by his. His face loomed above hers, expression savage in its intensity.

"That's twice you've tried to kill me, Sarah. I no longer think I want to play nice."

"Nice?" She spat back in false bravado. And then she felt it. Something half-hard and getting harder pressing into her hip.

She knew a moment's fear but it was covered by the snide look she cast him. "Apparently almost being murdered does something for you."

"Fighting with you has always done something for me," he replied easily. And then ground his erection into her more as he dropped his head until his mouth was level with her ear. "You're right though. I did want to take advantage of you," he whispered. His free hand came to rest on the soft flesh of her stomach, splaying – almost spanning the width of her. The linen did nothing to mute the heat of his touch. "I remember thinking how much I wanted to tear these clothes off of you. How easy it would be when you so boldly challenged me in the tunnels." Sarah felt the hem of her shirt lift and rend effortlessly between his fingertips. "How I could have fucked you right there." His breath fanned the shell of her ear, even as she felt his cock twitch against her hip. "How you'd have let me. Would I have been your first?"

Sarah pushed against him but it was like pushing against a wall.

"Shh," he pressed his lips into her temple. "No running this time, Sarah. I would have been, wouldn't I have? Too late for that honour now I think." There was mockery in his tone, enough that she bristled against him.

He shushed her again, his fingers tracing patterns on the skin of her bare stomach. "There is no victory in taking a scared little virgin. You'd probably have laid there like a lump. Too scared and overwhelmed to breathe. Good for you maybe, but hardly a challenge for me." His hand trailed up her stomach, between the valley of her breasts, across her tender throat, to test the plushness of her lower lip. He pressed a thumb against the seam. "Would you have cried afterwards in shame or gratitude do you think?"

She bit him. Hard. Hard enough to taste the wine she spilled and the coppery tang of blood.

He pulled back, his hand dropping to cup her throat. "Ah there's the fire."

"If you're going to rape me, just do it. You're boring me."

He laughed at her, watching her intently as she licked at her dry lips. His cock pulsed impatiently against her.

"I've never bored you, Sarah. Isn't that the problem? Why you shifted your dreams onto Toby? Almost killing him? Has the guilt finally settled in or are you still looking to blame me?"

She thrashed beneath him then, wanting to hurt him as much as she wanted to run from his words. She almost got him with her knee, but he used his foot to kick her legs out, shifting to lie to between them now.

"Now, now, Sarah. Even I have limits," he tsked. "What maddens you is that you know you would have welcomed my attentions. A child's version of romance gone too far. But there are rules, poppet. Too old to turn, too young to keep. And I've never had interest in fucking little girls, however much their cruel eyes might beg me." His glittered. "Well, look at that. Same eyes."

Sarah hissed at him, shooting up in an attempt to break his nose with her forehead. He dodged her, craning backwards and then swooping down to pin her in place, uneven teeth at her throat. The shock stilled her struggles. It was like an animal pinning its prey into submission. But it wasn't the bite that rocked her, rather the rush of wet between her thighs. Whether at his crude words or the savageness of his response.

And then his tongue came out and whorled against the stinging the mark he'd left. "Say it," he coaxed against her pulse. "You know you want to."

She tried to shift away again, but he ground against her core, rocking into her almost painfully. The friction of her jeans made her whimper. "Fuck off."

"Say it, Sarah." This time it was an order. His hands squeezed her wrists almost painfully.

"I'm not a child anymore." She put all the force of her hatred into it. All the frustration of the last few months.

And then she prepared to spit into his face but he'd anticipated that too and he was kissing her just as quickly.

His thin lips were surprisingly soft, but he worked them across hers almost punishingly. Like he wanted her to feel him in every nerve ending. Beneath her skin and through her bones.

She pulled away to draw in ragged breaths. Her breasts scraped against his chest with each inhalation and she felt her nipples tighten in response. Knew he could feel it as well. His eyes traced her face like he was taking in every minute change the years had wrought. The evidence that the rules no longer applied.

His silence was somehow more unnerving.

"Let me go."

His grip on her wrists flexed. "I wouldn't have raped you then anymore than I'll have to do so now."

There was a promise there that Sarah refused to acknowledge. "Says the man holding me down on a bed."

"I'm not a man, Sarah." And she thought he might have been reminding her. "We both know you want this. Does lying to yourself make it easier? So you don't have to own your choices later?"

"I don't want you!" Another pulse of slick heat calling her a liar. Her jeans were damp.

