Wow. It's the end. I had all this stuff I wanted to say, and now I can't remember any of it. I guess I'm just amazed that I've reached this point. After over seven months of writing, To the Victor is finally finished. And you have no idea what a great feeling that is, to look at nearly 120 pages of writing and know that it's yours and it's complete. And now I send it out into the electronic world. Since this is the last part, I don't want to play favorites, but I will say thank you to everyone who wrote reviews and e-mailed me. If I don't reply, it's only that I'm extremely lazy; I read and appreciate everything you guys have written. Thanks also to the other Labyrinth fic writers. Both you and my reviewers add fuel to the fire and keep me going. Finally, to my friends, who have put up with my quirks and my pestering. You know who you are.
My mood today tells me our final themes are All Souls' Night and Samhain Night by Loreena McKennitt. Enjoy.
'Til I Write Again,
Ladymage Samiko ;)
To the Victor Go the Spoils
Epilogue ~ The End of the Beginning
It was easy to see that pride in Daniel Williams' eyes as he took his daughter's arm over a year and a half later. She smiled brightly back at him for a second before turning her attention to the swell of music and placing her feet one in front of the other without falling flat on her face.
For both her and Jareth, the time leading to this moment had passed alternately on wings of wind and feet of lead. However, they used it wisely, coming to understand their magic and themselves more deeply than even they had thought possible. Libertad taught both the essence of Earth magic, leaving Jareth with a profound admiration for this place and the people who could harness its power. Sarah, in turn, was impressed with the ease and offhand manner with which Jareth handled Fae magic, given its strong and capricious nature. As they blended the techniques of both to use their own unique power, they sought its limits. Finding none, they set limits for themselves. Many of the incidents involved in their journey are, in themselves, insignificant, but there are perhaps two incidents which deserve our attention.
It was early one morning when Sarah was awakened by her father, who told her that she and Jareth had guests at the front door. Puzzled, Sarah quickly dressed and ran downstairs, where she found a middle-aged Mexican woman and twin boys sitting on the couch.
"Uh, hello," Sarah stammered. "Have you come from the caravan?" It felt like she almost recognized them, but couldn't quite place them.
The woman smiled with all the warmth of a mother. "Not exactly, my dear, though we did meet there. I am Maria, this is Carlos and Adrien."
The truth suddenly dawned on Sarah. "Of course! I remember now! I have to admit, I hadn't expected anyone from the caravan to visit."
At that moment, Jareth entered the room, running his hand through hair absentmindedly. "I heard we had company?"
"Good morrow, Jareth," Maria said, while the twins both cocked their heads to one side and said, "Morning, cousin!"
The Fae nearly jumped out of his skin. "Holy bloody hell!" he exclaimed. "What in--?!" With an effort, he regained at least a modicum of his usual composure as Sarah stared at him in bewilderment, Maria smiled, and the twins giggled like mad. "I beg pardon. But why on earth are you here?"
"Jareth?" Sarah was still confused.
He smiled wryly at her. "Do you remember when I asked if you wanted to meet some old gods?" She nodded. "Well, we have a little more than I bargained for. Sarah, these two imps are the Reshephim, Reshep and Resheph, if you can tell them apart. They were gods, but now they are heralds for the All-Powerful." The two grinned and bowed, gradually regaining their customary shape. Sarah gaped at the suddenly tall, dark-skinned, silver-haired young men standing in her living room, staring back at her with white-hot eyes.
"Er, nice to meet you," she choked out.
"And this," Jareth continued. "is the Lady Mary."
"Jareth," the woman chided softly. "Can't you do any better than that?" He shrugged elegantly, then leaned up against the wall.
"I did not ask you to come. Nor did I request your interference."
"Jareth! As though I would leave one of Lilith's children to fend for himself! I know you're older, more experienced, and wiser in a number of ways than I am, just as Lilith is, but does that mean I can't mother you from time to time?" She walked over to the Fae, placing her hand upon his cheek. "I like to see all of our children happy," she told him quietly. "Too many times I am not allowed to interfere. Would you deny me of one of the few when I can?"
"Could I even if I wanted to?" he asked, smiling. "Sometimes I think you just have the soul of a busybody, Mary."
She giggled, an unexpectedly girlish sound, and slapped him lightly. "Be nice, my boy. Didn't anyone ever teach you that it is easier to charm girls?"
Sarah's brain, as much as it resisted, was finally making a few connections. "Mary?" she squeaked. "As in 'Hail Mary, full of grace?'"
"Of course, my dear," she smiled. "I--" She was unable to continue as Sarah quietly sank to the floor in a dead faint. "Oh, dear."
Sarah returned slowly to consciousness, first noticing the deep rumbling next to her ear, then the resonance of words.
"No, no, and again, no! Absolutely not!"
"But cousin. . . !"
"For one thing, I don't trust either of you any further than Sarah could throw you. For another, I already have a best man and an groomsman. I don't need anyone else." Hmm. . . that warm, rumbly tenor. . . Jareth again. Sarah settled herself a little more closely, feeling Jareth's arms tighten around her in response.
