Fifty Shades of Fey
Authors Note: Yes, it was bound to happen. I'm surprised someone didn't do it before me, but given my reputation for writing Laby fanfic with a 'kink' component, it was only a matter of time before someone dared me to do this. So…here it is – 'Fifty Shades of Fey' Please note, I have NOT read 'Fifty Shades of Grey' – nor do I intend to. I object to the fact that that it basically plagiarized the author's fanfic and is therefore NOT an original publication, but the author (and publisher for that matter) are trying to pass it off as such. I have read many objections to the way the kink aspects are handled in that story, with many people in the kink community maintaining that it fails to present the issue of consent clearly.
The story you have here is merely a play on the title and bears no relation to that 'novel'.
Warnings: Yes, this is an 18+ story (hello…this is me writing it. Anyone who knows me knows I write mostly 18+ stuff). There are no warnings for THIS chapter, but there will be potential trigger warnings in later chapters.
Fifty Shades of Fey
Ch 1: The Offer
Sarah always liked fall. There was just something magical about the crisp, almost 'tangy' sharpness of the air, and the way everything smelled earthy and spicy at the same time. The way leaves crunched under foot as she walked down the sidewalk, shattering brittle between her favourite leather boots and the cement. She loved the smell of fires as people lit their fireplaces for the first time since the snows melted. And she especially loved fall thunderstorms, the way they slowly seemed to creep in, before declaring their dark intent with angry grumbles that shook the ground.
Yes, fall was her favourite time of year.
Was. Past tense.
Times change and so do feelings. This year fall was a bleak, grey, shroud that seemed to suck the very breath from her lungs, and any hope and joy along with it.
A deep rumble echoed overhead as Sarah looked out the window at the steely clouds hanging low in the sky. The trees in the backyard swayed and groaned as the wind picked up, whipping leaves around and blowing the last few stragglers from the limbs. As the sky rumbled again, she sighed, leaning against the window of her room as she looked out. Thunderstorms used to worry her, now they made her think.
About the Labyrinth…and 'Him'.
A flash of white caught her eye in the trees that lined the far end of the yard. She held her breath as she looked at it, a loud rumble shaking the foundations. Seeing only a bit of white paper caught in the leaves, fluttering, she let go of the breath in a rush that fogged the icy pane of the window. Even now, four years later, thunderstorms reminded her of what she nearly lost and the person she had to fight to prevent it.
Goblin King…whispered her mind. Jar…e….
"No," she muttered, shutting her eyes tight. "Don't say it…don't even think it."
She knew it was probably only a silly childish superstition, but she felt in her bones that to even think his name, was to invoke him – and that was an invitation she wasn't about to initiate.
Sarah wanted to believe her trip to the Labyrinth and her dealings with the Goblin King were some teen-age fantasy, but there were too many odd occurrences that made it impossible not to accept the truth. White owl feathers finding their way into Toby's crib, her backpack, her jackets and even her bed. The way bubbles seemed to find her, even when there was no one blowing them nearby. And they always seemed to float in space, lasting an impossibly long time before she could stand it no longer and would reach out, popping them with a sparkly pink painted nail. And each time she could swear she heard music – and screaming.
No. The Labyrinth was real…and so was 'He'. She was convinced of it.
With a sad sigh Sarah turned from the window, looking at her childhood bedroom now devoid of posters and belongings, the only evidence that someone had lived here being the boxes neatly stacked around the room – taped up and labeled for the moving company. Sarah felt her eyes sting with tears demanding to be set free as she turned her attention back to the window and the storm rolling overhead, readying itself to unleash a torrent of rain. She didn't want to leave the house, but she had no choice. This was her last night in the house she grew up in.
"I'm not ready for this," she whispered to the room and the yard as she watched the clouds. "I don't know how to be an adult…not really."
For years she had fought the 'smothering' of her father and stepmother, knowing that they did it with love, but wanting her independence and to be treated as an adult. At 17 she had one year left of high school and wanted desperately to have the freedom of an adult. Now, here she was faced with just that and she no longer wanted it, not that she had a choice in the matter. It was either strike out on her own or foster care and she knew what happened to older kids in foster care – it wasn't pretty.
Frowning, Sarah traced random lines on the window-pane, fogged by the heat of her breath against the cold glass. If she had been paying attention she would have recognized the lines formed a simple maze, a labyrinth drawn in mist, which disappeared almost as fast as her fingertip drew it. Lost in thought she didn't notice a fluttering white form alight on a tree at the back of the garden, momentarily visible before settling back into them brackish darkness of the pine boughs, the only evidence of its existence being the yellow glint off its eyes as it slowly blinked.
