AN: Done as a gift fic for the Labyrinth Fic Exchange 2011, on Livejournal. My prompt giver, slobber_neck (Oh-you-pretty-things over here), had listed in her interests another favourite, classic fantasy film of mine, so I decided to take some pointers from it… can anyone guess it? ;)

And special thanks go to the wonderful Surelady - go check her stories out!

Title: The King's Knight: Sir Didymus's Classic Tale of Honour and Adventure… (The "Good Parts" Version, Abridged by His Majesty, Jareth The Goblin King).
Prompt:
A story in which Sir Didymus bravely embarks on an epic quest...to find Jareth's pants.
Plot Summary:
Toby's sick, and Sarah thinks amusing him with one of Sir Didymus's many tales of adventure, is just what the doctor ordered… Or at least it would be, if a certain someone would just stop interrupting her.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately I don't own any of the Labyrinth characters, etc, etc. Also, I'm in the UK so you may find some words have extra 'U's etc. ;)


The King's Knight

Reaching for the handle in front of her, Sarah could already hear the sound of coughing and spluttering echoing from within. It sounded like he wasn't faking it this time.

"Hey squirt!" She said opening the door, addressing the lack-lustre eight year old sprawled out over the bed.

"Sarah! You're home," Toby smiled weakly, pleased to see her. "I'm not well," he continued forlornly, proceeding to cough a little more – just in case his big sister needed more proof that you were never too young to get man-flu.

"I know. Dad told me." Sarah nodded sympathetically, making her way over to the bed, hugging her little brother tightly.

"What's that?" Toby said instantly breaking away from the embrace, looking keenly at something Sarah was holding. "Did you bring me a present?" He asked hopefully, his tone now decidedly more lively.

"Ah, well, in a way you could say I did." She said as she pulled out a hand-bound stack of parchment paper from between them.

"What is it?"

"This," she answered, laying the object down on the bed and running her hand over the perfectly bound pages. "Is a very special tale."

"Really?" Toby replied sceptically, looking at the obsessively precise script before him. How anyone could write so neatly without lined paper – or with, for that matter – was beyond him. "Whose writing is that?" he asked pointedly.

"Sir Didymus's."

Well that explained a lot.

"Though I'm not sure if he wrote the inside text – I can understand it for a start." Sarah smiled as she flicked through the pages. "When Sir Didymus heard you weren't feeling well, he thought a tale of one his many gallant deeds," she began speaking in her best 'ye olde English' accent, "…would elevate thy noble sprits."

"Really?" Toby looked doubtful.

"And this is no ordinary tale," she gestured in a sweeping motion, her flare for amateur dramatics getting the better of her, tone no longer impersonating the little fox, but someone entirely different. "Oh no, I'm told this is the story of how Sir Didymus was knighted for services rendered to none other than His Majesty, Jareth, The Goblin King."

"Really?" Toby repeated again. "Does it have sports in it?"

"Are you kidding? Sarah said still in full drama mode, now looking at the notes on the back. "Fights, traps, honour, parachuting, giants, goblins, chases, escapes… True-love."

"Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try and stay awake."

"Oh. Well thank you very much!" Sarah laughed, settling down next to him on the bed. "Your vote of confidence is overwhelming."

••••

Once upon a time, in the domain between realms, lived a gallant and dashing young fox-terrier. He was brave and bold and in possession of a sense of smell none could rival, though his was a conflicted existence, always marred by the feeling that something was missing from his life. He yearned for honour and adventure, and had taken to travelling the length and breadth of the lands looking for employment. Gleaning skills and knowledge along the way from any that would teach him. Over the years he'd become quite an accomplished swordsman, he'd assisted various damsels in distress, tracked down many a missing item and had even fought a dragon once. But the glory was never enough to sustain the craving and still he wanted more.

Every endeavour he undertook, he did so willingly, for each one brought him even closer to his goal, his dream of becoming a knight in the service of one of the surrounding kingdoms. Ever since he was a young pup he had longed for nothing more…

••••

"Now, isn't that a wonderful beginning?"

