Disclaimer: After all this time – and after I asked Santa and the Tooth Fairy – still not mine. Sigh.
Rated T for language.
My sincere apologies for the wait, gentle readers. Real life sank its teeth into me with a vengeance in January. Then Mardi Gras came and went, and I realized that I'd better finish this bit of fluff ASAP. Can't have it getting too unseasonal, now, can we? So please consider it a (belated) Valentine's Day pressie, from me to you.
A big thank-you to yodeladyhoo, and to Pika – both of whom urged me to finish up. And to Pika for the artwork that jump-started the whole thing. If you want to see it again, behold:
http:// pika-la-cynique. deviantart. com /art / LABYRINTH- Envy- 70751641
Enough nattering. To the finish line!
My True Love Gave to Me
The feather duster fell from her nerveless fingers.
"Three kings …" Sarah muttered to herself. "Kings. He wouldn't. He wouldn't –"
She gulped. "Maybe he would …"
Then Sarah exhaled in a sudden, giddy rush –
He just might … a tiny voice whispered in her mind. He might.
She felt her face practically split in two with a grin. If she knew Jareth – and somehow, God help her, she felt she did – he would swan into her house and leave her parents goggling with amazement and Toby off his head with excitement – I have come, he would intone, to take Cinderella to the ball – and then he would take her hand and whisk her away to dance –
"Wait." Sarah's grin slipped away. 'Cinderella' wasn't accurate, not at all … She hadn't been upset at missing Toby's play, or even for dinner out at the Castle … so why was she so excited about the idea of the Goblin King coming to her – flying to her –
Fly to me, Goblin King –
She inhaled. A vision flashed before her eyes: Jareth in profile, gazing down into a chasm, his wild hair and feather cloak whipped by the wind – and him deliberately smearing a line of kohl across both cheekbones before falling – falling and flying –
Sarah blinked. She smelled smoke.
"Shit!" she yelped. "The cake!"
Running into the kitchen, she gasped and choked. Smoke was leaking out around the corners of the oven door. Sarah flung open a window, grabbed an oven mitt and ran outside with the cake, in one fell swoop. She stared out into the cold winter night, her breath puffing out in a cloud from her mouth – puffing, and mixing with the smoke –
Sarah heaved a sigh, and bent to examine the damage.
The smoke had cleared. It turned out that it had all come from one tiny scrap of charred egg mix – blackened where it had dripped onto the pan. The cake itself looked –
"Good enough to eat …" she murmured. "Huh."
Sarah looked out at the backyard. Snow dusted over the ground, and stars winked through the grey and white clouds scudding across the dark sky. A flurry blew past her cheek – she gasped – a feather? Or –
"Just a snowflake …"
She stared up at the sky, watching the flakes falling.
"Fly to me, Jareth …"
Another vision flashed before her eyes: an owl, shooting through the night like a pale arrow, its silhouette cut from the inky sky, an opal bird set in obsidian –
She jerked out of her reverie. A neighbor had called her – a neighbor, trundling up and down his sidewalk on his automatic snow blower. Sarah waved politely.
"Hello, Mr. Starr."
A grunt. "Hello yourself. Listen – is that your smoke alarm?"
Sarah sighed. Under the chug chug chug of the snow blower, she heard eee-ooo-eee-ooo from the other side of the heavy door. "Yeah."
"Well, turn it off before the battery runs down. Letting it go on like that is a waste of power."
She faked a smile. "Sure thing!" Mr. Starr turned the snow blower around – even the lines of his winter coat were grumpy. Sarah stuck out her tongue at him. "Tidings of comfort and joy to you too, you twit." She went back inside and slammed the door behind her.
Slicing the cake from its pan took less time than turning off the alarm and airing out the kitchen. Sarah shivered in the chill from the window as she set the ring to cool. She carefully set out the frosting, and prepared new mixtures of colored sugar.
As she closed the bag, her eyes fell on her hand.
Green sugar. He had licked the green sugar off her hand and had looked up at her, and his eyes – his eyes had –
The memory of his tongue trailing over her skin made her entire body tighten. "Oh God –" Sarah backed away from the counter, her heart hammering. "O.K. Calm down. T minus –" she glanced at her watch – "I don't even know how long until he shows up, so I shouldn't be melting onto the linoleum already. Geez, Williams." She clutched her elbows with both hands. "Settle down. Put a sock in it – oh –"
Sarah breathed out in a long rush. "Those socks …"
Had the goblins obeyed – she stifled a giggle at the memory – the Fairy of Right and Wrong? "Only one way to find out," she murmured.
She took the stairs two at a time, and began by opening a drawer in Toby's dresser. There, lined up neatly, were several pairs of socks. Red, white, white with red stripes – athletic socks, dress socks, a random sandal –
Sarah felt a laugh bubbling up. She hugged herself, and ran to look in her parents' room. Gaily, she rummaged through Karen's dresser. Pink socks, white socks, white with pink strawberries, pink with white rosettes, sheer nylons, black tights, brown tights, a stray tube of lipstick, a garter, an old Valentine's Day card with a picture that fell out of it – a picture that fluttered down to rest on a dog-eared copy of The Joy of Sex – a picture of –
"Aagh!" Sarah stuffed the photo back in the card and shoved the socks back into their places. "My eyes! My eyes!" She ran from the room and clattered back down the stairs.
When she had caught her breath, she shook her head a few times, to try and banish the image from her mind. "There are some things," she said fiercely to herself, "that you just shouldn't have to see in life, and that includes –"
"We're home!" Toby caroled as he flung open the door. "And look outside, Sarah! Look at the snow!"
Karen had been cleaning her stiletto heels with irritable jerks of a dishtowel, her father had been massaging the back of his neck, sighing, and Toby had been pouting when Sarah brought the cake to the table. Frosting it had been a cinch – her fingers had flown over the icing and the colored sugar had seemed to sprinkle itself. The coffee hadn't scorched, as hers usually did – the living room had met with Karen's blinking silence, which meant approval, and the ornaments on the Christmas tree had twinkled and spun in an invisible breeze.
And when Sarah cut the cake and handed out pieces, the bad mood which sat at the table like an unwelcome guest vanished without so much as a snippy remark.
It seemed like magic.
"Why, Sarah," Karen said, looking down at her empty plate. "This is absolutely delicious."
"You said it," mumbled her father, intent on his second piece. "Where'd you get the recipe again?"
