A/N: I'm finally out of school! And this is the last chapter. I tried to write an epilogue, but I couldn't think of anything I hadn't made plain in the chapter. I'm kind of unhappy that it's over, but I'm also a little relieved that I don't have to keep anyone waiting anymore. And I've got one other Labyrinth story floating in my head, plus four Phantom of the Opera stories nagging me, and one Robin Hood story. I don't know what I'll do first, but I'm looking forward to getting them out of my system.
Chapter Twenty Two: The Center of the Labyrinth
Jareth couldn't help fiddling with his new hair. It was long, even, curly and brown. It was so…so dandified. And the outfit! He didn't think he could ever forgive Sarah for forcing him into this pastel pink jacket and blue trousers. Still, if her plan worked, this terrible glamour would be worth it. If her plan didn't work…well, in that case, he would have more to worry about than looking like a fool.
He heard a poorly disguised giggle behind him. Jareth turned from the mirror to see Sarah standing behind him. Well, it wasn't exactly Sarah. It was a woman with bobbed blonde hair and sprightly features dressed in a deep red, backless dress. Still, behind the unfamiliar face, it was certainly Sarah laughing at him. The glamour couldn't conceal the twinkle in her eyes.
"Why do you get a good makeover," Jareth asked indignantly. "I look like a fop, and you look fine."
"It's all a part of the plan, Jareth," Sarah said dismissively, adjusting her new bangs in the mirror he had installed in the wall of the oubliette. "You have to look like the most ridiculous courtier imaginable, and I have to look like your long-suffering mistress."
"If you really wanted to get into character, you would actually be my mistress," he drawled, stroking the bare skin of her back.
"Afraid not," Sarah said, while applying lip-gloss and pretending not to enjoy his fingers running up her spine. However, she didn't stop him, so he wasn't quite convinced.
Jareth didn't really like the way she was ignoring him, so he slid his arm around her waist and pulled her towards him. He nuzzled her neck and whispered in her ear, "You should dress like this more often."
"Should I keep the hair and the face, too," Sarah teased, grinning at his outlandish reflection.
"No, I much prefer you the way you normally look," he admitted, "but this dress would definitely be an improvement."
"I'll keep that in mind, but we really need to go, now," she said, pulling away from him. "We have a kingdom to save, you know."
"Sarah, if you insist on attending this ball with me, you will have to learn not to use such cliché phrases," Jareth complained as he concentrated on Celestina.
"It's Principessa, remember," Sarah reminded him when they found themselves in the middle of a street in a city called Sanhet. This was now the capitol, since Statira did not wish to take the time to rebuild Yesenia.
"Of course, darling," Jareth said in a slow, lazy way. "I don't have much of a head for names, especially since I know so many women. You understand, don't you, my dear? They just turn into a blur, after awhile." He laughed a funny, stupid laugh that made everyone around them stop and glare. Jareth put his arm around her waist possessively and steered her off the street and straight into a hotel. Statira's coronation ball would be held the following night, so they needed a place to stay. Unfortunately, to keep up appearances, they had to take only one room. Of course, Sarah was really the only one of the two who found this unfortunate. Jareth found it quite convenient.
"You will not be sleeping in this bed, Jareth," Sarah fumed a few hours later. "You will either conjure a cot, or sleep on the floor."
"I'm not suggesting that anything occur tonight," Jareth argued. "I just want a comfortable place to sleep because we both have to be well rested for tomorrow night. You have so little faith in me, Sarah. I can't understand why you wish to marry me at all, if you don't think you can trust me."
"Oh, I can trust you, alright," Sarah muttered. "Trust you to molest me in my sleep."
"Well, I think I do deserve a little consolation for what you're putting me through," he said, pointing at the awful hairstyle she had given him.
"Oh really," Sarah laughed. She was amazed that she found this amusing. Normally, she would be offended, but this time she realized he was only joking. It was strange to understand him. "You deserve—how did you put it?—'consolation?'"
"Well, I've been humoring you, after all," he shrugged.
"And the act of saving your family requires some sort of repayment on my part," she asked, half angry and half amused.
"I'm glad you realize that," Jareth purred, curling his arm around her waist. Sarah thought for a moment about how this mirrored his earlier behavior in the street. But this mirrored it in a softer way. This was far from demeaning, but she was still very aware of the fact that they weren't exactly themselves.
"Jareth, this isn't my body, and that isn't yours," she murmured, embarrassed to bring up her feelings about the subject. "Do you really want this one, or do you want mine?"
"It's still us in these bodies, Sarah," he told her, caressing her cheek. "That's all that matters. Besides, we can remove these glamours in a minute. It won't take more than an hour tomorrow to get them back on."
"I know, but I'm just so afraid someone will see us," Sarah explained.
"No one will see us," Jareth assured her, letting the glamour fade. She did the same, and within a moment he was looking at her true face again. "I was starting to miss that," he said, leaning down to kiss her forehead.
