A/N: I wrote this chapter listening to Atlas Song by Jonsi & Alex. Go listen to it on Spotify or something while you read and I promise that it will greatly enhance your reading experience.
The soft sound of twin crystal goblets sung through the room, and Jareth's pendant became warm against his chest. That only meant one thing. "Sarah." Without further explanation to the other two, he disappeared before their eyes in a shimmer of light.
Sarah slammed her bedroom door and jumped face first into the pillows on her bed. Face buried in their softness, she took the opportunity to scream. Stupid, stupid Chip! He was the worst human in existence. It wasn't that he was a mean spirited person. He was nice! Nice and completely lost in his own selfish little bubble. Stupid, stupid, stupid –! She yelled into her pillow again and began to sob. Now she felt stupid, letting herself get so worked up over such an idiot. The kind of idiot she had blissfully ignored for her first three years of high school. Her thoughts continued to spiral as sobs wracked her body, and every offense she'd ever suffered presented itself to her as if her brain had constructed a conveyor belt of misery, fear and anger. Puck jumped onto her bed and commiserated silently – he too had had a terrible day. Three run-ins with Merlin, the family's Old English Sheep Dog, the last of which he had bent a whisker in escaping.
The air shifted.
"Where are you, you putrescent creature of the night?!" The satiny voice of the Goblin King was loud and laced with rage. Sarah startled from her angsty reverie and looked up wide eyed and slack-jawed at the vision in from of her. The Goblin King glowered around Sarah's bedroom in all his battle glory with sword and dagger drawn, anger seeping from his very pores. He looked terrifying (and incredibly attractive), but the setting was ridiculous. Sarah attempted to guffaw, except her innate desire to survive the potential wrath of the immensely powerful Fae monarch made the sound come out rather more similar to a strangled cry than something mirthful.
The Goblin King looked down and saw Sarah crumpled up against her headboard of her bed, half buried in pillows, mixed emotions of fear and mirth rioting across her otherwise porcelain features. "Where is the creature that is causing your distress, Sarah? I'm here to end its miserable existence." Noticing that there was no beast in the room, he sheathed the sword and tossed the dagger on Sarah's nightstand, and floomphed down onto the side of her bed unceremoniously. Jareth still somehow managed to make it look graceful. Sarah finally managed to laugh outright at His Majesty's ridiculous appearance.
"Jareth…" she said between guffaws, "Nothing is trying to kill me…I'm just…having an emotional moment…" and with that, her guffaws turned into sobs. Lordy, was she ever emotional today. Once the tears started, Sarah could not stop them and they rolled down her face like a lazily kept faucet. She sat there shamefaced and ugly crying in the presence of the most beautiful being she had ever met and she felt even more terrible.
Jareth leaned in close to her, his rage and indignance nigh-instantly turning into something else altogether. He reached towards Sarah's face; his eyes were locked with hers as he gently wiped a few tears from her cheeks. "I heard you were…distressed," he murmured. "What is troubling you so greatly, dearest Sarah?" Jareth moved closer to her and held his arms open to her, gathering her close with one arm. She sat forward and buried her face in the surprisingly soft material on the shoulder of his shirt, her arms wrapping around his upper torso.
"Chip is a hopeless idiot…" As soon as Sarah uttered the words, she felt the Goblin King's previously tender embrace become rigid with anger. Jareth's armour had vanished once he realised there was no physical threat, which was small compensation for the fact that every muscle on his athletic frame was as hard as stone.
"I'll end him." Sarah looked up and saw that his face was as set in a fierce expression; his angular features looked like polished marble.
"No, no! Don't kill him."
"Fine, he can live out his miserable existence in a damp oubliette."
"Certainly not!" Sarah's indignant tone intrigued the Goblin King, and his menacing demeanour softened somewhat as he pondered her words. She guffawed once at the stunned-turned thoughtful look on his face, and they smiled at each other. He wrapped his arms around her again and they sat together quietly, both settled in thought.