Her parents didn't notice her clipped tone, and Toby was happily licking icing off his fingers. Sarah looked at her watch. Eleven o'clock … He's awfully late …
"Late?" she muttered to herself. "Did he even say he was going to come?" She bit down hard on a bite of cake –
Mutely, Sarah fished out half a coffee bean from her mouth. She looked at it, then held it up and shrugged. "Ta-da."
"Cool, Sarah." Toby's grin turned into a yawn. "Co-ol. That means you're the Queen."
Queen … She bit her lip, and let the bean fall to her plate with a tiny clink –
Merlin the Second began to bark. Sarah jumped, her heart hammering. "Shit! What was that?!"
"What was what?" Karen asked, smiling peaceably.
Staring, Sarah got to her feet. "You didn't hear that? It came from the living room." She backed away from the table. "Just – just stay there, O.K.? Don't move."
There was no reply. Her family sat in a contented stupor around the table. Sarah decided to worry about that later, and ran to the living room. The Christmas tree lay on its side – again – and there were two stubby legs wiggling from underneath one particularly thick branch. She heard squeaking. "'Elp'elp'elp –"
Sighing, Sarah pulled the goblin out from where it lay squashed. "Oh, it had better be good."
"Fairy Lady!" it shrilled. "Fairy Lady – King need help!"
"What?" Her heart thumped, hard. "What do you mean?"
"King stuck!" It grabbed its hat and tugged the tattered fabric down around its ears as it wailed: "King stuck down the street!"
"Where down the street?"
The goblin looked up at her, its beady eyes round. "I can has lobster?"
"No!" Sarah glared. "Not for a whole year, you idiot! Now where's the Goblin King?"
"Follow – follow – and then I can has lobster?"
She gritted her teeth. "We'll see. But we need to hurry."
The goblin scurried out ahead of her – Sarah turned in a circle and glared at the Christmas tree –
And her jaw dropped as something flashed, and the tree righted itself, shaking out its boughs – and as all the ornaments pieced themselves back together and dropped into their places.
Holy shit. Did I just do that?
"Hurry, Fairy Lady!"
"Coming!" She ducked her head into the dining room. "Guys – I'm just going to walk Merlin, O.K.?"
"Fine." Her father smiled drowsily into his coffee cup, ignoring the dog at his feet.
Sarah sprinted out the door, following the goblin –
And skidded, almost losing her footing, as a cloud of feathers fell from the sky onto her head.
"Ack!" Batting away the fuzzy down and longer quills, she coughed and coughed. "What – what the hell?"
"Follow feathers," another goblin rasped from up in a tree.
"No – no time for feathers – Fairy Lady follow me!" The first goblin scampered down the street; Sarah dashed the feathers away from her eyes and ran after it. Toby hadn't been kidding: the snow lay thick upon the ground. She flew over the drifts, though, and less than thirty seconds later, she stopped, gasping for breath, in front of the corner house – the college house, she realized. She squinted into the darkness.
"So – what's wrong? Where is he? Is this some sort of joke?"
"No joke …" A faint voice reached her ears, and she inhaled.
"The same." The voice was coming from a thicket of trees from the side of the house.
"What –" Sarah took a careful step forward. She looked at the windows – all the lights were on. "What happened?"
"It's a long story."
She reached the trees, and looked carefully. Branches, coils of grapevine dead from the winter cold, random frozen grasses, a fall of ice and one strange patch of – was that glitter?
"Jareth!" she yelped. The glitter turned out to be part of the fall of ice, which turned out to be a white-blue fold of a cloak that looked to be made of satin –
"Sarah –" He spoke urgently. "Lovely to see you, my dear, but I need your help, before it's too late –"
"What do you mean?"
The front door of the house slammed open, and she heard high-pitched voices.
"… too late …" Jareth groaned.
Sarah put her hands on her hips. "Like hell. The only thing late is you, Goblin King – late for your cake, which Toby's probably finished by now." She spun on her heel as the giggling and tromping of feet from the front yard cut off abruptly.
There were seven girls staring at her. One held a tire iron. One held a shoe. And the rest of them were carrying what looked like a volleyball net.
"What the hell is going on?" Sarah shouted.
The girls exchanged glances. "Um," said one. "Uh – none of your business?"
"You're trespassing," another said, virtuously.
"Am I?" Sarah hissed. "What's worse, that or …" she stared at the implements they held, and everything clicked into place. "Or planning to commit assault and battery?!" she snarled.
Several of them giggled. "Assault?" "Hell, yes –" "Yeah, she's kinda got a point." "Did you remember to buy the chocolate sauce?"
The giggling increased. Sarah's head began to pound. They're worse than the goblins."Stop – shut up – this stops right. Now. What do you think you're doing?"
The tallest one tapped the tire iron against one gloved palm. "The person – being – who may or may not be caught in the bushes behind you owes us, big time, on an investment that we've made."
"Investment?" Young banking girls gone wild –
"An investment of our time and trouble," another voice cut in. "For adventures and epics rendered."
"Yeah!" another piped up. "It's not like we don't have lives, you know, and he just keeps on pestering, and pestering."
"I do not pester!" The Goblin King's voice rang out; the girls gasped as one, and then erupted in a chorus of squeals.
"Enough! Jareth, shut up –"
"Oh, she is so mean …" a British accent crooned. Sarah gasped to see where one of the exchange students was catching the whole thing with a video camera. "You lovely, lovely man – I'll treat you better than she ever will …"
"Me too!" another chimed in. "And me –" "And me!" "And then the oral sex!" A guffaw, and: "Would you just stop with the Monty Python already –"
"Do you all mean to say," Sarah spoke in a level voice, "that you're planning on capturing Jareth, King of the Goblins, Lord of the Labyrinth, Ruler of the Underground – and holding him prisoner – where, exactly?"
"Basement!" one chirped. "We remodeled just for him." "Yeah – velvet throws, baby –" "Rrowr!"
"And that you're planning on catching him with a volleyball net?"
"Well, we've already caught him, really." One of the girls gave her a challenging smile. "We have the power of dreams …"
The power of dreams … Sarah inhaled. Her dreams flashed before her eyes. Jareth ablaze with light, holding a silver snake – Jareth in a black cape leading a horde of goblins, Jareth enthroned in majesty, Jareth seizing her, loving her – fearing her – Jareth as her slave, Jareth as her lover, Jareth as her protector and her King … Jareth as anything and everything she had ever desired –
She staggered, her head reeling. "It was you!" she snarled. "You sent me those dreams! Those stupid, trippy dreams, like the Seven Deadly Sins meets the Twelve Days of Fucking Christmas!"
