Well, I've finished it, and I hope you enjoyed the journey. I can't say I'm very happy with these last few chapters, and I apologize for any substandard work or disappointment. I begged and pleaded and threatened my muse, but I was abandoned. Hopefully, my next Labyrinth/HP crossover will meet with a better fate, although it may be a while before I begin writing it.
In answer to some questions, it was just chance that Sarah was captured by Death Eaters. She wasn't specifically targeted. The goblins can be rather clever little buggers, the Gringotts kind especially, and they managed to find Sarah when she was a captive. Immediately, they contacted Jareth, who went off to rescue her. As a full-blooded Fae, the iron would burn Jareth where it wouldn't Sarah, but with the shackles around her wrist, Sarah couldn't use her magic. It's like her magic stopped as soon as it met the iron, it couldn't go past it.
And about getting Albus and Minerva together, I've come up with what I hope is a creative solution.
I give to you,
A promise made,
From fate to fate
The game is played.
The music slides on
Note by note,
We look for love,
We live on hope.
The bridge across
The waters wide
Cannot hold back
The surging tide.
-"Compact," Troll Bridge, Jane Yolen
When Sarah looked up at the clicking of boots on the library and laid eyes on Minerva, she swallowed hard with nerves, and her heart beat uncomfortably loud in her chest. The witch appeared, as always, calm and collected, but Sarah knew her well enough to sense that there was something very wrong going on. Her fears solidified when Minerva beckoned her into a private room with barely a word and immediately began murmuring privacy spells at a feverish pace.
"Sarah," the older woman said at last. "We've received rather grave news from our spies. You-Know-Who intends to attack Hogwarts in three days."
Sarah paled. "What?" she gasped. She had been lucky to have suffered so little when she had been the Dark Lord's prisoner. And now he would be marching against a place she considered a haven.
"You have a choice," Minerva continued gently. "You may return to America, and no one will think less of you. In fact, we would prefer it if you were safe far away from here." In an uncharacteristically impulsive gesture, she grasped the young woman's hand in her own. "Or, you may go with the young students to the safe room we are preparing, and help to keep order there."
Sarah stared at her hands. "I need time to think," she said lowly.
Minerva nodded. "We can give you a day before we need your answer."
"Thank you," the librarian whispered as they exited the room and emerged among the bookshelves. Long after the library had closed, she lay awake in her quarters, mind racing. Part of her wanted more than anything to run away, to return to a world in which she had felt safe and secure. The other part of her rallied against this, desiring to do anything and everything to help those she had come to know and love. At last Sarah fell into a fitful sleep, and when she woke in the early hours of the morning, she knew what she would do.
She dressed in a blouse and slacks, running her brush slowly and deliberately through her long, brown hair. She completed her morning ritual as she did any other day, and then stood before her mirror. Sarah marveled at the calm she displayed, the confidence she projected now that she had reached a decision. There was no sign of the intense conflict she had felt only a short while ago.
"Albus Dumbledore, I need you."
An image of the Headmaster's office appeared in her mirror, the angle rather strange. Despite that, her eyes were drawn immediately to the powerful wizard. There were others with him, and Sarah took a moment to identify them as Order members before she touched the reflective surface and stepped into the looking-glass.
Cries of shock emerged from the throats of several members before they recognized the person who appeared in the room. An exclamation of "Bloody Hell!" caused her to spin towards the door and wince. Staring at her in varying degrees of suspicion and amazement were Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger.
"Oops," Sarah murmured under her breath.
"What is she doing here?" Harry demanded, wand trained on the supposed Muggle. "How did she do that?"
"You can't apparate inside of Hogwarts," Hermione stated blankly.
"I didn't," Sarah replied.
Minerva sighed and rubbed her temples. "Potter, put your wand away," she ordered.
"Do as she says," Remus said quietly when Harry hesitated. "One of us will explain things later."
Sarah did her best to ignore the crowd around her for the moment and focused on the Headmaster. "I've come to a decision," she announced quietly.
