Dear readers, reviewers, and friends,
This brings another Labyrinth tale to an end. Forgive my absence...life tends to cut in at the most inopportune times. But here we have it, at last. Please enjoy and regard me kindly... I'm just a romantic fool looking to put some spice in the world. Don't worry, you haven't seen the last of me. Oh, no. There are things I have been keeping secret from you, hidden away in the depths of my computer files, just waiting to burst onto the FanFiction scene. Look for me soon with new, wicked tales of our favorite characters.
And as I've said many times before, your input and motivation are what make the story. Thanks for having my back.
But in the meantime, soak up this finale. Cheers to the Labyrinth fan!
Sunlight was not what caused Sarah to wake so disgruntled. No...the drapes around the large bed were pulled tight against the frosty day. Instead, it was an odd combination of the pain in her shoulder and the pain in her stomach.
Drowsily she swatted at the fluff behind her head. "Jareth."
The pain increased slightly as he returned a "mphfm," and buried his face more solidly into her skin.
She made a sound of protest, which only caused the hand at her waist to tighten, and upset her already disagreeable stomach. "I mean it!" Sarah sighed. Damn the Goblin King and his sleeping habits...every morning it was something different. Today he was smooshed into her side, one hand splayed over her middle, the other flung out above his head, and a leg thrown carelessly over her knees. Besides...his chin was digging into her shoulder. Jareth had a very...pointy...chin.
With some difficulty Sarah managed to turn in the circle of his arms. It didn't help that during the process the bed sheets became cocooned around her ankles. And everything smelled of them...his sharp spice and her own sweet scent, like lilies in spring water. The aroma had a delicate presence in the room, lacing the air that had been still, desolate, and stagnant during the Goblin King's slumber.
She loved it.
But right now, Sarah really, really, needed to get up. With slow, strenuous movements she managed to wriggle downward out of Jareth's arms, disentangle her feet from the sheets, and slide between the heavy curtains. Before she closed them she gave him one last look, and snickered when he moaned and rolled over to find her.
Pain alleviated in her shoulder, but not her stomach, she dashed as quietly as possible to a door that magically sprung into existence at her bidding. Without hesitation she flung it open and streaked past the sunken bath in the middle of the floor, the marble sinks, and gilded mirrors. Another door, smaller, led her directly to the tiny water closet.
It is doubtful that anyone wishes to wake and be overwhelmed with the need to upchuck the previous night's soup. Sarah did just that for a good few minutes before slumping over the toilet bowl and blowing a strand of hair out of her face. "I am going to kill the cook..."
Behind her feet padded silently to the open door and a figure leaned against the frame. After another moment of clutching at her stomach, verifying that all the vital organs were still in place, she felt fingers sweep the hair from her forehead.
'Well, obviously,' she wanted to snort. She didn't have the strength, so Sarah rested back on the welcoming chest behind her.
"I'll send word that you won't be able to come today," Jareth mumbled thoughtfully.
Worry built up again in her stomach, nearly making the sickness return, but she pushed it down and away. "No, I have to go. I'm alright, really." To prove her point she clambered up with the help of the toilet's rim. "They're expecting me."
"Are you sure?" Sarah looked to a worried Goblin King, which was odd enough without the blond hair sticking straight up on one side. "I do not like to entertain the idea of you going into battle alone."
Gracefully she shook her head and planted a kiss on his cheek. "Don't worry. We both know that you couldn't stop me."
Jareth gave her back a wry look as she stepped from the bathroom and then into her closet. "I could try," he grumbled to her bare shoulders. She tossed away the robe and it magically straightened itself out on a hanger.
Sarah detected the stubborn hint in his voice. "If I don't come back in twenty-six hours, send a search party."
Almost immediately she felt the planes of his chest pressed into her spine. "Let's go back to bed," he whispered in her ear. "I can reorder time..."
She almost puddled on the floor when his fingers drew lazy circles over her hips, slowly pulling her toward the door. "You would never let me out again," came the breathy response. There was an appreciative snort before Jareth ghosted his lips down her neck.
