Challenge fic

She's here again, in his labyrinth. He knows this as soon as she steps through to his world. How can't he know, when her presence ripples through him? Her sweet smell of peaches wafting through his lands (a natural fragrance, pure and pleasing); the lingering sorrow that emanates from her very being; the way that his world adapts to her - how can't he know?

She comes here often, to meet with her friends. If they talk about him, it is with hushed voices so as to not draw his attention. Still they believe they are fooling him, that their secrecy is necessary, vital.

They talk about him, and they fear him. She doesn't fear him, of course, she is certain of her power over him. Perhaps she is right. Some power she must have, to keep him watching over her, watching her, allowing her here, allowing her them.

There must have been a time in the past when he still had that choice: To keep her away, to punish her friends, to steel himself against the force of nature that is Sarah Williams. He didn't, and now he can't.

He watches now as they travel to a secluded lake, a hot spring positioned in the mountains. This place was never this beautiful before she arrived; she changes everything with her presence. Sometimes he curses her for this (softly and carefully and only in his head, since his words are power still) and sometimes he is simply mesmerized by the power she holds.

Now he does neither, he merely watches. There is nothing else he can do, for now he's in her power again.

She has sent them away, to where he doesn't know and doesn't care. He can't care, for now she is undressing. His breath catches and he wonders at his own reaction. She is but a woman, he reminds himself, and he knows women. She should not be special, but somehow she is, and...

...she is wearing something underneath her garments. Tiny slips of a black, shiny material, and he breathes again, vaguely and inexplicably disappointed, still wondering what has happened to him.