Sarah and Lord Clifford made their way toward the castle of King Den. Sarah knew little, if anything about her grandfather. Jareth's capture had made her angry, but on the other hand she found suddenly that she wanted to get to know him. She only ever knew her one set of grandparents, but they weren't close. She desperately longed to have the relationship many of her other friends had had with their own grandparents. Unfortunately, right now she didn't have time to dwell on those lofty thoughts such as these.
Just then the castle came into view. She realized suddenly, that that would be where she lived for the rest of her life, if she so chose. Well, the choice had been made. She marveled at its beauty. Towering spires, and perfect domes met her eyes, all whitewashed and gleaming in the early morning sun, for she and Lord Clifford had ridden through the night.
It dwarfed the townhouse she owned up Above. Was she really going to be living in a castle, possibly married to a king? These were the things dreams were made of. She swayed a little in her saddle. The lack of sleep was starting to get to her. She and Clifford had had a quick and cold breakfast as they sat their mounts, but the meal had been meager.
They rode up to the portcullis and the guards requested their information and business. As soon as she stated her name the guards lowered the drawbridge and came to meet her. On the spot they all swore their loyalty. Sarah was amazed and humbled. Nothing like this had ever happened to her before. She wasn't quite sure what to make of it. Should she hail them with some sort of greeting? She really wasn't sure. Then she saw a familiar figure come to greet her.
"Mom!" Sarah carefully dismounted and ran to embrace her mother.
Together with Lord Clifford they were shown to the audience chamber just outside the throne room where refreshments were laid out. Thank goodness for small miracles, Sarah mused. She snacked as she waited, despite her nerves. She would need her strength for what lay ahead.
Sarah paced impatiently when she was done snacking while looking at the wall hangings and adornments of the room. She had to be firm. She couldn't waiver. She would make it plain that she planned to rule with Jareth, though she had no idea how. She was scared to death. She had only lived in the world Above. How on Earth was she going to learn how to rule here, Underground?
Having her mother near was a comfort to her. She knew her mother would be there to help her and with any other questions she had. Living without modern convinces was something she wasn't looking forward to, but she knew she had magic, and that her magic would grow as she was exposed to this world.
When she could she would return to her former life and explain to the best of her ability that her mother was back in her life, and she had gone to live with her. It had the kernels of truth in without giving away anything that had actually happened to her.
She reflected briefly on her journey. It had been a strange one to say the least. Not that she would abandon the Aboveworld completely. Sarah had a feeling that due to her exposure, she would be better than most Fae at returning and staying for sustained periods of time.
She predicted she would have the need to visit often in the beginning. The more she thought about it, the more she was starting to miss the Aboveworld, but Sarah was determined to finish what she started. She had some leniency, and was certain her feelings would work themselves out eventually. Still, she had doubts that were not so easily shaken.
"His majesty asked you be shown in now." A clerk had opened the tall throne room doors.
Sarah's reverie was broken and she took step after shaky step into the throne room. It took her a moment to notice, but the guards that had sworn their loyalty stood behind her in the throne room, one facing away, one facing forward, looking alert for signs of danger. It felt odd to have a compliment of that sort already. Sarah gave a deep curtsey and faced her grandfather, regal and firm, to claim her birthright as she had rehearsed the words in her head.
The beauty of the throne room was even greater than that of the antechamber she had just stood in. Far more complicated murals that must have taken years to weave highlighted the history of her heritage. It only served to add to the enormity of the space. Sarah suspected wryly that that was the whole idea.
"I am here to claim this castle and these lands for myself as my birthright in the tradition of my mother's family, and her family before her."
King Den stood. He marveled at how much this child, this young woman, looked like Arianna. He glanced to Sarah's mother. She nodded. They were of one mind. Sarah was the very like of Arianna, with the single exception of Arianna's golden tresses, rather hers were dark. Perhaps in some way, this woman had been sent to remind him of his love for his younger daughter. . He thought about Arianna and of what he had become. She would never have wanted him to become this.