Sighing, Sarah magicked on a set of durable traveling clothes. As she turned around every muscle tensed with reluctance to leave.
The Goblin King scowled and crossed his arms. "You really are going, then."
It wasn't fair that he could look so damn good in nothing but silk pants. Having to abandon the warm bed, and its other occupant, was a waking nightmare.
"Yes," she returned resolutely. Her heart hiccuped as his face lost the edge and turned soft with concern. Before he could change her mind, Sarah grabbed a heavy fur cloak from a rack and swung it over her shoulders. "And if I don't leave now there will be serious consequences."
He seemed to resign himself to her obstinate decision. "Very well." Pushing her hands away, Jareth busied himself with the tie below her throat. "But if you come back in any condition other than pristine-"
Covering his hands and stilling his mouth with her own, Sarah tried adamantly not to look at the cream dress to her left. Though it haunted her, constantly, she was loathe to move it lest Jareth took offense. "If I need you," she laughed, pulling away, "I'll call." In her peripheral vision the gold stitching that spilled from the throat mocked her. The longer she stood there, the longer it would taunt her with dazzling textures and forgotten promises. She needed to get out, and fast.
Slightly crushed, Jareth nodded and waved a sturdy pair of gloves onto her slender fingers. "I'll wait for you."
"You will do no such thing," Sarah chided automatically. "You have obligations to fulfil, same as me."
Silently he marveled at her queenly nature and felt a pang in his chest. "Only for you, my dear." Despite being outside his own closet, he snapped his fingers and was dressed in full Goblin King regalia. "Without your...persuasion...I would undoubtedly neglect the affairs of my kingdom."
Sarah only returned the remark with a coy smile and disappeared between a few folds in the air.
Seconds later Jareth followed suit, reappearing with a frown on his throne. Around him the goblins milled as usual. He studied the new ornamentation strung from the ceiling, draped over the chandelier, and coating the walls. All in all, he admitted to himself, the decorations were an improvement over the usual goblin mess. The greenery even had a delightful scent that covered up some of the more...questionable smells. Pine, Sarah had said.
A flick of his wrist was halted half complete. Mentally Jareth berated himself for wanting to check up on the girl. The urge had grown constantly ever since his awakening, but he tossed the orb into the air where it vanished. There was no need for it, he told himself. She would be fine.
On the far side of the throne room several goblins were inspecting the shiny bobbles adorning the tall green tree. Many argued that they were the king's crystals, but others protested that they were fruit. Jareth watched in silent amusement as one creature bit into an ornament and it shattered in response.
"Poor chaps," he mumbled. Unknowingly a gloved hand delved into a deep pocket within his cloak. The gesture had become a nervous ritual as of late, and Jareth did not realize that he made the movement. "When this strange Aboveground holiday is over they will have nothing to preoccupy themselves with." His hand came free and into the open of its own accord, and for a moment Jareth stared at the little box in confusion.
Another one of the Aboveground's silly rituals. He should have asked Sarah long before now...but the weight of her previous rejection made Jareth reluctant to offer a second time. Carefully he settled the tiny box into its hiding place. It did not matter, really. Tomorrow was the day for gift-giving. Today he would ignore the twisting snake in his stomach and continue to perform as his position demanded.
Breath coming in tiny white puffs of cold, Sarah crouched fearfully behind the mound of snow. They had found her already...she could hear them advance with each crunchy step. Her weapons were waiting, but would it be enough for these monsters?
The battle cry was a series of shrieks followed by dozens of oddly shaped snow balls. Sarah was lucky that she had built her fort so high. Most of them missed, though she got quite a few in her face, and she pelted as many of her own back as she could.
"Take that!" she cried. "And that! Oh, no, you've got me!" Wailing and laughing simultaneously, she let herself be dragged down by several bodies, all bundled against the cold.
"We win!" Mike cried. "That's two battles out of three!"