Both Sarah and Toby had felt the shift in the air. The Goblin King sat making himself comfortable on the rocking chair next to Toby's bed.

Oh, just great, Sarah thought trying not to look at him. An impossible task, she knew. He commanded attention whether you wanted to give it to him or not, manipulating the surrounding space, moulding it, shaping it, always drawing your attention towards him. Even if you tried to look at something else your eyes always ended up focused back onto him.

She was pretty sure he only did it for her benefit.

"Tobias, Sarah." He bowed his head in greeting.

Toby said nothing; only smiled. He'd learnt long ago, where his sister and the Goblin King were concerned there was more fun to had by taking a back seat and simply enjoying the show.

"Who invited you?" Sarah asked, with no choice but to look straight at him, taking in his appearance, the usual mix of ragged decadence, wild hair weaved with the occasional feather – what was he thinking? – dark shirt open low, his pendant catching the light, tight trousers tucked into immaculate boots – which were now resting on the edge of Toby's bed – and a cloak lined seamlessly with glossy black plumes completing the look. Feathers so beautiful she almost wanted to reach out and stroke them, just to see if they really were as soft as they appeared – almost – but not quite, she'd learnt from past encounters with the Goblin King keeping your distance was key.

"Really Sarah, must we keep going over the same old ground?" he replied, leaning further back into the chair.

Had she known seven years ago, admitting to needing 'all of them' really did mean ALL of them, she may have chosen her words a little more wisely (after all, nobody needed hordes of goblins riffling through their underwear draw). But, as she was well aware, words once said could not be unspoken, however it didn't hurt to just remind him sometimes intrusions were not always welcome. Plus, it was never a good idea to appear too keen around him.

"New book?" he continued, eyes flashing with mischief.

"Not really." She replied raising her voice over Toby's coughing, which she suspected had more to do with glitter inhalation than illness.

"It's not a kissing book, is it?" The smile was next, sharp, dangerous and utterly compelling.

"What?" Sarah snapped.

"Ew, I hope not!" Toby protested through his coughs.

The slight head tilt followed suit. "I have been privy to some of the literature you like to keep under your pillow after all… fascinating reading, I must say."

It was Sarah's turn to start coughing.

She'd been making too many mistakes with him lately. Feeling her cheeks start to burn she looked away, only to find her gaze snapping straight back onto him more intensely than before. Eyes, smile, tilted head, now followed by a raised eyebrow, as the smile grew more seductive. She wasn't sure if she wanted to jump him or maybe just punch him in the face; it was a toss up at the moment. The whole 'no power' thing just wasn't what it used to be.

"It's the story of how Sir Didymus came to be in your employment."

"Really? A story about me?" He feigned surprise. "How about skipping to the good parts?"

"You mean the bits with you in it?" She replied, her tone flat and full of sarcasium.

"Excellent idea." He smirked as his hand motioned for her to continue. Sarah could feel his pull start to wane as her eyes returned to the text, which had suspiciously jumped forward a number of pages…

••••

As Didymus made his way through the endless passage of bricks for the third sunrise in succession, he began to wonder if seeking employment within the goblin kingdom really had been such a good idea after all? A world devoid of colour, the dark foreboding walls slick with shining damp towered high above him, while debris from trees nowhere to be seen, littered the stone floor, and eyes, strange eyes seemed to follow him everywhere he went… watching.

If it hadn't of been for the worm he'd passed – yet again – he may well have died of thirst.

"More tea?"

"Thou art too kind, good Sir." Didymus replied holding out the delicate china.

"Biscuit?"

"A thousand thanks." He answered taking another custard cream, stuffing it into his pocket for later.

"Anyways, as I was saying you just walk through that wall," the worm motioned across the passageway with a small tuft of blue hair. "And left, that's the quickest way to the castle… you should have asked me days ago."

"Indeed, thine assistance hadst been most invaluable." Didymus bowed his head in gratitude, set his teacup carefully back on its saucer and bid his goodbyes. Then gingerly passed through the illusion, the little worm's voice echoing after him – "Just keep going straight ahead, you'll reach the goblin city soon enough… although why anyone would want to visit such a place is beyond me. The Missus was saying only the other day, goblins make a terrible cup of tea."