"Silly idea, having only two attendants."
"Why don't you have an Underground-style wedding?"
"Sarah and I have waited nearly a year already," Sarah could just see his eyebrow raised and a mocking twist to his lips. "I don't think either of us feel like waiting an entire month just to go through an Underground ceremony."
"A whole month?" Sarah exclaimed, her eyes opening wide as she sat up. She felt a little dizzy. "An Underground wedding takes a month?"
"Only after the guests arrive," Jareth answered drily. "How are you feeling?"
"Um, all right, I guess. Sorry, I wasn't expecting to actually meet. . ."
"It's perfectly fine, my dear," Mary interrupted. "I'm used to it. I felt the same, once upon a time, and Gabriel is a much more impressive figure than I am."
Feeling dizzy again, Sarah decided she'd rather not know. "So, uh, what is everybody arguing about?"
Mary laughed, the sound filling the air with warmth. "These two rogues of mine want to be a part of your wedding. And Jareth doesn't believe they will behave themselves."
"If I order them to," she answered placidly.
"Would you. . ."
". . .stop talking about us. . ."
". . .as if we weren't here?"
"No," Jareth told them. "So why don't you two run back to whatever little hole you came from so we can continue the conversation?"
"Jareth!" Sarah exclaimed.
"I think. . ."
". . .it just irritates you. . ."
". . .to know someone knows more than you do."
"Please, Jareth," Mary said softly. "Let us be there for you. A wedding is a day for family."
Jareth sighed, though a smile crept onto his face. "Very well. . . though I'll probably regret it."
And so there were three more additions to the wedding party: a silver-haired groomsman (who seemed to be having quite a good time joking with his fellow groomsman, Matt), a young ringbearer with a surprisingly strong resemblance to the groomsman, and a demure, middle-aged woman in the place of honor as the mother of the groom.
The next episode takes place in the Underground, and involves someone who was unable to come to the wedding, though very much welcome. . .
It was still several months to the wedding. Sarah and Jareth had traveled deep into the Labyrinth, taking a little time to let the happiness and well-wishing of the maze seep in. Finally, they reached their destination, a small clearing, filled with roses, heather, thyme, and a variety of other plants, all of which blended together in an unusual, but gorgeous mix. In the center of the wild mass was a small, white stone engraved simply with the word "Philip."
Sarah took Jareth's hand. "Philip?" she called hesitantly. "May we speak with you?"
When the spirit walked out from the tangle of flowers, he seemed more substantial than he had on that night so many months ago. A broad, happy smile greeted them. "My most sincere congratulations to both of you," he said. "And blessings on your union."
"Then," Sarah said hesitantly, "you approve?" She felt Jareth tense beside her, fighting the urge to fly far and fast.
"Of course I do," he replied, moving to stand before them. "I love you both and I know you will be happy together. That's all I've ever wanted. Jareth."
The Fae's features were drawn, old. "I-- I can only say that I am sorry, Philip. And that I wish our encounter had turned out differently. There is nothing I can do to repair what has passed."
Philip held up his hand for silence. "Enough, Jareth. What has happened is in the past. I understood you and loved you enough to forgive you centuries ago. Let it go."
Jareth gave a half-hearted grin. "You were far too good for me, Philip, and far too forgiving. You still are, you know."
"I cannot change my nature any more than you can, Jareth." He smiled. "But I would ask one favor."
"Anything, Philip ap Meredith."
"I would be the one to hand your first-born into your arms." His eyes shone.
"I can think of no one I would be more honored to have."
"Nor I, Philip," Sarah agreed softly. "Thank you."
"May the Lady bless you and your years together," Philip answered just as softly, fading into Labyrinth.
Philip's blessing followed them, but seemed to have no effect on the chaos of the wedding day itself. Though it was a small wedding, everything seemed to get lost and everyone was underfoot. At least half a dozen people--if not more--were fussing over Sarah, trying to make sure she remembered everything and every hair was in place. Everyone was speaking at the same time, so the air was filled with a confusing mix of English and Spanish.
At the request of the bride, and with a sigh of relief, Cecilia made her way to the rooms where the men were getting ready. Compared to the women's rooms, this area was almost paradise. The men who weren't a part of the ceremony lounged around the walls, laughing and joking at the antics of those who were, namely Matt and Alan, who were trying to figure out how to fix their cravats.
Jareth was fully dressed and preening in front of the mirror, ignoring the ribald jokes being tossed his way.
Catching a glimpse of the dark-haired girl in the mirror, he turned. "Are they ready?" he asked, his haste, if not his voice, betraying his nervousness.
"Hardly," Celi answered wryly. "Sarah's got several people fussing over her making sure she is ready. That's going to take a while."
"How does she look?" he asked wistfully. At Sarah's request, Jareth had not even glimpsed the wedding dress.
"You have to ask?" Cecilia smiled. "She looks beautiful," she assured him. "Radiant."
That seemed to relax him. "And how do I look?" he asked her, striking a pose and smirking.