He dipped his head and breathed in along her neck. Inhaling deeply. "I can smell it on you." She didn't know if he meant her lie or the evidence of her desire. Maybe both. He rocked against her gently this time. Pressing into her like he was savouring it. "I can feel it." He licked up her neck slowly, stinging over the skin he'd broken with his teeth. "I want to taste it too. Will you let me?"

She shuddered, unable to stop her body's visceral response to his words.

"I hate you." She meant it. She imbued the words with all the powers he'd given her.

"I don't mind," he replied. Worrying the flesh of her throat some more. "Hate me, Sarah," he goaded and rocked against her more forcefully. With a little less finesse. Like he was just as affected.

Anything less might have left Sarah to her resolve.

"Let me go," she repeated, little more than a hoarse whisper.

He laughed against her throat and it echoed through her blood right to her cunt, making her clench and arch and want things she really shouldn't.

This time he spoke against her mouth. He pressed the words into her like he wanted to make sure they penetrated. "I already did."

And he had. She flexed her sore wrists. Splayed her fingers one by one. One for each reason she shouldn't stay.

"Touch me, Sarah." He'd moved to her mouth neck again. Speaking benedictions to each part of her that mattered. "I'll let you. I can be generous."

She scoffed but his offer had already taken seed. She pushed on him and this time he bent to her will, letting her flip them until she straddled him. She hooked his arms above his head. Eye for an eye as they said. It allowed her to look down, to see the evidence of his arousal tenting the silk of his pants impressively between them. She felt a heady sense of power. His desire was hers.

She bent her head, letting the fall of her hair tease his chest. Her mouth found his ear and she traced the shape with her tongue. "You have no power over me. But I do over you. Don't I?" He thrust upwards at her words, his face contorting into something that was even more inhuman. She realized that whatever fucked up code he followed stopped him from taking what he wanted. He could have her at his will. He'd shown that strength already. But he wanted her at hers.

She slapped him across the face. Hard. Not showing his restraint. "Don't ever hit me again."

He shot her another feral look, the stark markings on his face all the more pronounced, but she took his silence as acknowledgement and rewarded him with a kiss.

He made her work for it. Teasing the seam of his lips until he parted them and invited her in. She accepted. She let go of his wrists and held his jaw, cradling, so she could plunder what was hers. What had always been hers.

His hands found her breasts without the same lack of courtesy. Cupping and palming though the cloth. A moment later buttons scattered. Her bra beneath was white and lacy. Not salacious by any means but a touch more than practical. He spread the folds of her shirt, framing them for a moment. He ghosted the back of his fingers across one, the pebbled nipple already dark against the semi-sheer lace. He repeated the action gently on the other one, his eyes tracking back to her face. As though he hungered for confirmation it affected her. Whatever he saw he took as permission.

And then he ripped her bra apart like it was no more than paper, her breasts spilling free.

For a moment he did nothing but stare. The only evidence he was interested the hard length pressing into her jean-clad cunt.

And then those pale, long-fingered, blunt tipped hands rose and cupped their heavy weight. Sarah didn't know she'd been holding her breath until she exhaled brokenly. Pressing into him.

"If only everyone who tried to murder me had such magnificent tits." He rolled her nipples between his thumb and forefingers, tugging upwards.

She went to slap him again but he deftly caught her wrist and pulled her down over him so he could suck an aching peak into his mouth. Around the sensitive skin he threw her words back at her, "don't hit me again." And then he drew as much of her breast into his mouth as he could. Sucking and pulling and using his teeth sparingly enough to keep on the right side of pain.

She was rocking against him, not even caring anymore as he sucked on her tits. She lost track of his hands and one had wormed free enough to find the fly of her jeans. He fumbled for a moment, as though confused by the modern closure before using magic impatiently o slice those denim. Like before, there was no warning before he pressed fingers between her slick folds.

Sarah fractured, muscles clenching but not before he'd withdrawn and flipped them. This time shoving her further up the bed. He held his glistening fingers up for her to see, spreading them slightly so her arousal spider-webbed between them.

"Tell me how you don't want me, Sarah."

When she said nothing, her expression tortured and mutinous, he wiped his fingers down her faced then licked it off.

It should have disgusted her. It didn't.

Her armed wrapped around the lithe planes of his back, tracing the muscles in them with her nails.

"You want me more."

A volley. It was still war, just a different kind of battlefield.