Albus suspected that there was more to this. Sarah was not the type of person to interrupt important meetings for something that was more appropriately discussed in their free time. "And what have you chosen?"
"There is a third option," Sarah said slowly. "I will fight."
Dumbledore quickly laid a calming hand on his Deputy's arm, and she bit back her immediate protests, although her thin lips were pressed tightly together and her eyes flashed. He had no chance to silence the protests of the others in his office before a booming noise akin to thunder did the job for him. There was an explosion of glitter that was beginning to become familiar, and a fey, golden man with mismatched eyes appeared before them.
"You shall not!" he roared.
Remus, with the reflexes of a werewolf, forced Harry's and Ron's wand arms back down, and Tonks did the same to Hermione a moment later, as many of the other members shrank away from the apparition in fear. "Whatever you do, do not threaten that man," he hissed, afraid for the lives of the three children so dear to his heart.
A quelling look from the Headmaster himself brought the seriousness of the situation home to the trio, and they put away their wands, pale with nerves and marveling at Sarah's courage to stand up to the stranger.
Meanwhile, Sarah simply gazed back at the angry monarch placidly. "I am determined, Goblin King. Neither you nor anyone else can forbid this."
"I will stop you, Sarah," he bit out, voice hushed with fury.
There was something apologetic in her expression and voice when she said, "You have no power over me, Jareth."
He flinched and then rallied himself. He had more power over her than she realized. She had, in a sense, invited him back into her life on Halloween. Sarah may have been the Labyrinth's Champion, but Jareth was its Master. It was possible that he could spirit her away against her will.
But she would resent him for it. If there was one thing Jareth had learned when Sarah had beaten him at his own game, and in the years since, it was that he could not control her. It was that free spirit he so loved, and he refused to be the one to kill it. A difficult lesson for one so possessive and controlling to learn, and hard-learned it was.
"Perhaps," he agreed reluctantly, "but what about them?" His sweeping gesture, suddenly menacing, indicated the entire room that watched the exchange with bated breath. The Goblin King still had a part to play, after all.
"Even if you ignore that not one of them has wished a child away, they are my best chance at protection," Sarah said.
Their eyes locked in a battle of wills, but Jareth was once again forced to concede to her wishes, and he looked away.
Sarah sighed, a little sadly, and stepped closer to him. There was a time not so long ago that she would have interpreted his demands as a sort of revenge, a desire to control her. Now she realized that he was motivated by concern for her well-being. "If the Gringott's goblins will acquiesce, I could use their assistance."
"I will speak with them. I cannot imagine they will refuse you," he said with a wry twist of his lips, and then he was gone.
Sarah turned deliberately to Dumbledore. "If you can cover the Great Hall in mirrors, walls, floor, and ceiling, and then trap as many Death Eaters as possible in the room, I may be able to deal with them. Even better, if the mirrors are able to reflect spells, with my illusions the enemy may not even realize that they are attacking their own ranks for some while. At the very least, the Death Eaters will be hard-pressed to find the exit, and goblin weapons can be extremely deadly."
The Order of the Phoenix, enthused by the idea, spent much of the morning refining it. For the time being, Sarah simply needed to practice her illusions.
"They're here," Minerva said tightly. Her face, though pale, was set in an expression of fierce determination, and she gripped her wand firmly. "Be careful, Sarah."
"And you," Sarah replied.
"We will," Albus said as he joined the two women. "Tom is overconfident. He made a great mistake in choosing to attack Hogwarts."
"How so?" Sarah asked before she could stop herself.
"We control the castle," he replied, motioning toward himself and his Deputy. "This is our territory, and there are secrets only the Headmasters and Headmistresses are privy to."
Albus and Minerva shared a glance that promised deadly traps for those who would dare threaten their children.
"I will see you soon," Sarah said as she melted into the nearest mirror, reluctant to say good-bye. Good-bye was so final.
She lingered long enough to see Minerva murmur something to Albus, and to watch as each studied the other, committing each other to memory, and burning the image in their hearts. No telling if they would come out of this alive.