"Something must be done about that insufferable nincompoop. Even if oubliettes – and I'm assuming boggings – are off the cards." Jareth pondered for a moment. "There is nothing in the realm of the Fae nobler than a good revenge prank," Jareth remarked. "Well, not much. Well….quite a few things, really. But it's still a noble pursuit and we shall apply ourselves to this task with great fervour and determination."
Sarah chuckled, smiling up at him. "I was thinking something along the lines of public humiliation," She looked up and regarded the expression of the Goblin King thoughtfully, her face still tearstained.
Jareth laughed softly and dabbed once or twice at her face. "It would please me greatly to bring about some level of misery to the life of the snivelling fool who calls himself your friend." The cold sneer in his last word transformed quickly into a look of warmth. He smiled down at her, brushing hair away from the side of her face. Sarah blushed. Things were feeling awfully more intimate than she had ever experienced with anyone (let alone someone she was rather attracted to) and she was at a loss as to how to handle the situation. The walls of her emotional dam had already been severely battered during the course of the school day (in her imagination, tiny workers hurried to repair the fissures in her composure). Such proximity to Jareth as she was currently experiencing at any given time would put her self control in jeopardy, let alone in her self imposed state of vulnerability.
"I have no idea what to do," Sarah grumbled and sounded somewhat like her fifteen year old self upon encountering a certain set of door knockers in the Labyrinth. She had meant to only think the words, but panicked when she realised they'd come out of her mouth. Crap, crap, crap. "All I know," she surprised herself by continuing resolutely, "is that I want it to be spectacular and I want everyone to see it and remember it. But I don't want him being physically damaged. He is my friend, after all. Sort of." Phew. Saved. That was close.
Jareth snorted, apparently not noticing Sarah's momentary inner panic. "I'm not entirely sure friend is an appropriate label for a bogsniffer like that, but I shall respect your wishes as usual." And with that, they set to planning.
Sarah scribbled ideas into a notebook which she had reached for from beside her bed. She leaned against the chest of the Goblin King, who leaned back on one elbow and stroked Puck with his free hand. They laughed and chatted all the while. It was a strange and wonderful experience; they talked as equals – neither one of them letting their heritage or their somewhat tumultuous past negatively flavour their time together. A tiny flower bloomed inside Sarah's pendant, unseen by the pair who were currently absorbed in each others' presence and their plans.
An hour and a half later, the pair were laughing and making the final arrangements for their grand plan. It would take another two months to eventuate, but it would be worth the wait. The plan required Sarah to visit the Underrealm, several thousand surplus chicken feathers, a live lizard, the crown for the prom king, an errand to Marmoreal for Hoggle, a few other miscellaneous objects, and a little magic. Piece of cake.
When Jareth left, Sarah was in a far better frame of mind. That familiar feeling stirred in his chest as he smiled to himself, remembering the look on her face when he'd suggested the Oubliette. How wonderful to finally see her outside the façade she wore out of habit. How equally marvellous it was to spend time with her without his own pretence clouding her ability to really see him. There were few beings with whom he felt able to be true with. He hoped to continue to foster whatever this beautiful thing was. Time for another present. If only the Bolg could just…stay away, he thought petulantly. But never mind for now, he would be ready when they reared their heads once more. Sarah will be safe. Sarah will be splendid. Courage, dear heart, he thought in her general direction as he wandered the halls towards his bedchambers. Despite its initial unpleasantness, the day had turned out well after all.