••••

"Wise words for an invertebrate, I couldn't agree more."

The interruptions had started again.

"Maybe you shouldn't have shown them how to curdle milk?" Toby piped up.

"Or swap sugar with salt?" Sarah added.

"Or just make your own bloody tea?" Grumbled a previously unseen goblin that had curled itself up like a cat at the foot of the bed… a location it would soon be lamenting, considering its proximity to the Goblin King's boots.

Sarah gave the little goblin an empathetic smile and returned to the story; the fact that it was no longer on the same page as before – again – hadn't escaped her.

••••

As Didymus clambered carefully over the mounds of lost dreams and forgotten treasures, only now at the summit of the final heap could he see the large twisted turrets of the Goblin King's castle ominously rising out from its base of sharp rock and stone. Surrounding it a hotchpotch of rickety dwellings, markets – and a surprisingly large amount of taverns – all contained within the substantial city walls. Finally, he breathed a sigh of relief as he made his way eagerly down the other side of the mound, and began to wonder just how difficult was it going to be to get inside.

Not very, as it turned out.

As the dark gates loomed before him, a large goblin in ill-fitting, rust-tinged armour stood in his path, glaring straight at him. "And what do you want little doggy?"

Didymus resisted the urge to bite his ankles. "I good Sir, hath travelled far and wide, I seek an audience with thy sovereign and do hereby request you take me to him forthwith."

The goblin only stared at him in disbelief. "Do what?" He finally said.

Didymus frowned. "Is thou hard of hearing? I said, I seek an audience with thy sovereign and do hereby request you take me to him forthwith."

"Yep, that's what I thought you said… You feeling alright?"

"Most certainly." Didymus answered, did he look unwell?

The goblin shrugged indifferently. "Your funeral," he said stepping aside to let Didymus pass.

Once inside the goblin city another labyrinth of sorts presented itself before him, this time in the form of a network of small alleyways and monochrome buildings scattering out in every direction. While around him goblins went about their daily business, hanging washing, chasing poultry, drinking ale, barely giving him a second glance as he made his way through the twists and turns of the dusty streets towards the castle and hopefully employment.

••••

"EEEEEPPPPPP!"

Sarah was interrupted from her reading by a high-pitched noise moving through the air, her eyes instantly found the little goblin sprawled out on the floor fervently rubbing its backside. She shot a look at the Goblin King, but he evaded her gaze, choosing instead to focus on the goblin shaped smear on his otherwise perfect boots.

"Don't give me that look, he enjoys it." Jareth frowned as he spoke, his eyes never leaving his footwear.

The goblin in question nervously looked at its king and nodded.

"See?" Jareth replied flatly as he watched the little fellow scurry back up the bed, produce a rag from its back pocket and proceed to clean the offending mark from its masters' boots – only causing the smear to increase in proportion – which of course had the knock-on effect of making the little goblin rub even harder – which in turn only worsened the situation – and a vicious circle was born.

It was no longer a toss up; punching him in the face was winning hands down…

••••

Triumphantly Didymus made his way up the castle steps and over the moat – which like the rest of the city was dry and dusty – passing through the enormous entrance he followed his sense of smell, leading him in the direction of a small tucked away door. He examinined it closely, the dark oak adorned with heavy ironwork, large visible hinges and a sizable ornate handle and latch complete with grotesque features.

This had to be the right door; he sniffed again just to be sure.

"I hope you're not insinuating anything?" The handle snapped in what appeared to be a feminine tone.

"I beg thy pardon… err… madam?" Didymus asked hopefully. "I am merely ascertaining the location of thy throne room."

"Ay, well," the door handle huffed and narrowed its depthless eyes at him. "I suppose this is one way in, though it's most irregular I must say – you not being a goblin and all!" It scolded as the door swung open.