Blinking away tears, Sarah flitted away to the Great Hall, to hide among the mirrors there and prepare her illusionary army. She wished that Minerva and Albus had confessed their love. She prayed that they would still have a chance to do so.
Sooner than Sarah would have liked, shouting and fighting could be heard at the doors to the school. First, she concentrated on creating tables of children. It was a decent illusion, not perfect, but good enough that a great number of Death Eaters entered the room with sickening enthusiasm. The first volley of spells the intruders cast missed on the rebound, but as more filled the Great Hall, more were hit and screamed in pain. Only when the doors closed did Sarah drop the images of panicking students and the illusion obscuring the mirrors. Instead an army of Light witches and wizards appeared near where the Head Table had stood.
"It's a trap!" someone shouted, but the mirrors confused them. They lost all sense of direction as they gazed into infinity in every direction. The opposing army seemed to them to be the only anchor in a chaotic world, and they shot spell after spell into the mass. Sarah did her best, putting up illusions of shields and flashes of light, but she could not make every aspect of her army realistic, nor did she know enough about wizardry to do so. She could only pay attention to so many figures at once. Eventually the Death Eaters caught on when a Killing Curse passed through one illusory wizard and shattered a mirror, but many had been taken out by their own spells first.
She vanished her army with a sigh of relief, and took a moment to breath and gather herself for the next stage.
Sarah's break was cut short when the Death Eaters began flinging around Killing Curses, shattering at least a dozen mirrors before one chanced to shoot at the one she had been residing in for the duration of the fighting. She barely escaped in time. She would definitely need to be more alert from now on.
Bracing herself, Sarah plunged the hall into darkness. She paid no attention to those who lit their wands. It was still dark enough that deep shadows remained.
Red eyes glowed in the dark and wand-light glinted off of scales and fangs and claws. Several black-robed figures jumped in spite of themselves, and clenched their jaws as hands became sweaty in fear. The growling and hissing began, always loudest directly behind a Death Eater. She wanted them jump and panicked, on a hair trigger.
A sudden deafening roar resounded throughout the Great Hall. Spells flew into the darkness and struck allies, but Sarah paid them little attention. She looked toward the origin. That had sounded like…
"Ludo," she whispered, glimpsing his orange, shaggy head in one of the mirrors.
The Great Hall doors were abruptly slammed open by an avalanche of boulders, crushing those that were closest. Immediately, she abandoned her nightmares to hide the doors.
Above the shouting she caught the voice of Sir Didymus urging on his steed as he whacked at legs and kneecaps. She saw Hoggle leaping on backs and blinding Death Eaters with his spray can as Ludo directed the rocks in an effort to cover his two friends. It seemed like the Death Eaters didn't quite know what to do, having never been attacked in such an unorthodox manner. If it wasn't chaos before, it certainly was now.
Sarah couldn't tear her eyes away. Her heart was in her throat as she watched her friends risk life and limb to help her, to protect her. How had they known what was happening? No, foolish question. Jareth obviously had something to do with this.
She gasped as the Death Eaters quickly destroyed the boulders and one exploded next to Sir Didymus, knocking the sprightly knight off of Ambrosius. He staggered to his feet, and Ludo quickly cleared the area with one of the remaining rocks, allowing Didymus time to remount his faithful sheepdog.
"Hoggle!" Sarah shouted. "Sir Didymus!" A purple beam struck the mirror she resided in, and she flinched back violently before pressing up against the glass. "Get out of there. Quickly!" Noticing the obstinate knight was about to refuse, Sarah screamed, "Ambrosius!" The dog, much more sensible than its master, wasted no time in escaping with the knight on his back protesting all the way.
As soon as her friends were safe in the mirrors and only nine of the Dark Lord's followers remained standing, Sarah activated the goblin traps. Bright red beams crisscrossed the entire hall, and caught one of the wizards in the chest. A scream, the smell of burnt flesh, and Sarah was forced to look away and concentrate on not being sick.