"Maybe," he conceded. And then bent his mouth to work her breasts again. Like he couldn't get enough. Sucking, biting, licking. Something savage from the being who had always seemed so poised, even in defeat.

But there was still a grace to his actions. He caught her wrists and dragged her hands down to his waist. "Take my pants off, Sarah."

It was a command cloaked in seduction. The inexorable timbre to his voice. Her hands danced against his hip bones.

She panicked. Her body seizing for a moment in its desire. "No." And then more forcefully, "No! This can't happen."

He gave up all pretense of vulnerability and gripped her ruined jeans, lifting her hips and tugging down swiftly against the bed until her legs were free. He pressed his fingers into her again, curling upwards and using a thumb against her clit.

His mouth caught the lobe of her ear in uneven teeth. "Why not?"

She had no answer.

He worked a finger deeper into her channel and then another, his thumb teasing her clit the entire time.

More words against her throat. "You are so wet, Sarah. So wet for me." His cock thrust against her bare thigh. Then his fingers stilled, two knuckles deep in her. "Take my pants off. Now."

She scowled at his command. "Fuck you." But she pulled the silk down, feeling his erection spring free and bob against her skin. She gripped him, deliberately squeezing just a little too tightly.

He groaned – such a guttural, animalistic sound she actually felt it echo through her body. Feeling generous she stroked up his length and down again. "Who wants who?" She arched up to say into his neck.

"Whom," he corrected.

So she bit him. Hard enough to break the skin again. Hard enough to mark him like he had her. Copper and salt and magic and victory.

He pulled his fingers free from her sheath and pushed her hands away, using his knee to kick her legs wider. Before she could even take a calming breath he hooked one hand under knee, lifting it to her chest and speared her in one thrust.

Filled her in an instant. From emptiness to bursting. She rebelled against the delicious feeling, her back arching and hands stabbing into the sheets as though trying to find purchase.

It was borderline pain. She was more than ready but he was large and he'd given no warning. No chance to retreat. He paused however, letting her muscles relax around him. Maybe letting himself adjust. He pressed a soft kiss to her slack mouth. Maybe in apology.

The gentleness roused her and her inner muscles clenched. Milking him. He swore against her mouth, lifting enough to find her eyes.

Love and hate were so very close the poets said. Perhaps that's why she found his look so disconcerting. Why she closed her eyes against it.

He gripped her chin even as he shifted to withdraw and thrust into her with bruising force. "No, you don't," he hissed between clenched teeth. Uneven, inhuman teeth. "Open your eyes so you know who's fucking you, Sarah."

Her eyes shot open. So green and bright in the dim light, he was momentarily awed. "You're fucking me," she snarled right back. "The champion of your Labyrinth. The one who beat you." She wove her hands into his hair and then gripped, hard, tugging his head to her breast. "You're my slave, remember?"

He sucked wetly, while still setting a rhythm to steal her breath. Each thrust felt like a stab. Like the one she'd failed to make. Her body rocked into the mattress, his mouth and teeth leaving no skin untasted. One of his hands splayed across her ribs for a moment, counting each bone, then down, the backs of his fingers dipping into her navel before finding her clit again. He worked it furiously until she could no longer reason. Until she was pushing against him even as her legs hitched up and hooked around his hips. When she tried to grip his wrist, to stop his torment, his other hand cupped her neck. Not squeezing but caging. Holding her in place while he thrust wildly. A few more flicks of his fingers, teeth tugging on a swollen nipple and she was coming.

Coming apart.

Undone.

Screaming. Body shaking against his.

Through the haze she saw a terrifying look of triumph from him before he too unravelled.

Sarah panicked then, body still boneless and trembling in after throws, and pushed against him frantically until his shot her a vicious, bitter look but pulled out. He came with a hoarse grunt, lashing his spend across her stomach and swollen breasts.

Sarah pressed her face to the side, sucking in deep gulps of air.

A moment later she felt a damp cloth land on her sensitive flesh.

She looked up, eyes hooded, to see him standing naked with one arm propped against the mantle of the fire. His body limned by fire. She wiped herself clean, even as she realized much like the blood she'd hoped to spill the stain oh him would never come out. She sucked in sharply as she cleaned her overworked breasts. How could she explain that letting him come in her would be too intimate. Somehow a line too far. A concession she was not willing to make. She tucked her knees together and pulled the ruined folds of her and vest over her chest. She turned on her side, aching in all the wrong places. Aching in all the right places.