Didymus didn't wait to be asked and hurriedly moved inside. Once through, the door slammed firmly shut behind him, clipping his tail. As he rubbed the sore tip in his paws he noticed this side of the door – unlike the other – was plain and lacking in the personality traits of its opposite – which considering his bruised tail, was probably no bad thing. The space was dark, but from what he could make out he was now in a long narrow corridor, although he couldn't tell how far it stretched, as it curved around the wall and out of sight, seemingly following the outer parameter of a large circular room. It had no natural light of its own and only the occasional flame, which would suddenly flare to life as he approached it kept him from meeting the walls.

But by his nose, he knew he was on the right path. Backed up by an ever-growing ruckus getting louder and louder with each passing step, which only confirmed his assertions.

Rounding the perpetual corner of the passageway his eyes began to focus on the darkness up ahead, he was certain he could make out a door. Edging his way closer, a flame flickered to life, lighting up the remaining space as another heavy decorated entrance appeared directly before him.

"And I suppose you want me to open up too?"

In this light the handle looked more menacing than the last; Didymus puffed out his chest in an attempt to look bigger. "Aye, if thou wouldst be so good?"

"Why should I?" The handle spoke with a trace of malice.

"It wouldst be in thy best interests." Didymus growled out, resting his paw on the hilt of his sword.

"What's it worth?" The door handle snapped, a sly smile forming on its cold metal lips.

"Errr…" Didymus hesitated, pondering what he could possibly offer in return for entry now his satchel and belongings had been lost to a ravenous giant. "Errr…" Checking his clothing-

••••

"Hang on, hang on, you read that wrong. What giant?" Toby asked in-between coughs.

"Yes, what giant?" Sarah echoed, she and Toby now looking firmly at Jareth.

"A thoroughly tedious section let me assure you, you've missed nothing of consequence." He spoke while straightening out the fall of this cloak, distracted by the threat of a crease. "Loathsome creatures, refusing to speak in anything other than rhyme. And since you are both incapable of reordering time, you should be thanking me for sparing you valuable minutes of your mortal lives." He finished rearranging his cloak, fixing Sarah with that schoolboy smile of his.

Sarah sighed. That smile had cost her many battles…

••••

"Errr…" Checking his clothing, frantically looking for something, anything… "Custard cream?" Didymus asked hopefully, producing the biscuit from his doublet pocket.

"Ooh very nice," the handle said, opening and closing its mouth impatiently, revealing sharp metal teeth.

"Needs must," Didymus muttered placing the biscuit in its metal jaws, keeping his paws firmly out of reach, all the while pondering the digestive tract of a door. The handle closed its eyes as if savouring the taste and edged the heavy wood open – just a crack – the noise from the outer room now flooding through in waves of laughter. Tail firmly in his paw, the other reaching for the handle, Didymus took a step forward and contemplated the ease in which he had moved throughout the goblin city and now the castle – he really had been expecting more resistance…

The handle opened its eyes and winked as the ground gave way beneath him.

Didymus could still hear the laugher echoing all the way down; instead of dissipating, it gathered momentum, filling the space around him with an almost deafening pitch. He seemed to fall for some distance obliterating cobwebs, amassing speed, all the while flanked by laughter, eventually landing into unconsciousness with a sickening thud on a cold stone floor.

As reality began seeping back in, he opened his eyes to darkness, and as awareness tugged at his senses Didymus became cognizant of the steady rhythm of footsteps circling, drawing closer, until they seemed to stop directly in front of him.

"Four days to reach the castle, I believe that's a new record." The voice spoke from within the surrounding blackness.

Didymus hurriedly began to pull himself up and into a kneeling position, keeping his head bowed low – anyone that sounded that arrogant had to be royalty.

••••

Sarah purposely ignored the harrumph of disapproval that came from the Goblin King's direction.

••••

"Your Majesty, I hath travelled far and wide, trained many a year, it has long since been my-"

"Dream?" The voice interrupted.

"Indeed, but how-?" Didymus asked of the darkness.

