Disclaimer: I didn't own it at the beginning, still don't own it at the end. Kudos to Henson and Co. I've had fun playing with it.
My apologies that this is late in coming. This whole graduation thing has been taking up a good deal of time.
Holy Crow. I can't believe this is the last chapter. I've been working on this for two and a half years (I can see how my writing's changed), and I don't have a next project slated. ::sigh:: Thanks so very, very much to everyone who has read and reviewed with their thoughts. I have always appreciated the input and tried to adjust for clarity and scene as pointed out.
Thank you and again.
There are many moments Sarah could use to explain her life because words themselves wouldn't do. What person could be summed up in a matter of lines and pages? Sarah continued to keep journals, though now when the page was stroked just so on the upper right corner, a captured image from a modified flat and flexible crystal would relay the episode in clarity.
One activated page depicted her eldest's blessing by the Spirit of the Moon before all the leaders of the Underground. If the viewer looked closely, he or she might see a strange look cross the Spirit of the Moon's glowing face as the brilliance faded for a short second. There were unrecorded visits where the Goblin King would come to just talk, the Spirit offering him advice and thoughts on other kingdoms and listening to the Goblin King's life, family and politics, all in a professional capacity. A few subsequent pages detailed the outcry of a few scattered parties declaring this would lead to favoritism, though this was dealt with in time. The pages could only hint at the change in policy and practice over the kingdoms as no single event encapsulated it.
Another activated page depicted their eldest in a particularly rebellious stage, constructing crystals of cubes rather than spheres as a subtle protest, much to her father's consternation and her mother's amusement. Otherwise, Brianna Iris's particular flair for magic was a result of her unique birthing—physician and father not being present to contain the potentially dangerous flashings—so that her early use of magic was very carefully watched for how quickly it would exhaust or overload her. There were more pages of worried moments, uncertain as to whether their daughter would recover, than Sarah would have liked, intermixed with a strange flux in children wished away in those early years. Thankfully, by the time their son Kai was born, Bria's magic had settled. Marek despaired at the thought of another addition to the Goblin monarchy sent specifically to torture him, even though Sarah reminded him, while allowing him to hold her son, that it wasn't always about him. Regardless, chickens were somehow magnetized to his boots for the rest of the day.
Pages of frustrated magic. Pages of joyous exploration. Pages of pressured indecision, disappointment, tough love, happy tears, and contentment.
But this is not the page I will leave you on. Those in between moments—laughing parents chasing toddlers down the hallway, new battles and coping with the demands of a kingdom, the epic game of hide and seek that still turned up a well-hidden goblin every couple of months or so, the fights and make-ups of the Goblin King and Queen, their children coming unto themselves—will be left mostly to your imagination. Unless the reader takes it upon themselves to break into the Royal Library and steal Sarah's journals, of course.
I will leave you on this page.
Jareth is holding Sarah on their balcony. Sarah has been crying silently and Jareth has been absorbing her tears. They are wearing black. Jareth rubs her back and she looks up at him. He kisses her temple.
"Is it time?" she asks him.
"Whenever you're ready," he replies with an indulgent smile.
She exhales and rests her head on his chest again. "Then it's not time yet."
Jareth chuckles and rocks her. "As you wish."
Sarah sighs. "I shouldn't be this choked up, but it was all so sudden and I wanted to get all my tears out now."
"You can be as choked up as you need to be. There are no mandates on how to mourn, Sarah."
"Well, loud wailing is somewhat disgraceful."
"Unseemly, yes, but forgivable and understandable."
Sarah wipes the last tears from under her eyes, smiling up at her husband. She lays a hand on her lower abdomen. "It's partly your child's fault."
"I would have thought after LT, L2, and Cal, number four would be easy, particularly after LT. And that without mentioning Ack's latest mess and the new campaigns."
Sarah swats her husband playfully. Her smile fades again, and she looks out over the Labyrinth.
"Do you think he'll be okay?" she asks after a moment.
"Toby? In time, yes. I'm sure he will need you now."
"I couldn't imagine losing you or Bria, let alone both on the same day. Maggie loved this place almost as much as Toby did, and when Cara was born he was so excited to be a dad. Now he's got Kevin to raise by himself. Half of his family gone just because some asshole ran a red light."
(Offstage, said asshole screams from the bottom on an oubliette, already hoarse.)
"If there's one thing I understand about time, it continues even when you rather it didn't. Toby will learn that grieving is not a matter of getting over something, but coping with it."
"Put on your Wiseman's hat this morning, oh sagacious one?" Sarah teases.
Jareth shrugs, smirking. "I'm right."
"Yes, you are," Sarah agrees, squeezing him a little tighter. "Are you sure it would be a tree conclusion to bring everyone to the Underground?"
Jareth exhales with a sympathetic smile. "Yes, I'm sure. It would be a selfish thing to do."
Sarah meets his eyes. "What if they chose it and you fixed everyone's memory? I could wish them all here."
"Would I then be bringing all of Jen's family? And what of their extended family? Would Maggie's family all come, too, or would they be separated from her remaining child? And what would they have to give up? Not everyone wants to live forever. Wouldn't Toby want to be reunited with his wife and daughter some day? And what other possibilities are we taking from the next generation to keep them here? Neither of us knows for sure." Jareth finishes his recitation.