"You still have to sleep somewhere else, though," Sarah whispered mischievously.
"Fine," Jareth sighed, letting go of her. "You do realize, though, that I'm not settling for one of those long, drawn-out engagements. It may be customary to wait at least ten years, but I want to get married within the month."
"You don't think that's a little soon," Sarah snorted, allowing her dress to turn into very conservative pajamas. "After all, I was your sworn enemy until very recently."
"It's taken us a century to get this far," Jareth remarked as his outfit changed into something similar to the sleepwear he had worn in Xaniera. "I think that's long enough."
He gave her a quick kiss before conjuring another cot.
"Oh, darling, you do make me laugh," Jareth shouted, falling all over her, pretending to be drunk. He was a very good actor. He could have been on the stage with her. "But really now, we have to pay our requests, darling." He began dragging her toward the ballroom. All of the women around them rolled their eyes, and the men looked appraisingly at Sarah. Jareth was reasonably sure that the men were wondering if they could pry her away from him. Sarah, he knew, was probably taking everything in, watching for anything she could use.
They jostled through the crowd, Jareth nearly instigating nine fist-fights, and Sarah slyly convincing his victims to let it go. "For my sake," she purred. Jareth pulled her roughly to the dais at the far end of the ballroom. Statira was sleekly sitting in state with General Edus standing at her side. He was warily eyeing the waltzing couples, and she was coolly surveying her prize. Jareth gave a very low bow in front of Statira before jumping on the dais to kiss the hem of her gown. In his bumbling gait, he accidentally knocked over the little table at her right hand. This normally would not have disturbed Statira but for the fact that the little table had bourn a very precious ornament: the crystal ball containing Jareth's family and Sarah's friends.
Statira screamed, and the music came to a stop, as did the twirling couples, who were puzzled by the commotion. Statira reached out her hand to recall it, but she was too late. Sarah was standing at the bottom of the dais with the ball clenched tightly in her hand. The glamour began to slowly dissolve revealing Sarah in a loose purple peasant's shirt and black breeches. Jareth also gratefully melted into his natural form.
"What are you going to do," Statira asked with a slight hint of panic.
Sarah didn't answer. She merely clenched her fist tighter. Her hands began to glow, and so did her skin. A shaft of light shot out between her fingers, and the crystal buckled under her power. The shards flew everywhere as it exploded into Nabila, Ardith, Malin, Didymus, and Ludo. Statira froze and, before she could act, Sarah threw a crystal of her own.
Sarah's crystal expanded to enclose her and Statira. Jareth and the others were certainly able to handle Edus on their own, and it was doubtful that anybody else would come to his rescue. They couldn't possibly think Edus would win, and it would be far more advantageous for them to choose Nabila's side. Now Sarah was alone with her rival.
Sarah eyed Statira from the opposite side of the crystal. Statira was far less impressive when she was alone than when she had a legion of mercenaries and befuddled men at her disposal. However, Sarah stayed on her guard. Statira was more powerful than the average elf, and she was crafty. Sarah had contempt for Statira's methods of gaining political power, but it was important to remember that some of the most intelligent and domineering women in history had used their sex appeal just as Statira had. Cleopatra came to mind. Cleopatra lost.
"I'm afraid," Sarah began, "that you won't be able to work me the way you've worked your…supporters. I'm quite unassailable, and far more powerful than you."
Statira sent a bolt of lightening to the side of the crystal. The lightening bolt didn't break it. In fact, it didn't even bounce off. The crystal just absorbed it.
"That won't work, by the way," Sarah taunted. "You won't get out until I release you…if I release you."
"You can't keep me in here forever," Statira snapped. "Eventually, the strain of keeping it up will drain your strength. You'll collapse, and I'll be the left to finish you."
"And I suppose you think the others will let me die," Sarah laughed. "Haven't you noticed what's happening outside of our little pocket of tension?"
Statira turned her head from Sarah. Edus and all of her other supporters were lying face down on the ground. Each one was being held by a loyalist so they couldn't escape. Everyone else surrounded the crystal to watch. It had taken all of two minutes to subdue the rebels. The only reason they had managed to take Nabila in the first place was because they'd had the element of surprise.
"You appear to be on your own now," Sarah told her. "It would go better with you if you surrendered."
"Why don't you just take down the crystal, and throw me to them," Statira asked. "Surely you don't have any scruples about serving a lone woman to a crowd."
"That won't work on me," Sarah replied. "I'm a lone woman, too, remember? As for scruples about throwing you to a large number of people…no. My conscience wouldn't be bothered by not playing fairly with you. I've seen your cruelty; you're not worth caring about. The reason I won't give you to the mob is this: I want the privilege of taking you down myself."
That's when Sarah struck. She sent a crystal across the small space between her and Statira. Statira tried to block it with a gust of wind, but Sarah's will was stronger. The crystal shattered above Statira's head. Snakes began slithering all over Statira's body. Asps. Sarah hadn't been able to resist the theatricality of it. Statira shrieked and tried to pull or push them off of her, but they couldn't be moved.