In less time than it took to measure, the Goblin King had crossed the room and now stood directly before him, resplendent in black armour, while a shimmering bubble of light danced over his gloved fingertips, illuminating the immediate space between them. "You could say they're a speciality of mine." Completely mesmerising, Didymus could not help but be drawn to the glowing object, his eyes never straying as it weaved to and fro, just as the Goblin King's gaze never left Didymus.

"Such a strong yearning for nobility and honour…" The globe changed direction, moving to the other hand and Didymus's eyes followed suit, ensnared with promise. "…When your own birth was anything but."

The globe started to burn brighter now as the Goblin King continued, "you cannot wash clean the sins of your heritage… I should know." He said turning to leave, taking the light with him, instantly breaking its spell and plunging the room back into darkness.

"I have no need of you… This kingdom has no honour." The King's voice echoed as empty as their surroundings.

Shaking himself free of the trance Didymus called after the Goblin King. "Allow me to prove mine-self to thee?" his voice resonating out into the black nothingness.

"Yes. But how?" answered the Goblin King, invisible but for his footsteps, which had started circling again. "All right," he said, stepping out from the shadows, once again a shimmering globe appeared, illuminating them against the obscurity of their surroundings. "I've never had a valet before, you can try if you'd like… But I'll most likely bog you in the morning."

Didymus had no idea what a bogging entailed, but he was certain it was probably best avoided.

••••

"A valet?" Toby questioned, trying to hold back a laugh. "You wanted Sir D to clean your car?"

"No Toby," Jareth tsked. "A valet is another term used for a gentleman's servant, one that is trusted with personal matters, travel arrangements or dealing with the issues that arise within ones' household…" He paused to look down at the little goblin, still frantically working on his boots. "…Like organising a bogging rota, for example."

The goblin doubled its efforts.

"Really, I thought their main responsibility was for their master's clothing?" Sarah smiled, about to offer the goblin something clean, until she realised the cloth he was using looked suspiciously like some of her missing underwear.

"I believe that can sometimes be a requirement too." Jareth said conjuring up a round object, rolling it over his hands very much as he would a crystal. Keeping it still just long enough for Sarah to register it was a peach.

He always knew just what buttons to push.

"Own up, you just wanted someone to clean out that massive closet of yours – didn't you?" Sarah snapped, taking the bait.

He didn't reply, just continued to watch the peach roll from one hand to next and back again, eventually raising it to his lips and gradually taking a bite – almost like a caress – making Sarah feel a little flushed. He chose that precise moment to meet her gaze. "How rude of me," he smirked, taking the peach and holding it out to her, "did you want a bite?"

This had gone past thumping now; maybe she could get Ludo to sit on him, while she shaved off all that silly poofy hair.

••••

"A valet?" Didymus questioned trying to keep the disappointment from his voice.

"As I understand it, they're all the rage in the other kingdoms, though I cannot fathom why? Judging from your appearance you at least know the correct usage for clothing… which is more than can be said of the goblins." The Goblin King shuddered as he spoke, as if reliving an awful memory.

"Well, if it would please thee?"

"That remains to be seen." The Goblin King replied holding the globe out between them again. But it started to burn so intensely Didymus was forced to look away and a dizzying sensation began creeping over him, the light engulfing them both in burning white. When Didymus returned his gaze back towards the Goblin King he realised they were no longer confined within the emptiness of before, but somewhere more tangible instead.

It took a moment for his vision to adjust to the light, the imprint of the globe having burned an impression that currently accompanied everything he saw. As things eased and became clearer he started to take note of their surroundings, an enormous room with a vaulted ceiling, large mirror covered arched recesses, complete with various blush-inducing tapestries and paintings hanging over stonewalls. Quickly looking away from such sordid activities, his gaze once again met the king's, who seemed to be openly enjoying his embarrassment.

"This way," the Goblin King commanded, striding off. "You've work to do."

Scampering after him, they arrived at the opposite side of the room and a large set of double doors, although this time the handles remained surprisingly inanimate and opened instantly for them – which was just as well really, Didymus had had more than enough of talking doors for one day.

Another large room greeted them; this one however was filled to the brim with rail upon rail, and shelf upon shelf of items of clothing, reaching from floor to ceiling, stretching all the way along its length, ending in a large mirrored seated area against the far wall.

