A Goblin Yule story

by

PaisleyRose.

(A Yule one shot)

Dedicated to my Goblin family

Especially my Faecat

December, in the castle at the center of the Labyrinth

Jareth, the current Goblin King, sat on the ledge of the window of the empty throne room. He was restless, it seemed it was always restless these days. More so now as the Yule season was upon the universe. A time of joy and happiness for most, but not for this Goblin King. He instead was sitting and sulking, as he stared out at the living creature, that was the kingdom of the goblins. While most of the inhabitants of the Goblin City were busy decorating and preparing for the festival, their King was busy brooding, feeling sorry for himself.

Most of his rowdy goblins that usually imbibed in the circular stone chamber that served as his throne room were off imbibing elsewhere. For months now he had only his own company, and it was poor company at that. He had lost. Jareth, the Goblin King... Jareth the son of the High King himself... had lost. He had been bested, and by a girl of all people! He'd lost the game, and had to return the baby... and worst of all he wasn't sure if the return would stick. He'd broken a cardinal rule, he'd given the mortal child Fae food and drink before the game was over.

Looking down, he watched as his citizens worked around the boulders left behind as a reminder that he'd lost every battle, and the war. It irked him, no end, that instead of getting the rubble cleared out, they were decorating it. There were holly and evergreen boughs everywhere.

"How can they be so happy?" he asked aloud. "Don't they realize everything is ruined, everything is wrong?"

"Everything?" an amused voice behind him inquired. "That seems a bit broad."

He didn't look, he had heard that amused tone before. His father was paying an unannounced call. That never boded well, and now with his failure... It could only mean one thing. He was going to be told to pack up and give up the throne. He was having his kingdom and his crown and everything taken. He would be exiled.

"Father," he reluctantly acknowledged the elder's presence. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?" He wished he could have sounded more enthusiastic. He wished he could turn on a charming smile and beguile his way out of his troubles. He wished he was in Scotland fishing.

Oberon strolled closer, leisurely, totally unaffected by the lack of elation exhibited by his offspring. "You didn't reply to my invitation," he said calmly. "I came by to make sure you were well."

"Invitation?" Jareth frowned, "What Invitation?"

Oberon smiled, "To the family Yule celebration on Solstice, of course."

"Oh," Jareth murmured. "That." He looked once more at the decorating and cavorting going on in his streets. "I have nothing to celebrate," he said. "I doubt I'd be missed."

Oberon stood beside him, also gazing down. But on the face of the elder was a smile, "Haven't you?" He asked. "You have your health, and your Kingdom."

Jareth's shoulder's slumped. "For how much longer?" he asked dejectedly.

The High King stood beside the seated Goblin King, "Are you ill boy?" He seemed truly concerned.

"Don't play games with me," Jareth snapped waspishly. "I'm sure you've heard every detail of my defeat. I know you have spies here, even if I'm not sure of their identity." He stopped looking down, turning his attention to his father. "I lost, I lost the game, I lost the baby, and I lost the girl. I have nothing to celebrate." He crossed his arms, "And for the life of me, I don't see what the goblins have to celebrate." Before he could stop himself he said the fateful words. "I wish I did."

Oberon winced, but let it pass. "My invitation stands," he said. He gave his son a curt bow, and exited.

Jareth frowned, the old man hadn't said one word about taking the kingdom. He wondered why...

The ghost of the goblin king Finn

Jareth couldn't stand his restlessness a moment longer. He thought perhaps a good book from his library would take the edge off. He was worried that he had offended his father. It was kind of him to extend an invitation. Few others in the Fae community ever did. He shouldn't have been so rude, and he wouldn't have been had things gone his way. It was all that girl's fault, that's what it was.

Perhaps it was because he was preoccupied, then again, it could have been because extraordinary things were quite ordinary in the Goblin Kingdom; that he didn't at first see the image on the door leading into the vault of books. He reached for the door handle and was startled when the door moaned. Or rather the image in the wood of the door, moaned.