He would hear what the young woman before him had to say. King Den gave a curt nod of his head. Either way it was irrelevant. If he refused, it meant battling the entire Royal Guard on his own, and eventually his death. His only choice was to abdicate peacefully and swear fealty to his only grandchild.
"I acknowledge your claim. I ask you your choice of husband, in recognition of the pact made from so many years ago."
"I do not recognize the pact, I declare an impediment, and I declare it void. Who I choose to take as my husband is of little relevance to any further claim I have over lands which are rightfully mine." Sarah could not help but note in her mind how absurd the language was that she was using.
"An impediment?" King Den questioned.
"If I may, sir," Lord Clifford gave a bow from the waist and straightened. He produced the pact and a monocle holding one up to his eye to read the other.
"There is an error in syntax, highness. This pact is null and void."
Suddenly, all of Den's power hunger and ambition seemed to fade all at once. When he had risen from his grand throne and realized that every muscle in his body pained him. While not the oldest of men, he was no longer young. The act of rising was slow. The few steps to the floor below were painful to take. Suddenly, all the fierceness left him.
"You have come at a fortunate time, my dear. Were I younger, I would challenge the pact. As it is, I am old, and find this is a time I should consider retirement, and the study of nature. I should think of teaching men younger than myself and seeking to impart my wisdom and knowledge into their heads. You may have charge of the realm and welcome to it. I see now through the eyes of a woman you never met, how wrong and rash my actions have been."
Sarah moved to embrace her grandfather.
She was interrupted by a sudden cloud of glitter. The way Sarah had first seen him, Jareth was there in the throne room, dressed in the blue frock coat she had come to remember with fright, but now saw with fondness. It suited him well.
Not knowing the conversation that had just been going on Jareth intoned in his most haughty and imperious of voices,
"King Den, you will now bow down and swear fealty to the Queen of the Realm, Lady Sarah, come from above to serve in the Underground as prophesied from long ago." Jareth, expected a fight and full of fear for Sarah's safety drew himself up and walked to her side. Relief washed through him as he realized she was perfectly fine.
A silence descended on the small crowd.
"I accept your terms Goblin King." Den intoned just as formally and imperiously. Jareth raised his already perfectly arched eybrows.
"So easily King Den?" came Jareth's surprised query.
"Indeed. We may have had our differences in the past over Arianna, and I may have placed undue blame on you. I see the error of my ways in the child, the woman who stands before me to claim her birthright. I see now that this is Arianna's blessing. She would want your happiness. It would have been the only thing she wanted, and I in turn would like to grant her happiness through the both of you. I would ask humbly for you to accept my heartfelt apology."
"May have? Undue?" Jareth felt that Den was putting the situation too lightly. His anger was palpable.
"These are most certainly words which I would use. You have no idea the pain that your exile caused and yet I found I came to see how much the goblins of this realm needed direction. I suppose I learned things as well. Still there will be a price to pay for your insolence and my kidnapping. This may be a homecoming, but your outstanding behavior needs answering for." As he spoke he took steps gradually closer to Den, until he was mere inches away.
"All of the above is true, and yet Jareth, you have no jurisdiction here."
"Do not be so hasty to point out deficiencies in a government not yet formed. There will be a price to pay. You are warned." The last was said with more than a hint of warning.
Sarah stood torn. She certainly hadn't anticipated the bad blood between her grandfather and Jareth, yet how could she not? Here they were arguing in front of her. One man she had come to love against her will and another she would like to get to know despite his past transgressions. Ultimately, the decision would be hers to make what happened to her grandfather. For the present she had to step up and take responsibility and learn roles she had no clue about. The learning curve would be steep, of that she was doubtless, and the sooner she got started, the better.
She took Jareth to one side.
"Jareth, I understand completely where you are coming from, and I uh. . ." she trailed. He was certainly mesmerizing the outfit she had first come to know him in, and subsequently danced with him, that first go around through the labyrinth. Get ahold of yourself! From this day forward you are royalty! But she had to admit that it was kind of fun to gawk and ogle. One thing was certain, love was rather complicated. Nothing with Nathan had ever prepared her for this. Damned if he wasn't using his magic on her either. She wouldn't put it past him to get what he wants. Even at this late stage.