"We like a challenge." The girl with the shoe lifted her chin defiantly. "And it's only fair that you should be on the receiving end sometimes."
"All we do is put them out there. We can't control who picks 'em up," the shortest muttered.
"Like hell you can't." Sarah felt her temper blaze. "Listen up – the guy you're all enthralled with – he's mine. Not yours. You can't have him."
"Oh-h-h-h-h," the group whined. Two of them threw their share of the volleyball net to the ground.
"So sorry," Sarah sneered. "But you'll just have to grow up and get a life."
They bristled. "We have lives, you silly bint – in fact, we're really busy people," the one with the shoe said, her upper lip curling. "And since you weren't appreciating Jareth, we thought we would. After all …" and she dangled the shoe by its laces, and swung it back and forth. "We have the power of dreams."
"I'm sure. But who's more powerful, chicas, you or the Goblin King?"
The group shifted. Sarah heard mutters, and then a few voices mumbled. "The Goblin King …"
"Right. And since my will is as strong as his, and my kingdom as great – well, that makes me more powerful than you, doesn't it?"
"Speak up – I can't hear you."
They glowered. "Hair-splitting, that's what that is," one grumbled.
"But it's true," Sarah countered. "So guess what, all of you: you have no power over me, and thus, you have no power over him. So go back inside before you catch cold."
The tall brunette tipped her head to one side. "I don't suppose we could vote on it?"
"Oh, get lost, already! Jareth –" Sarah turned and crashed into the thicket – reached out, found a bicep and squeezed. "Hang on – we're going!"
"What?!" he squawked. "Going where?"
"Just hang on!"
"No, Sarah – don't – you haven't passed the flying test –"
Jareth didn't have time to finish – Sarah took a deep breath and channeled all of her adrenaline into willing herself home – home – home – right in the front yard –
And then they crashed into a snow bank to the right of the front steps of her house.
Sarah rolled over, groaning. "Ouch. I think I banged my knee."
"Ah. Well, that's a considerable improvement over what you did the last time you tried to fly."
"You call that flying, Goblin King?" She swelled with pride. "I think I just teleported."
"Hmph." Jareth sat up; then his eyes widened and he fell back down. "Watch out – they're looking for where we've gone."
Sarah focused on listening – and she could hear faint voices arguing, way down the street.
The tension drained away from her in a sudden rush; she started to giggle. "How – Jareth, how on earth did you get stuck in the trees by their house?"
He sighed. "Nice to see you, too."
"Oh, of course I'm happy to see you …" She rolled onto her side, and propped her head up on one elbow, drinking him in with her eyes. The planes and angles of his face, the eyebrows raised slightly, the thin lines around his mouth quirking as he spoke.
"To answer your question," he murmured, "I merely thought to hide myself from you in the backwash around their house. I wanted it to be a surprise …"
"Magical backwash, yes. They command a faint echo of my own ability – creating dreams from dust, something from nothing – and the lot of them together have been getting up to a great deal of mischief in the past few years." He frowned. "I'm not sure how they all came to live here at once, but –" another sigh – "anyway, I didn't want you to see me."
"How could I see you?"
"Sarah, my dear …" His eyes hooded. "I followed your path here as easily as I might follow a star in the sky. You shine. And I've been told I do the same."
She stared at him – at his eyebrows set off with a dusting of glittering blue crystal. His white-blue satin cloak that glittered in the moonlight. His ornamented brocade vest that also glittered in the moonlight. His hair that … Sarah frowned.
"You're really doing more glittering than shining at the moment, Goblin King."
He rolled his eyes. "Hair-splitting."
"So how did they keep you from flying away, my glittery friend?" Sarah reached out and nudged his shoulder with one hand, playfully.
"I'm not sure." His mouth thinned. "They lie about my pestering them, that is certain – as if I would do anything of the sort. I'll have to look into it, as this state of affairs cannot continue." He caught her hand, and brought it to his lips. "One thing I am sure of, however: I am quite excessively happy that you showed up, precious thing. Otherwise, who knows what my fate might have been?"
"I think one of them mentioned chocolate sauce."
Jareth looked thoughtful. "Really? Perhaps I should pay them a visit after all."
She swatted him. "I don't think so – you have to come inside and have cake." Sarah sat up and brushed the snow from his cloak. "Although … I don't suppose you can change your clothes? I don't want you to freak out my parents too much."
"Anything for you," he said, gallantly. Then Jareth's forehead creased, and he reached out to brush feathers from her hair. "Where did you acquire these?"
"Oh – oh, a goblin dumped them on me. And if they're yours, Jareth – well, I'm a little worried. Can owls get mange?"
"No," he snipped. "Bugwittle had specific instructions: to release one feather every two minutes, the better for them to waft past your window and build a mood of ominous anticipation. I should have known better than to assume he could count that high."
Sarah grinned at his exasperated expression. "Speaking of …" She raised her voice. "Guys? Guys – are you there?"
The bushes around them rustled. Then two goblins crept out. "Iss?" one lisped.
Jareth fixed them with a look. "Home you go, lads – work's over."
The one with a burlap bag dusted with down – Bugwittle – gazed with hope at the Goblin King. "Lobster?"
"We can has lobster?" the other squeaked.
"Not yet," Jareth growled. "It has not yet been a day, let alone a year, foolish creatures."
They looked imploringly at Sarah. She bit back a laugh. "Go on home, O.K.? I promise I'll bring you a lobster like I said I would."
The two fell into a pout, but winked out of existence in a flash.
Jareth sighed. "I won't have a moment's peace. 'Lobster' this, 'lobster' that – they started as soon as you left and I'm sure they won't stop, since it's too much to hope that they all forget about it simultaneously."
"Poor you …" Sarah smiled. "Would you rather they sing about our king's enormous –"
"No." He stood up, helped her to his side, and brushed the remaining feathers from her shoulders. "You have done me a great service, pretty thing, but I would advise you not to push your luck."
"Have you forgotten how we left each other, pretty King?" Sarah murmured in his ear. He froze where he stood. "It's not your luck I want to push …"
From where she stood, she heard the faint sound of his breathing. It seemed to be picking up speed. "Sarah … Sarah, Sarah –" He spun to face her, in one flickering motion – she gasped to have his face only scant inches from her own. "Another piece of advice, precious …" His eyes flicked to her lips, and back up. "Don't start things you can't finish."
"I have every intention of finishing, Goblin King," she whispered back. "And here's a piece of advice for you …" She bent to his ear, and felt rather than heard him swallow. "Lobster tank."