Resting her head against his chest again, Sarah breathes, "Thanks. I needed a reminder. This won't be the last time."
"No," Jareth agrees, "It won't."
"It still makes going home awkward, running into people who tell me I haven't aged a day. Telling them that I feel it even if I don't look it won't work when Jen is seventy-eight. The rest of the sewing circle is going to notice."
"By then, you can claim to be your daughter."
"Not if she's standing next to me."
"You can joke that she's not really your sister, questionable circumstances and all." Sarah swats her husband again, not appreciating the implication she would be making on herself. "Or," Jareth continues, "There is the whole magic thing. Best yet, tell them the truth. When both your friends and Jen become old enough, you'll have their senility on your side."
She turns serious again. "I'm slowly going to completely detach from the Aboveground, aren't I? As they all die away?"
"Only if you let it happen that way, Sarah. You know you're free to come and go as you please between worlds."
"You say that, but you'd come after me eventually, Jareth."
"Of course." He smiles and kisses her, possibly manipulating time to his advantage. "I cannot let someone who has such power over me spilling my secrets for starters—"
"—oh, come on, Kai's surprise attack on your birthday was priceless."
"—and otherwise, you know there are a multitude of reasons why I wouldn't let us be separated if all it takes is a tiny bit of magic to be next to you again."
Sarah has a particular half-smirk that Jareth associates with a specific good kind of trouble. "I suppose I'd miss you, too. But seriously, I might need to spend some extended time with my family."
"I'll be there as much as I can. For whatever events Bria does not want to attend with us, I suggest we allow her a few additional responsibilities. She has a knack for creative solutions."
Sarah rests her head against Jareth's chest again. "With Toby's wife dying, it's got me thinking. You know you're not allowed to die without me, right?"
Jareth's brows merge closer together. "Sarah, is there something you're not telling me?"
"No, nothing like that. It's just you and the kids. My parents, Toby, Amber, Jen, Doc, everyone else Above will be hard, but you and the kids, I don't think I could do it."
"Sarah, we don't have to worry about that."
Sarah eyes her husband. "Jareth, we both know that's not true. Remember that long discussion after Bria and I returned home? What you gave up to get to us? That my whole immortality thing was one of those 'seems like' things and essentially that's what you're at, now, too? How we still haven't figured out if that's passed to the kids or not? Because I do. It's been on my mind."
Jareth takes her head between his hands, rubbing away the fading tear streaks on her cheeks with his thumbs. "There's always a risk, Sarah. But this is one we cannot do anything about. We'll fade into the Labyrinth, and our story will be done. But we get to make it now. See how far we've come already."
Sarah snorts. "You really did put on your wiseman's hat this morning."
Jareth shrugs with a grin. "Perhaps so. But I'm still right."
"Careful. You'll use all that ability up in one day and I'll just have to be right for the rest of forever. For however long it's going to be."
"I'm willing to find out."
Sarah takes a deep breath and releases it. A small, calm smile forms. "I love you, Jareth." She kisses his cheek. "I think it's time to go. Should we go round up the troops?"
Jareth gives a small start. "Goblins to Toby's wife's funeral?"
Sarah rolls her eyes. "Our troops, Jareth. Jeeze."
"That makes a good deal more sense."
"Where are they, anyway?"
"Bria is in her room, last I knew. I think she's mad at something Marek said about the Duke. I don't know if I like the looks she's been giving Duke Carrig."
"Jareth, I think he knows you would eviscerate anyone who makes Bria sneeze, let alone cry. Bria knows that, too, which is probably why she hasn't told you who she's really interested in."
Jareth raises an eyebrow, but Sarah waves him off. "Later, I promise. Kai and Cal?"
"They are with Elizabeth and Triton. He is showing them some tricks with the main fountain, I think."
"I hope none of those tricks will work with the bog, or we'll have an interesting mess. That Triton is so quiet, but he and Elizabeth are pretty adorable." Sarah eases out of Jareth's arms to check a mirror. "It doesn't look too bad, does it? Oh, here." She waves a hand in front of her face and is magically refreshed. "I still forget about that sometimes. Let's go round them up, then. Toby's going to need all of us, whether he ever mentions it or not, particularly as he won't be able to escape here for some time with all the things to tie up. Shall we go?"
Jareth offers her his arm (his own shirt magically dried of Sarah's tears). "To the next adventure? Of course."
The room is suddenly empty as the couple poofs away.
Authoress Ramblings: Special shout-out to my 1,000th reviewer Bright Lotus. The magnetized chickens to Marek's boots goes to you. ;) Special shout-out to those who have stuck with this story from the beginning.
Jareth never does use "poof" as a verb, by the way. Except for one time he was very close, and Sarah has never let me forget it.
At this point, I have no plans for a sequel...perhaps a few one-shots in the 'verse.
Ack will be visiting in your rooms late at night, when you least expect it or possibly when you do expect it because he will still catch you off-guard. OceanFae might be right behind him, though, with a very particularly possessive glare. ;)
So there we have it. It's been fun, gang. ::tear::
As always: Love it or hate it, please let me know!