"Jareth, Tuatha Dé Danann." the face forming moaned.

Jareth, startled, stepped back. Stared, and the image vanished. He rubbed his eyes, "Perhaps I'm more fatigued than I'd thought," he muttered. His hand then moved over the door and found it to be just flat wood. Frowning, he moved into the library; checking to see if there were any prankster goblins moving about. He found none.

"Must be my mind playing tricks on me," he said. "I've been much too preoccupied," he told himself. "A good read, a meal and a good night's rest will set me to rights."

One of the many perks of being the Goblin King, was being privy to the vast store of books that were housed in his library. Everything from human history to Fae. From fantasy to historical, from every corner of the universe, in every imaginable language. All at his fingertips. It didn't take him long to choose a book of verses. And once chosen, he wasted no time walking to his private chambers, but instead used his powers to transport himself and his tome to his rooms. It wasn't a surprise that his dinner was waiting for him either. After his meal, he sat before the fire to read. Soon his weary eyes began to shut, and he nodded off.

"Jareth, Tuatha Dé Danann." a voice moaned.

Jareth startled, sat upright and looked about, "Who's there?" he called out.

"Jareth, Tuatha Dé Danann." The voice was louder, thunderous in his ears, and the room shook with it.

The book fell from his lap and he stood up, "I said, who's there?"

An image formed, coming out of a wall, pale and translucent. An image that Jareth knew only too well, it was the ghostly image of the last true Goblin King; Finn Fizztwister. ""Jareth, Tuatha Dé Danann." He said as he became more solid. "Jareth, Tuatha Dé Danann."

"Who are you?" the Goblin King demanded. Was this some joke?

"You know who I am, or rather who I was," the image said in a voice that shook the furnishings in the King's rooms. "I am your predecessor, Finn the last of the house of Fizztwister, and the last true Goblin King to rule the Labryinth."

Jareth sat back in the chair, staring at the ghostly image. "What do you want of me?"

"That you know as well," the ghost declared. "You know what night this is?"

"The night before solstice," Jareth said, grudgingly. "What of it?"

The ghost rolled his eyes, exasperated. "I was like you," he said darkly. "Thought myself more important than the kingdom and its mission."

"If this is where you're going to give me a lecture, save your breath." Jareth snapped. "I lost... I know I screwed up... and I know I'm going to have to give up the throne... so you don't have to go any further."

Finn's eyes narrowed, his hands went to his hips and he declared, "Well, aren't you the sorry sod?" He mocked. "I lost, oh boo hoo..."

Jareth stood up, standing nose to nose with the ghost of the last king, "Who do you think you're talking to?"

"To one sorry assed, self pitying, self absorbed, Fae." Finn said, with just as much anger.

"Don't you understand?" Jareth's voice rose, "They are going to take the kingdom from me!"

"Bullshit," Finn said without an ounce of pity. "Who else would want it?" He shouted.

Jareth blinked. The statement wasn't cryptic, it was straight forward and honest. Who else would want this kingdom? When Finn had died without an heir, it had been left to the High King to settle the throne. Jareth racked his memory, no one had come forward to make a claim. He didn't recall anyone in the wide Royal family of Fae voicing an objection when Oberon had placed him on the throne. "What do you want of me?" He asked, nullified, and looked at Finn's appearance. "Why are you chained?"

Finn smiled, if Jareth had been mortal, that smile would have scared him. "Much, I desire much of and for you." He said with a wicked gleam in his eyes. "My spirit is chained to the kingdom by a chain I forged in life. I'm here to see that you don't do the same, you young, arrogant, damn fool."

"Thanks, kind of you," Jareth sneered. "Consider me warned."

With a wave of his hand, the ghostly king sent the Fae back into the chair he'd vacated. "You do not know the weight and length of strong chain you bear yourself! It was as full and as long as this seven hundred Solstic eves ago and you have labored on it since. Ah, it is a ponderous chain!" He leaned closer to the seated Fae King, "Would ye care to glimpse it?"

"I'll pass, thank you." Jareth frowned.

