Jareth pulled the front edges of his coat further around him as the late fall wind whipped around him. The cold of the afternoon slicing right through him chilling him to the bone.
He hated the weather Aboveground, but he endured it. He had endured it for Her. She loved the snow the most, she would beg for them to visit every winter just so she could see the first snow fall of the year. He had found joy watching her as she danced under the falling crystals.
He found himself softly laughing now as he remembered the way she would open her mouth to let the cold flakes melt on her tongue. Even after she had grown older and it had been hard for her to move she still would open her mouth for the first flakes.
The wind began to pick up and he could feel the prickle of the chill in the air. It would be an early snow this year, he could tell by the darkening of the clouds above.
People paid little attention to him as he strolled through the old park, now a days few bothered with anyone but themselves. He had been careful as he had been every year to blend in with the mortals, even his hair had been tamed and pulled back at the nape of his neck.
He noticed as young couples walked by hand in hand, that had once been him and his Sarah. It had taken a few years but he had finally won her. They had married not long after her twentieth birthday and she returned with him Underground.
It had been just after her father's untimely death that they started their little trips Above. At first to visit and help her stepmother and brother, then it became habit. After the birth of their first child it had become tradition. Every year with the first snow they would venture Above for a walk in that very park.
Silently he crossed into the line of trees that separated the forest from the park. The first few years had been trying. Many of Sarah's old friends tended to recognize her, he had wondered if it was too much to ask to be alone with his wife. It had been because of this that they had built their little cabin in the woods.
Jareth had spelled it so mortals could not see, built it deep in the trees. They normally spent the first few hours there waiting for the snow to finally fall. Sarah would sit by the window with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders as he read silently by the fire.
After the children came she would be telling them stories or playing games while waiting. It had all been perfect. Too perfect to last. For all his magic and power Jareth had not been able to save his wife. She was mortal and he knew she would grow old and die.
He had watched as the years went by as she changed. At first it had been the small wrinkles and lines around her lips and eyes. Then her hair began to gray till her long chocolate tresses had become a head of silver strands. She grew frail, her hands weakening till they hurt to even flex her fingers.
Her voice had become ragged sounding like she had screamed once too often and damaged her throat. He watched helpless as it became hard for her to even get out of bed without it hurting.
He remembered the tears upon her seventieth birthday, her back had begun to go and Jareth had to always help her stand. She had requested a separate room to sleep in saying that she was too old. That he wouldn't want to sleep with an old woman.
He had tried to talk her out of it. He was several hundred years her senior, she was still a babe to him. She had shook her head.
"Yeah but I look it Jareth." Those words had hurt more than he had realized they would. He felt guilty then, he would live hundreds of years more before he began to age and she would be gone in just twenty or so.
He had cried for the first time that night. His bed was cold without her. When he had pursued her he hadn't taken in to account the fact she was mortal. She was beautiful and he had fallen in love with her. He had stupidly believed she would just continue on, un-aging, forever with him. He had been a fool.
Leaves crunched under his feet as he made his way to the front of the cabin. The place looked the same as it had the last time he had been there. As though he and his Sarah had just left that morning even though it had been thirty years since they had been there.
Sarah had been ninety-five at the time, hardly able to move. She had become delirious in her old age, she hadn't even recognized her own family.
She had spent the entire day sitting by the window, her eyes glazed over as she watched the darkening sky. Every now and then he would catch her as she looked over to him, every time he hoped he would see the recognition in her eyes. And every time he was disappointed. She looked at him with a blank smile, the wrinkled skin around her lips barely pulling upwards. She had no clue as to who he was.
Their children and their families had remained Underground that year, their oldest son explaining that it was important they spend this time alone together. He hadn't realized it at the time, like he did now, that their son had seemed to know it would be her last.
When the snow had started to fall she had stood on shaky feet and crossed the room, she had given him a weak and empty smile when he came to help her up. Together they walked out into the clearing just beyond the front door of their cabin.
She slipped from his arms then and stood directly in the middle. She lifted her arms above her head and slowly twirled. What little magic she had in her seemed to glow then and gave her the strength to move. She had giggled as the flakes tickled her face and opened her mouth. He watched with tears in his eyes as she moved. In that one moment he could see his Sarah the way she used to be.
She almost appeared to have transformed before him. Her long silver hair turned dark as chocolate and swirled around her young frame. Her hands were youthful and her voice as light as a feather and sunshine to a cloudy day. Her smile brightened up her face, and her eyes! Her eyes sparkled with mirth and she could see him then. She had known who it was standing with her in the clearing and he could feel the love coming from her.
But all too soon it was over. All the magic drained from her and she sat down looking back up at him with a blank smile, a single tear rolling off her cheek. He had gone to help her up only to find she no longer had the strength. He had to carry her back to the cabin and all the way back to the Underground.
That night she had died. Silently without any pain. He had put her in his bed when they returned, holding her to keep her warm. It had been in his arms that she had passed. He could still remember the way her body relaxed as though falling into a deep sleep.
He had felt himself die at that moment, he hadn't wanted to go on. His children tried to help him cope, but they had been a reminder of what he lost. It had taken years before he had been able to be happy again.
He no longer was king, after Sarah's death he had stepped aside for his son. He didn't mind now, he had his time. Now that he was finally able to live he reveled in his son's achievements. He still lived within the castle advising when needed, but mostly he spent his time with his grandchildren, great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren and so on. And though he refused to say he favored spending time with his newest great-great grandchild, Sarah. She looked the spitting image of her namesake.
The door to the cabin creaked open as he entered. A fire sprang to life in the hearth. The chair by the window was covered in a thick layer of dust as was everything else. With a wave of his hand the place returned to his pervious cleanliness.
He stood in the doorway unsure of whether he really should enter. The place seemed so peaceful, just like the times they had been there together. Looking back to the chair and the old blanket that had been thrown across it he shook his head.
Carefully he closed the door as the fire dimmed and blew out. That time in his life was over, he still loved her with all his being but she was gone. She wouldn't want him to pine away for her like this.
He walked a ways into the woods till he stood upon the edge of the clearing. A shock of cold pricked at his cheek. It was snowing. Taking the few steps it took to reach the middle he opened his arms to the sky.
Slowly he twirled as she had done so many times before. He could hear her laughing around him, such a joyous sound. He closed his eyes and opened his mouth allowing the now quickly falling snow to land on his tongue.
He cried as he moved, not caring if anyone at all happened by. He would shed tears for his wife, it was the least he could do for her memory.
It felt as though she was right there beside him dancing in the first snow, laughing as the cold flakes tickled their skin. As though nothing changed.
All too soon he stopped, her laughing fading away. He could hear a faint sigh on the wind and swore he could hear her say 'I love you.'
With that he left the clearing and the forest walking back out into the park. He took one last look before shifting back Underground. He knew this would be the last time he would go there, he had finally said his goodbye.
Author's Note: While this story does not mention a tea rose I named it such because of my grandfather. When he was younger he had lived with an aunt and uncle of his. Now this aunt used to every summer pick these little tea roses she had in her garden and hang them up in her kitchen window to dry. Well one year things got rough and his family had to move because of money. His aunt died before he got to see her again and when he went back years later after he was grown and married to the little farmhouse he noticed a bunch of tea roses still hanging in the window as though she had just put them there the summer before. My grandfather had teared up telling me this story as had I, and still do. I was thinking about that story tonight when this idea came to me. Not exactly the same thing but I titled it such as it inspired me to write this.