It would still take another two weeks for Sarah and Jareth to set into motion the prank they had planned, and another week after that before the outworking of it (and, not coincidentally, the Prom). Sarah had spent her time with her nose in her books, preparing for her final exams and staying as clear of Chip as possible. When they did cross paths, she was kind and pleasant with him, but maintained a subtle air of distance. The girls who had seen her previous dealings with her had taken to following her around the school in breaks and sitting with her in shared classes. The questions were constant, they wanted to know what was going on and Sarah wasn't divulging a thing. Super secret agent skills level: Expert. She felt pretty pleased with herself, despite the unsolicited attention. She wondered if she was experiencing popularity. She wanted to ask Yves about it. He would know. Hoggle had been keeping her up to date on her friend's wellbeing, but was pretty shady on the details. She wasn't sure if this was because he was hiding something or if he didn't know. Either way, he always seemed a bit embarrassed when Sarah asked. Sarah needed a different plan of attack.
The next Saturday when Choom, Quoket and Lumble were visiting Sarah's bedroom for their very highly anticipated story for the week, Sarah had an idea. "Quoket," she asked once her tale of the donkey's pyjamas had finished, "If I gave you a note, would you deliver it to Yves for me?"
"Oh, yes Lady!" Replied the small, apronned goblin with a grin. "Quoket can delivers it, better than the silly Puca in Lady's story!" All three goblins giggled. Sarah smiled along with them and hastily wrote a note on in her spare notebook.
Hope you're well! Miss hanging out. Social life is strange and confusing. Need your advice!
3 Sarah xx
The goblins grabbed the note and poofed away without so much as a goodbye. At least they were prompt.
The goblins currently in the throne room were cackling riotously at the performance they were being treated to by their beloved Kingy and Leaf Boy.
"Stop it, Jareth! Please…. I swear the Xs on the note are hugs, not kisses!" Yves was suspended upside down in the throne room, being shaken around so much by an invisible force that some of his leaves had fallen out of his hair, and the charms woven through his locks jangled like wind chimes. The fallen leaves lay in a small scattered pile underneath him, skating around slightly in an imaginary breeze. Jareth rested on his haunches face to face with and glaring at the young dryad, his eyes dark and his arms folded. The shaking stopped and a tangible silence filled the room as Jareth sat back on the first step to his throne and pondered the use of the letter X as a hug, as opposed to a kiss – the manner which he had always been led to believe.
This was the scene that Medwin burst into with a clatter of boots and a slamming door. The goblins quieted down considerably, eyes wide with wonder and mild fear of the elf-dwarf governor. The Fae regent and his dryad subject turned their faces towards the now blustering half-dwarf. Yves' body slowly spun in the direction that he moved his head, still suspended but no longer in the vice grip that was shaking him about before.
"What the devil is going on in here?" Medwin yelled, "You pair of nit-witted pilbeasts!" Jareth straightened himself up, brushing a speck of dirt from the side of his form-fitting trousers and strode over to where the flustered governor stood. The Goblin King walked a lap around Medwin, eying him over, and frowned a little.
"Dear me, Medwin. You do seem a trifle flustered. Whatever seems to be the matter?"
The dwarf harrumphed, readjusting his coat. "A particularly rambunctious clan of Fireys decided to have a party early this morning. Ended up having a head throwing competition, upped the stakes by throwing them over one of the more gaseous parts of the bog, you know how they are… And, well… one thing led to another…" Medwin stopped for a moment, scuffing his boot at a mark on the throne room floor.
"Go on, Medwin. What happened?" Asked Jareth carefully.
The half-dwarf continued, "Point is, they may have sparked one time too many in their excitement. There was a rather large explosion."
"What? How large?"
"It appears to have reorganised a good third of the most disgusting part of the Bog of Eternal Stench."
"That's not all… Wait just a minute, would you please care to explain why Yves, one of your most trusted agents, is hanging upside down in the middle of the throne room?"
Yves, still upside down, frowned and folded his arms as he continued to spin slowly in a circle like an office chair in an anti-gravity chamber.
"Oh, that was just a communication error. Resolved now. Thank you, Yves." Jareth flicked a finger in his direction and Yves flopped unceremoniously onto the floor. His leaves reattached themselves to him and greened up considerably. Yves scratched at another leaf bud behind his ear and grinned rakishly at the other two non-goblin occupants of the throne room.