"It's not too late," Finn warned. "You're a Fae, you've a longer life than I had as a Goblin... you can save yourself and our kingdom."

"No, I can't." Jareth rejected the thought.

"Are ye a coward?" Finn accused.

"No," Jareth said in exasperation. "I'm not. How dare you suggest that I am."

"Then you will do as I bid," Finn said, and before Jareth could object, he declared in an incantation. "This night you shall entertain three specters, shades showing the past, the present and the future. They come for your benefit, hear them well... or face and share my doom."

"I'd rather not," Jareth interrupted. "I don't deal well with ghosts."

"You're not being asked, fool, you're being told... and you invited this visit." Finn warned.

"I never!" Jareth denied.

Finn's steely eyes gleamed. "I heard ye, meself!" he said. "In the throne room, you wished to understand what the goblins have to celebrate."

"I..." Jareth stopped. "Shit," he cursed.

"Hoist on yer own petard," Finn said with a smile. "The first specter will be here at one..."

"What if I'm summoned," Jareth frantically interrupted.

"When was the last summons?" Finn challenged. "The second will appear at two... and the thrid..."

"Yeah, yeah," Jareth muttered. "I got it, three specters, one, two and three."

Finn's frown deepened. "You think I'm doing this for my health? Or because it's fun to bedevil you?"

"The thought had crossed my mind," Jareth admitted.

"Well," Finn mocked, "Poor little Fae King, picked on by the big bad ghost of the Goblin..." Finn stepped back, "I've half a mind to take back this bit of redemption... let you suffer in the squalor you created."

The Fae Goblin King took a deep breath, "Okay, I see your point... I'm being a sod."

"Step one," smiled the Goblin ghost, "Admitting your frailty." His face softened slightly. "Step two is doing something about it."

"Do as I say, not as I did?" Jareth quipped.

"Don't be a smart ass," warned the ghost. "My time grows short, and I must take my place with the souls that wander." He moved towards the wall, becoming more translucent as he did. "Remember... the first spirit will come to you as the clock strikes one..." his words faded as did he.

The Goblin of Slostice past

Jareth had taken to his bed, watching the clock on the wall. Soon his eyes grew too weary to stay open, and he fell asleep. Somewhere he heard the sound of a bell tolling. It was so loud it shook the walls of his bed-chamber and awakened him. He sat up and the room was filled with the a odor he couldn't mistake, Krumpus.

"Are you the spirit I was told of?" he asked as the creature took shape.

"I am."

Jareth looked at his 'guide', there was mistaking it. It was indeed a Krumpus Goblin. The creature was just as he remembered, for this was the creature who had guided him to the Labyrinth out of Avalon. It was tall, taller than most mortal men, and covered with long silky white and cream colored hair of an Irish goat. He had the glorious horns as well, and eyes that seemed to look into your soul. He stood on cloven hooves, and walked with an exaggerated gate that rang the large brass bell on the collar he wore. In his hand was a birch branch, ready to strike.

"It's been a long time since I've seen one of your ilk," Jareth admitted. "I'd nearly forgotten that you existed."

"You are not the first to put my kind out of your mind," the Krumpus said.

"You guided me here," Jareth said, "I should have remembered."

"Take my hand," the Krumpus commanded. "There is much to see and a short time to show it."

As soon as Jareth had taken the hand of the creature, the room filled with myst and they were transported through time. When the myst cleared Jareth saw they were on Avalon, in a glen where he used to hide from the rest of his Fae family. He recalled his lonely childhood, the child born outside the union of the High King and Queen. "I know this place," he said softly. "I was a boy here."

"A lonely boy," the Krumpus said.

"Yes, a very lonely boy." Jareth pointed to his hiding place. "I wasn't like the rest of the family... and I felt out of place. I used to come here to hide from them."

The Krumpus pointed to the High King as he came looking for his missing son. "Yet your father always found you."

Jareth nodded, "He never looked down on my... differences."

Oberon sat down and spoke softly, "Jareth, come out."