A pause. Then: "What?" he growled.
Sarah pirouetted away from him, beaming. "Have your goblins build a lobster tank – a big one. Hell, have them build a hundred. That ought to keep them busy for a year or so."
"Terrible waste of resources," he muttered, following her as she skipped up the front steps.
She gave him a sweet smile. "This, from a man who dresses in several bank accounts' worth of silk and leather on an off day."
Sarah reached for the doorknob, then jumped as his hand landed on hers. She turned, only to find herself pinned against the door, his arms firm and unyielding at her sides. So close … Swallowing hard, Sarah realized that all she had to do was lean forward and she could press into the heat of his body –
At her swallow, Jareth smirked. "What – no more advice, Sarah?"
"I –" She bit her lower lip; he saw it, and his eyes darkened. "I think you need to change your – your clothes – Jareth …"
"Mmm." He bent his head and nuzzled at her hair, inhaling her scent. "So I won't … freak out your parents … that's the phrase you used, wasn't it?"
"Yes," she squeaked.
"Do you think they'd freak out if they saw – this?"
And Jareth slammed her into the door as his mouth landed on hers – he kissed her forcefully, and her mind went into shock – a good shock – oh god oh god don't stop oh god – as he reached down, tugged up her sweatshirt and coasted gloved hands up her body and – so close – she whimpered into his open mouth as the cold air hit her skin, and he responded by timing a flick of his tongue with unfolding his fingers across her breasts –
Her elbow hit the doorbell, and her eyes flew open at the sound of footsteps. "Jareth –" she gasped. "They'll see!"
"I don't care," he growled against her mouth – but just before he could kiss her again, the door swung open behind them.
Sarah cursed as she fell – damn and blast that Goblin King for a horny bastard –
"Do come in!" her stepmother fluted. "And may I ask your name, young man?"
She picked herself up off the floor and gaped at Jareth. Jareth, wearing a long grey coat, an ordinary suit, and with perfectly ordinary hair - head tilted to one side, smirking at her.
Then his gaze flicked to Karen, and the smirk turned into a smile. "Jareth King – I'm an acquaintance of your daughter's."
Karen took his coat and gloves, twittering, and traipsed off into the dining room. Jareth straightened his tie, smoothed the lines of his suit, and caught Sarah by the elbow. "Graceful as ever."
She bared her teeth. "Obnoxious man."
Jareth glanced at her from behind a tuft of his short haircut, then turned to face her … and the look in his eyes made her stomach quiver. He traced her lips with the fingers of his free hand, and bent close to whisper in her ear. "I'm not a man, precious thing."
A puff of laughter warmed her cheek. "But let's not tell your parents that quite yet, hmm?"
Karen had draped Jareth's coat over a chair, and urged him to sit. She slid the last piece of cake onto a plate and poured him a cup of coffee. Jareth made desultory chat with her father and Toby and scratched Merlin the Second behind the ears.
Sarah traced patterns in the tablecloth with the tines of a dessert fork. She could feel his stare burning into her bent head. How did I think this would be him just sweeping me off my feet? she thought, frantically.
"I have come to take Cinderella to the ball," she whispered to herself. "More like: I've come to make Cinderella melt into a puddle under the table, after her toes curl up and her insides combust –"
"I beg your pardon, Sarah?"
She raised her eyes to meet his; a mistake, since behind their amused gleam lurked something predatory –
"Ah." Jareth turned to Toby. "Is your sister always this shy, young man?"
The boy laughed. "She'd better not be, now – now that she gets to be the Queen!"
Robert's chuckle covered the beat of silence that lasted until Jareth spoke quietly. "Does she?"
"Yeah!" Toby said, yawning. "She got the coffee bean, so that means –" he yawned again - "that means –"
"That she gets to be Queen," her stepmother finished, "and that you get to go to bed."
Toby gave only token protest, and Karen followed him upstairs. Sarah looked up from her plate again, cautiously, to see her father smiling into space, and Jareth taking his first bite of cake.
His fork fell with a clatter.
"Don't you like it?" Sarah asked, anxious despite herself.
"Yes …" Jareth breathed. "I must say, I like it very much."
And Sarah gulped as he pushed back from the table and shot to his feet, in one lightning-fast move. "Wait – what are you –" For he was striding to her place, and then he dropped his hands on her shoulders and bent and – Sarah gasped – licked her ear.
"It's so sweet, precious thing ..."
"Jareth –" she hissed, as he pulled her out of her chair and laid a passionate kiss on her neck. "My father is right across the goddamned table! What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"I think I'm becoming more comfortable in your home." He grinned and tossed his head; Sarah gaped as a strange flickering made him blur in her sight for a moment, and then he was dressed in leather and half-rotted armor, a black cloak and leather gauntlets. She threw a desperate glance at her father, who was –
Sarah felt as though someone had hit her head. Why on earth was her father amiably chewing a mouthful of cake – like nothing was happening?
"Really, my dear," Jareth murmured. "There's enough magic in that cake of yours to set off a spontaneous unicorn orgy. Your loving parents are so thoroughly enthralled that I could do the most outrageous thing I can think of and they wouldn't bat an eyelash. In fact …" his teeth glinted in a sly smile. "Mr. Williams?"
Sarah could only watch, as her father blinked. "Yeah, Gerry?"
"It's Jareth." The smile curled into something more animal. "And I think it only polite to inform you, my good man, that I plan to sweep your daughter away to my castle and to my bed and make passionate love with her until we collapse from either exhaustion or dehydration. Or both. In fact," he caught Sarah around the waist; she squeaked, "I'll start by laying her on this very table and licking every inch of her body until she screams the house down. What do you say to that?"
Robert smiled vaguely. "Won't that be nice."
Sarah yelped as the Goblin King spun her to face him. "Father knows best, dearest." He dashed the cutlery from the table with a crash and clatter, and swept her onto it.
"What – wait – hey, you nitwit, that was the good china! I – oof –" Her breath left her all at once as Jareth pinned her to the table with his upper body and planted his lips on her neck.
One long, hot and breathless minute later, he looked up at her, eyes gleaming. "You were saying?"
Sarah felt her mouth opening and closing. And the Oscar for Best Portrayal of a Goldfish in a Supporting Role goes to –
"I –" she began, and then gasped as her stepmother came into view behind Jareth's shoulder.
"I'll just clear, shall I?" Karen said brightly, reaching over the Goblin King to pick up a plate that had somehow managed to stay on the table. "Sarah, dear, tell me when you first met!"