A chicken squawked in the lull of conversation as a goblin hoisted it above its head and attempted to wear it as a headdress. Naturally, the King and his confidantes ignored this behaviour.
"So, Medwin," continued Jareth, "You were saying about the bog..? What else happened?"
"Well, there's now a methane storm hanging over the eastern part of the forest, and the Bog Guardian's home got blasted to pieces."
"Oh dear. Sir Diddlysquat?"
"Precisely. What of his faithful steed?"
"All okay, Jareth. Didymus is somewhat… singed… though."
"I see." Jareth refrained from laughing, but Yves snorted at the thought of their extremely proper acquaintance in any sort of disorderly state – let alone with crispy whiskers and soot stained fur.
"Sir Didymus seems to have taken exception with the Fireys though. Your advisors are concerned that he may feel obligated to challenge the lot of them to a duel."
Yves lost it at the mental image, belly laughing til his sides hurt. Jareth and Medwin burst with chortles at the same time, both laughing heartily. The goblins thought that it looked like fun, so they joined in too.
After a few moments had passed and the goblins had gone back to being their rambunctious selves, Jareth had enough. "Shut up, everyone. I need to think." The throne room quietened once more.
"What if we send him to Marmoreal with Hoggle?" Pondered Yves aloud, "They could go sooner, perhaps a detour. Pick up a few extra things, deliver a letter for me to Mirana…"
Medwin agreed. "Yes. If they're gone long enough on an arduous journey, he may think better of duelling the Fireys. Hindsight and all that."
"I like it. Yes, inform Hoggle at once that he is leaving this afternoon instead of in two weeks' time. Tell the clerks to hire three replacement gardeners temporarily in Hoggle's absence, and invent a few extra tasks for them to do along the way. And for goodness sake, keep them well away from the forest and the bog!"
"And the, uh… flatulence storm, your majesty?" Asked Medwin.
"That's the easy part." Jareth conjured a crystal, sending it out the window in the direction of the east forest. "The crystal will completely absorb and dispel any odour and cleanse any inclement weather mixed up in the whole affair. The captured Bog cloud may come in handy later."
A gift, a gift. What to give? The Goblin King asked himself that evening as he reclined at his desk in the library alcove. Thinking of the recent events shared by them both, an idea popped into his head. Useful and enjoyable, and almost entirely innocent. Yes, this was perfect. He conjured a crystal and meticulously formed it into the intended offering. Next, he hand wrote a note. One it was attached, Jareth sent the parcel away to the Aboveworld, to a plae where Sarah would find it.
Puck sat purring contentedly in the middle of Sarah's bed. She'd be back in the room any moment now from her daily bathroom rituals and the petting would once again commence, along with the music listening and secret chocolate stash consuming.
Puck stared inquisitively at the delicate package that had just appeared in front of him. Glowy things glittered around it and the cat swatted at them curiously. At that moment, Sarah returned to her bedroom wrapped in a towel. "What's that you've got there, Puck?" She asked, sitting down next to the cat and the package. Puck mewed and looked up expectantly at Sarah. Pats were in order. Sarah obliged with a small chuckle and set about reading the note attached to the parcel. It was on thick parchment, watermarked with swirls and a gargoyle face, and the words dominus rex.
I hope this gift finds you in good cheer. I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity afforded us recently to put behind us our past misunderstandings and strengthen the bonds of our friendship. Please accept these tokens of my gratitude and deep affection – an enchanted looking glass for inter-realm communication, and some sweets for your particular enjoyment.
Sarah placed the note on her bedside table with a smile, and set to undoing the wrappings on the parcel. Inside the glossy material cover lay a simple wooden box with a bevelled edge around its lid, and a deep blue velvet bag the size of Sarah's open palm. She opened the pull strings on the bag and out slid a round disc of glass, and another piece of paper. On the paper was written simply "I wish to speak to…" with Jareth's initials in the corner. The glass itself was delicately engraved around its edges with a similar pattern to the watermark on the paper – elaborate swirls, a star and a small gargoyle face. Around the edge it was gilt with bright silver like her necklace and bracelet – mithril? Perhaps.