"Which means we won the snowball war!" Dustin shouted. "Yes!"
"Alright, alright. Hot chocolate it is, then."
They extracted themselves from the snowy hills and valleys it had taken all morning to create. Emily had a tight grip on Sarah's hand, not wanting to fall over with the bulk of her heavy garments. The troop of children were all too happy to race into the warm castle, down the hall, past a servant who muttered about snowy tracks on his floor, and into their special room.
Margaret brought out as many cups of hot chocolate as she could carry. Sarah had known the kids would love an Aboveground treat. "Tell us a story!" Davie pleaded. His glasses were fogging up, so he took them off and rubbed at the lenses clumsily. "Please?"
"Which one do you want to hear?"
"The ice cave!"
That one, Sarah had to admit, was her favorite. But today...
"How about a new story?" There was a loud swell of surprise. "Calm down, and I'll tell you," she laughed. "Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl whose stepmother always made her stay home with the baby..."
All of the story had been told, the hot chocolate drunk, and the children sent back home with their parents. For a while Sarah wondered the corridors of the Labyrinth alone, taking in the frosted coils and twists. New snow had started to fall while she was indoors entertaining the wished-aways.
Her feet led her to a wrought iron gate. Peeking through the bars, Sarah could see Lyra waving her hands about the herb garden within and dispelling the cold. Tentatively she knocked until the healer looked up. "Hello, Lyra. May I come in?"
"Of course, your majesty," she snorted. Inwardly Sarah sighed. No matter what she said, the staff continued to address her with a title she did not deserve. And Lyra, stubborn thing, was obviously thinking that she had the power to come in without the invitation.
"Thanks," Sarah hurried, closing the gate behind her. Inside the herb garden it was much warmer, a sprinkling of magic keeping the plants alive during the winter months, but she still clutched the fur coat tightly around her throat. "Are you having a good holiday?"
"Strange celebration, this...Christmas," the healer admitted. A few spiky plants became a lighter hue with a wiggle of her fingers. "When is it, tomorrow?"
She nodded and looked around, taking a seat on a small stone bench. Somehow the new flurries refused to fall in this part of the Labyrinth. "Tonight's Christmas Eve."
"Well, at least I'll have the day off." The scarf wrapped around Lyra's head was a bright red, contrasting against her silvery hair. Without it she could have camouflaged herself in the snow. "But the gift giving bit, I'm not so sure about-"
Sarah blinked as the healer stopped mid sentence and seemed to stare right through her. "Lyra?" she asked worriedly, standing up, "Are you alright?"
"Sit down!" she barked, and Sarah plopped onto the stone bench with an 'eep.' Quizzically she studied the brunette girl, her rosy cheeks, and furry cloak. "Are you feeling well?"
Shocked, Sarah blinked and mumbled, "Yes, fine. Earlier I was reacquainted with yesterday's soup, but other than that-"
Yelping, she let Lyra drag her up by the arm and propel her into the small home. She landed unceremoniously in a wooden chair by the fireplace and looked up into the other Fae's ageless face. "What's going on?"
"Don't talk." After a few moments of circling the girl, Lyra returned to the front and assessed her from top to bottom. Her bright eyes widened.
"Left...yes, good...stop! Right there," Jareth commanded. "Perfect. You are all dismissed."
Goblins scuttled to and fro, retreating over the border of the hedge maze after a long morning of labor. Jareth was pleasantly surprised that they had actually completed the tasks without breaking anything of value.
Quietly he regarded the new statue of the tall figure they had erected. Snow had already piled atop the marble crown that represented fiery red hair. His large shield, studded with bronze, was held in a commanding salute. Even the proud stallion was beneath him, ready to launch his general into battle.
The tap tap of feet behind him was unmistakable. Jareth would know the sound of those feet any time, any place, covered or bare. When she wrapped an arm about his waist he enfolded her in the heavy, dark cloak he wore. "Brock wouldn't want you to mourn," Sarah whispered.