Her lips curved in a smirk of her own. "Like Jane Austen's version of Playgirl," she answered saucily. "Get those two's cravats done and I'll go tell them you're ready." She slipped out, leaving the fae speechless in her wake.
Sarah was inclined to agree with Celi's assessment as she gazed at her love down the long church aisle. An off-white cravat flowed over a black silk waistcoat and blue velvet jacket. Off-white silk breeches tucked into high black boots. Blue eyeshadow and black highlighted his eyes, which shone as she walked down the aisle. He smiled, and was absolutely breathtaking.
Jareth was no less impressed with the beauty of his queen. Her features were radiant, framed by a small bandeau of hair topped by a simple orange blossom crown, a veil covering her waves of hair behind. Her dress was reminiscent of one he had seen her in a long time ago, though simpler, less showy. The puffed sleeves, straight-necked bodice,underskirt, and train were plain silk of an off-white shade to match his own suit. The overskirt was a thick, creamy lace. And in the center of the neckline shone the silver brooch that his father had made for his mother so very many centuries ago.
And then Sarah reached the altar and together they knelt before the priest.
Afterwards, both Sarah and Jareth would admit to not remembering a second of the ceremony that followed. From the time they knelt to the time the priest said, "You may kiss the bride," all was a blur. And then Jareth did kiss his bride, creating one of the most vivid memories either would carry for the rest of their lives.
And, of course, having kissed her once, he was forced to kiss her twice. This trend might have continued, except that their attendants, whom they had always before assumed to be their friends, intervened, forcing the two apart and back down the aisle. Jareth glared amiably at their grinning faces before taking Sarah's arm and leading her down the aisle and out of the church.
The Goblin King was sorely tempted to simply vanish into the Underground with his bride, but he had been threatened with death and, more importantly, with permanent exile from his wife's bedroom if they did not attend the reception. With an apologetic smile, Sarah whispered, "Don't worry, I'm sure it will be fun." He gave her a pained look and she giggled.
The reception, Jareth said later, was. . . interesting. There was a traditional dinner and dancing, with the gypsies providing the music. Mary and Libertad seemed to be deep in conversation, while the Reshephim (who had behaved themselves as promised) joked around with Matt, Alan, and Lily. Sarah's father and Karen tripped over their feet trying to dance to the Mexican music. Cecilia was almost enitrely engrossed with Hitoshii, though not enough to miss what was happening. The fun and games began with the wedding cake. Jareth was so busy gazing into his wife's eyes (and still trying to believe that she was actually his wife) that he managed to get frosting over nearly half his face. He started turning red, but decided he could live with it when Sarah kissed it off for him. Then everyone else started turning red.
"Shameless woman," he whispered.
"Damn straight," she mumbled back.
"Come on!" one of the Reshephim shouted. No one was sure which one. "Share the fun!"
The cry was taken up by the rest of the crowd. Both Reshephim (now identical again) grabbed Sarah and blindfolded her. Then, they explained the rules. One by one, the men of the party would kiss Sarah on the cheek. The trick was for Sarah to guess which one was Jareth.
Matt, Alan, Hitoshii, the Reshephim . . . No fooling Sarah. But then, Jareth didn't get it right, either. Finally, as a joke, Reshep lifted Toby up to kiss her. She nodded; this was Jareth. When everyone burst out laughing, she lifted the blindfold to find Toby grinning at her! Sarah laughed along with everyone else while Jareth pretended to be hurt. It took quite a few kisses to make up for that little mistake.
After a few more games, Sarah threw her bouquet. To no one's surprise, Cecilia caught it. Then, Jareth threw the garter, which got lost in the melee as the men scrambled for it and ended up knocking over a table full of food. When everything was sorted out, Alan was left standing there, blinking at the small scrap of white fabric in his hands. Given his sexual preference, everyone else was bewildered as well. He shrugged.
"Another mystery to solve," he said quietly, standing up. He grinned. "I'll be very interested in solving it."
Matt whooped. "You go, Alan!" he shouted. The rest of the party cheered.
Jareth took the opportunity to steer his bride to a hidden corner of the room. "Happy?" he asked softly, voice almost covered by the noise of the festivities.
Sarah gazed at him mutely, then nodded. "Overflowing," she whispered. "Thank you."
"For what?" he looked at her, surprised.
"For saying, I do,'" she answered.
Jareth pulled her close and, bowing his head, said softly, "Nonsense. Don't you know I was being entirely selfish?"
She pulled back a little to look him in the face. "What?"
"How else was I going to be able to do this?" he asked, kissing her thoroughly. "And this." His lips moved further down. "And this?" His hands joined in.
"Jareth!" She tried desperately to push him away. "This isn't the place!"
"No, I suppose not," he sighed, in between kisses. He pulled away, leaving Sarah feeling a little lost. Then he grinned wickedly. "Now why don't we go someplace that is?" he suggested.
He blinked in astonishment as Sarah practically pounced on him. After an extensive embrace, she breathed, "Why don't we?"
And all that remained of the newly-married couple was a dusting of glitter and a feeling of magic in the air.