Without meaning to, perhaps finally freed of the yoke of Toby, she fell asleep.

When she woke it was to the feeling of his mouth on her. Her knees were hooked over his shoulders, his arms holding her thighs in place as her worked his tongue into her swollen flesh and sucked on her clit. She arched off the bed and pushed at him futilely, but he only tightened his hold like he wanted her undoing on his terms. He must have removed her ruined shirt and vest because she found herself completely naked, laid across the bed like an offering.

Or a spoil of war.

She called him every manner of name she could think of until he stopped, throwing off her knees long enough to cover her. He thrust his fingers into her mouth. She could taste herself on them. "Stop talking lest I find something else to busy that tongue of yours with."

She called him one last name and then fell back, spreading her legs without his bidding. He breathed words of praise against her wet cunt and then made a feast of it until she screamed herself hoarse. When she did he roared just as triumphantly.

When she awoke again, she was pressed to his side beneath covers pulled to her waist. He was sleeping. Really sleeping she thought, though she wasn't sure how she knew. She blinked at him blearily until he came into focus. Not soft at all she thought. Even in sleep. How had she ever been fooled? Hard lines and sharp angles. Which made her victory all the more impressive, she thought. Her hand traced a path down his chest, along the trail of fine hair to find him semi-hard and pulsing in her palm. Before he fully woke, she'd pulled the covers back and had worked her mouth around him. His eyes shot open in the dark, lambent like an animal's. His long fingers threaded through her hair, pushing it back from her face to watch himself disappear between her lips. She was still so wet, so needy, and for a moment she ground against his thigh chasing her own relief. But it was important to show him his place. To have him come undone at her command. His hands dropped from her jaw to pull at her nipples. It caused another wave of need to shoot down to her cunt. She ignored it. Hollowing her cheeks to take him deeper. Her free hand cupped his balls. The candles in the room flared brighter in the room. Later she would realize it was not for his benefit. He could see everything perfectly. He wanted her to see what she did to him.

His hands fisted in the sheets and unlike before when he'd come, she kept her mouth firmly latched to him. Swallowing until she almost choked as he thrashed in the bed. Because he was at her mercy and she used just enough of her teeth to remind him. When she finally released him, still half hard and throbbing, he wiped a finger up her chin to slide the last drop into her mouth.

And then gripped her mouth and pulled her up him so he could kiss her thoroughly. Desperately. Like a man starved.

Sticky and aching, she awoke again, all sense of time lost. She found the ensuite – thankfully modern – and relieved herself. Washing briefly. She padded naked back into the darkened room quietly and poured herself a drink of the wine. It was dry but well-spiced and it soothed her parched throat. She considered the bowl of ripe fruit, hunger rumbling, she ignored it. No more missteps. Feeling eyes upon her she glanced above the rim.

He was awake and watching her from the bed.

She raised a brow at his frank scrutiny, feeling the flush suffuse her face and spread down her body. But she refused to hide. Refused to feel shame though she could picture every flaw she knew she had. Imagined him cataloguing each of them in turn. Lowering the cup, she considered him and then boldly turned, giving him time to look though it nearly killed her. Her bravado slipped.

And then he was there. At her back. Pressing into her. Somehow impossibly hard again against the cleft of her ass. "Don't cheapen my victory by devaluing yourself, Sarah." He bit down lightly – warningly – into the fleshly part of her shoulder. One hand reached around to play with her too-sore breasts, while his other slid down to cup her hotly. He turned her so she could see herself in the mirror – restored from its broken state.

So she could see herself with his hands on her. In her – fingers curling up and in. Filling her. "You know your worth." He pressed the words into her flesh. "You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. That I will ever see." And she knew it for the truth.

His hands played with her breasts. With her cunt. Watching her reactions her in the mirror as she watched him work her body.

"I hate you." It was a truth too.

"I know," he replied. Almost gently. Almost soothingly, pressing open-mouthed kissed along her throat. He meant to make her come in the mirror while she watched. Helpless.

"I won't stay," she warned. And meant it.

"I won't ask," he replied evenly. The tinge of humour stinging, though she'd never admit it. She'd have like to throw his offer back in his face. She'd also have liked him to at least make it.

So she pushed back into him and it was enough. His control slipped and she felt the lead tip back to her.