A small boy dressed in brown and gold came out of hiding, he moved to the High King. "It wasn't my fault," he said defensively. "They started it..."

"Turning your sister into a spider isn't the answer," Oberon mused.

"She called me... a mistake." the miserable child confessed.

"She's jealous," Oberon said, taking the child into his embrace. "She doesn't like her full brothers or sisters either."

"I don't fit in with them," the boy cried into his father's shoulder.

"Perhaps not," Oberon agreed. "But you please me."

The myst returned and the time moved forward, and now it was an adolescent Jareth who was in the glen with Oberon. The High King was listening to his son's concern. "I'm never going to fit in... and they all keep telling me so."

"Perhaps," Oberon agreed. "However, I think I know how you can prove them wrong."

"How Father?"

"There's a kingdom in dire need of a King," Oberon explained. "Do you remember me telling you the story about the labyrinth?"

"Where the wonderful little goblins live?" Jareth asked, excitement in his tone. "I thought you made that up."

Oberon's hand reached out, lovingly he caressed the face of his child. "No, it's all true. And their last true king has passed away, leaving no heir, and the kingdom in turmoil." He said. "I've sent several regents in, but none of them seem able to cope."

"Fae regents?" questioned the youthful Jareth, "But Father, most Fae don't understand the Goblin race, they look down on it."

"And you don't," Oberon observed.

"No, why should I?" the boy shrugged.

"How would you like to be their king?" Oberon asked.

"Really?" the boy's voice rose several octaves.

The mysts shifted them once more, and Jareth saw the kingdom as it was in the first days of his reign. He saw the goblins as they came out to greet him. He remembered the hope they had, the optimism and anticipation. He had put them to work, rebuilding the kingdom, as it had fallen into ruin. And the castle, he had renovated it and improved it.

He looked at the labyrinth as it had been, it had nearly died. Within months of his being crowned king, the creature had come back to life. It had been he who had opened the kingdom to the exiles of the Fae realms. It had been he who had found homes for the unwanted children of mankind. They, the wished away, he had seen as precious.

"But man stopped wishing them away," Jareth lamented to his Krumpus guide. "I wasn't summoned any longer."

"The mission remains, the means have changed." The Krumpus warned. "Our time is at an end, see and remember!"

The Goblin of Solstice present.

Jareth rolled over, hearing a clock strike two. He rubbed his eyes, there was a greenish light filling the room. "Faecat?" he asked, sitting up.

"Goblin of Solstice present," the little minx of a goblin protested.

"You're joking." Jareth smirked.

"No, boss... this is serious." Faecat stomped one foot, the foot that was clad in one of the King's own socks.

Jareth schooled his features, but felt the smirk even while it was hidden. "Okay, show me what you got." He moved out of the bed and followed the impish goblin.

The greenish light began to fade, and the pair stood outside a room in the great palace on the blessed isle of Avalon. A table was being set, and the servants being overseen by the High Queen. Titania turned to smile at her husband as he entered the great dining hall. "Isn't it lovely?" she asked. "I think this is the best table scape I've ever devised."

"It's very nice, dear," Oberon said, but his tone was subdued.

"What's the matter?" She asked, "Are you not feeling well."

"It's Jareth," Oberon said sadly. "He's not coming."

"Not coming?" Titania's joy faded. "Why not?"

"He says he's nothing to celebrate," Oberon walked over to the table, and gazed at its splendor. "He's afraid someone will take his kingdom, because he lost."

"But surely after you explained..."

Oberon faced her, "I didn't get a chance to."

The Fairy Queen opened her arms, embracing her husband and giving him comfort. "Oh, my dearest."

Jareth turned to Faecat, "Explain what?"

"Do I look like a mind reader?" she saucily replied.

"No, but you're supposed to be my guide."

"Then let me guide," she waved an arm and they were no longer on the holy isle. Now they stood in front of the humble hut belonging to Hoggle, the dwarf that guarded the gate of the kingdom and doubled as a gardener.

