Spring came on suddenly, like desert rain. Sarah, forever in love with the turning of the seasons, woke up full of light and floated to the window, with breath bated until the rush of cool air twirled her around, and she breathed out a laugh and, inhaling, felt her eyes sting at the cold. It could not be much above freezing, but the world had shifted. It was spring, spring, spring!
Back in the tenth grade, all contrariness and spirit, she’d resented Karen for setting aside Saturday for chore day – then again, she resented Karen for asking about her life, for not asking about her life, for being affectionate with Robert, for not being affectionate enough with Robert, for relegating wet Merlin to the garage, for slipping him treats behind Sarah’s back, for being aloof and for buying her ice cream – in short, for everything, and to be fair, Karen had resented her right back.
Resentment had become routine, neither good nor bad in itself. This morning, she enjoyed it, singing in the shower despite having the voice of a crow with a head cold, and dancing with herself through the sun-kissed dust motes in her kitchen while she made breakfast. Through the windows tumbled the distant voice of spring, birds newly arrived from their southern winter’s refuge.
She pirouetted the electric kettle over to the sink and filled it with her hips swaying to the music in her head. Today, the click of the switch turning it on seemed immensely satisfying. She beamed down upon it, hands on hips, and spun away to the phone to surprise Karen with a call, or at least leave a message. Over the years, they’d grown close enough for such casualness. If this was what mothers were supposed to be, Sarah thought she liked it.
The air changed a little, as she hung up, and she grinned to herself at the far from unexpected visit from the Underground. Summoned by the kettle’s whistle, she padded back over to the counter to make her tea…Ginger Peach, she decided with a secret smile. Perfect for the first morning of spring.
“Peaches, precious?” purred the voice behind her.
“Absolutely. My favourite. Would you like some?”
“Perhaps I would, at that.”
She risked a glance at him, as she stirred in her sugar; he beamed up at her, leaned forward on one elbow against the counter, aiming for suave seduction and, softly sun-gilt, achieving something else entirely. His was a smile one could live in forever. The lying sun lent him a halo, or perhaps a crown.
To derail that train of thought, she took a sip of tea, which scalded her.
“Damn!” She hurriedly set the mug down and, ignoring both Jareth and common sense, irritably fanned at her mouth. “Damn, damn, damn, damn…”
“Really, Sarah, you’re what…thirty? I would think you’d have learned better. Here, let me get that, you suck on some – damn!”
For a moment, silence prevailed.
“That,” Sarah announced at length, astonishment gently giving way to the sort of smugness generally associated with cats liberally bedecked in splatters of blood and downy yellow feathers, “just happened.”
Jareth, gloved hand in mouth, glared at her impotently. It took a monumental effort to retain her composure.
“Here. Let me look at that.”
“Hadn’t we better clean up the tea?” he muttered acidly, tucking his hand behind his back.
“It will keep. The countertop’s tile, not sugar. Let me see, Jareth.” Her hand on his elbow seemed to persuade him, a little, to judge by the catch in his breath and the colour blooming from the hard angles of his cheekbones. She tugged a bit and, reluctantly but with hungry eyes, he extended his hand.
She removed the glove slowly, finger by finger, careful of potential burns and studiously avoiding eye contact. He trembled a little under her touch. She pictured his right eye darkening to match the left; the hectic colour all but bruising his cheeks; the flicker of tongue-tip across parted lips that surely accompanied that tiny tic of sound.
The glove gave a staccato whisper as she dropped it onto the counter. Taking her time, she inspected his hand…never before had she seen him without gloves, but found herself rather unsurprised to note the wicked black sickles of claws tipping each slim pale finger. His hands were callused and, to her slight surprise, scarred about the fingertips and backs, and in slabby rings around his wrists.
At the moment, they also showed distinct signs of blistering. She tsked to keep from laughing, and looked up to catch his eye.
“You want me to kiss it and make it better?”
“I…I think I would like that.”
Victory: his breath tripped over itself, as hers hadn’t. She raised his hand to her lips, and registered movement too late as he caught her hands in his and pulled her in. Her body pressed against his, warm and lean, sweet-smelling in the chill bright morning, and when their mouths met one of them moaned, deep and soft and yearning, and it didn’t matter whom. Nothing mattered but the lengths of their bodies three millimetres to far apart (why, oh why, had they worn clothes?) and the tensile strength of his back under her hands and the silk of her hair in his and the sharp tease of teeth against lips, the scent of early spring and desert rain.
Later that day, that year, that lifetime, the only thing that surprised Sarah was that the first time she kissed the Goblin King, it was she who tasted of peaches.
- more-than-slightly-ali likes this
- more-than-slightly-ali said: Oh this is lovely! Can I just read and reread this??
- featherwurm said: I have nothing insightful to ad apart from ‘pretty words, you write dem’, also I very much like your take on the characters, distinct, but sensible from the source material.