Gouts of dragonfire burst from the floor and three more wizards caught fire. The laser-like security measures made it very difficult to dodge.
The main defense, however, was only beginning to emerge. A sword-wielding iron giant appeared, a more advanced prototype of the guard Sarah had encountered outside the Goblin City. This one, however, did not contain a goblin operator, and its movements were smoother and deadlier. This was its first true combat situation, and Gringott's technicians had high expectations.
Indeed, Avada Kedavra hardly slowed it down, and most other spells simply bounced off its metal body. Had they thought to use more physical means, or finesse, they might have survived. The machine was more susceptible to physical attacks than it was to magical.
In short order no one remained standing, and Sarah deactivated the defenses before stumbling out of the mirrors. Never before had she spent so long behind the looking-glass, nore maintained such elaborate illusion for so great a time. Near spent, she collapsed in a corner and, feeling the presences of her friends, and even Jareth, she allowed herself to fall into an exhausted sleep. Surely they would protect her.
Surely…surely the Order was winning even now.
Jareth appeared the moment Sarah stumbled into the open. Ludo, Sir Didymus, and Hoggle following. He checked her pulse, felt her forehead, and pronounced, "She's fine."
Ludo sat down against the wall, and Jareth reluctantly settled Sarah in his furry lap before turning to the other two. "Make sure those…mortals will not escape," he ordered. "I will watch over the girl, but I have no desire to deal with the rest of the school when they finish their battle." So saying, he transformed into a barn owl, and perched on one of Ludo's horns.
Hoggle and Didymus enlisted the help of the Underground goblins to indicate those humans who were still alive. Hoggle tied them up as tightly as possible while Didymus collected wands.
"I warned yeh," he said quietly when they returned to Sarah's side. "I tole yeh to stay away from the Wizarding World."
And so, when the tired victors entered the Great Hall, Voldemort at last vanquished at Harry's hand, they found the young Muggle woman surrounded by her otherworldly creatures and an owl, bodies in black robes and masks littering the floor.
Sarah didn't know how long she slept, nor did she know what woke her. All she knew was that she ached with a bone-deep weariness. It took more effort than she anticipated to open her eyes, and she beheld a bustling Hospital Wing. It seemed as though any spare hands were being put to work, and Minerva was just entering, levitating two witches Sarah had never met. The older woman had obviously yet to be healed, as she sported a myriad of bruises, burns, and bloody cuts. Her exhaustion was evident, her eyes dead and movements almost mechanical. However, there was a certain desperate intensity about Minerva, all her concentration on keeping her body busy enough that she wouldn't be able to remember.
"Minerva," Sarah rasped when the two additional patients were settled, and grimaced at her voice.
The witch looked up blankly, before recognition penetrated the fogginess of her brain. "Sarah," she murmured, relieved, and made her way to the young woman's bedside. "I'm glad you're all right. I hear you worked a miracle in the Great Hall."
Sarah sipped the proffered glass of water. "I suppose," she murmured. "But tell me, what happened?"
Minerva's brief smile faded, and she recounted what she knew.
Harry had managed to defeat Voldemort in the dungeons of the school, with the help of Ron, Hermione, and Albus. His death had severely crippled the remaining Death Eaters, and the battle had pretty much ended then. The four were recovering in the curtained off portion of the Infirmary.
A handful of students had been killed, and several more were in critical condition and had been transferred to St. Mungo's, along with Filius, who had had all of the bones in his left arm broken as well as a concussion before some sort of Dark Curse had caught him in the chest. A great deal of Order members had been killed, as well as two staff members. Nymphadora and Remus still lived, Minerva reassured her.
"Who?" Sarah whispered.
"Severus and…." Her breath hitched and she struggled to say the second name. "Xi-Xiomara."
Sarah didn't realize she'd been holding her breath until she choked on a sob. No, no, not 'Mara. Not that crazy, bright, energetic witch.
