Hey, the time skip you probably all hate by now! Yay! Sorry. I think this chapter actually is longer though, so that's good, right? This is where the actually story gets started, I guess, but is also the second to last chapter that I have pre-typed. So the next update will be fast and then they might slow down a bit. With school and all, you know. Anyway, hope you all like this chapter as well.


Jareth sat in his father's throne, one leg draped over the arm as he perused a book he had found in the library. He was now sixteen as a human sees and parts of his hair were starting to grow out, though his eyes remained a mismatched blue and green. A goblin crashed into the room, his amour clattering as his hit the floor in a clumsy bow and then leapt back to his feet.

"Your highness, your highness!" Jareth made a noise to show he was listening, but didn't look up from the book. The goblin paused for a second to compose himself, failed, and then wailed, "The king has returned, your highness, and he is wounded!"

"What?!" The book fell to the ground, forgotten, as Jareth leapt to his feet. "Where? How?"

"He's in the Infirmary, and-" He never finished as Jareth sprinted past him and out the door. Goblins leapt aside for fear of being run down by the speeding prince making for the Infirmary. He burst through the doors and stood panting slightly as he stared around.

"Please, your highness, we must treat his wou-" A small, female goblin tried to usher Jareth out, but he dodged around her a moved to the only occupied bed. Ciaràn was lying on the bed, his eyes closed and his face unnaturally pale. He made no reaction as Jareth stopped beside him and lifted the loose bandages around his stomach. Long, angry cuts that crisscrossed themselves on his stomach and ribs, and blood had stained both the cloth and his torso red.

"We must tend him, your highness, please," The small female goblin whispered as she appeared at Jareth's elbow. Rather than leave the room as was expected, Jareth retreated to one of the walls and stood waiting. The goblins around the King sighed, but took what they could and returned to their work.

It was several hours before they finally stepped back, still with worry written on their faces, but not as strongly as before. Jareth swept past the doctors and stopped once more beside the bed. Ciaràn's complexion was much better, some of the blood having returned to his face. He still made no reaction and Jareth grabbed a nearby chair, pulling it around and setting it beside the bed.

One of the goblin women, the one that had tried to shoo Jareth out, sighed. "Please tell us when he wakes, your highness. Someone will come change his bandages in a while."

Jareth made no sign that he had heard, but the woman set to work herding the others out before she retired to an adjacent room. All the while the Prince remained seated beside his father's bed, waiting and watching.

When Ciaràn finally woke it was late into the night and the Infirmary was silent. He tried to sit up, but abandoned the attempt when pain shot through his stomach. Instead, he lay on the feather mattress and looked around.

His eyes finally landed on Jareth, who had fallen asleep in the chair beside the bed with his cheek resting on his shoulder. Ciaràn smiled slightly and somehow managed to pull the blanket that was folded at the end of the bed up within arms reach and then to drape it over Jareth without jarring his wounds too bad. As soon as he had finished, the toll from his work drew him back into the thick black of unconsciousness.

Jareth blinked awake and straightened, wincing at the pain in his neck. A thick, scratchy blanket slid off of him and hit the floor with a quiet thump. From the bed Ciaràn shifted slightly and grunted, his eyes slowly blinking open.

"You're awake!" Jareth leapt up, "I'll get Kayren."

Ciaràn's rasped word of protest was lost as Jareth hurried to the door through which the female goblin had gone the night before. Ciaràn rested back against the pillow and waited until Jareth returned with the small, wrinkled goblin behind him.

"How are you feeling, Sire?" Kayren checked Ciaràn's bandages and then set about changing the stained cloths. The King made a noise through his clenched jaw as Kayren gently massaged a cream into the injuries.

"What happened?" Jareth's eyes were riveted to the still slowly bleeding wounds in his father's sides.

Ciarån settled back against the pillows as Kayren stepped away, the bloody rags bundled in her arms. She dipped a rough curtsey and left the room. Jareth shifted and frowned expectantly at Ciaràn, who was refusing to meet his eye.

"Father, what happened?"

Ciaràn smiled casually at Jareth and shrugged, "There was a fight on our return from the Eastern Kingdom. A group of brigands ambushed us in the forest, nothing more." Jareth frowned and sat back in his chair, keeping silent. Ciaràn sighed and shook his head, "Nothing more, Jareth."

"Your highness," Kayren appeared again at the door, "you both need rest. These wounds are serious and he needs time to heal. You need sleep."

Jareth glanced again at Ciaràn, who waved him away with another smile, and then let Kayren usher him out. As soon as the prince's footsteps had disappeared down the hall, Kayren returned to the Ciaràn's bedside. "Did you tell him how you were injured?" Ciaràn shook his head and the goblin sighed, "He will eventually figure it out. Those wounds…may never stop bleeding."

"If need be, we'll cauterize them." Ciaràn shifted slightly, wincing at the injuries. Worry made a wrinkle between Kayren's eyes, but she remained silent.

---&---

"He still won't tell me what happened!" Jareth paced restlessly back and forth across the Infirmary. Kayren looked up from a goblin whose leg she was bandaging and shook her head.

"The wounds have stopped bleeding, haven't they?" Kayren tied off the bandages and the goblin hobbled out of the Infirmary. She smiled slightly at the Prince as he continued to pace back and forth.

"So he says…but he still wears the bandages and…walks and acts slightly different."

Kayren started, but covered it up by bending to straighten the blankets on the bed. Jareth sighed as he came to a stop at one of the large windows that overlooked the gardens. He seemed to decide something and turned abruptly to leave the Infirmary.


Thank you all so much for your support. It's helps, it really does.

I'm a little depressed writing this cause I like Ciaràn and he got hurt. Still, I like this person that comes up in a little while, so he'll probably get shot in the face or something. I'm so mean.