It had been an emotional and stressful six weeks, culminating in the forest of moving boxes that now surrounded her and filled every room. Six weeks to sort through a house that held several generation's worth of memories, preparing to leave it forever. Six weeks of being 'the adult' when all she wanted was someone to cuddle her, stroke her head and tell her everything would be okay.
Two days before she was due to start her last year in high school, Sarah's life and Toby's changed in a way she never expected. She remembered feeling uneasy as her father and step-mother prepared to go out for the night, even Toby was unusually upset, the five year old throwing a huge tantrum and begging them to stay. Sarah had suggested that maybe they should stay home, but her suggestion was shrugged off with a laugh and an admonition to 'grow up and stop being silly'.
They should have listened.
It took hours to calm Toby down enough to get him to bed, the poor kid finally crying himself into an exhausted sleep clutching Lancelot with a tear-stained face. At midnight Sarah finally made her way down to the lounge, her unease growing. She was dozing fitfully on the couch when flashing red and blue lights started to bounce around the room. With a start she looked out the window and felt her blood run cold as two police cruisers pulled into the driveway. They were very officious and apologetic when she opened the door. She remembered the whole scene with an almost clinical coldness – name verification….break it to the family gently….express sympathy….see if they can call someone.
A wry smile twisted her lips as Sarah shut her eyes against the tears that were trying so hard to make themselves known. Leaning against the window, the memory took hold of her again. Call someone? There was no one to call. Her parents were both only children. Her birth mother was off who-knows-where with her latest conquest. There were no aunts or uncles to take in the now orphaned teen and her little brother. Nor were there any doting grandparents. There was no one. Not even a close family friend she could turn to.
No. It was all up to her. To Sarah.
But, she was up to the challenge. The Labyrinth and the Goblin King had seen to that. Since the night she wished Toby away, she had learned to stay strong when things seemed insurmountable. It was only that strength of will, and the comfort she drew from this room and house that kept her going. She identified bodies. Made funeral arrangements. Decided on coffins and cremation and memorial services. Arranged internment plots. Greeted guests and colleagues. And a million other things – all while forcing down her own grief. She had to. She had to keep it together for Toby's sake.
At the thought of Toby her heart clenched and a tear finally fought its way free to slide down her cheek, burning hot in its path then turning icy cold in the chilled air flowing off the icy window-pane.
She'd held it together and gone through all of the 'adult' steps and for what? To lose Toby anyway…and the house as well.
"It's not fair," she muttered, her voice cracking as the rumbling outside increased.
When all the guests had left and the colleagues and given their last 'condolences' that had no real feeling behind them, all that was left was a lawyer in a grey flannel suit and the official. And that is where things went from bad to worse. Instead of inheriting the house, Sarah discovered that it had been sold the year before – her family was only renting it and she couldn't afford the rent on the small amount she made working at the local coffee shop.
Then there was the issue of Toby.
Shaking her head, Sarah sniffed as several more tears, of anger and despair now, followed the first down her cheeks, her hands clenching in fists against her thighs.
"It's not fair," she muttered again, her eyes staring dully into the growing gloom of the wintery dusk.
You'd think that being a lawyer, her father would have known better than to have written a will, but left it un-notarized. The fucking thing wasn't legal. So even though it clearly gave her power of attorney and guardianship over Toby, the state was going to take him and there wasn't a damn thing she could do about it.
She tried to argue it, but since she wasn't even of legal age and definitely didn't have the money to fight the state through the courts, there was nothing she could do. So this was it. In the morning the department of children's services would be by to pick up Toby. "At least he'll be taken care of," she tried to tell herself, knowing it was hollow comfort. They had offered her a spot in foster care too, but at a half-way house for 'troubled teens'. Thankfully her Tudie, her boss at the coffee shop had given her an alternative, letting her stay in the tiny studio apartment above the shop for free. "You can have it as long as you need it, honey," the older woman has said, patting Sarah's arm gently in the first sincerely comforting gesture anyone had shown toward Sarah since this whole nightmare began. The offer was great – for Sarah. But a teeny studio was no place for a child.
Thinking of Toby made the tears come harder now, dripping off the tip of her nose onto the pale pink velvet of the window seat cushion below her, turning the material deep pink as they soaked into the faded fabric. Toby was being taken away and he didn't know what was going to happen. She'd spent the last week trying to find a way to break the news to him, but how do you tell a five year-old that not only have they lost their parents, they are being taken away from the only other living relative they have left. In the end she decided the best she could do was leave him with happy memories, so she filled their last week with games and stories, trips to the park, playing pretend, afternoons at the museum and junk-food filled movie-nights.