"Why here," Jareth protested, crossing his arms and taking a defiant stance.

"I just guide," Faecat quipped, "I don't pick the scenario."

"I'm not going in there," Jareth declared. "I don't care what you say or do."

Hoggle, as if cued came out, a sprig of holly in his hand. It tacked it to his door, and stood back to admire it. Jareth rolled his eyes and huffed.

"Brother Hoggle," greeted Sir Dydimus, "Blessed Solstice."

"And to you," Hoggle nodded. He looked at the old Knight and frowned. "What are you doing away from your post?"

The old Knight shrugged, "Seems a little without meaning now," he answered sadly. "A bridge keeper, without a bridge."

"A gate keeper without a gate," Hoggle pointed to the missing wooden gate that had once been. The wall still stood, the once pretty fountain stood, still stinking, and fouled. But the gate was missing. "I'd have thought that once the run was over he'd have righted things..."

"Righted things?" Jareth repeated, looked down at his guide. "What righted things?"

"Pay attention!" she snapped.

"You know once this dream is over and done, I'm going to smack you." Jareth warned.

"Better than you ignoring us," she wagged a finger at him accusingly.

Jareth took offense, "I have not."

"You have too!" She snapped her fingers in front of his face, and the greenish tinged light flashed and they were now in a mortal's bedroom.

A woman with reddish hair stood over her baby's crib, "He's still feverish," she whispered to her husband. "Why can't we get this fever to break?"

The man stood behind her, both had experience of great pain on their faces. "Sarah's not much better." Her husband said. "I'm really worried, she's starting to hallucinate. Talking to someone... her own reflection, I think. She keeps staring in the mirror."

Jareth looked about the room, it was the one he'd been summoned to when that girl had misspoken and said the words. "This is the Williams house," he said aloud.

"Bingo," Faecat shouted.

"What am I doing here?"

"Observing," Faecat stamped her foot once more, "Or you're suppose to be." then muttered as she turned, "Some smart Fae you are." She snapped her long spindly fingers his direction, "Pay attention!"

Jareth moved closer to the crib, expecting to see the sunny child that had graced his kingdom only six months earlier. Instead, he saw a hollowed eyed shade, and he stepped back, "What the hell~"

Faecat's eyes opened wide and pointed to the door to the hall, "Better go see the other one while you're at it."

"The other one?" Jareth, on the verge of protest, remembered. "Sarah." he moved quickly across the hall. He entered the room that belonged to the girl, the girl who had won against all odds. What he saw tears at his conscience and his heart. "Dear God and Goddess, what have I done?"

"Where would you like me to start?" the goblin standing behind him asked, but there was a light shining, "If only I had the time to tell you..."

The Goblin of Solstice future

Jareth sat up, expecting the tolling of the hour, three bells sounded. The room was dark, and he had a sneaking feeling it would get a lot darker before it got light. He stood up, and moved to the antechamber, where a shadow moved. "Are you the last of the spirits?" he inquired.

The image of the shadow cleared, a Harpy stood looking out the window, "I am," she said. Della was dressed more somberly than he'd ever seen. Her usual flying gear had been replaced by a Harpy mourning gown, her long thick raven colored hair was straight, and hanging limply. Her skin tone was an unhealthy pallor of gray. "Follow," she said and held out her hand.

Jareth took her hand, and they were transported to the center of the Goblin City, where Goblins stood looking as if they had lost their best friend. The windows were shuttered, and the street was full of starving and destitute creatures. The city was falling into ruin again.

"But why?" he asked.

"You stopped caring, so did they." Warned the Harpy. "They reflect you, or did you forget?"

"They don't deserve this," Jareth moaned, and as he did the harpy touched his arm, transporting him again. He was standing in the throne room of the High King. Oberon was seated, looking miserable. One of the Fae children came running to him, and the High King began to sob as he held the child.

"Why does he mourn?" Jareth asked, "Who died..."