"Do something in here, will you? Rearrange it – maybe colour code it – make an inventory – anything – I can't seem to find a thing in here these days!" The Goblin King said with a look of exasperation, fingers pitching the bridge of his nose, as if warding off a headache, muttered something about needing a drink and in a flourish of glittering residue was gone.

••••

"I knew it! You only wanted someone to clean your closet." Sarah gloated accusingly.

"You know, you're not setting a very good example to your brother? It's considered most rude to interrupt." Jareth chided, wagging his finger at her.

She didn't like that. "But of course it's fine when you do it?"

"Divine right." he smirked.

Sarah contemplated making a run for the bathroom and her father's hair clippers – but really what was the point? It would probably only be an improvement…

••••

Didymus made his way over towards the mirrored area and an extremely comfortable looking large chair, sitting on the soft velvet cushion in an attempt to try and make sense of this latest development. The room looked perfectly acceptable to him. The clothing already appeared to be sorted into garment type, looking around he started making note of the items, rows and rows of neatly lined cloaks, shirts, coats, jackets, waistcoats and what appeared to be trousers. Shelves of orderly paired boots – that were almost identical in style – some evening robes. But no sign whatsoever of any nightwear or undergarments, which given those paintings didn't surprise him in the slightest.

Perhaps he should start on colour coding the items within their specific groups? It wouldn't take long, seeing as the Goblin King's wardrobe consisted predominately of black with the occasional smattering of rich colour and opulent metallic thrown in for good measure. He even contemplated reordering the colour-coded items according to length and fabric – all the while secretly wishing he'd tried the Elvin Kingdom first – when a small scratching sound drew this attention towards a section of clothing. Hopping down from the chair, he moved swiftly, keeping close to the edges. He followed the noise – which now had the added addition of what sounded like someone muttering to themselves – until he came to a rail filled with those obscenely tight trousers the king seemed to favour.

As he approached, the clothes started to sway in an orderly manner, as if someone – or something – had just passed behind them, and by the way the garments were now moving individually along the rail, seemingly of their own volition, it looked as though whatever it was appeared to be making a selection.

Granted he would rather be protecting the kingdom – any kingdom for that matter – but he had a job to do and if the King's trousers were under threat, then protect them he would.

"Ah-ha." Didymus yelled jumping out and parting the garments, trousers and hangers flying everywhere, revealing a shocked looking goblin cowering in the corner.

"Please, please not the booogggg, your majesty." It wailed eyes screwed tightly shut.

"Grrrr, what business doth thou hath with thy King's clothing?" Didymus demanded.

Not recognising the voice but more importantly realising it was still odour-free, the goblin ventured to open an eye. Upon seeing the little fox-terrier standing before him and not its bog loving monarch, it promptly opened both, raised itself up to its full height – which in fact was miniscule – and made a rather rude hand gesture. It then disappeared off through a large hole in the wall. Though not before it had time to grab a pair of the King's trousers, dragging them along with it.

"Well, I say – how rude," Didymus muttered and promptly gave pursuit.

Bracing his paws against the cavity walls, Didymus followed the thief up through the tight space. Although the goblin was fast and had the advantage of knowing the terrain, it had made a vital mistake in its choice of trousers – in that it had chosen a particularly shiny pair – and any light that the cavity contained was instantly reflected back, always giving away its location. After moving up for some time Didymus watched as the sparkling material then disappeared out through another hole in the brickwork further above his head and made an extra effort to try and catch up.

Concealed by a large velvet drape, Didymus emerged from the tunnel and into a circular stairwell, just in time to see a shimmering trouser leg being dragged up the turret stairs. He instantly gave chase, rounding stair after stair but always just too late to catch it. The steps eventually opening out into a large round room that, judging from the amount of books it contained, could only be a library.

The goblin stood near a window, clutching the trousers tightly to its chest.

"Stop, varlet!" Didymus cried.

The goblin looked at its pursuer and narrowed its red eyes.

"Unhand thy King's clothing forthwith." Didymus continued to demand.