Sarah tried to turn her head, but Jareth dropped a kiss on the base of her throat and she found her jaw tilting up, up up so he could trace his tongue across her pulse. "Oh god just like that –"
"Really? Well, your father and I met at the firm's Christmas party, after the Sam Masters case was finally closed –"
"Close your eyes," the Goblin King husked in her ear. "I want you to close your eyes and just think of where my tongue will go next."
"Shit – don't say it like that – ah!" Instinct made her back arch as he pulled back her shirt and kissed her shoulder.
"Hm. Interesting. What, exactly, is my voice doing to you, Sarah?" Would you like me to continue in a somewhat more … candid fashion? I wonder what your reaction would be if you heard me say –" and his breath was hot at her ear – "I want to do things to you that I've only read about. I have had only an eternity, my dear – eternity, a raging libido and an extensive library. To start, I want to take your legs, and –"
"– And when we realized that they hadn't a leg to stand on," Karen was still chattering, "it was only a matter of filing a motion to dismiss the case –"
The Goblin King's voice – crooning what sounded like "Selections from the Kama Sutra, arranged for Scratchy Baritone and Teasing Fingers" – set nerves on fire where Sarah hadn't known she had them. Her stepmother's words were background noise.
"– and then, Sarah, you'll be in my lap and we'll finish what you started in that throne room – and make it last all – night – long. Fairy –" he bit her earlobe and she whimpered – "my Fairy of Right and Wrong, I'll turn your world upside down – like you have done mine –"
"Hey, Jordan, want to watch the game?"
Her heart racing, Sarah took in a shaky breath and laughed, helplessly, as the Goblin King straightened his back and turned, his expression thunderous. "It's Jareth!" he snarled.
"And, Dad …" She sat up on the table, carefully. "It's almost midnight – no game is on this late."
Robert Williams looked puzzled. "That's not what the little people in the TV told me."
"What?" She stared. "What little people?"
A crash came from the living room, followed by excited gibbering.
"I might have known." Jareth glowered. "They won't leave off finding a lobster, the halfwits. I'll take care of this, and you –" he fixed her with a hot look – "don't move."
Sarah smirked, and undid a button at the top of her shirt. "Not even to … change into something more comfortable?"
She could see, of all things, the cumbersome shoulder plates of his ragtag armor rise and fall more quickly. He saw her staring, and his eyes darkened.
"Well, precious thing … I suppose that, by 'don't move,' I mean 'move as much as you please … if …"
A feral smile. "If, by 'more comfortable,' you mean 'more …naked.'"
She swallowed, and felt her skin prickle. "Naked?"
Jareth gave her one last, lingering look, and nodded – even as he turned and swept out of the dining room in a swirl of black cloak and bright glitter.
Sarah exhaled. "Woof."
"Gesundheit, dear." Karen beamed at her. "Such a nice young man you've brought home."
Robert nodded amiably. "Mm-hm. What was his name again?"
Before Sarah could laugh, she heard a high-pitched voice from behind her. "What's going on?"
The three of them turned to see Toby, standing in the doorway between the dining room and kitchen, blinking. "I heard this big crash, and I thought it might be robbers – whoa." He stared. "Who broke all the plates?"
"Really, sweetie," Karen fussed, "the plates are fine, and you need to get to bed!"
"No they're not!" he said, firmly. "They're broken, on the floor, and if you did it, Sarah, you need to be grounded like I was when I dropped the glass from the –" He stopped, his eyes going wide.
"Look again, my fine lad." Jareth's smooth voice rolled through the room from the opposite doorway; he made an overwrought flourish with one hand to take attention from the other, busy plucking a crystal out of thin air behind his back. Sarah saw him drop the crystal to the ground and kick it towards the shards of china.
A poof – and Merlin the Second, hiding beneath the table, turned a shocking shade of pink, and sneezed.
Toby gasped. Sarah squeezed her eyes shut and concentrated – "fix it, fix it, fix it – Merlin goes back to normal and the dining room cleans itself up, and Toby's sleepwalking, go go go!"
With a lurch of nausea and dizziness, she opened her eyes again. The table? Pristine. Merlin? An ordinary sheepdog. Father, stepmother, Toby? All smiling, sleepily. Jareth?
She shivered. Jareth was smiling at her as well – but with a strange, soft expression in his eyes that she had never seen before ... He stepped into place behind her and intertwined his fingers with hers, leaning forward to kiss her cheek. "Outstanding," he whispered.
"Who are you?" Toby yawned.
Sarah felt rather than saw the Goblin King grin. "The name's Jareth – some call me King – and I'm a friend of your sister's from a city far away."
Her brother's eyes went wide. "A king?" he squeaked. "For Three Kings Day? Really?"
Jareth inclined his head. "Really and truly."
"Wait …" Toby frowned. "How do I know you're really a king?"
"Well, for starters, I've brought you a gift."
Sarah stiffened. Jareth felt it, enclosed as she was in his arms; he brushed a kiss across the nape of her neck. His voice was quiet. "No fears, precious thing …"
Toby had darted over to the coat Jareth had draped on a chair – (guess he forgot to magic that back, Sarah thought, and – he must be distracted) – and was rummaging through the pockets. The Goblin King watched indulgently for a moment or two, and then said: "The red is for your father and the silver for your mother. The third is for you."
"What paper?" Sarah murmured, as Toby deposited a red box and a silver one on the table.
"I'm sure I don't know –" he whispered. "The goblins picked it."
She snorted as Toby fished out a misshapen gift, wrapped in what looked like a map and fastened with – Sarah stared. Were those clothespins?
"Socks, bras, clothespins … They should just start a laundromat and call it a day."
Jareth made a wordless noise of agreement in her ear; and Sarah felt her throat close up as Toby tore open the present and squealed. "Everquest!! Awesome!! Thank you thank you thank you!!" He ran up to them and beamed. "How did you know?"
"Lucky guess, I suppose," the Goblin King said.
"Really?" Sarah asked, as Toby ran from the room, an echoing 'thank you-u-u-u' the only mark of his passage upstairs.
"Hmm. Well, I opened the Beeping Room to the goblins and told them to find something suitable."
"The Beeping Room?"
"You don't think they limit themselves to stealing socks, do you?" Jareth nuzzled her cheek. "I have oodles of games and scads of electronica enshrined within those walls – including more versions of Pong than I thought existed."
"Oh god, Pong? The King of the Goblins, playing Pong?"