"Through dangers untold…and hardships unnumbered…I have fought my way here…to the castle beyond the Goblin City…." She whispered against the glass, before sagging onto the window seat and burying her face in her hands. "I fought so hard for you Tobes…and I'm going to lose you anyway," she sobbed. Her shoulders shook as she let out the grief, anger and fear that she had been storing up for weeks. As she cried, the rumbling grew louder as wind ripped at the trees, seeming to feed on her grief.
"I don't ….want to lose him," she sniffed brokenly. "I fought too hard to keep him and failed anyway."
Rain pelted the window and the wind howled through the trees as the storm finally unleashed its power. Sarah cried until there were no tears left, eventually drawing her knees to her chest as she sat on the window seat. Leaning her head on her knees, she looks out the window into the now dark yard, watching the rain, her eyes burning and sore.
With an exhausted whimper she whispered so softly even the dust bunnies couldn't hear, "I wish someone would come…save us from this nightmare."
And with the rain softening to a light, soothing drizzle against the window, Sarah finally cried herself to sleep.
Sarah shifted in her uncomfortable position and muttered, "Go away Toby…I'm sleeping."
Shifting again, Sarah nearly fell off the window seat before she opened her eyes. "Huh…what?" she mumbled stretching, before she realized the tapping was actually banging and it was coming from the front door.
"Crap!" she gasped, lurching to her feet and dodging the boxes to get out of her room and down the stairs. As she raced through the lower hall she glanced at the clock. 7:30. What time do you call this then?! They aren't due until 11…and they can't have Tobes until then… she thought with a defiant frown stealing over her face.
Pulling open the door she prepared to give them a piece of her mind, but stopped short. There was a man standing on the front porch in an expensive looking black suit and dress coat of grey wool. He was older, with grey hair, glasses and carrying a black leather briefcase. She didn't recognize him, but he was most assuredly not the social worker.
"Ms. Sarah Williams?" he asked, his words crisply accented, suggesting he was definitely not local. Maybe British… she thought as she tucked a stray hair behind her ear.
"Um…yes?" she replied, sounding unsure as she held onto the door handle.
He held out his hand, "My name is Alyn Foster, I am on retainer by Mr. Gareth Rex, a client of your father's."
Sarah shook his hand warily. "Look…if my father owes your client money, he's going to have to through the probate court. They have the house and anything else of value," she sighed.
The man gave a slightly amused smile and shook his head, releasing her hand. "You misunderstand, my dear. I am not here trying to collect monies from your father's estate. On the contrary, I am here with an offer that my employer would like you to consider," he relied. "May I come in?"
With a dazed nod, Sarah stepped back, letting him in. She shut the door after him, and ran a hand through her hair. "Um…please excuse the mess. The movers are coming today to take everything away." He nodded and looked around, his expression unreadable. "But…um… we can talk in the dining room," she suggested, leading him down the hall. Following her into the dining room, now empty except for the table and chairs, Mr. Foster settled himself on one of the chairs, laying his briefcase on the table.
"Thank you, this will do nicely," he said, snapping his briefcase open and pulling out a large envelope and laying it in front of her as she sat down opposite him. "This is the offer from Mr. Rex."
Reaching out, Sarah picked up the large white envelope turning it over in her hands. The back of the envelope had no markings, save for a red wax seal with an imprinted crest in it. She looked questioningly at Mr. Foster.
"Mr. Rex sealed the envelope. I do not know the terms of the offer," he says. "My instructions were to deliver it and await your decision."
Sarah carefully slid a finger under the wax seal, opening the envelope and pulling out a sheaf of papers held together with a clip. Frowning she flipped through them. "Um…how long do I have to make a decision? I mean, I'm going to have to read it carefully. It looks like a contract of some sort."
Mr. Foster simply nodded, "It is a contract and my instructions are merely to await your reply. No deadline was given."
Biting her lip, Sarah began to read through the letter that was attached to the front of the papers, her eyes going wide as she read…
Dear Ms. Williams:
As a client and friend of your father's I am saddened by his loss and the tragedy that has befallen your family. I have greatly admired your father's honesty and integrity, which is why my family has long used him for our legal matters in your country.
