The Goblin King sat on his throne, regal in his obvious haughtiness. "Just what do you think you're doing here?" he asked, voice tinged with angry command.
"Well? Spit it out already, I don't have all day to listen to a little girl!"
Blushing at the painfully accurate description, Sarah looked down at her shoes and spoke softly. "I'm not really a child anymore, you know. I'm actually here by accident. It was a mistake!" She stopped herself just short of whining. "I came here because I wanted to see you again."
Blonde eyebrow raised high above an ice blue eye, Jareth curled his lips into a cruel smirk. "Well, was it a mistake, or did you come here to see me? You can't have it both ways Sarah." He grinned when she started to stammer. "And did it never cross your mind that I may not want to see you again…ever?" He stepped down off his throne, and took deliberately threatening steps toward Sarah. "You may not physically be a child any longer, but you have continually proven yourself to be one mentally, if not emotionally." Beautiful eyes narrowed, he continued. "You should not have come here, I cannot be held responsible for what happens to uninvited guests." He spat the word as if it left a bad taste in his mouth. "If you do not leave my throne room and get out of my castle right now, I will have the goblin guard come take you forcibly back to your own world." As he spoke, he stepped ever closer, making Sarah finally back up a step. At her clearly frightened move, he smiled a soft, menacing smile. "You have no sense of self-preservation, I see. Now GO!"
Sarah turned and fled his presence. She ran all the way back to the mirror-portal where her friends were waiting for her.
"Well, what happened?" They asked anxiously after seeing her tear-streaked face and frightened expression.
Gasping for breath, and still a little scared, Sarah exclaimed, "He threatened me! He told me to get out or he'd send the guard after me!"
Startled out of her pending hysterics by her friends' sudden laughter, she looked closely at them. "What's so funny?" she asked, a little insulted that they'd laugh at such an obvious threat.
Choking back more laughter, Hoggle stood from where he'd fallen and grasped Sarah's hand. "The Goblin Guard?" he asked incredulously. "He threatened you with the Goblin Guard?!" Shaking his head at Sarah's questioning look, he continued. "The goblins don't work well with one another, and the so-called guard is just a glaring example of their incompetence. Even if Jareth had called them, which he wouldn't have, they never would have been able to touch you."
Shivering slightly, Sarah grinned and took her hand from Hoggle's. "Just the same, I don't much appreciate being threatened." Her expression grew dark "Especially not by him; a self-important prick of a king!"
Sobering suddenly, Hoggle looked up at the young woman in front of him. "Sarah, you can't go making judgments about him while he's angry and surprised. He is a good king, and his reaction to you proves something that I had been thinking about for a long while now."
"What?" The peculiar look on his face told Sarah she should worry about what he was going to tell her.
"I think that Jareth is in love with you, Sarah."
"There's no way! That's impossible! He's cruel, and mean…" and absolutely gorgeous she finished to herself with a sigh.
"Sarah, listen to me. I've been around for a score of labyrinth runnings. People fight every day for the precious things they've wished away, and you are the only one who ever bested him. Besides that, you accomplished it by denying him and yourself; something that nobody has ever done. His power is a great draw to the fae women, and he searches for someone who would have him instead of his power." At Sarah's pained, unbelieving look, he continued, speaking softly. "You don't seem to understand that he never reacts with anything less than complete control…except to you. Your appearance shook him to his very core."
Thinking about Hoggle's words, her face temporarily went blank. "But he was so mean to me; both now and when I was here fighting for Toby."
"You really are such a child in so many ways." He held up a diminutive hand to forestall her protests. "He had no choice but to be mean to you when you were here fighting to retrieve your brother. You, and only you, dictated his actions by what you expected of him."
In her mind, Sarah heard the words she hadn't understood then. "I am exhausted from living up to your expectations of me…"
Hoggle reached up to touch her face. "You must go back to him. Don't let his offer be in vain anymore. You two could find such happiness together."
Sarah looked at her friend in earnest, wondering just when the dwarf had gotten so wise in matters of the heart. When she asked him as much, he just laughed and shook his weathered head.
"You had no need of such counsel before, and now you do." He grinned at her startled look. "I will tie you to a tree and have Ludo carry you to the castle if you don't go back of your own free will."
Startled into a laugh of her own, Sarah exclaimed "Threatened from both sides! But I know Ludo is capable of carrying out your threat, while the Goblin Guard apparently is not!" Abruptly, she sobered. "But what do I do? He gives every appearance of hating me, and frankly, I'm afraid to walk back into his castle."
Hoggle looked at her with compassion in his eyes. "I can't help you deal with Jareth; it is your problem alone. Just remember that he is a lonely man, and treat him accordingly."
Confusion clear in her eyes, Sarah thought for a moment. "He has never acted like a man, just a king, and I have no experience with these things. How am I ever to do what you suggest?"