But the goblin's hands only tighten more firmly around the material; it then hopped up onto the window ledge, made another obscene gesture and jumped.

Didymus rushed over to the window, peering over the edge. They were a surprisingly long way up, giving an almost perfect view of the labyrinth and the goblin city below – an almost perfect view – marred only by the frantic attempts of the falling goblin to use the trousers as a parachute. Given the lack of material, it wasn't going well and it fell to the ground like a rock. Didymus looked away at the moment of impact, a sense of guilt flooding his body – he hadn't meant to chase the little fellow into suicide.

However, looking back down again, he was surprised to see the goblin get up of the ground, dust itself off and scurry away over the courtyard.

"Inconceivable." Didymus gasped. He'd heard rumours that goblins were nigh on impossible to kill, but had never until this moment believed them to be true. The guilt soon gave way to outrage as he realised the goblin was in fact getting away again.

"Well, two can play at that game." Didymus grinned as he yanked down one of the large curtains hanging next to the window, grabbing the corners and throwing himself out.

"TALLYHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Compared to the goblin's effort, he faired considerably well; granted, the descent was rather quicker than he would have preferred and the lack of steering wasn't at all helpful, but as he swam to the edge of the ornamental fountain he'd landed in, backside bruised, sprits slightly dampened, he conceded that at least he was still alive. Though for how much longer – if he didn't get those trousers back – was anyone's guess.

Climbing out and shaking himself off, he glanced around at his surroundings in an attempt to gage which direction the goblin had fled. He stood central in a large courtyard, completely enclosed by walls and buildings, flagstones and straw covering the ground. To his left was a fenced off area containing livestock – predominantly chickens – and two dwarfs attempting to saddle up a pig and a number of fluffy grey and white pups. Didymus gazed wistfully at them, he'd always fancied a steed of his own, it seemed like such a noble way to travel, and made a mental note to enquire about them later.

Getting back to the task at hand he continued scanning the rest of the courtyard finding it strewed with various objects, barrels, a broken mangle, a shopping trolley with a wonky wheel, and even more chickens. But alas, still no trousers. Following his nose to the only exit, he once again found himself in front of another large wooden door and perhaps for the first time that day was rather glad it could talk.

"Canst thou tell me, did a goblin pass this way?" Didymus asked, checking the ground for traps.

"Unfortunately yes, filthy creature didn't even wipe its feet!" The door replied, eyes motioning down toward a welcome mat.

Didymus eyed the mat suspiciously, it looked anything but welcoming. "By chance, was it carrying a pair of trousers?"

"They were trousers? – Really?" The handle started to chuckle. "Well… they wouldn't leave much to the imagination…" It continued lost in thought, "…probably the King's."

Didymus nodded.

"Oh, someone's in for a bogging." It said excitedly, as if it had just received the latest castle gossip.

"Wouldst thou be so good as to grant me entry?" Didymus asked hopefully.

"You really want to go in there?"

"Yes, invariably so."

"Best not to, dearie," it said with a sympathetic look. "Not that room, nothing good ever comes out of there."

"But I have a duty to uphold."

"It won't end well... But, as you wish." The handle sighed and slowly opened the door.

"Most kind." Didymus said jumping over the welcome mat – he wasn't taking any chances this time.

He'd been half expecting the door to open up into a dungeon or perhaps contain implements of torture, but instead he found himself within the castle kitchens. Didymus was sure that after a day like today very little was left that could surprise him, but the sight of three goblins perched on top of a large kitchen table, two of them stretching the glittery trouser fabric taught over a teacup, while the third – the trouser thief – poured hot water through them, using the gusset as a tea strainer, was certainly a most unexpected one.

Stunned into silence, Didymus could only stare. The worm had been right; goblins did make a truly awful cup of tea.

"Release thy King's trousers this instant!" Didymus demanded jumping up onto the table, startling the trouser thief, causing him to slip with the pan of boiling water, pouring it over the hands of one of his accomplices, making them let go of the material, while the remaining goblin – without the counter balance of its partner – toppled backwards over the edge of the table taking the trousers with him, causing all hell to break loose.