Jareth sighed a quiet, "I know," into her hair. Pulling himself together, he laughed, "You seem to be feeling much better, if that war with the rascals is anything to go by."
Her heart spluttered somewhere in her head. "About that..."
"You know," the Goblin King smiled, "I still do not have a fresh bouquet for my table, and it is almost dinner time."
Pursing her lips, Sarah let the transportation spell wash over her. Obviously now was not the right time... Should she wait until another day? Lyra's diagnosis for her troubled digestive system had both shocked and elated her, and she was eager to share her news with Jareth...
Until she remembered her position within the kingdom. Foolishly, she had thought that maybe, after all they had been through, Jareth would think to make their relationship a little more...official. But he never hinted at any inkling to the idea, so Sarah found herself in a more than awkward situation.
'What am I to you?' she thought with a sigh, stealing a glance into his face as they reappeared. 'The Goblin King's Champion, companion, confidante, lover...' That was about the extent of things. He had told Sarah that he loved her, and she knew without a doubt that his words were true. It was just...his lack of finality in the matter, so important before now, troubled her. 'Stupid, stupid girl,' she grumbled to in her head. 'You've ruined everything for yourself...' Nothing would ever convince Sarah to propose such a binding act. Especially not now. It would be like...
Inwardly she cringed as they finally made it to the large glass doors of the greenhouse. 'Later,' Sarah waved off her thoughts, and pushed her way inside. Welcoming the rush of warm air, she hastily stripped off the heavy furs and hung them by the door. "What will you pick today?" she wondered aloud, dragging Jareth through the rows of flowers. He didn't have to know her secret, not yet. She could paste on a happy face for the holidays.
"Something festive," he decided. There was...a slight difference about Sarah. Maybe it was the way she held herself that seemed, for lack of a better word, off. "I know this Aboveground holiday is quite important to you."
"How about..." Mumbling, not sure exactly where she had put them in this enormous place, Sarah pushed through a bit of greenery before stopping. "Here. Poinsettias."
He inspected the vibrant red starbursts she presented him with. Between two gloved fingers he snapped a stem, then brought up the flower and tucked it into her hair. "They're beautiful." Jareth loved the way the red matched her windblown cheeks. "But not as beautiful as you."
Oh, she couldn't do this to him. Wouldn't it disgrace the throne? The kingdom? Sadly Sarah smiled and turned to kiss the gloved palm holding her face. She loved him too much to hurt him that way... "Let's go to dinner."
Trying to sleep was a feverish affair for two inhabitants of the castle that night. Jareth awoke from fleeting dreams and hours of insomnia, each taking their tortuous turns. Impatiently he conjured a crystal in the dark. He did not need light to see what lay in his palm seconds later, the object he had secreted for too long. With a snap of his fingers it was put in its proper place, exactly where it should have been all this time, and finally he allowed sleep to claim him.
Sarah was not so lucky. Vaguely she felt movement on the other side of the bed during the night, but was too wrapped up in her own haunted dreams. Visions of white gowns and child-like laughter plagued her subconscious. Restlessly she magicked herself out of bed without bothering to check the figure beside her.
Instantly she felt familiar floor beneath her toes. A wave of her hand lighted numerous candles, placed at odd angles around the humble cottage. It was chilly here, so she used magic to summon a fire in the hearth and warmer clothes. Soft leather slippers encased her toes and gloves slid easily onto her hands. Robes and shawls draped luxuriously about her shoulders before Sarah allowed herself to slump over the large, dark desk pushed up against one wall.
The soft candlelight illuminated the dozens of drawings pinned to the walls. Most of them had been done by her children during school hours. One, her personal favorite, hung just over her head above the desk. It was a sketch of a lazy dragon, tilting its snout up to drink in the sunlight. She mused quietly to herself, head on her arms, that its mate was of a slumbering girl with tangled tresses.
"Its mate..." Sarah yawned dejectedly. What a word to use at a time like this. "Oh, what do I do now..."