While the will left with your father's lawyer in the US was incomplete, I am pleased to inform you that he did indeed have a legal will in the UK, a copy of which is before you now. Over the past few years, your father sought my advice is relieving some of his financial difficulties so that he could provide for you and your brother. During the course of our dealings together, I helped him develop a trust fund for you and your brother. As part of the terms of the trust, in the event of your parents' death, I was granted guardianship of you and your brother, and power of attorney over the trust until you turn 21, at which point you become the primary guardian for Tobias and sole trustee of the funds.
Due to the international nature of this arrangement and your age, it requires your consent. Should you not consent to my taking guardianship of both yourself and your brother, then all trust monies are to be held in escrow, with each of you inheriting half upon your 25th birthday.
I realize that the situation is far from ideal and the terms of your father's will require you to place your trust in someone who is, by all accounts, a complete stranger, but I do have your and your brother's best interests in mind – as was your father's wish.
Please review the will and consent paperwork before you. Mr. Foster is a certified attorney and able to notarize all documents, as well as answer any questions for you pertaining to the legality of the contract, will and other documents.
I hope to see you soon.
Blinking, Sarah looked at Mr. Foster. "This is real?" she asked.
"Indeed it is," he replied.
Catching her lip with her teeth, Sarah flipped to the will beneath it. "I…I'm going to need some time to read this," she said.
Foster rose with a curt nod, saying, "I shall leave you alone to review the documents. When you are done or need me to address any questions, I will be in the lounge."
Sarah watched him leave the room then looked back at the will and began to read. The will itself was more generous than she had expected, leaving she and Toby enough money that they would be quite comfortable and if invested wisely, could set them up for the rest of their lives.
Then she turned to the consent contract. Sarah nibbled on the end of the pen as she read through it, frowning more and more. If she signed the document, she would be granting Mr. Rex power of attorney and guardianship over Toby as well as herself. The terms of the contract, while stated simply, were anything but. In essence, he would have power over both of their lives. Biting her lip, Sarah mulled it over. Could she really give control over her life for the next four years to a stranger in order to keep she and Toby together?
As she was considering the offer, the house phone rang, the sound shattering the quiet of the morning. Hopping up, Sarah trotted into the kitchen to answer it.
"Yes, Ms. Williams? This is Nancy Green, from social services," said the voice on the other end of the line.
"Oh..um…hi," Sarah mumbled, feeling her heart start to tighten in her chest.
"I'm sorry to have to do this, Ms. Williams, but the foster family we have set up for your brother would like to pick him up early, so I will be by in an hour to pick him up," the woman said matter-of-factly.
"But…you can't do that," protested Sarah, her hand tightening on the phone in a panic. "We have until 11. You promised."
"Please, don't make this any harder than it has to be," said the social worker, her tone emotionless.
"But…" Sarah tried again, unable to think of anything that might sway the woman on the phone.
"I'll be there at 9 with a sheriff's deputy," the social worker replied, her voice hard now. "Don't make him be necessary."
When she hung up, Sarah stood for a moment looking at the phone as it beeped at her. An hour. That was all she had left with Toby and she hadn't even told him yet. Her mind was a whirlwind of panic and despair.
"Is everything all right, Ms. Williams?" asked Mr. Foster from the doorway, his grey eyes narrowed in concern.
"They're going to take him," she muttered, still staring at the bleeping phone. "In an hour. They'll take him and I'll never see him again." Pacing the kitchen she wrung her hands, finally looking at him, her eyes wild and pleading, "If…if I sign the contract, will that stop them?" she asked.
"I don't know," he says. "I haven't read it."
Sarah rushed to the dining table, grabbing the will and the contract and ran back to Mr. Foster. He took the documents and read them rapidly, then nodded. "Yes. If the documents are signed and notarized before they arrive, then it is official and takes priority over any other claims and legal contracts."
Glancing at the clock, Sarah felt her heart squeeze as Toby came blearily into the room, clutching Lancelot by one paw. "'Mornin' Sarah. Who's dat?" the five-year-old asked with a yawn, rubbing his eyes as he looked at Mr. Foster.
That one question from the person she loved most in the world sealed the deal – and her fate.
"Let's do this," she said, grabbing the papers from Mr. Foster and quickly scribbling her name in the marked spaces.
As the clock struck 9, Mr. Foster stamped the documents, finalizing them.
The deal was done.
They now were under the guardianship of Mr. Gareth Rex, for better or worse, and Sarah really hoped it was for better.
Pulling Toby into a tight hug, Sarah kissed the top of his head, whispering, "I lost you once and got you back. No one is ever going to take you from me again."
Author's Note 2: Thank you to everyone for being patient with my other stories. I will be working on them, but this story idea has been rolling around in my brain for two years and it is time to exorcise it. :)