He nodded. "On many a cold winter evening. Anything to pass the time … although I must say –" and he feathered a kiss across her ear. "I recently came up with a new idea to liven up winter nights. And summer nights. All the nights of the year, for that matter …"
"Yes indeed. Shortly before I asked a lovely acquaintance of mine to – 'get naked', I believe is the phrase …" Jareth grinned as Sarah swallowed hard, and kept on in his low murmur: "You cannot imagine my disappointment when I realized that her little brother had wrecked the moment."
"Yeah, because screwing on a heap of broken glass is so comfortable and romantic, Goblin King –" she hissed, and broke off with a gasp as he tightened his arms around her.
"Where would be more comfortable for you, precious thing?"
"Um. Wait – let me think –"
"Where?" he rasped. "Tell me, and I will have us there in the blink of an eye, and we can fall to, my beauty, without any further ado –" he laid an open-mouthed kiss on her neck, hot and damp, and Sarah whimpered.
"Yes … say my name, Sarah –" his breath scorched her ear; she felt as though she would faint. "Precious thing … say my name –"
"Jareth –" she moaned.
He caught her lips in a kiss, and it was fiery and melting at the same time – as though they were standing on the sun-burnt hill overlooking the Labyrinth instead of in the ordinary dining room of her ordinary house, with her ordinary parents watching them –
"Jareth! That's it." Robert Williams smiled beatifically. "I knew I'd remember."
Sarah felt the Goblin King growl; she slipped her tongue back out of his mouth and withdrew slightly, cracking open her eyes to peer at him. From so close, she could not only feel each puff of his breath on her lips, but could see the lines carved where he would smile or frown – could see the faint beading of sweat on the curve of his chin.
"My dear …" His whisper was rough.
"Mmm?" She didn't trust herself to form words – not from less than an inch away.
"My own dear one – as fond as I'm sure I will become of your esteemed parents, might I suggest that we make a graceful exit?" Jareth brushed his mouth across hers. "Hm?"
"Oh – yes," Sarah blurted. She darted her eyes away from his grin, and spoke louder. "Dad, Karen, the presents on the table are for you. Jareth and I are going to go on a walk." Even if it is almost midnight –
"Stay warm – it's pretty cold outside," Robert said in a placid voice.
"Yes." Karen smiled at them. "I would choose the path between the Starr's –"
" – and the McPherson's," the older woman finished. "You know, the Starrs keep their sidewalks clear no matter what the weather."
"Yeah – I saw him with the snow blower, earlier." Sarah managed. "So. Great. We'll see you around."
"A pleasure to make your acquaintance." Jareth bowed to them both, and straightened with a flourish and a smile. "And now, dear Sarah –" he held out a gloved hand – "to the path between the Starr's. And the McPherson's."
Sarah rolled her eyes and strode out of the dining room ahead of him, pulling the coat he had forgotten about from the chair. She picked up her pace in the front hallway, and then dashed out of the warm house into the winter night with a jangle of bells from where they twined around the doorknob.
She stared at the picture-perfect snow, and jumped from the stairs into the midst of it. One step, then another – and then she was running, practically skipping with excess energy and glee – with the even more excited knowledge that Jareth would not be left behind for long.
Another jangle split the winter air.
Sarah resisted the urge to turn around. Skin prickling with anticipation, she focused on jumping from drift to drift, watching the steam of her breath spiral out in front of her.
Was that the squeak of boots on ice? Or the pad of feet in looser snow?
Something feather-light brushed her cheek. Sarah started, then half-turned to look. All she saw behind her was the rich maroon of the door, firmly shut, glowing in lamplight and flecked with ice.
It was only a snowflake …
She reached the gnarled chestnut that marked the edge of her family's yard – there was the Starr's prim two-level house, and there was the larger McPherson place, which she had to squint to see, in the dark …
A twig snapped. Sarah jumped. Whirling, she stared out into the blue-lit winter night – glossy mounds of snow shining where they lay, pine trees laden with icicles, other trees thrusting their stark and bare branches into the sky. She looked up, uneasily. The moon was full – even though she could have sworn it had been a sliver only an hour ago.
Sarah looked back down. "Come on, Goblin King," she whispered, half-laughing. "The suspense is killing me."
"Such a pity …"
She gasped at the sound of the silken voice, whipping her head from side to side to see where he was –
"Where are you?"
A low murmur. "Patience, lovely one. It was quite rude of you to fly into the night without me … but I will be generous, rather than cruel …"
"What?" she hissed.
"Generous." The voice was sly. "Generous, beautiful, scintillating intelligence, overwhelming craftiness, a fine flyer with a finer fashion sense – I give you, Sarah … Jareth the Goblin King."
Sarah rolled her eyes, but then stopped, her mouth falling open.
For the wind had blown a flurry of snow off a tree branch, and each crystalline flake revolved in mid-fall – spinning round and round before expanding and growing down through the cold air. Larger, they looked like feathers – soft and white – and then she saw a hand reach up through the whirling mass and push back a fold of what was suddenly a feather cape, and Jareth was smiling at her, as pale and beautiful as the moonlight.
His smile turned smug. "Yes, I thought so myself." He bowed to her, with a flourish of the cape.
"I only wish I had a pair of cymbals to crash for you."
"Oh, your dumbfounded awe will do quite well, thank you very much." he said airily. Then he peeked over his shoulder and smoothed some of the feathers. "I rather thought this one your favorite, and I am pleased to see that, as always, I am right."
"Right –" Sarah laughed. "How many costume changes does that make tonight, anyway?"
"Sarah, dear, this is nothing." Jareth clasped his hands behind his back and strolled towards her. "Remind me to tell you about the time I gifted – hm, I forget the name – Sundime, or some such – ah … the time I gifted him with such a dream. A whole cast of characters, comprising eighteen costume changes, two-score musical numbers, and so many meat pies that my goblins gorged themselves on the leavings for a week afterwards." He tilted his brow. "And poor Labyrinth has never really recovered from an excess of cobbled streets."
"Dreams …" she sighed, hugging herself. "You fly to Atlantis, and you give people dreams – why hasn't someone snatched you up before now?"
"Probably because I do the snatching, Sarah." He feigned a haughty look for a moment, but then it turned wry. "And probably because the other powers see me as nothing but a mountebank."
"What?!" She felt a prick of anger on his behalf.
"Too true. When I do pay formal visits to other kingdoms, it's usually with a painted cart, my harp and flute, and those goblins who remember how to juggle." Jareth smiled into her eyes, from where he stood – so close …
"Then they don't know what they're missing." She twined her arms around his neck.