She couldn't hide it forever. Time would reveal her secret whether or not she was willing. Sarah could not help but to imagine less than favorable responses from the Goblin King.
"What will he do with a bastard child?" came a sigh to the desk. Hot tears slipped down her nose and pooled on the polished wood. She had often come to her cottage for refuge, either from the goblins or for a private getaway. A secret-clubhouse of indulgence, more or less. Never had Sarah predicted to be crying her eyes out over such a heavy matter here. "No wife, no heir. Just...regret..." Mournfully she toyed with the thought of withdrawing to another kingdom. Perhaps running away into the city itself. Fearfully she placed a hand over her stomach and raised her head slightly. How could she ever support two of them alone? A beggar Champion and the Goblin King's illegitimate infant...
Exhausted by her thoughts and emotions and tears, Sarah replaced her head on her arms and sunk into a fitful, troubled sleep.
A heavy weight settled over her shoulders. Around her was only dark...the minute fire must have burned itself out, and the candles had been stubs to begin with.
Vertigo enveloped her as Sarah felt the world tilt at a ninety degree angle. Blearily she opened her eyes to wan moonlight and found nothing but a sculpted collarbone.
"What's got you up at all hours of the night, precious?"
Gingerly Jareth sat on one of the lavish couches he had insisted be placed in the cottage. If Sarah wanted an office away from the mud-slinging goblins, it was fine with him, but she would work as comfortably as possible. After a moment of rearranging them both, he settled on stretching out the full length of the couch and cradling the girl atop him. She seemed to be deep in sleep still, and instinctively she tucked her head under his chin and sprawled comfortably over his chest. Carefully he tugged the blanket he had brought more snugly around them.
"Don't be angry..." she mumbled.
"Angry?" he frowned to the dark, but she did not respond. Chalking it up to a dream, he contented himself with drinking in the feel of her. His fingers explored the heap of garments Sarah had thrown on to fight the cold. The leather gloves planted on his chest were especially unusual, and he pulled them off lightly before studying one of her hands. "Oh, precious thing," Jareth sighed to her sleeping form, splaying the fingers over his chest, "don't break my heart a second time."
Rise and fall. Up and down. She did not have to open her eyes to know where she was. Jareth always found her the seldom times she went missing.
He hated an empty bed as much as she did.
The breath that wavered across her forehead sent Sarah's mind reeling back into yesterday's reality. Every concentrated inhalation and exhalation of Jareth's chest was like riding waves at sea. Huffing slightly into his bare chest, the girl realized that worrying over the matter would only frazzle her nerves. Stress might even harm the child...
Jareth blinked sleepily at her slurred declaration. "Come again?" Startled, he noticed that his bare chest was becoming oddly wet. Sarah lifted her tear stained face to look into his and bit her lip.
"I'm." Oh, God. How did you say something like this? "I'm," she tried again before scrunching her eyes closed and retreating her face into the crook of his arm. "Pregnant."
Moments of silence passed. She couldn't bear to look at him, not yet. When he refused to speak she chanced a glance out of the corner of one eye.
His gaze had turned glassy, lips slightly parted. The Goblin King looked as if the sky itself had opened up to rain stars. "Sarah..."
"I'm sorry!" she wailed automatically. The pang in her chest deepened as Jareth sat up and his face contorted from wonder to horror.
"Sorry!" he blinked incredulously. "Sorry?" Sarah recoiled at the almost-bellows. Too fast for her to see, he twisted them to look down into her face. Towering above her in terrifying beauty, the picture of brute strength and sparking eyes, Jareth groaned, "Don't you dare," before kissing all the breath from her lungs.
Gasping from the bruising kiss, Sarah managed a "What?"
"Don't you dare," Jareth repeated louder, "ever apologize to me..." He clutched her freezing body to his own. "Ridiculous woman, what in the Underground are you sorry for?"
Perfectly bewildered, Sarah rested her cheek on his shoulder. "Well, won't it...I mean, this can't be good. Having a child out of wedlock."