Statira retaliated by sending a jet of water at Sarah, who blocked it, turning the water on its maker, cooling it down to just-above-freezing, in the process. Statira was drenched with her own weapon. Statira was so shocked by the fact that she had been soaked that Sarah was able to take advantage of her distraction by encasing her in a ball of fire. Statira attempted to break it with water, but Sarah was too strong. It was the only time anyone present had ever seen fire subdue water. Sarah's heated passion was far more powerful than Statira's icy malice.
Sarah broke the crystal, but left the fire going.
"Get irons ready," Sarah shouted. Statira screamed inside the fireball, and no one moved. Sarah turned to Nabila. "Irons," she repeated calmly.
Nabila looked shaken by the idea of locking anyone in irons, but she nodded. "There are irons in the dungeon. Jareth, would you be so good as to take her there?"
Jareth didn't seem pleased with the idea, but he agreed.
"Your Majesty," Malin breathed. "Don't you think this is a bit drastic? Putting someone in irons—
"Will leave them powerless," Nabila cut him off. "I'm well aware that iron negates magic, Malin. I am the queen of the elves, after all."
"But that's such an awful punishment," he continued.
"I believe that is the point," Sarah said wryly. "I suggest we do the same with Edus, and every citizen of Celestina found guilty of treason. They will all have trials, but there's no reason to leave them with a way to escape. Someone would have to hold onto each one of them for the rest of their lives. We can't afford to let them go; they'll just attempt to damage the kingdom again. Round up everyone involved with this coup, and take them to the prisons. Put them in irons. It's the only way we can be sure that they're not a threat."
"Sarah's right," Nabila said. "I'm afraid our treasonous little prisoners have forced our hands."
"Sarah," Jareth ventured, "I believe you can release Statira now."
Sarah allowed the fire to go out, and Jareth took Statira roughly by the arms. Nabila took the crown from Statira's head, and placed it on her own head. Then she walked up the dais and sat down on her throne. Everyone still loyal to Nabila bowed to her. She looked fearsome, like a true warrior queen. It had been many centuries since any of them had seen her like this. This image was an intense reminder of how awe-inspiring their queen really was.
Statira and Jareth disappeared, followed quickly by Malin and Edus. Soon others began to disappear with prisoners. Sarah took her place at Nabila's right hand.
"Well, I'm glad that's over," Sarah sighed.
"Really, I half wish it wasn't," Nabila told her with a smile. "You were doing beautifully, darling. It was such a good show, it's a shame it ended so quickly."
Sarah laughed wholeheartedly. "I was trained by the best, but I wasn't made for battle."
Jareth reappeared next to Sarah and put his arm around her shoulders. "Well, whatever one may say against Statira, I will admit that she gives a wonderful party."
"I rather take offense at her idea of proper decoration, I'm afraid," Nabila replied. "Using one's guests as ornaments is in very bad taste."
"Jareth, don't you have something important to ask her," Sarah reminded him.
"Quite right, Sarah, I do. I have to ask her something of a highly serious nature."
"This should be rich," Nabila snorted.
"Mother," he began, "as King of the Goblins and Master of the Labyrinth, I wish to ask for the hand in marriage of your heiress presumptive, Princess Sarah of Celestina. I trust her dowry will be bountiful." Sarah elbowed him in the ribs.
"Of course her dowry will be bountiful," Nabila declared. "You will receive the most powerful woman in the Underground, and a great queen, to boot. I should think you'd be satisfied with what you have, Jareth."
"I suppose that will have to do," he drawled, "since I refuse to marry anyone else."
"Such a romantic," Ardith called from the ballroom floor. She and Malin were now embracing.
"While we're on the subject of marriage, what about them," Sarah asked.
"Well, it appears that Malin's fiancée's father was one of Statira's supporters, so his family is now in disgrace," Nabila explained perkily. "It looks as if Malin will be able to get out of this honorably, and then he'll be able to marry Ardith. I imagine that his father will be anxious to put himself in my favor when he learns that his son has been wooing my daughter."
"You always know which spin to put on things to get your way, Nabila," Sarah said with a laugh.
"That's 'Mother' to you, dear," Nabila replied, patting her arm.
A/N: Sanhet comes from the Norwegian for "truth". I decided to use Norwegian because I have a friend who is really creeped out by Labyrinth and David Bowie, and she loves Norway. Most of her family is Norwegian, and she wants to live there someday. I decided to inject some Norwegian because it would creep her out if she knew I had connected her in anyway to this fandom. I could also give you some meta-physical crap about how this chapter restores the true monarchy, but there really wasn't any reason beyond the fact that it is Norwegian.
A/N: Principessa is Italian for princess, which is, as we learned earlier, the meaning of Sarah. It is also a pointed reference to the fact that she is the rightful princess here.