"The shining light of his life, the apple of his eye," Della said. Arching her arm, allowing the tattered, diaphanous sleeve to float on the movement of air, they were transported once more. They stood in the hall of the Williams house, Jareth recognized the foyer from his fleeing flight upon returning Sarah and the boy.

Mrs. Williams came to the door as it opened. Mr. Willams greeted her somberly. "Hello, dear."

"Was she any better today?" She asked.

"No," Mr. Williams whispered.

"I thought she might be," his wife said, "You're late..."

"I stopped..." he paused, "It's a sunny spot... he'd have liked it." He moved past the sad woman. He took a seat in the parlor by the fire, "The doctor asked how you were... he's a kind soul."

"Oh, Robert," she knelt beside his chair, placing her head on his lap, sobbing.

"Must cry, dear," Robert said. "He liked us to smile... and we have to be strong."

"Our babies..."

Jareth stepped back, "Take me to her... Take me to Sarah."

Della nodded, and they were transported to a white room that had not a stick of furniture to it. In some ways it reminded Jareth of the oubliette. On the floor, huddled in the corner of the room sat what was left of the girl who had bested him. Her arms were tied in a strange garment that looked like a contraption of torture. She rocked back and forth, trying to comfort herself.

"Where are you? Why don't you come... you said you'd be there... you didn't come." She said over and over.

"This is my fault," Jareth said, and looked for confirmation. The Harpy nodded. "What did I do?"

"You forgot your mission," Della said, a hint of sympathy in her tone. "You fed them both Fae food." she accused. "Then just wallowed in your own misery, forgetting your obligation."

Jareth moved closer to the girl, "Oh Sarah, I never meant this to happen." He refrained from touching her. "Show me the rest," he begged.

A moment later he was kneeling at a graveside, the stone was for a child. "No," Jareth cried out, "Say that these are but shadows of what could be..."

"If you have not learned," Della warned. "These shadows will become the truth."

"Learned? What is it I must learn, teach me~" he begged.

"Who are you?" she said.

"I don't understand," he said, shaking.

"Who are you?" she repeated.

He stood up, "I am Jareth... Jareth Tuatha Dé Danann," then he added. "I am the Goblin King, Lord of the Labyrinth and protector of the unwanted."

The darkness exploded into a blaze of light.

Solstice

Jareth sat up, bells were ringing, and voices were singing. Jareth sprang from the bed and opened the doors to his balcony, "I'm home," he said and breathed in the air of his kingdom. "I'm home and I haven't missed it!" He looked down below where citizens were gathering to sing the Solstice song, "Blessed Solstice!" he cried out to them, and was greeted in return.

He felt renewed, rejuvenated and transformed, "Is there no one here to greet their king?" he called out.

Ink, the Goblin of the day rushed in, "Good morning, Blessed Solstice, Sire."

"Blessed Solstice, Ink!" Jareth reached out both hands and embraced the surprised goblin. "I'm in such a good mood, I'd like to wear something special today."

"Your Dragon's hide jerkin?" the still shaking goblin suggested.

"No, more extraordinary than that..." Jareth paced, then paused, "My blue frock coat, is it clean?"

"You said you'd never touch it again," Ink protested.

"I said a lot of stupid things," Jareth said as he headed toward his private bathing area. "I'm dressing for a party... go get my garments."

Oberon looked at his family, most of them were very happy to be there. Some had even made the comment on how much nicer this was without the unwanted presence of a certain member of the family. It broke his heart that not all his children could get along. He prepared to ring for the service to begin.

"Blessed Solstice," Jareth greeted, as he entered, followed by goblins carrying his gifts. "I do apologize for being so late."

"What is he doing here?" a female voice demanded.

Jareth ignored her, instead he moved quickly to the Fairy Queen. "Stepmother, you look enchanting," he kissed her hand.

"Jareth," she said breathlessly, "I'm so glad you're here..."

"Son," Oberon stood up, looking confused.

"Father," Jareth smiled at him, "Blessed Solstice, and thank you for inviting me."

"My boy," the High King embraced his son.