Shaking his head, he smiled and moved back to see her. The grin all but consumed his glowing face. "That's why I'm going to marry you, confounding minx!" His laugh was going to bring the walls down. "How could you ever think for a second that I wouldn't-"
"But that's just it," she interrupted him. "You're going to do the...honorable thing, aren't you?"
Dazed, shredded inside-out, his arms fell limp around her. "You don't want to marry me." It wasn't a question. Slowly he began to rise, his eyes deathly still and haunted, but with a strangled cry Sarah tugged him back onto the couch by his waistband.
"Of course I do, idiot! But not like this!" Why was everything between them so difficult? "Jareth," she tried to explain, "I don't want you to marry me out of obligation. I want you to marry me because..."
Understanding flooded his features. Silently he reached for her hands and cradled them in his own. "Darling, I suggest you take a look at this." He turned over her gloveless fingers with particular care.
Sarah shook her hands free from his and brought the left to her face. On her fourth finger glittered a ring of some clear substance, cut like a diamond on the inside, but formed a smooth, solid band around her entire finger. It looked suspiciously like...crystal. For a moment she sputtered, watching the morning light glint off of it and send tiny rainbows around the cottage.
"That has been burning a hole in my pocket for some time," the Goblin King admitted to the stunned woman opposite him. "And when I finally gather the nerve to slip it on your finger, you're asleep."
Her euphoric expression dissipated into a stormy scowl. Eyes wide, Jareth winced at the pound his shoulder received. "You didn't even ask me!" Suddenly appalled by her actions, Sarah gently soothed the spot with her fingers. "Sorry," she mumbled sheepishly, "but why?"
"I didn't have to," he returned softly. At her growing comprehension he was quick to add, "It's simply the way of the Underground, Sarah. I am a king, and if I proclaim us married, then we are." Stilling her ministrations, he pulled the perplexed girl onto his lap.
"We could have been married ages, and I never would have known..." Trailing off, Sarah wriggled to see his face better. "Then why the ring, and the dress, and-"
"Because," Jareth sighed, stopping her lips with a finger, "it should not be the choice of one party alone. Do you like it?" he smirked, watching her twirl the ring absentmindedly around her finger. For a moment he took pleasure in her distraction and traced the outline of her mouth.
"It feels like a part of my hand." Indeed, it was perfect. Was it magically fitted to her size, like all the clothes in her closet? Closet...
A muffled wail escaped her lips. Confused, Jareth felt her sag against him. "What is it?"
"I'll never fit!"
'Fit...' he mouthed to himself. "Fit where?"
Snapping her fingers, Sarah felt the heaps and heaps of mismatched garments and blankets melt into the cream dress with gold stitching. Pulling back and placing a hand over her stomach, then taking one of Jareth's and repeating the action, she sniffled, "In this."
He laughed. For Sarah, himself, their child, and the antics of all women in general. "Did you honestly believe that I could wait thirteen months to marry you? I was thinking more along the lines of..." Seriously he tapped his chin. "Isn't the Aboveground name for the day New Year's?"
"Thirteen!" she gasped, the rest of the sentence completely lost on her. So engulfed was she in repeating the mantra of 'thirteen months' that Sarah paid no attention to Jareth chuckling and swooping her up. Finally the dizzy transportation alerted her possessed stomach to movement. "Hey, where are you taking me?"
"In your condition? To bed, Goblin Queen." He liked the way the title rang, the way it tasted on his tongue, the way she looked laying back in his bed. Their bed. Delicately he laid beside her and traced a few golden swirls over her stomach.
Sarah watched the pleasure unfurl in his eyes. All of a sudden she felt the insatiable craving for twenty or so jars filled with pickles. Trying not to laugh, she let Jareth kiss the silken folds of her dress and threaded a hand through his hair. "You're going to love me forever, aren't you?" Sarah teased.
Looking up and finding her eyes twinkling with mischief, Jareth allowed a smirk to widen over his lips. "Oh, no. Much, much longer."