Suddenly he cracked a grin. "Sarah, my love, you are staring."
"Right." She began to pace a little, to take her eyes from the stunning Goblin King.
"Listen, I need to get through the right of coronation first before you start spouting the law and your wishes. Maybe you could, uh, shut the hell up and let me deal with my uh. . .kingdom, I guess?" She was still being dazzled somehow and couldn't come up with a more eloquent choice of words.
The other thing she had not anticipated. Jareth's big, fat ego. Of course he would want revenge against her grandfather. But first, he was going to have to deal with their change in status. Technically, Jareth was below her in rank, and to put it quite bluntly, he had to do exactly as she said. He must defer to her. Fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.
The words rang in her head once yet again. She wasn't sure about her wishes, but he was about to get exactly what he wished for. She could have him beheaded right now for not doing as she said. No one would have any qualms with it and up to a few days ago neither would she. But she realized now what had been holding her back in all of her past relationships.
No one was Jareth. She had fallen for him and never even realized it. She went about her life, never realizing that anything was missing. Her friends, Nathan, no one could hold a candle to the emotions he stirred inside her. Fear, love, intense longing. Her cheeks burned with the memory of walking to his chamber without direction. It had been what she wanted for years, but never knew or was willing to admit. This villain, who had his own reasons for doing things, he was so different from anyone else she had ever known. She had hated him for so many years.
She had felt so violated, so antagonized. It was difficult to change her thinking toward him, what he represented and yet it had happened. Granted, Jareth had been a little more than persuasive. She had been stubborn and resisted. God help her should she bear Jareth any children. Her blush deepened. She wasn't sure what to think about, what to say.
Perhaps in future, she could change his attitude about her grandfather. Sarah was quite angry at his latest shenanigans herself, and yet there was the longing to get to know him. She would have to learn her duties for him. He had been doing them in her stead for so long, he was the expert and her only resource. Of course her mother would be at her side as well.
Where did Jareth fit into the big picture? Would he need to keep running back and forth between kingdoms? Now that she found she loved him, she'd rather he didn't. Sarah would much rather have Jareth close than at a distance. He was terribly distracting however. He couldn't sit on her council, yet she'd need his input on the status of the goblins and the Goblin Kingdom.
All of this could be decided at a later date. First, she needed to take over her kingdom.
"Of course, my dear," Jareth said slyly and winked.
Sarah expected more of a fight from him than that, but maybe he was learning to bow to her whim already? If there was one thing she knew, it was Jareth, he was up to something. Once again, this was all something that could take place later. She needed to focus on the matter at hand.
"Grandfather, I accept your abdication and now take my place on the throne as the Queen of this Realm." The formality grated on her, but this had to at least look official, even if she didn't feel official quite yet. The coronation ceremony would be held later, making her position official.
Den bowed before her and she walked toward the custom built throne and sat. The entire audience of the throne room bowed, and acknowledged her claim, swearing fealty until death to the life of their new queen.
"To Sarah, High Queen." Jareth intoned from across the room. He stood and came near, "and my future wife, if you'll have me." With that he got on one knee, much as any John Doe from Above would have done.
"Sarah, my love, would you take me as your husband to love for all of eternity?" He held up a crystal, and inside was the most gorgeous ring Sarah had ever seen. She felt so shabby in her split riding dress, but at the time she had rather been in a hurry. So this is what he was planning. No wonder the grand outfit, surely the grandest if not. Sarah smiled wide.
"I will." She reached to the crystal, which popped, dropping the ring into her hand. Jareth helped her place it on her ring finger. With that he stood, and pulled her to him, kissing her with unabashed passion. Now, he didn't care who was watching.
Lord Clifford cleared his throat. "It looks like there is a wedding to plan."
"And a coronation," added Sarah's mother.
A/N: Anti-climactic, I know, but that's how things sort of spun themselves. This is not the last chapter. Much of a role as 13 played in Labyrinth I'm wary of the number. There will yet be an epilogue to say the least without spoiling you much further. Also, I felt it important to throw in my own fascination for Bowie a la Sarah's with Jareth. He's so sexah. ^_^