Next, she opened the box. Carefully laid upon yet more deep blue velvet were dozens of small sweets. A heavenly scent rose from the beautiful yet simple container: rosewater, chocolate, citrus, and others she was unable to identify. It was wonderful. Another note lay inside the box: "One sweet an evening for sweet dreams and pleasant rest." Interesting. She lifted one up and placed it in her mouth, it melted as soon as her lips closed. A warm, pleasant sensation washed through her as she thought about how lovely the gift was. She stood up and quickly threw on her pyjamas, ready to make her first inter-dimensional call with the looking glass.
"I wish to speak to Jareth."
A face shimmered into view on the glass. It was the Goblin King himself. "Hello, dear Sarah."
"I want to say thank you for the beautiful gift, Jareth."
"It's my pleasure. I do hope you find them useful. Do be careful to only eat one of the sweets at a time. I don't know what many more would do to your system. They are a Fae delicacy. The looking glass has more uses than for talking to people in the Underrealm, I'll let you have the joy of figuring them out yourself." A screech sounded in the background and the Goblin King looked pained. "I must go, the goblins are having a street party and it's not turning out well for the chicken population of the Goblin City."
"Good night, Jareth."
"Goodnight, Sarah. I wish you pleasant dreams."
And pleasant they were, too. Very, very pleasant. Sarah's Sweet Dreams took her adventuring, dancing, exploring places beyond her wildest imagination. And when she woke up, she was more refreshed than she had been in several months.
"BOLG!" a beautiful woman shrieked, her lanky ink black hair quivering down her back as she raged, "WHY IS THE GIRL STILL ALIVE? WHY IS SHE STILL ABOVE GROUND?" Her voice reverberated around the green fire-lit great hall she stood in and the colour of the flames played over her paper white skin. The generals of the Bolg forces who were assembled in the room with her - powerful and terrifying as they were - paled in comparison to the dark, ancient evil of this feminine creature.
One of the more humanoid creatures amongst them with bright yellow orbs for eyes stepped forward to answer her wrath. Mighty in battle, fierce and cruel in his own right, this general cowered in the merciless godling's presence. "Please, Lady Nemain… the Fae…"
"What," She spat out between her teeth, "Do the wretched Fae have to do with anything?" She turned sharply, sending her scanty and loose robes swirling around her like smoke.
"I'm so sorry, mistress, they…. That is, the wretched Fae are protecting her... Our forces can't get through their defences in more than small groups of four or five…. We are weak from the last attack and need to build back our collective strength…."
The creature let out a yelp as she stabbed it in the foot with the spike on the base of her staff, and an inky black substance oozed from the wound. Something must be done. Nemain needed the girl. "How long?" She asked.
"Could take months, or days…or years. We never know."
The godling picked the Bolg officer up by his neck and held him at eye level. "Take as much time as you need. But if you fail me…" She tightened her grip slightly around his throat, making him gasp before releasing him and letting him fall into a crumpled heap on the ground.
"Y-yes… Great One… We live to serve you, and to crush the wretched Fae."
"Good." She prodded one of the wounds left by her sharp nails on the Bolg officer's neck and licked the ink black fluid that wept from it from her talon-like fingers. "Now be gone. I have more important things to do."
A/N: Ooooh, who is Nemain? Stay tuned to find out! ;)
Coming up next: the prank to end all pranks, some Bolg shenanigans and some serious fluff.
Lylabeth1 – you're right! I intended for this story to be a few motifs of Sarah's latter years, leading up to a grand adventure…but it appears that Jareth and Sarah had other ideas. Mainly Jareth. He is a little impatient, it would seem.