"I don't know, Sarah. Follow your heart."
With a humorless laugh, Sarah turned to walk away from her friends, back into the pain-filled past. She turned, just as she was about to get out of sight, and ran back to Hoggle. "I know! I need to go home for just a minute."
Grinning mischievously, she told him, "Just you wait and see, you're gonna love this!" and ran back through the portal to her realm.
Hoggle laughed delightedly as she came charging back into the underground. "Ah, I see now. You mean to court him!"
Smiling, Sarah shook her head. "Not exactly. But I thought that, in order to treat him like a lonely man, I should at least dress for the part." She struck a pose, and showed off the dress she'd changed into while she was in her room. "Fitting, don't you think?"
"I would say so. Isn't that the dress you said you were wearing in your crystal-dream?"
"Uh huh. I had it made shortly after I got home. I've never worn it." She blushed, turning a lovely shade of crimson. "I guess I was saving it for when I got married."
"Well, I would say now is as good a time as any to try it out."
Sarah nodded, and turned away, her skirt swirling around her. "I will go now, but I'd like it if you'd stay close." Her face darkened a little and she turned back to look at her friends one more time. "I may need you to come to my rescue.
A crystal twirling in his hand, the Goblin King cursed. "What now? Must she plague me?" His eyes burned with the light of grief/pain/sorrow/anger. He stood, threw the crystal against the wall, where it shattered, and stalked out of his audience chamber.
Sarah gasped as she saw the beautiful Goblin King come toward her in a rage; red-black cape swirling around his feet, and knee-high boots leaving deep tracks in the dirt.
She stood, dead in her tracks, as he kept coming. Her feet were rooted to the spot, and she couldn't breathe. He was so regal, so beautiful, and so angry.
He came, blue and brown eyes flashing, to sweep her up in his arms. More to make sure she didn't run away than to show any kind of affection, but when her body touched his, he felt his heart stutter and his muscles tense until he shook off the feeling.
He swept her into a little-used alleyway and threw her away from him with such force that she almost fell into a wall. "Why do you insist on haunting me?" He spoke with a soft intensity that would brook no comment from the object of his anger.
She caught her breath and recalled Hoggle's words as Jareth turned to look at her and she caught a flash of deep pain in his mismatched eyes. She started to speak until he interrupted her.
"You, who scorned my offers, who tormented me with every move you made; you continue to haunt my dreams," his voice nearly broke as he thought of all the sleepless nights he spent thinking of her. "And now you would come into my life?! Why? Why do you do this to me?"
Fighting herself with every breath she took, Sarah looked at him and smiled a sad smile. She spoke softly, knowing that he'd hear her anyway. "You have just as frequently haunted my dreams, Goblin King. Your beauty followed me into my life, and wouldn't let go." She took a deep breath, horrified to find that there were tears falling down her face. "I came here before to ask you if you'd consider seeing me. As I got older, I realized just what it was that you had offered me;" she sighed and looked down at her satin-clad feet. "And just how supremely stupid it was for me to refuse."
Jareth peered at her, a fresh hope mingling with painful distrust. "You're telling me you want to court me?"
Sarah shook her head, and saw his face fall, just before a fierce joy lit it up again. "No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm telling you that I want to marry you." She was a little surprised at herself, but was even more surprised at Jareth's reaction to her words.
His eyes lit up, and his handsome face broke into the first genuine smile she'd ever seen him give. As he fought to keep from flinging herself into his arms, his smile faded just a bit and he asked her "Are you sure of this?" his voice had gone back to the tone she remembered so well.
Angry at his assumption, she snapped "Yes, I'm sure! I've dreamed of this day since the first time I saw you." Her mouth quirked and she chuckled. "Of course, I always thought you would be the one proposing, not me."
Smiling again, he bowed to her and held his hand out for her to take. "Sarah, I would be most pleased if you would accept my proposal."
Laughing; supremely happy for the first time in her life, she looked at him and shook her head slightly. Beofre he could register the movement, though, she ran into his arms and wrapped hers tightly around him. She smelled the spicy scent of him, felt the silken skin where his lovely white shirt dipped low, and listened to his heartbeat.
"You know, I didn't ever really expect this day to come, but I'm very grateful that it did."
Jareth held her tight for a moment, then bent his head to place a soft, tender kiss on her lips. "So am I Sarah, so am I."
Sarah raised her face and wrapped her arms around his neck, running tentative fingers through his silky blonde hair. As he turned burning eyes toward her, no longer angry, she pressed her body up against his and kissed him. Her kiss, though, had nothing of sweetness or tenderness in it; she kissed him with all the passion of the dozen years she'd spent waiting for this man.
He pulled her even tighter, and deepened the kiss. He pulled away and laughed, pure happiness radiating off of him in waves.
Sarah thought it was the sweetest sound she'd ever heard.