"She was on her broom, covering some of our students. You-Know-Who may not have had time to reestablish an alliance with the vampire clans, but his werewolf allies, even in human form, immediately followed the scent of fresh blood. Xiomara was killing quite a few from where they couldn't reach her until the Death Eaters managed to shoot her out of the air," Minerva recounted softly.
Sarah turned her head away, cheeks damp with tears. She felt Minerva's hand on her hair for a moment, before standing to resume what she felt to be her duties.
A week later and most of the injured had recovered, even if the castle hadn't quite. Poppy had caught Minerva nearly passing out in exhaustion and had forced her into a bed near the Headmaster. She had slept for nearly a full day.
Many of the paintings had been blasted off the walls, statues and suits of armor were found chipped, dented, and in pieces all over the school, and several classrooms were empty of desks, having apparently been animated in a charge against the enemy.
The funerals had been completed, speeches given, and still the media hounded poor Harry Potter.
Sarah sighed as she listlessly completed the inventory of the damage done to the library. Had Irma Pince still worked at Hogwarts, she likely would have had a heart attack.
"Sarah," a familiar voice said. She turned and there stood the Goblin King in all his glory.
"Jareth," she greeted.
Neither noticed a portrait of a wizard scholar leave his frame.
"It is past time I spoke with you about what it means to be the Champion of the Labyrinth," he said seriously.
"I don't understand," Sarah said, standing.
"There are certain duties," Jareth began, only to pause as the library doors opened and the Headmaster and his Deputy entered.
"Sarah?" the witch called before spotting her companion. "Oh."
"We can return later, if you would prefer," Dumbledore said. "We were told a strange man had appeared and feared it might have been a Death Eater."
The Fae indicated that it was Sarah's decision.
She hesitated. "Will this affect my job here?" She had been considering renewing her contract, but a final decision didn't need to be made until the end of June.
"It may," he said, inclining his head.
"Then they should hear this," Sarah decided.
Jareth paid no more attention to them, focusing on Sarah.
"There is a certain instinct every Champion has, a pull toward conflict, particularly of a magical nature. It can be fought, of course, but only if the Champion truly desires, which is difficult since the instinct is to help resolve the conflict. Sarah, if you remain in the Aboveground, sooner or later you will be drawn in over your head. It was always assumed that the Champion would reside in the Underground, where illusions are much more powerful. As well, Champions are very influential. If nothing else, the fact that you completed the Labyrinth demands respect.
"You have none of that in the mortal world."
Sarah was silent for a long while as she considered his words. "If I were to live in the Underground," she said slowly, "would I be placing myself in your power?"
Jareth expelled a breath. "No," he said quietly.
She thought a while longer, and then came to a decision. Stepping closer to Jareth she leaned up and pressed her lips to his, a chaste kiss that contained a promise. "I have dreamed of returning to the Labyrinth ever since I left. Give me one week to get everything in order, and I will come."
The Goblin King smiled a true smile, and Sarah's breath caught at the beauty of it. "Then I shall prepare for your arrival," he said with a bow, and disappeared.
"Toby will be happy," Sarah murmured to herself before turning to the two professors.
"It looks like I'm leaving you without a librarian," she said apologetically.
Albus shook his head, giving her a friendly smile. "You've completed your contract and, what's more, even assisted in the defense of Hogwarts. You have more than fulfilled our expectations, Sarah."
"Yes," Minerva agreed fondly. "Do feel free to visit now and again."
"I will," Sarah promised, and impulsively hugged the older witch. "Thank you for everything. I need to begin packing, and then find Tonks and Remus to say goodbye, and Hermione as well. Oh, there's so much to do," she murmured to herself as she headed for her quarters.
Right before she exited the room, she turned back to the couple just in time to see a goblin yank down on Albus' beard while another tripped Minerva. Their lips crashed together and there was a moment of stillness before they moved even closer as the kiss grew more heated.
"That one's for you, Xiomara," Sarah murmured under her breath with a grin, whistling cheerfully as she walked down the hall. "I just wish you were here to see it."
She wondered who had won the betting pool.