In that moment Jareth knew, and understood, it mattered not what his siblings thought. He was loved.

"I've brought gifts," he motioned his goblin horde to distribute the gifts.

"You'll be staying, won't you?" Oberon asked.

"I would be pleased to break bread with you, and the family... however, I must leave early... I've something I have to do." He explained politely.

"Of course," the Fairy Queen nodded, "Come sit beside me," she invited and patted the chair that had been empty.

Karen Williams sat beside the crib, "Please God, don't take my children..." she prayed quietly. "I love them so much, don't take them...please." she kissed the feverish child who was sleeping, then left the room.

Jareth caused the window to open, just as it had six months earlier. He transformed from owl to a man, "Dear Toby," he said, approaching the gravely ill child in the crib, "Forgive me. I should have paid attention, and I should have been more aware of your suffering than my own." He removed the gloves he wore, and placed his hand on the fevered brow of the innocent child. Within the blink of an eye the fever broke, and the boy fell into untroubled sleep. Jareth smiled, "Rest well, sweet child."

He moved to the door that would lead to the hall and the girl's room. He listened for a moment to be sure she was alone. He could hear the parents speaking quietly in the rooms below, worried about the children who were so sick up stairs. He waved his hand, creating a few moments of frozen time for him to work within. He opened the door and moved through the hall to the other door, her door.

Opening the door, he moved across the room to the bedside of the girl. "Sarah, darling... forgive me." he placed his hand to her forehead, but she remained feverish. He looked about the room, seeking a reason why this wasn't working. He got his answer from the contents of the room.

"Sarah," he mused, "You are such a romantic." he leaned closer, pressed his lips to hers and felt the fever leave her.

She opened her eyes, the pale jewels that had captured his heart. "Goblin King," she whispered. "You came, you're here."

"I'm sorry I'm so late, my love," he murmured. "I had my head up my ass."

"But you came," she reached out her arms to embrace him. "You said you'd always be there... and you're here." She cried tears of joy. "We've been so sick."

"I know," he said, "Forgive me for being a fool."

"I don't understand," she said.

Jareth took a seat on the side of her bed, "When you returned here, you welcomed your friends from your journey... but I didn't feel... invited. So I went to sulk."

"Not invited..." she repeated. "Didn't you understand when I told them I need them, that I need you too?"

Jareth hung his head, "No, my love, all I knew was you were having fun...and I wasn't part of it."

"Oh, I'm so sorry." She inched up until she was sitting upright with her back against her headboard.

"Since I returned to the castle," he admitted. "I have done little but sulk, I didn't even think to check on you." he placed her hands over his heart, "I'd never allow you or your brother to suffer, not on purpose."

"I know," she said. "I know a lot more now than I did before."

"I did something terrible," he confessed. "I tricked you into eating Fae food, and I fed your brother..."

Sarah nodded, "I know."

"You know?"

"I started to put things together when we got sick," she said.

"You must hate me," he cringed.

"No, I don't." she mused. "But I do understand that our lives in the world of man are not going to be... normal."

"I can't leave you here, not forever." Jareth said firmly. "Neither you or the boy can live out what you should have." He brought her hands up to his lips, "But I can give you a compromise." he said. "You will live here until your eighteenth birthday, and then you will marry me."

"That's a compromise?" she laughed.

"As close as I get to one," he teased.

"And Toby?"

"Toby will stay until he's eighteen," Jareth said. "By then I should be able to get your parents to eat Fae food, one way or another."

Sarah, looking older and wiser, smiled, "If that's the best you can do..."

Jareth kissed her hands again, "Happy Solstice, my love."

"Happy Solstice?" she asked.

"It's our version of your Yule," he said.

"Happy Solstice, Goblin King."

Fin

"Scribe, what is the meaning of this?"

It's a story, what don't you like it?

"This never happened!"

Your father said he liked it.

"My father liked your tales of debauchery too."

He's got good taste.

"Is there no way I can talk you out of this?"

Nope.

"Happy Solstice, Scribe."

Happy Solstice, Kingy.