He murmured in appreciation at the way her lips trailed across his jaw. "Well … I am poor by their standards, yes, and overlord merely to the flotsam and jetsam they exile … but they know better than to underestimate me." His mouth brushed her ear. "For I have the power of dreams …"
Sarah shivered as he kissed her temple.
"Yes …" he whispered. "The power of dreams, and such a generous nature – and such an outstanding figure –"
"Oh, for crying out loud – Jareth!"
"Stop going on and on about how great you are, and kiss me."
He breathed out a laugh against her ear. "Your wish is my command." Then he darted his mouth to hers, and flicked his tongue over her lower lip.
Item number forty-two: when brain has melted, bring from simmer to a boil, then add two cups of oh my god I want to tear his clothes off and do him in the middle of the Starr's sidewalk, and he feels the same way, because I can feel it –
Sarah broke the kiss, panting. Jareth was breathing just as heavily as she, and – she felt her insides knot and twist at his expression. His eyes burned with that which could politely be called desire, but truthfully called hunger – intense hunger – ravenous hunger –
"You taste all the more delectable each time I kiss you, my dear …"
"Right back at you."
He smirked. "Although I prefer that coat of mine to anything else you have worn before – and do you know why?"
Sarah fought to slow her breathing; his voice was making every single nerve in her body vibrate. "Why's that?"
"Only because I will reclaim it, eventually – hopefully in my castle, undoubtedly after I kiss you, and most certainly when you are wearing absolutely nothing underneath it."
Oh, god – "Right." Sarah was proud of the way her voice didn't tremble. "But I think it only fair that I get to fly in through your windows, just like you did."
"Hm …" Jareth slid his hands to her waist and raised one eyebrow. "I'm not sure if I want such a spectacular scene to be copied."
"Yeah, well, somehow I think you've done every single grand entrance known to mankind, so forgive me if I steal one."
"True … too, too true …" He drew her to him and smiled a heated smile. "I am quite fond of grand entrances, Sarah. Of … all varieties."
He punctuated that last with a subtle thrust of his hips that she couldn't miss, giving how she tightly she was pressed against his body. She opened her mouth to retort, but something seemed to have stolen her breath away. Jareth's hands slid up her back; she could feel the heat of them through the coat's thick weave. He kissed her pulse, and she whimpered. "God …"
"If you say so," he murmured. "Though I will be just as happy when you name me: 'Please don't stop.'"
"One-track mind," she gasped. "I might have known – just like any other man – oh –"
"Not quite like any other man, my sweet. I have a one-flight mind – I'm an owl, not a locomotive."
"I once –" Sarah fought for breath as Jareth kissed along her jaw. "I once got a train for Christmas, and it was the biggest disappointment of my life –"
He paused, with his lips hovering over hers; she felt each separate sip of his warm breath. When the Goblin King spoke, it was in a voice that slid over her skin like crushed velvet. "Sarah … I give you my word that you will not be disappointed."
She could hardly think. Something rattled through her mind, something from earlier that night that echoed with the distant – bong – bong – she heard of the church clock tolling midnight.
"Midnight," she hummed. "Midnight – and now it's the thirteenth day of Christmas, so –" She felt giddy, and half-spoke, half-sang: "On the thirteenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me … thirteen double entendres –"
Jareth had gone still. "What did you say?"
She grinned up at him, her head spinning. "Double entendres. What you said earlier. You know."
His eyes were intent upon hers. "I can do better than that."
"Really?" Sarah knew that her grin must be approaching the ridiculous, but she didn't care. "O.K. – it's the thirteenth day of Christmas, Goblin King. What have you brought me?"
Jareth took a few steps back, twined his fingers with hers and spun her around in a circle. He sang: "On the thirteenth day of Christmas, I thought to give to thee … Thirteen goblins squabbling."
She swallowed. "That's it?"
"Well, you know the rest of the song, don't you?" A wry smile. "Thirteen goblins squabbling, an assortment of other oddities that will undoubtedly bankrupt my kingdom … and my heart."
Sarah's breath caught."What?"
He spun on. "Thirteen goblins squabbling - and you must see that the Fairy of Right and Wrong at my side as Goblin Queen would be an immense propaganda victory, even for a being as inoffensive as myself. And even if she required twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ten lords a'leaping -"
"Jareth -" she interrupted. She focused on the fall of his hair - the way it floated on the wind. "The last part of - of your gift. Say it again?" Her voice went higher. "Please?"
Jareth stopped, and twisted where he stood until she stumbled to a halt. His eyes were distant, somehow – owl's eyes – and fixed upon her.
Sarah breathed – in and out, in and out, just stay calm – and tried with all her might to keep her voice steady. "What do you mean?"
The wind plucked at the Goblin King's hair, pulling pale strands loose and mingling them with the feathers at his shoulders – all a wash of white-grey-gold against the dark, star-strewn sky. When he spoke, his tone was quiet, and grave.
"My heart, precious thing – is yours." He bowed from the waist, his eyes never leaving hers. "To do with as you please. Although …" and the feathers fluttered, in what might have been a shrug, or a shake, or the wind … "I would request that you treat it gently."
Sarah could hardly speak. She gulped against the lump in her throat. "Oh, Jareth – I didn't think that –"
"But you said – wait. Didn't think what?" He sounded uneasy.
"I didn't think that I could ever love you – that I would ever –"
His face turned bleak. "Shhh –" he breathed, moving toward her as the wind might – one slide over the snow at their feet and his lips were at her own. "Don't say it." He kissed her, and she heard what might have been a whimper escape her throat. "Leave me something – anything – Sarah …"
Jareth stopped, breathing hard; she opened her eyes and saw how he was biting his lower lip, his own eyes closed. Then he spoke again, in a rush. "Precious thing. Do not ask me to leave my heart here, amidst the winter's ice and cold. Not after I saw you fly like a shining star above my Labyrinth. Not after I thought I had lost you, forever …"
Sarah felt the word falling, like a chip of ice – and she placed her fingers at his lips, feeling his warm breath coast over them. "No, Jareth … that's not what I meant."
"What –" His voice was rough. Her fingertips rose and fell, as she felt him swallow. "What did you mean, then?"
"Only …" she tried. Blinked back a sudden haze clouding her vision – where did that come from? – "Only that … oh, dammit, say it again!"
Jareth started as she took a stride back, away from him. "Say what, Sarah?"
"Just – just listen."
Sarah shivered, breathing hard, as she returned his stare – his arms extended, his fingers stretched out on empty air. She had the sudden, dizzying sensation of being poised at the edge of a cliff … ready to fall.