With all the commotion, not one of them noticed the shift in the air.

"What in blazes is going on down here, where the devil is my cup of–" the Goblin King stopped mid-sentence taking in the scene before him. One goblin running around screaming for its mummy, frantically rubbing its hands together, another on the floor engaged in a tug-of-war with his new valet, while a third – standing on the table – tentatively held a cup out towards him.

"Tea?" It asked hopefully.

The Goblin King narrowed his gaze and examined the brew. "Not even close" he replied, running a gloved finger through the glittery film floating on its surface like oil on water. Turning his attention back to Didymus and the goblin on the ground, and more importantly, the item they were fighting over.

Within an instant all three goblins vanished.

"You're not a terribly good valet – are you?" The Goblin King said staring at the soggy, dirty, tea-stained trousers.

"Alas, if only I'd picked up the scent sooner." Didymus answered apologetically.

"Your sense of smell is good I take it?" The Goblin King asked, a smile starting to form on his lips.

"I live by it." Didymus boosted proudly.

"You don't say?" He spoke, the smile growing wider. "In that case I think I have a much more… agreeable position for you."

"Really?" Didymus asked excitedly, aware that his tail had started to wag.

"I am even prepared to bestow upon you the honours, you so blindly seek. SIR Didymus… Of course, I will need you to swear a blood oath – a simple matter really… And you might want to watch out for the bog rats, they've grown to quite an unusual size of late."

"Your Majesty! Thou art truly a wise and generous king, not to mention devastatingly handsome, with amazing hair and fashion sense. Indeed, any fair maid would be foolish to keep denying thee her heart-"

••••

If looks could kill the Goblin King would be dead.

"You think you're so clever, don't you!" Sarah snapped tossing the pages on the bed and stalking over to the door.

"Very." He replied with satisfaction.

"I think it's time you were leaving." She said opening the bedroom door – it was a gesture on her part – she knew damn well he never used them.

He didn't move, just smiled instead.

"Oh, you're so full of yourself!" Sarah resisted a little foot stamp, but jutted her chin out defiantly instead.

Never one to back down from a challenge, he coolly rose from the chair and walked purposefully toward her.

She was in trouble now.

Brushing far too closely as he moved passed, stopping to allow a hand to trail over her hip, slowly he leaned in, fine wisps of feather-soft hair brushing her neck, causing her to arch involuntary towards him. "No, but you could be."

Sarah swallowed. Hard.

Leisurely he pulled away, eyes locked with hers, keeping his hand in contact with her body until he had passed. Turning casually, he continued to walk across the hallway in the direction of her old bedroom.

Sarah looked back towards her brother, "Toby, you're sick, you look tired – get some rest."

"I'm fine." Toby replied trying to wrestle one of his socks away from the little goblin.

"I'll come back and check on you later." Sarah hurriedly said, closing the door before he could answer, and slowly turned to look in the direction of her old room.

Jareth stood his back against the bedroom door, leaning on the frame, full attention fixed on her as he opened the handle and the remnants of a teenage girl's bedroom were instantly replaced with the opulence of a king's – just as it had been so many times before.

He smiled at her again, not the arrogant one, the soft one, the real one. The one that lit up his face and made his eyes dance with devotion. The one that made her want to believe the sugar-coated lies he spun. The one that was capable of making her forget everything he was… at least for a couple of hours anyway.

She always knew she needed to pick and choose her battles wisely with him, this one she could afford to lose…

••••

"True-love?" asked Toby, double-checking the notes on the back of the book. "Well that's a mistake, I didn't see any true-love?"

"Really?" muttered the little goblin staring at the closed door the King and Queen had just passed through. "…And people say goblins are dumb." It then charged at Toby, reclaiming the sock, gave a little victory dance – that consisted of blowing a raspberry and waggling its backside – and ended with it jumping out the window.

But that's a different story altogether.


AN: Thanks for reading! Did you know the other fantasy film/book? But more importantly, would you drink a cup of tea offered to you by a goblin? ;)