He turned her in his arms, then turned them both again and pushed her back into the wall, almost knocking the breath from her. Though he was not so much taller than her, he used his strength and lifted both her legs beneath the knees, sheathing himself as he had the first time in a single aching thrust. She pushed against him, vying for control, but he rocked into her slamming her into the wall rhythmically. Her ankles hooked around him and she realized he wouldn't even need to touch her further to make her come again. He wouldn't even need to try and that felt too much like defeat. Furious, she pulled at his hair to the point of pain, but his hips snapped into hers unrelentingly. She sank her teeth into his neck again, this time in the same spot she'd meant to sink the blade.

He grunted, and she felt his cock jerk like he'd almost come from the bite. He stilled almost immediately and pulled back to look at her when she released his skin in surprise. She was breathing heavily, her lips stained. He cupped her face and her brow furrowed in confusion before he pressed a hungry kiss to her mouth. He swiftly moved them to the bed, laying her back gently before sliding into her abused flesh. Softly. Almost reverently.

Sarah wasn't prepared for the languid strokes. For the way he rode her senses until her toes curled. For what felt like lovemaking when they'd been fucking. Fucking was so close to fighting it was easy to pretend. She clawed at him until he huffed and turned her, pulling her hips up and back against him so he could take her roughly from behind. The angle much deeper. Much sharper. As befitted enemies. But even in the midst of his rough thrusts and the crude sound of him slapping into her, she couldn't mistake the soft caresses her gave to her back. To the kiss – and then another – that he pressed against her spine.

She didn't resist when he turned her again, hooking one leg over his shoulder as he pressed back into her swollen cunt. For as much as her will was as strong as his, she was only mortal and was feeling her limits. Her body ached but she never let the fight leave her face. Never let her hatred waiver even as he brought her to orgasm again. And again. He swallowed the last one with his mouth, stealing her cries. Drinking them in. Perhaps that undid her too, because when he would have pulled out, she used her hands to keep him in place. Forcing him to stay even as her face told him it meant nothing. On her terms only. He came inside her, body jerking gracelessly against her and his cries hoarse and broken against her slick breasts.

My victory, not yours, Sarah thought. But she let him pull her into a kiss, melting just a little while he shuddered still inside her.

Sleep pulled her under only briefly. The room was full dark, the fire having gone out when she opened her eyes again. Sarah pulled herself gently from his limp embrace, wincing at the simple movement. Her body ached and even in darkness she could see the marks that would take days if not weeks to heal. When she stood she felt evidence of him drip down her leg. But she'd take that as his loss, her victory. She wiped herself on the sheet.  Something else to remember her by. 

And there was satisfaction in knowing she'd left her own stamp. She could see the twin marks on his neck. And even on his thumb where it rested in the hollow left in her pillow. Seeking her even in sleep.

Sarah picked up her clothes - they were beyond saving - and stepped to the mirror, closing her eyes. She felt her hand pass within. Relief suffused her, but she paused to look back. Just once. To remember. She'd come there to kill him. And instead had taken him in another way. An enemy he'd always be and she was not foolish risk his touch again. As much as her body yearned for more.

He'd said he had no power to take Toby. She'd stopped the harm she'd inadvertently caused. It was over. Let it be a memory.

She wondered if she should leave a note. A final farewell.

She didn't. They were enemies not lovers. Enemies had no need for words anymore.

Nor did she look back again.


Once Sarah passed through the mirror, Jareth's eyes snapped open. He stretched, wincing slightly. For a mortal she'd been surprisingly energetic.

The room smelled like sex. And like her. It was a heady combination to his senses. If she'd been there he'd have taken her again whether she wanted it or no. He'd make her want it.

Time enough for that later.

He examined his thumb intently, the pale skin broken by the impression of even teeth. Then felt his neck on both sides. He didn't bother to stop the smile of satisfaction. Would not have hidden it had she been there either.

Let his enemy believe she'd won and lick her wounds.

Though he'd like to do that to her too.

She been so careful right until the end. He didn’t ask her to stay because he didn’t need to. Words were her power. He had other means. 

It made victory all the sweeter. And he could be generous. She'd want to see her brother for herself. To see he was safe.

He'd tug the leash when she was ready. Or maybe not wait until even then. He rather liked her when she was angry. When she used her teeth. And she had. Three times. Just enough to seal her fate. He wondered what she'd do when she discovered it. Her hatred would almost be a living, breathing thing. Something powerful and intoxicating.

Not that it mattered. She could change nothing now. It was already done. He'd have his lifetime to show her just how close hate and love really were.

Thrice bitten, Sarah mine.