Or to fly.
"Goblin King." She saw his face stiffen, and continued in a rush. "Jareth – tell me what you told me before – long ago. Tell me what you told my brother – when you told me not to worry – 'no fears, precious thing,' you said …"
Words could only take her so far.
"Tell me, Jareth."
And Sarah fell silent.
It only remained for the hard, frozen lines of his face to soften, to melt into understanding – as she saw him flourish one hand, through the shimmer in her eyes – saw him extend a crystal to her and murmur:
"I've brought you a gift."
"All this time …" Sarah's voice was thick – something was clotting her throat – she wouldn't admit it was tears. "All this time, Jareth – I never asked you – why?"
He inclined his head. "You know why."
The sigh of the wind was his voice, and the snowflakes settling on her eyelashes were the strands of his hair, ever more defined as he stepped closer.
"I've brought you a gift."
She blinked the snow from her eyes. Snow – not tears. "Why?"
Sarah held her breath.
Jareth spoke quietly.
"Because I love you."
Sarah's eyes stung, and her heart began to pound. Oh. Oh, wow – it's true – it's true, and why isn't there romantic music playing right now, because damn, it feels as though I could jump into the air and fly to the moon –
The wind had picked up. It whipped Jareth's hair away from his face – his eyes bored into hers, and his skin looked horribly white, even for him –
"Say something," he whispered.
Sarah took in a deep breath, a gulp, and felt her throat close and tears spill down her cheeks.
Jareth's eyes widened in consternation. He took a careful step closer. "Sarah – love – why are you crying?"
A crack caught her attention. She stared at the death grip the Goblin King had on the crystal – a faint line now bisected it. Jareth followed her gaze and loosened his fingers, spinning the sphere on his palm. "My gift – does it not please you? I promise – I can try prisms." He peeked to see if she were laughing, then bit his lip. "I can change. I'll do anything for you – anything –just –"
"No!" Her voice was ragged. "Don't change – don't change anything about yourself. You're perfect as you are."
Jareth went still.
"You're perfect – you're perfect, you're wonderful, and I love you."
His jaw sagged. "Then why – why are you crying?"
"No …" Sarah wiped the tears from her eyes, then sniffled, smiling, as the Goblin King caught up one corner of his owl-feather cloak and dried her face with it. "The question I'm looking for, Jareth, is: why aren't you crying?"
She looked into his face, so close to her own. A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "I'm not sure if owls have tear ducts." He tipped his head. "My love."
Sarah laughed out loud, even as Jareth pulled her into his arms and slanted his mouth across hers.
Item I'm-not-quite-sure-of-the-number-anymore: Even a giggly kiss with the Goblin King feels like – feels like –
Working her fingers into the feathers and down of the cape, Sarah focused on the sensations of his lips on hers, his arms circling her back – the hot line of his body catching her in its warmth in the winter cold – the winter cold that she felt as snow squeaked beneath her boots.
I'm standing on the ground, I'm being held so close that I'm not going anywhere – but still –
I'm flying …
When they broke apart, after what felt like forever – not long at all, not long enough – Jareth took a deep breath, then another, and framed her face in his hands. "My own dear one …"
Sarah looked at him, closely, saw his eyes shining diamond-bright, and saw where snowflakes had melted on his cheekbones, streaking the kohl –
Wait. That's not snow.
"My love." He reached down to take one of her hands, and brought it to his lips. "My Sarah … why weep, when we can do so many other things?"
"Oh, Jareth," she began; he cut her off with a laugh.
"No, not that, at least not yet." His eyes glittered. "Do we have a one-flight mind, precious thing?"
"No." Sarah sputtered. "It's just that I can't help it when you kiss my hand – when you – when you say things like – like –" She glared at his heated smile."Oh, just say what you mean, birdbrain!"
"Birdbrain. Birdbrain." Jareth shook out his cape with a rustle and flap, gazing off down the street in a mock-insulted manner, and brushed imaginary feathers from his sleeves. "Very well. I shall use words even you can understand, Sarah …"
His eyes flicked back to hers. "My Sarah …"
And then she felt something take hold of her from the inside, take hold and set her alight, like the Goblin King might do to an ordinary crystal ball –
There's nothing ordinary about this.
I feel like I could fly.
"My love." He was looking at her dead on – Sarah could not break away from his stare if she tried. "Fly with me."
She felt her lips part – but no words came to her. No words were possible.
The Goblin King spoke in a low voice – hypnotizing, mesmerizing …
"The moon is full, Sarah – I placed it in the sky for you, to make room in your heart for me. The moon is full, and it is the magic hour, between midnight and madnight – when the world turns upside down and time dances with eternity …"
He took both her hands in his own.
"Fly with me, Sarah. Dance with me, until the clock strikes thirteen." Jareth's eyes shone like stars in the night. "Love me, as I love you."
Sarah exhaled. "Yes." She saw him smile, and she spoke in a rush. "I love you –" She gripped his fingers fiercely in her own. "I love you, and I'll dance with you through madnight and – and –"
Jareth's smile widened. "And?"
Her heart in her mouth, Sarah said: "And I'll fly with you – I'll fly with you anywhere. Everywhere."
She saw his eyes flash and darted forward herself – Sarah caught him in her arms and pressed her mouth against his in a kiss that began in warmth, escalated to heat and then exploded into what felt like the world falling down.
Sarah could have sworn that the moon had moved across the sky when she finally tipped her head back to look into Jareth's face. Either that or the earth moved –
"And …" she breathed.
Jareth looked as happily dazed as herself. "And?"
"And I'll treat you to lobster whenever you want." Sarah grinned. "Happy birthday."
There was a beat of silence as the Goblin King stared – but then he threw back his head and laughed, the sound ringing over the frozen street and rebounding off the houses shrouded in snow. Then Jareth placed a hand at her waist, and Sarah took him by the shoulder, and they whirled into a dance. His cloak spun out in a white arc, like her own dress, so long ago – but this was in the open air, not in a crystal ballroom, and the dark night had no hope of holding them to the ground.
They danced up the street, Sarah and the Goblin King, in and out of pools of lamplight, over ice and drifts and under the moon. And if you, or I, could reorder time to madnight, put the world into a crystal, turn it upside down and shake it, we would see them there, arms around each other, twined in an embrace, in a kiss – dancing between snowflakes that shone like pale jewels against the winter sky.
A/N: -contented sigh- Well, that's that. Catch the "Princess Bride" ref, my friends, and thanks for reading!
1/6/08 - 2/23/08